with 'science' tag

researchers in germany have figured out why you wake up before your alarm clock goes off. no insight on why i can’t sleep past 6am.

tony pierce wrote up his experience from last night’s politics of science journalism panel so i think that means i don’t have to. it was entertaining.

the los angeles press club is hosting a panel on the politics of science journalism tonight. conveniently located near the vermont and sunset red line station.

time looks at various scientific research on shyness.

here’s an entirely unrelated joke.

daniel c. dennett, a professor of philosophy at tufts university, dissects the intelligent design hoax in the new york times.

the geography of thought: how asians and westerners think differently...and why by richard e. nisbett was a book that our ceo mentioned he had read recently, so i picked it up on one of my trips to library. it basically argues that western and eastern thought has some fundamental differences, and much of it boils down to a difference between individualistic and holistic thinking.

this is one of those books that stands across the accessible and academic divide, but i don’t think it fails on the accessibility front (and am not qualified to really judge it on academic merits). some of the studies he cites are fascinating, and do a good job of illustrating some of the differences.

my main complaint about the book would be that it is a little too binary. a few of the studies break things down beyond just western and eastern, but most of the studies are fairly small in scope and so can’t be cut that finely. this means that areas like the mideast and africa aren’t really given much consideration.

holiday reading wrap-up (2004 edition)

sock by penn jillette
this is a striking book, and a lot of that comes from the rhythm of the writing — it charges along not unlike penn’s patter during his act with teller. every paragraph (or nearly so) has a pop-culture reference tucked into it. and the narrator is the sock monkey of a new york police department scuba diver who investigates a serial killer, one of whose targets was an ex-girlfriend of his (the diver, not the sock monkey). and as a bonus, when my mom saw this book with my luggage, she was reminded that she had recently run across my sock monkey, and now he lives with me again.
the wild shore by kim stanley robinson
this is the first of a trilogy of books that (apparently) explore different futures for the area around orange county. it’s a post-apocalyptic take, set after someone (possibly the russians) basically knock the united states back into the last century by detonating a series of neutron bombs, and the world has decided to keep the states there by preventing the survivors from joining up. i’m not entirely sure what i think about this book — it really only tells a part of the story as compared to a novel like lucifer’s hammer or the postman. but it tells it well, and it is a well-imagined post-apocalyptic world.
the radioactive boy scout by ken silverstein
this is a non-fiction book, about an eagle scout in the detroit area who tried to build a nuclear breeder reactor in a potting shed in his mother’s backyard that eventually had to be cleaned up by the epa (by workmen in radiation suits — not something the neighbors liked to see, especially when they weren’t very forthcoming about why they were there). the book has a lot more setup than punchline, so i think it fell a little flat at the end. the reviews at amazon for this book are pretty funny — i guess some people took serious exception to the way the author covers the sort of blind boosterism that surrounded (surrounds?) the “atomic energy” industry, and his less-than-flattering (and likely accurate) capsule history of the boy scouts.