From Popular Science:
Soon after the Colbert Report’s final episode on Thursday night, this lengthy interview from a few months earlier has been making its way around. If you enjoyed The Colbert Report, and are looking forward to Colbert’s late night show, I recommend giving the whole thing a listen. It’s a fascinating view into his process, and the more I hear Colbert out of character, the more intrigued I become about his new show.
Here’s the ending song from the final episode with more celebrities than you can count, including Jeff Tweedy, Bill Clinton, and Mandy Patinkin:
From TechCrunch, another example of how 3D printing is reducing barriers, making cool things happen:
Via Joost Bonsen, whose Development Ventures Class in the MIT Media Lab was among the best course decisions I made in grad school, a graphic that’s trending on reddit showing the world’s population by longitude and latitude:
From the graphic alone, I would have guessed this was in northwest India, but after looking up the coordinates, it turns out the center of people is just over the border in Pakistan:
Coincidentally, as a direct result of Joost’s course, I ended up conducting some research on food waste in India right by the border, just 100 miles from the above coordinates in Pakistan. Here’s what it looks like:
By chance I ended up coming across two pieces of content on the source of creativity today — both were very interesting and seemed worth sharing. The first is an NPR TED Radio Hour episode called ‘The Source of Creativity’ that first aired a couple weeks ago.
The second is an essay written by the science fiction writer Issac Asimov in the late 50’s called ‘On Creativity.’ It was actually written for an MIT spin-off company that had a contract with the US government to brainstorm “the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system.”
The whole piece is interesting, but here’s the start:
How do people get new ideas?
Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.
One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.
But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.
There is a great deal in common there. Both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place. Both were keenly interested in finding an explanation for this, and both failed until each happened to read Malthus’s “Essay on Population.”
Both then saw how the notion of overpopulation and weeding out (which Malthus had applied to human beings) would fit into the doctrine of evolution by natural selection (if applied to species generally).
Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.
Undoubtedly in the first half of the 19th century, a great many naturalists had studied the manner in which species were differentiated among themselves. A great many people had read Malthus. Perhaps some both studied species and read Malthus. But what you needed was someone who studied species, read Malthus, and had the ability to make a cross-connection.
That is the crucial point that is the rare characteristic that must be found. Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious. Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, “How stupid of me not to have thought of this.”
But why didn’t he think of it? The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”
It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.
More here. I would normally credit whichever blog pointed me to this piece, but I can’t seem to find it again. Other then this essay, the only other Asimov work I’ve read is The Gods Themselves, which was strange, but thought provoking and entertaining. It was written in the 70’s, but the core message seems even more relevant today — how greed and complacency can be self-destructive to society. Asimov clearly followed his own advice on coming up with new ideas.
After filming a bit the other day, I spent some time tonight experimenting with iPhone 6 slow motion video footage and the iOS video editor. I bring you the Slo-Mo Dog Shake:
The music is Beck’s ‘Earthquake Weather (maybe)’.
I’ve had my iPhone 6 for almost a month now, but hadn’t really tested out the camera in a meaningful way until today. With all the warm weather we’ve had this week, Laura and I decided to head out to Framingham to meet up with my Mom and take Bella for a walk in Callahan State Park. In rained for the first part of the walk, but the sun broke out right around the time we got to Eagle Pond. The light was perfect.
I’d read the camera was a big step up from my previous iPhone 5, and after looking at a handful of shots on a big screen, I’m very impressed. The hardware is great, but I also love the auto HDR feature much more than I expected. I took a bunch of similar shots with and without it on, and found that it was extremely effective at capturing cloud contrast. When I had it off, I’d often be stuck with white washed skies. Taking the same picture with it on completely solved the problem.
All of these were taken on my phone, and edited right in Apple’s Camera app:
I also played with slo-mo. More on that soon.
I found this to be very funny. Via Chris Blattman, 2011 Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt shares his experience taking a Nobel Prize through airport security in Fargo:
“When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.
“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”
Original source here.