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but hey, superstition is alive and thriving. Too bad I can set my cute new wasp weasel on the First Fearmonger.
Trump's Threat to Public Health by Daniel Smith
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The article is in part an opinion piece by Dr. Sajay Gupta, a popular scientist, but it's also a fascinating examination of how scientific research can contain biases which have a really big impact on attitudes not only in the public, but in doctors themselves.
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1. _Introduction to Planetary Geomorphology_ by Ronald Greeley (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Nearly all major planets and moons in our Solar System have been visited by spacecraft and the data they have returned has revealed the incredible diversity of planetary surfaces. Featuring a wealth of images, this textbook explores the geological evolution of the planets and moons. Introductory chapters discuss how information gathered from spacecraft is used to unravel the geological complexities of our Solar System. Subsequent chapters focus on current understandings of planetary systems. The textbook shows how planetary images and remote sensing data are analyzed through the application of fundamental geological principles. It draws on results from spacecraft sent throughout the Solar System by NASA and other space agencies. Aimed at undergraduate students in planetary geology, geoscience, astronomy and solar system science, it highlights the differences and similarities of the surfaces at a level that can be readily understood by non-specialists.

2. _The Phonological Mind_ by Iris Berent (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
"Humans instinctively form words by weaving patterns of meaningless speech elements. Moreover, we do so in specific, regular ways. We contrast dogs and gods, favour blogs to lbogs. We begin forming sound-patterns at birth and, like songbirds, we do so spontaneously, even in the absence of an adult model. We even impose these phonological patterns on invented cultural technologies such as reading and writing. But why are humans compelled to generate phonological patterns? And why do different phonological systems - signed and spoken - share aspects of their design? Drawing on findings from a broad range of disciplines including linguistics, experimental psychology, neuroscience and comparative animal studies, Iris Berent explores these questions and proposes a new hypothesis about the architecture of the phonological mind"--
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Wednesday, October 24, 5:30 P.M.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Institute Archives Reading Room, Hayden Library
Building 14N-118 MIT. Light refreshments will be served

To find Building 14, go to the campus map at and type in "14N"

As there are two parts to this event an RSVP will be appreciated.

Email to: Tom Michalak or phone 781-729-9052

MAGNETIC RESONANCE: Four Centuries of Science from the Vail Collection

Gallery tour in Maihaugen Gallery, led by Stephen Skuce, Rare Books Program Coordinator.

The Vail collection, presented to MIT in 1912 by Theodore Vail, president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and MIT Corporation member from 1913-1920, contains many early works on magnetism, telecommunications, electricity, ballooning, aeronautics, and animal magnetism. The collection spans the late 15th century to the early 20th, and includes important landmarks in the history of science and technology, as well as popular works and some juvenilia. The collection comprises roughly 13,000 volumes and was assembled by George Edward Dering, a reclusive but prolific British inventor who died in 1911. Mr. Vail purchased Dering's library, and donated it to MIT.

The exhibit features scientific classics, copies inscribed by notable scientists, a selection of late-19th century publisher's bindings, works relating to Franz Anton Mesmer and animal magnetism, and volumes that belonged to Mr. Dering, the collector, as a youth.

The Archives Reading Room, adjacent to the gallery, will be open and the Vail Cataloging team will be showing additional rare books.

The Vail Collection tour will be followed by a visit to the Wunsch Conservation Lab, led by Nancy Schrock, Thomas J. Peterson Jr. Conservator, who will showcase rare books from the Vail Collection and examples of conservation treatments.
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I just discovered that there is a Web site, with this biography of Nicholas Saunderson
who is one of my heroes. He became blind as a baby but became a wizard at mathematics and, being one of the few people who really understood what Newton was talking about, taught optics at Cambridge, which had turned him down years earlier when he applied to be a student. He also invented his own accessible calculating device and boards for demonstrating geometrical shapes in two dimensions and geometrical forms in three dimensions (I really wish these boards were still produced by some company). Saunderson's fame was actually mostly as a teacher, since he provided such clear explanations of cutting edge mathematics that everyone came to his classes to find out what Newton was actually going on about. I love this idea of a blind person explaining light and form to a packed room of sighted people.

Btw, if you are wondering what the Lucasion Chair is, it is the chair of mathematics at Cambridge University, occupied in the past by Isaac Newton, in the present by Stephen Hawking and, at some point in the future, by Data.
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Kes: Wow. Also: somewhere Mr. Wizard must be spinning at high velocity.

JAYFK – The Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding
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Not a food product for repurposing minions who have failed to live up to their potential, but cool nonetheless
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Not relevant for my blindness, but this could well turn out to be the first widespread use of stem-cells, especially considering that the number of people with age-related visual impairments is supposed to double in the next decade or so.
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1. authors@mit presents:
Jim Ottaviani - FEYNMAN
Thursday, October 6th
5:30pm, MIT 4-370, 182 Memorial Drive, Cambridge
Please join us as we welcome Jim Ottaviani to the MIT campus to discuss his new graphic novel about legendary physicist and MIT graduate Richard Feynman.

2. The 2011 Ig Informal Lectures at MIT

DAY: Saturday
DATE: October 1, 2011
TIME: 1:00 pm
ROOM: MIT 26-100, 60 Vassar St., Cambridge

A half-afternoon of improbably funny, informative, and high-spirited public lectures, in which the new Ig Nobel Prize winners will attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor people whose achievements have made people LAUGH, and then made them THINK. Ten prizes are given to people who have done remarkable things -- some of them admirable, some perhaps otherwise. The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative - and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

FREE ADMISSION! No tickets required.

This free event is organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.
All Ig Nobel Prize activities are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research.

Saturday & Sunday, October 22 & 23, 2011
10:00am-6:00pm, E38 Loading Dock, 292 Main St. Cambridge
Literally *tons* of books will be on sale at drastically reduced prices--up to 90% off their original retail price. Some special rules apply this year, check the website for details.

For more information call (617) 253-5249, email, or
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Posted to the Art Beyond Sight mailinglist

NASA Unveils a New Lunar Book for the Visually Impaired

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA will unveil a new book for blind and visually impaired readers at a media event and reception hosted by the
NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) at 6 p.m. PDT on July 18 at NASA's
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

The book "Getting a Feel for Lunar Craters" was created with the NLSI and features tactile diagrams of the lunar surface designed to educate the blind and visually impaired about the wonders of Earth's moon. David
Hurd, a space science professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, Pa., is the book's author. He and tactile engineer John Matelock began creating tactile astronomy tools after a student with a visual impairment signed up for Hurd's introductory astronomy course.
Cassandra Runyon, a professor at College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C. and Hurd previously produced "A Tactile Guide to the Solar System with Digital Talking Book" for NASA.

Hurd and students from the California School for the Blind, Fremont, Calif., are scheduled to attend the unveiling.

"NASA's Lunar Science Institute is committed to the development of resources to bring lunar science into the world of those who cannot see.
'Getting a Feel for Lunar Craters' is one giant step for humankind, making lunar science visible through touch and sound," said Yvonne Pendleton, director of the NLSI.

The NLSI is a virtual organization that enables collaborative, interdisciplinary research in support of NASA lunar science programs.
The institute uses technology to bring scientists together around the world and comprises competitively selected U.S. teams and several international partners. NASA's Science Mission Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, funds the institute, which is managed by Ames.

For more information about the NASA Lunar Science Institute, visit:
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My most favorite toy ever was a metal thingie I bought in a science store. It was basically made of wires hinged in all sorts of ways so that one could make an almost infinite variety of geometric shapes. I've been looking for a replacement for years, might this
be it?
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Various real science projects which I have run across in the news this week.


Flourescent tattoos to offer medical monitoring
These tiny rods seem like a nice alternative for medical monitoring--at least if the person is sighted--but I really wish the inventor hadn't taken to calling these implants "microworms"--I prefer to think of them as metabolic mood rings

here is information about a "cloaking device"

holographic TV using off-the-shelf hardware

a mathematical model for visual cognition

and finally,
a device which can "sniff" old books
and then give an analysis of the book or document's age and the fragility of the paper (a field titled "Material Degradomics")
--although I thought there was a specific gas which is released by decaying paper? No luck finding the name of such a gas, though.
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Vanished: The MIT:Smithsonian Science Mystery"

The Smithsonian Institution and MIT announced the April 4 launch of VANISHED an 8-week online/offline environmental disaster mystery game for middle-school children, meant to inspire engagement and problem solving through science.

Developed and curated by MIT's Education Arcade (a research group in Comparative Media Studies) and the Smithsonian Institution, VANISHED is a first-of-its-kind experience where participants become investigators racing to solve puzzles and other online challenges, visit museums and collect samples from their neighborhoods to help unlock the secrets of the game. Players can only discover the truth about the environmental disaster by using real scientific methods and knowledge to unravel the game's secrets.

To navigate through the mystery game's challenges, participants will gain access to Smithsonian scientists from such diverse disciplines as paleobiology,
volcanology, forensic anthropology and entomology.

Potential participants can sign-up for VANISHED at
beginning March 21.
[Kes: Although you can currently sign up now ont he Web site to receive notification of when the game officially starts.]
more info below cut )
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Posted to The Art of Darkness blog
The Science Tarot
examples of some of the cards

I am including a snippet from the AOD post below because the blogger gives some descriptions of the suits and some specific cards and I must say, if one is interested in writing a technomancy story, this deck would provide a lot of inspiration for the world-building.

block quote start
...I have to give mad props to the clever artwork. The suit of Cups is represented by beakers, Swords are scalpels, Pentacles are magnifying glasses, and Wands are bunsen burners. The major arcana are all famous scientists, and the deck attempts to match their work with the various cards’ “meanings” (the nurturing Empress, for instance, is represented by Mendel and his peas). The minor arcana illuminate various scientific ideas, and again an effort has been made to match them appropriately: The ambitious Seven of Swords is represented by the expansion of a red giant star, and the partner-oriented Three of Cups is illustrated by an orchid and its symbiotic fungus.
In particular, the fact that the Wheel of Fortune is represented by Schrödinger’s Cat is utter genius.
block quote end
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Thursday, March 4, 2010 from 5-7 PM |
Building 4-231

Robots and Media: Science Fiction, Anime, Transmedia, and Technology
Ian Condry and Cynthia Brazeal

Ian Condry, Associate Director of MIT Comparative Media Studies and Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, will discuss the prevalence
of giant robots in anime (Japanese animated films and TV shows). From the sixties to the present, robot or "mecha" anime has evolved in ways that reflect
changing business models and maturing audiences, as can be seen in titles like Astro Boy, Gundam, Macross, and Evangelion. How can we better understand
the emergence of anime as a global media phenomenon through the example of robot anime? What does this suggest about our transmedia future?

Cynthia Breazeal, Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab and founder/director of the Lab's Personal Robots Group, will discuss how science fiction has
influenced the development of real robotic systems, both in research laboratories and corporations all over the world. She will explore of how science
fiction has shaped ideas of the relationship and role of robots in human society, how the existence of such robots is feeding back into science fiction
narratives, and how we might experience transmedia properties in the future using robotic technologies.


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