Elementary school kids and animation student illustrate evolution

Via PsiVid, check out this astounding animation illustrating evolution in an exceptionally clever manner. Tyler Rhodes, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, drew a salamander-like creature, then asked elementary school students to draw a creature like his. He then took their results and asked more kids to draw creatures like those, and so on and so on, through six “generations”. He then animated the whole shebang.

Mesmerizing, no? I absolutely love this concept.

16 year old girl Hacks the Tube almost into space to get into MIT

Via Boing Boing, this is absolutely awesome. As part of their Early Action Admits, MIT challenges prospective students to hack the tube the enrollment letter came in into something cool. So one 16-year-old girl put a camera, a GPS, and two Ham radio transmitters, strapped it to an 800 gram helium balloon, and sent it nearly 91,000ft from Earth’s surface. That’s well into the stratosphere. 90% of the mass of the atmosphere is below the 52,000ft mark, and very nearly 100% below the 330,000ft mark, so that’s above a significant proportion of the atmosphere — as good as into space, as far as I’m concerned.

She’s of course been admitted. And she’s going to make one damn fine engineer, I expect.

The Birth of the Moon

An intriguing documentary has caught my eye with its slick teaser trailer.

We like the moon. Because it is close to us.

I can’t wait to see this doc when it’s out. I’ve had a long-standing love affair with the moon and its effects on our planet. I’ve posted quite a bit about it in the past, a number of times in fact.

Apparently, Cosmic Journeys has a number of such documentaries online, each about half an hour minus commercial time, making it ripe for syndication to a real network. Why nobody’s picked this up to fill a time slot somewhere is completely beyond me. They’re slickly produced, engaging, have an excellent narrator, and are completely free. And they’re about one of the most engaging and important topics we as humans could ever study: the universe itself, on a macroscopic scale far beyond our transient and provincial lives.

Teachers and Students Occupy Wall Street

Don’t mind the repeating — it’s not ritualistic chanting, it’s a technique to allow the people at the back to hear the speaker. It’s completely necessary in these protests because megaphones or speakers or other volume amplification techniques require city permits.

Heh. That last guy doesn’t know how to work this crowd-based megaphone very well, does he? Still, their stories are important and the 13-year-old girl was great. Schools shouldn’t be privatized. The more for-profit you make something, the more it benefits the rich and detriments the poor. Shoring up education benefits the country in question’s economy, though it explicitly does not benefit one particular side of the political spectrum ideologically.

On the Role of the Middle Class in Occupy Wall Street

I’ve been involved in a conversation with Juniper Shoemaker these past few days about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the worry that the middle class will eventually co-opt it, and that the concerns of the less-privileged will be subsumed into returning the middle class to the status quo. It’s also been a conversation largely about language, and it’s covered a good deal of territory that we’ve already been over. At the same time, I think the conversation exposes a lot of nuance that we haven’t discussed, so it’s worth continuing in a new post. I’m answering this comment primarily, but there are other bits of the conversation in the “Clue this dude in” post and it touches on something martha said as well.
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