May 25, 2015

Scientific Bytes and Pieces, May 2015

Bytes and Pieces is a collection of links and essays recently enncountered from across the internet, consisting mainly of scientific essays and applications.

Asterank: A web-based interface which visualizes all of the asteroids in our solar system and ranks them according to economic utility (e.g. asteroid mining). Thus, Asterank combines physical science with an optimistic futurism. See the associated Github repository for technical details.

Screenshot of Asterank Interface.

The Scientific Method is an Idea Ready for Retirement. Despite the provocative stance, this is indeed the view of one systems-level thinker (Melanie Swan) who argues against the power of reductionist hypothesis-testing in a high-throughput, multivariate world.

Writing at blog, Sam Arbesman brings us a tour of "robust yet fragile" systems. This essay explores the consequences and by-products of kludgeiness in complex systems. The "crawling horrors" that Arbesman refers to are small-scale errors that cause failures in systems that are otherwise error-tolerant.

Making Espresso In (Outer) Space. An Italian coffee company (LavAzza) is behind an effort to make Espressos in space (e.g. zero-gravity conditions on the ISS). Looks like a challenge to both make and drink enjoyably, although without gravity one does not have much of a choice. Next up on the exotic coffee wishlist: leveraging quantum foam to make yoctolattes.

The glamour and impracticality of old-fashioned space coffee.

Preparing a cup (or rather a pouch).

Not quite as advertised, but she will enjoy it!

Via Singularity Hub, we learn of Second Life founder Philip Rosedale's latest efforts: to build a virtual metaverse at the scale of planetary communities. The proposed platform (High Fidelity) would be an open-source virtual reality-based social network with a variety of potential uses. A planetary-scale metaverse will require large-scale, coordinated, three-dimensional computing resources, which means that this vision should be quite the technical challenge to realize.

High Fidelity wants you! As a technical expert and eventually a user, but still...

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