The new HoloLens from Microsoft

Mark Griswold, a friend and colleague at my university who is a professor of radiology, gave a talk at the Microsoft builders’ event this week that highlighted the features of a new device called the HoloLens headset that overlays virtual 3D objects onto the physical environment around us and promises to revolutionize many fields of education by providing students with the ability to see complete systems that are hidden within an outer shell, like the skeletal structure or the cardiovascular system of a human body. See for yourself
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The myths surrounding the Golden Ratio

Most of this blog’s readers would have heard about the Golden Ratio, supposedly first derived by Euclid. If one takes a straight line segment and divides into two such that the ratio of the longer part to the shorter is the same as the ratio of the whole line to the longer part, some simple algebra shows that this ratio works out to be about 1.618 to one.
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The GMO debate

There is a lot of heated debate over the use of genetically modified organisms or GMOs, especially when it comes to food. I have not quite understood some of the opposition to it. There seems to be nothing intrinsically dangerous about food that has been genetically engineered in the laboratory to be different, since nature and agricultural practices have been genetically modifying organisms over a long time. I would have little worry about eating a genetically modified food, for example, although I must admit that I have not studied the topic in great detail.
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How physics conferences treat crank papers

PZ Myers had a post about a paper presented at the April meeting of the American Physical Society that made some outlandish claims about locating god’s throne. Some readers may be curious about how such a crazy paper made it into the program of a serious physics conference organized by the world’s largest professional organization of physicists and of which I am a member.
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We are lucky to be alive

If ever I feel the temptation to feel sorry for myself, I like to remind myself of the idea demonstrated in the cartoon below that shows how in order for us to be alive at all, every single one of the millions of our ancestors, all the way back to the first living organism, had to be survive long enough to reproduce. If, at an early stage of that sequence, one were to put odds on that happening, the chances against it are enormous. And yet here we are.
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Self-driving cars

I tend to be swayed back and forth by the promise of self-driving cars. On the one hand, I read about how good they are and have advanced so much that one might expect them to be available for commercial use within the next decade. Then I read that that they are only as good as the latest map updates and cannot cope with the kinds of temporary changes in road conditions that are common and then I feel pessimistic that they will be a reality soon.
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