Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maybe I'm just on parole

What's happened since I was locked up? Well, NPR interviewed the author of You are here:
Ellard also examined why men have a reputation for not asking for directions. He found that men may not ask because they have greater difficulty following turn-by-turn directions. Whereas women navigate using routes, men navigate using compass orientation.
Lehrer has a great review of Ellard's book here. Speaking of brains, Harvard Business discussed Robert Macnamara's brain:
... McNamara was a hedgehog rather than a fox, an engineer rather than an ecologist. The hedgehog knows one big thing, and for McNamara that was rational systems analysis. If he'd been a fox, he'd have brought additional perspectives to America's pressing problems. Like a dogged engineer, he believed that you could model and manipulate the inputs and outputs of any system. Unlike the ecologist, he didn't seem to appreciate the complexity of systems involving living things. If the variables explaining poverty or victory in guerilla warfare were unwieldy or unmeasurable, he simply ignored them.
National Geographic's Secret History of Gold makes a provocative statement about how all the gold ever mined would fit in the base of the Statue of LIberty, i.e. "All the gold in the world still isn't very much" (see video).

Since there's not enough gold to go around, IEEE Spectrum has ideas for getting and giving recognition at work which reminds me of UH's "making the elephant dance" award.

What else? The CMU prof who came up with the now ubiquitous captcha has an amusing blog, this post is about doing high production value videos of his lectures. Speaking of university professors, are there too many scientists?

Over the last few days there's been a couple of launches (a successful SpaceX satellite) and, finally, a space shuttle. One day the shuttle launch was scrubbed because of lightning. I like this explanation about why lightning is a concern:
"The concern really is mostly in those pyrotechnic systems," he said. "There are a lot of things that have to go right. You need the SRB igniters to fire, you need the separation bolts to fire to release the SRBs from the mobile launch platform, you need the separation motors to fire to separate you from the external tank. We don't like to talk about it, but you need the self-destruct system to work if you truly needed it to work.
Finally, more about feet and those funny looking shoes I mentioned before, and a possible relationship between the spacing of birds on a wire and parked cars.