Posts

September 18, 2014

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1:31 PM | Running On – Thoughts on Mediocrity.
Tonight I will run 10K as my last training run for the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half-Marathon Sunday. This will be my second half-marathon and I’m very excited for it. When I ran Pittsburgh in May, I was not terribly well prepared. The longest run I had done leading up to it was 10 miles. […]
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12:17 PM | A past Ig Nobel winner recounts the glory (or whatever)
Laurent Bègue, who a year ago was (together with his colleagues) awarded the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology, recounts the experience. He writes, in the Huffington Post: Le jour où j’ai reçu un IG Nobel L’université américaine de Harvard décerne chaque année les LG Nobel. Ces prix récompensent des scientifiques dont les travaux font “rire, […]
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10:40 AM | Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony
So you love opera, and you think you know the heights and depths of “Là ci darem la mano” and of the finale — “the Commendatore scene” — in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”? Ha. Watch the live webcast of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, which includes (among many things) the premiere of the mini-opera “What’s Eating […]
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8:00 AM | REEcycle sweeps past the competition by turning waste into a domestic stream of rare earth elements
A student team from the University of Houston swept this year’s U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. With their innovative (and proprietary) approach to recycling a pair... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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6:40 AM | Economic Growth and Internet Usage Impact on Publication Productivity
Economic Growth and Internet Usage Impact on Publication Productivity among ASEAN’s and World’s Best UniversitiesHossein GholizadehHadi SalehiMohamed Amin EmbiMahmoud DanaeeAli OrdiFarid Habibi Tanha,Nader Ale Ebrahim, Department of Engineering Design and Manufacture, Faculty of Engineering, University of MalayaNoor Azuan Abu OsmanAbstractMeasuring the number of papers which are published each year, publication productivity is the factor which shows the reputation of universities […]
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3:20 AM | In Response to the Top 50 Science List
This post is in response to the 'top 50 science stars of Twitter' list published on Science Magazine's website today. Regardless of the methods used to put together that list, and whether or not the methods were fair and not inherently biased against women in science (my impression is that they are extremely biased), I've complied my own list of some of the top science stars of Twitter - this time focusing on women. From the Science Mag top 50 science stars... Read more

September 17, 2014

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7:15 PM | Sea Urchin-Inspired House Captures Tidal Energy
Concept structure uses a shell within a shell to trap tidal energy. Continue reading →
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4:46 PM | Ms. Cherish Goes to the Atheist Meeting
I’ve contemplated writing on this topic for a while.  At the same time, I haven’t wanted to.  Probably because I’m not sure what the point of revisiting this is other than to gripe.  But then I came across this article about misogyny in atheism and decided I was just irritated enough to say something. What’s […]
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3:55 PM | iPhone 6 to Put a Health Coach in Your Pocket
Apple signaled its intention to play a major role in how we manage our health.
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1:40 PM | Artists and their difficulties with gaits
No summary available for this post.
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1:24 PM | What Makes a Scientist?
I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday about “what makes a scientist”. Now, I’ve written here that I’m not really a scientist, and that’s true. I’m an engineer. While I use scientific principles to test hypotheses, my real job is about designing and building computer simulations and using them to make predictions. The […]
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1:12 PM | Hip Harness Helps Dogs with Dysplasia
The Hipster for dogs prevents the hip joint from disconnecting, while at the same helps the dog strengthen its supporting muscles. Continue reading →
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12:56 PM | The Ig Nobel Cookbook (volume 1), in the flesh
Our newest new book — The Ig Nobel Cookbook (volume 1) — is now available in the flesh, so to speak and so to read, in one of the world’s great bookstores. Harvard Bookstore has a print-on-demand machine. If you walk into the store, smile, and demand a copy of the book, they will print it […]
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10:00 AM | Ce Soir: Paris Machine Learning Meetup #1, Season 2, A New Beginning (Snips, Nomo, Clustaar and more)
Once again with Franck, we have decided to do a second season of the pretty successul season 1 of the Paris Machine Learning Meetup. We have about 1200 members and growing. The twitter hashtag for tonight's meetup is #MLParis. The YouTube page is here, while the Google Hangout Event page is here.Paris Machine Learning resources other than ones on Meetup.com include the LinkedIn group, Google+ group and the Archives of meetup.A big thank you to DojoEvents for hosting us. Here is the […]
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5:21 AM | Heuristic Haystacks and the Messy Lesson
As an admitted and self-styled parsimony skeptic, I was interested to see a discussion in the blogosphere on the seductive allure of simple explanations [1]. This was in the context of economic policy and decision-making, with Paul Krugman even offering an H.L. Mencken quote: "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong" [2]. Yet while parsimony was never brought up, I suspect that hypotheses and arguments related to the efficient markets hypothesis were always […]
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5:00 AM | Multiresolution Matrix Factorization
You probably recall the idea expressed in Sunday Morning Insight on Matrix Factorizations and the Grammar of Life, where one would iterate on several matrix factorization in order to provide a convinving decomposition of a data matrix. The idea is similar to diffusion wavelets and more recent  signal processing on graphs. Here is a new paper on the matter:  Multiresolution Matrix Factorization by Risi Kondor, Nedelina Teneva and Vikas GargAbstract: The types of large matrices […]

September 16, 2014

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6:26 PM | Urban Energy Systems and Women in Energy – two themes woven together as C3E symposium gets underway
“The future of cities and energy efficiency could be a very bright one – but we have to get there,” said MIT Professor Dr. Amy Glasmeier at today’s launch of the 2014 Women in Clean Energy Symposium... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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5:17 PM | Study of Eastern U.S. Shows Wind Energy Could Stabilize the Grid
Last month, General Electric (GE) consulting presented the results of a U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) sponsored study testing if wind turbines can be controlled to manage the... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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5:10 PM | Jetpack Propels Running Soldiers Faster, Farther
A battery-powered device could give soldiers horizontal lift to move them faster with less sweat. Continue reading →
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4:50 PM | Squishy Robot Jumps, Jumps, Jumps Around
This weird pink robot is pushing the bounds of robotics research.
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3:00 PM | Press at the Ig: Glimpses of the Russian TV coverage
No summary available for this post.
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2:44 PM | Drexel Engineer’s Discovery Turns Artificial Ankle Research in a New Direction
  One small misstep in the biomechanical understanding of the ankle about 70 years ago has thrown research on the joint slightly off kilter ever since. Sorin Siegler, PhD, a mechanical engineer at Drexel is hoping to realign thinking surrounding one of the busiest orthopedic intersections in the body.It all started about three years ago … Continue reading →
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2:02 PM | Further past investigations of spaghetti
Investigating how and why a strand of uncooked spaghetti breaks after bending — well that’s a complicated undertaking, with a rich history. One man’s take appears in this writeup: “The dynamics of linear spaghetti structures — how one thing just leads to another,” RWD Nickalls, 14 June, 2006. The author is at the Department of Anaesthesia, […]
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1:30 PM | DNews: How Do Wireless Chargers Work?
Trace tackles the physics behind wireless charging and explains why something as spiffy as unplugged power isn't taking over the world just yet.
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1:21 PM | This year’s 24/7 Lecturers
Here’s the lineup of 24/7 Lecturers at this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. You’ll see them Thursday evening, September 18, if you come to the ceremony at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, or if you watch the live webcast. What, you ask, are the 24/7 Lectures? This:  several of the world’s top thinkers each explains her or his […]
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12:27 PM | Another exciting insight: Medical effects of drinking coffee
Yet another new insight about the physiological effects of drinking coffee: “Coffee for morning hunger pangs: an examination of coffee and caffeine on appetite, gastric emptying, and energy intake,” Matthew M. Schubert, Gary Grant, Katy Horner, Neil King, Michael Leveritt, Surendran Sabapathy, Ben Desbrow, Appetite, epub September 16, 2014. The authors, at various institutions in Australia and […]
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11:11 AM | Hardware Based Stochastic Gradient Descent
  Starting at 52 minutes and 10 seconds of this video, Ali Rahimi explains how one can use a noisy evaluation of the gradient in a gradient descent algorithm in order to minimize a convex function (most relaxations featured in current Advanced Matrix Factorization techniques and some instances of Compressive Sensing fall in that category). The interesting part of this is that the noise comes from the errors made by the, now stochastic, Floating Point Unit.  From the paper […]
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9:21 AM | Data show that Germany’s grid is one of the world’s most reliable
As the share of enewables in Germany’s electricity mix approaches 30%, the country’s power grid appears to be going strong. According to data released Friday by the Bundesnetzagentur (Germany’s grid... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

September 15, 2014

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11:10 PM | World’s most inventive inventor (and possibly greatest human) is coming to the Ig
No summary available for this post.
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8:09 PM | Using Nature As a Model to Solve Challenging Problems in Science and Engineering with Dr. Dayna Baumeister
The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker Dr.…
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