New law suit against The Pirate Bay

July 29, 2009

A new law suit against The Pirate Bay is reported in the news. Major movie studios have teamed up to stop TPB from providing torrents. Though TPB lost the previous court battle, the old torrents remain available and new ones are added every day. There’s also some bad news for the planned sale of TPB, as one player pulls out due to doubts about funding.

ZDnet even says the new law suit will block the sale of TPB to the dubious Global Gaming Factory, though no one else seems to have reported that. If true it would be a bit ironic since the new owner says it is negotiating deals with Hollywood studies to turn TPB into a legal file sharing site. Is this Hollywood’s answer to GGF? I guess it makes some sense to try to get TPB to cease activity as a torrent tracker, especially since GGF’s take over is still a bit unclear, but TPB is just one of several torrent trackers and users are already shifting attention to other trackers.

Jimmy Carter meets Prof. Steve Steve

July 29, 2009

This picture at Panda’s Thumb will make waves in the blogosphere. Prof. Steve, the world’s most educated science education mascot, met with none other than former President Jimmy Carter (or vice versa).

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.)

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.

Happy Flag Day

June 14, 2009

Happy Flag Day to all Americans!

Convergence acceleration of infinite sequences

May 31, 2009

Infinite sequences often arise in mathematics, especially in the form of the finite partial sums corresponding to an infinite series. In simple cases it possible to compute the limit (if it exists) of a sequence analytically. However, sequences for which it is very difficult or unknown how to compute the limit analytically are not uncommon in mathematics, nor in applications in science and engineering. In particular, when the sequence elements are partial sums including ever more terms from an infinite series, each sequence element becomes more time consuming to compute than the previous one. I recently came across interesting review articles (by Weniger) on techniques for accelerating the convergence of infinite sequences. Read the rest of this entry »

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.