Students trapped in a pub

January 4, 2010

The Guardian reports that
Leeds University students snowed in for two days at highest pub in UK
. Students and teachers from Leeds University were forced to stay two days in a pub, drink lots of beer, and join forces to cook dinner. Sounds like one of the better places one could be trapped for two days in!


Harvey Omega

July 1, 2009

Wolfram Alpha, the new initiative to make “the world’s knowledge computable” and to compete with Google, now has a competitor: Harvey Omega. Compared to Alpha, Omega is able to answer an impressively wide range of questions. (Found via Jacques Distler’s Musings.)

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.

Future news sources

May 29, 2009

An essay how the influence of different news sources has changed over time is getting some criticism over at Pharyngula. PZ Myers mentions some problems with the claims in the essay. To be fair, though, the essay invites us to “join me on this (unscientific) tour of the last 210 years of information + 10 more years into the future” so it is isn’t claimed to be a rigorous study and much of it makes sense.

Fair or not, Blake Stacey helpfully suggests some modifications to the original graphical depiction of declining influence of different news sources, including a unit for the vertical axis.