Data Anxiety

Tempus fugit

The Ideal Scientific Equipment Company »

This is a small sample of items available in the current catalog.

IDEAL HOOKIAN SPRINGSThrow out all those stretched springs
and replace them with IDEAL Hookian Springs.

Are you tired of replacing laboratory springs when students extend them beyond their elastic limit? Our IDEAL springs are the answer to your problems. These springs may be extended to 10100 percent of their original length, and will return to their original length without fail. Hysteresis is no longer a problem! Perfect for experiments on Hooke’s law, simple harmonic motion, etc.

FRICTIONLESS PLANES

Essential equipment for studies of motion and mechanics. All of Newton’s Laws can be easily and correctly demonstrated with the aid of an ISE frictionless plane.

HYDRODYNAMICAL FLUID

We are the sole supplier of this unique product, under licence granted by Bernoulli International. Completely free of viscosity and totally incompressible, it is otherwise indistinguishable from ordinary water.

INERTIALESS PULLEYS

Price proportional to square of radius.

CARNOT ENGINES

These engines operate silently and never need lubrication. Guaranteed efficiency of (1 - Tc/Th). Can be run in reverse to cool the lab in summer. Use with our perfect heat sinks for best results.

Books

Practical Uses of Null Hypotheses. This book is essential for those theorists who never set foot in a laboratory. Topics include “How to obfuscate eloquently”, “Guaranteeing results” and “What to do when hypotheses lead nowhere”.

The Singularity Already Happened »

We Have Corporations: A Singularity Horror Story

via quietbabylon:

One of my favorite recurring tropes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) speculation is mediations on how an evil AI or similar might destroy us. Here’s a recent example, Ross Anderson on human extinction as quoted by Kottke. It’s a discussion about how a benign AI might be poorly designed and lead to our downfall. What happens is the AI is given a goal that is proximate to helping people but not identical to it. The scenario is one where there is a button that humans push if the AI gets an answer right…and the AI eventually realizes that the best way to get what it wants is to kill all the humans…

All I can think is: we already have one of those. It is pretty clear to anyone who’s paying attention that

  1. a marketplace regime of firms dedicated to maximizing profit has—broadly speaking—added a lot of value to the world
  2. there are a lot of important cases where corporate profit maximization causes harm to humans
  3. corporations are—broadly speaking—really good at ensuring that their needs are met.

I don’t think that it’s all that far fetched to suggest that maybe they’re getting better at ensuring their needs are met. The only thing that the left and right in America can agree on is that moneyed influence has corrupted American politics and yet neither side seems able to do anything about it.

What if the private pursuit of profit was—for a long time—proximate to improving the lot of humans but not identical to it? What if capitalism has gone feral, and started making moves that are obviously insane, but also inevitable?

Our Robot Future via Berkeley Law - Upcoming Events. We missed it. 11 July 2014
“Robots are quickly moving out of controlled environments into public spaces and homes, and researchers are developing artificial intelligence systems that will allow robots to make decisions autonomously. How should society plan for this transition?”

Our Robot Future via Berkeley Law - Upcoming Events. We missed it. 11 July 2014
“Robots are quickly moving out of controlled environments into public spaces and homes, and researchers are developing artificial intelligence systems that will allow robots to make decisions autonomously. How should society plan for this transition?”

The Flying Wing

Until now, I thought that a tail-less aircraft in the shape of a giant wing, a B-2 predecessor, was mythical. I was wrong.

Northrop XB-35

The XB-35 was the first Northrop flying wing bomber design. It was not a figment of futuristic imagination! The initial contract for one aircraft was awarded in November 1941. It was intended for use in World War II, although that didn’t work out.

More after the jump »