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28 March 2006

Eulogy for Hank

Echidne of the Snakes has a heartbreaking eulogy for her Labrador, Hank. I dare you to read it at work.

Physicists-Speak Up!

...and now for something completely different.Seed Magazine reports that which we who have gone through a Varsity Physics course at Major level already know all too well: that Physicists and Mathematicians should be talking to each other a lot more than is customary.

See, there's this nifty little function called the Zeta function , discovered by Riemann quite a while ago, which when fed integers outputs a 3D graph, the zero points of which turn out to be the prime numbers.

Nice.But what's nicer is that these prime numbers,or zeta function zeros, are not distributed randomly in the 3D space-they line up neat as a motorway though the landscape.Dead straight line.

The core of Riemann's Hypothesis is that the Primes will always fall on this straight line, although of course we don't know that for a fact as we haven't found all the Primes yet.Still it looks fairly credible that they will continue to be found in this straight line and nowhere else on the zeta function graph.
Still with me? Good. For while the Mathematicians were oohing and aahing about this neat trick, the Physicists had produced one that was almost identical in every way-but it was produced by a mapping of the energy levels of any moderately-heavy atom.

Well, that's blown my socks off for the day-and I'm sincerely using no sarcasm here, difficult as that may be to believe.

Thing is, Physics students (serious ones) always learn core mathematics before the serious Mathematics students-they need it to handle most of the ideas in Physics.So Physicists end up having a healthy and practical mathematical ability which, to be frank, Mathematicians tend not to believe anyone outside of their own speciality posesses.
But I could've told you.
Physicists,and Physics students, too, need to learn to speak up outside the Faculty Tearoom-and especially to compare notes with the Mathematicians,and together they may crack some of the keys to undeerstanding.

Oh, and Douglas Adams might yet get that beatification.

He may well have been right about 42 all along.

27 March 2006

religious terminology

Not so very long ago I found myself lucky enough to be labeled as a secular fundamentalist, hmm, evidently I found myself in the big leagues, being subjected to this kind of religious terminology and all. Time to catch up on the current nomenclature then, I thought. Thus I found an article, on an article that could supposedly be found on the Vatican’s site, (I’m not completely sure whether this article really exists) and I came across the term "homo indifferens" . My god, I had to look that disease up in the ‘Double-Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary’, which, by the way, looks like a very interesting dictionary project. So it means … never mind what it means. (read the article, I’m not sure myself)

Apparently evolution is now referred to as the “e-word” in hushed terms, with no administrators within earshot, in some Bible-belt schools. A couple of million years, becomes, VERY, VERY old, and teachers are warned against the use of “deep time” chronology!? Teaching creationism in science becomes “balanced treatment”. We are led to believe that this is fear driven double-speak apparently fueled by threats from the fundies in the community. Amazing!

Not that it bothers me much though, I’m sure things will sort themselves out as we go along. In the near future, in a world rife with superstition and we could probably slide up to people in the mall and say, “Can I tell you about the ‘E’.” Oh, some more double-speak! How about an article titled ‘Capital Punishment Is Still Pro-Life’, for in case you were wondering.

26 March 2006

8-year-old preacher

Though only 8, Terry draws crowds of worshipers eager to hear him preach the gospel, and praise the Lord.

"The Lord makes you feel good," Terry wails from the pulpit. "He says, `Who am I? I am Doctor Feelgood.' Yeah!"

Good god!

19 March 2006

Creationst

Oh, aren’t we just so very lucky, Dr Kent Hovind, the world class creationist preacher man is coming to town.

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters

Uhm ... whatever.

Let's hate some

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been spending a lot of time on a Dutch Reformed forum, gawking as always.

This particular forum is open to anyone, and it’s not to strictly moderated, so it has turned into a sort of a proselytizing clearinghouse, attracting religious crackpots from darkest corners of the Afrikaner cyberspace, all scrambling for the soapboxes.

God did we have fun this week, we were joined Jake White, a lone white supremacist trying to win us over to his sick little religion. Apparently he belongs to a tiny sect who believes only white people with the ability to blush gets a shot heaven, as some sort Israelites, well whatever, not that I care, what struck me though was this guy’s attitude. He had this violent and vile demeanor, after a few of his posts, you could see this guy wasn’t your normal racist conservative fundi; we were dealing with hardcore phobia dressed as distorted religious views.

He was the white version of these crazed black Israelites.

Then, later in the week a homosexual guy got out of the cyber closet, taking a few stabs at the homophobes on the forum in the process. This was almost immediately met with a (poorly executed) socket puppet account telling us about how he was cured of teh gay.

You could see these glazed over zealots were in hard selling mode, they were spewing forth infomercial style, attempting to sell their very exclusive religions. Now I’ve been lurking in some rightwing forums where I witnessed similar hard sell attempts met fierce resistance, even though these guys share their phobias.

So something had to be done, since these guys discovered that they are further weakening the rightwing minorities by dividing them along religious lines.

OK lets see then; get me some rightwing Jews, and uh, some Ku Klux Klan freaks, mix well.

14 March 2006

God: I’ve lost faith in Blair

From the good old Grauniad

(British Readers' joke)

A source says Gabriel has spent days trying to dissuade the Almighty from loosing a plague of toads upon the Blair family. Gabriel reminded God that Cherie and the children had nothing to do with Tony's decisions. God's response, it is reliably reported, was: "Blair says the Iraqis are lucky to have got bombed, so how can he complain if his family gets a few toads in the bath?" The archangel is said to be ticked off with God's ability to provide glib answers without even thinking.

13 March 2006

Point of Inquiry

I found this site through the latest Skeptic's Dictionary newsletter.
Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry’s radio show and podcast, drawing on CFI’s relationship with the leading minds of the day including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers, and renowned entertainers. Each episode combines incisive interviews, features and commentary focusing on CFI’s issues: religion, human values and the borderlands of science.

09 March 2006

flying spaghetti monster mosaic

(shameless plug)

07 March 2006

Oh, Really?

You scored as Engineering. You should be an Engineering major!

Engineering

92%

Philosophy

75%

Mathematics

75%

Psychology

67%

Sociology

67%

English

50%

Theater

42%

Journalism

42%

Anthropology

42%

Biology

33%

Linguistics

25%

Chemistry

17%

Art

8%

Dance

8%

What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

06 March 2006

Let Them Eat Archives

There seems to be some kind of perception around the G8 that African scientists are living in shacks and begging at the traffic lights.

I mean,how else am I to interpret this incredibly condescending offer from The Royal Society of Chemistry , in smug collaboration with the British House of Commons

Not that the African scientists themselves are feeling condescended to, it appears. One Ethiopian biologist syas that more scientific journals needed to give free access to their papers.

"I would like to call on all publishers of chemistry journals to follow the lead of the RSC to support young chemists like me with their archives so that we can bring the benefits of chemistry to our great continent," she added.

Great. Humble Dark Continent scientists with hands out for more (information) baksheesh.

Rather than handouts, we could probably do with a tad more cooperation between people as a whole.

Perhaps the Europeans are feeling guilty about things like this , hmm?

And Humble Dark Continent scientists can blame White Imperialism . Again.

Round and round it goes.

What gets my dander up most of the time (not a difficult task you’ll most likely agree) is the blatent materialism which has a throttle hold on most of Africa, particularly here where the material is slightly more available to your average crook…err…Joe On the Street.

What’s the first-the very first thing the semi-mythical Emerging Black Middle Class..umm…Joe acquires as a symbol of his arrivist status?

Big bloody petrol-guzzling, atmosphere-fogging car, that’s what.


He attends a Christian Church to feel spiritually like his former betters, dresses like an American Gangsta,consumes masses amounts of resource-intensive fast foods, and trundles to the KFC in a needless cloud of half-burnt petroleum and other oil products.


Hardly a thought is spared to the heavy impact this lifestyle has on the earth.

Not that the entrenched White Aristocracy is any bloody better.

But it puts me in mind of the early days of democracy under the Greeks.

For a while, the masses found that they could vote themselves Bread and Circuses.

Live it up! You only live once!

Screw that for a life philosophy.

Every now and then, I become convinced that, while we may be the only species on earth capable of manipulating our environment, it would be loads better if we could see beyond our immediate desires and stop having more children than we can afford to raise, and stop living like there was no tomorrow and no need to save something for a rainy ecological day.In fact, if we could just cut our numbers down a whole whack…or maybe just learn to live a little more lightly upon the only planet we (so far) have to support us.

03 March 2006

Get your JEsus Butt-plugs here!

Web-based Divine Productions goes out of its way to promote products that clearly offend and mock Christianity and the Catholic Church.