The Pirate Bay becomes commercial

June 30, 2009

The founders of the bittorrent service The Pirate Bay have sold their site to the company Global Gaming Factory X. The new owner plans to turn into a place for legal filesharing, where users pay for downloading and get some compensation for the use of their bandwidth for uploading. It would be a great irony if The Pirate Bay will now enjoy protection under intellectual property law.

Summer camp for atheists

June 30, 2009

Richard Dawkins will subsidize a summer camp for atheists, says The Daily Telegraph. The teaching agenda differs a bit from the Boy/Girl Scouts:

The emphasis on critical thinking is epitomised by a test called the Invisible Unicorn Challenge. Children will be told by camp leaders that the area around their tents is inhabited by two unicorns.

The activities of these creatures, of which there will be no physical evidence, will be regularly discussed by organisers, yet the children will be asked to prove that the unicorns do not exist.

Anyone who manages to prove this will win a £10 note – which features an image of Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory – signed by Dawkins, a former professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University.

“The unicorns are not necessarily a metaphor for God, they are to show kids that you can’t prove a negative,” said Samantha Stein, who is leading next month’s camp at the Mill on the Brue outdoor activity centre close to Bruton, Somerset.

“We are not trying to bash religion, but it encourages people to believe in a lot of things for which there is no evidence.”

I find it amusing that the form, though not content, resembles a religious summer camp (or a Pioneer camp?). Dawkins should be careful not to flatter Christians through imitation.

Lord of the mosquitoes

June 28, 2009

WebMD has an interesting news story about research on what makes mosquitoes prefer some humans over others.

Updating Landauer’s principle

June 26, 2009

Physicists have long sought to study the relation between data acquisition/processing and thermodynamics (or statistical mechanics). Due to the generality of the notion of data processing (or information processing) compared to the much more restricted setting of thermodynamics, the study of such relations has suffered from overestimation of the generality of different results. The earliest result is from Szilard’s 1929 analysis of a singe-atom gas confined to a box. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Flag Day

June 14, 2009

Happy Flag Day to all Americans!