Monday, September 18, 2006

Spread the Word

The Royal Society, the oldest scientific organization in existence, has unveiled its newly updated online publication service and has made its entire archive available to the public for free. So if you've got a hankerin' to read the firsthand accounts of Newton, Franklin, Hooke, or Boyle (and let's face it - who doesn't?) it's time to start downloading. Volume One Issue One dates back to March 1665. And of course the more current issues are cutting edge. The Society plans to start charging a fee for perusing their extensive archives after this promotion ends in December, so time is of the essence.

I'm merely adding myself to the chain of advocates who are exhorting the limited availability of this online cornucopia. Thanks to Jamie Morrison of the Nonist for putting me on the scent, and be sure to check out Carl Zimmer's excellent article at The Loom which gives a great index of places to start looking.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


A montage of subcellular biological activities, this is probably one of the coolest examples computer animation and modeling I've even seen. I'd dismiss it as overly fanciful if it wasn't for its affiliation with the Howard Huges Medical Institute the President and Fellows of Harvard College. I recognized a few of the organelles such as the slug like mitochondria and the lava-lampish endoplasmic reticulum, and I think I was watching RNA replicating proteins at one point, but I'm going to need someone (and this means you nSilico) to explain what a lot of those other things are. What was the hoverpad thing? Or the giant blob walker? Too weird.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Four Words or Less

We all learned the power of the sound bite in the 1980s. Although I can't really remember much about mainstream-media before then, I remember thinking - even as a kid - that news broadcasts were constantly getting sketchier and sketchier. I sometimes wondered if it was because there is always an increasing number of things the diverse public cares about. The more topics you try to cover in a one hour broadcast, the less detail you can give. In the 1990s everyone was lamenting the decline of journalism into blatant sensationalism, but it remained an inevitable process. We all saw it happening but our dismay did nothing to stop it.

Now that the internet is a primary news outlet it seems to me like another inevitable change should be here. The pendulum should be swinging the other way. There is no longer a need to condense news to fit into limited bandwidth. Execs should no longer have to make judgments as to which stories are the most newsworthy. The public is free to respond to what stories they care about in real time. They can choose to absorb as much or as little detail as they wish. Now that information is so readily accessible it seems like the news agencies would be focused on covering as wide a spectrum as possible, or seeking an edge over their competitors by providing the most comprehensive and insightful analysis of the more complex issues.

full text