Guerilla Open Access Manifesto – Free Our Information

After Netflix updated their catalogue yesterday to include The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, the first thing I did this morning was put it on and watch in sheer admiration. Aaron Swartz was an amazing person and a true pioneer of today’s internet.

The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto is something he and his fellow colleges wrote and is something I strongly believe in. It’s worth a read.

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Urine does not help Jellyfish stings

Many people are of the opinion (or should I say, under the impression) that urine can help sooth the pain of a jellyfish sting because it neutralises the chemicals. It doesn’t. It can actually make it even worse.

The following snippets give a general coverage of an article in Scientific American who spoke to Joseph Burnett, a dermatologist at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, and Christopher Holstege, a toxicologist and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Virginia. Continue reading

Steven Hawking Warns About Developing Artificial Intelligence

Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it might play out differently from in the movie: as Irving Good realised in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a “singularity” and Johnny Depp’s movie character calls “transcendence”.

One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.

So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right? Wrong. If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, “We’ll arrive in a few decades,” would we just reply, “OK, call us when you get here – we’ll leave the lights on”? Probably not – but this is more or less what is happening with AI. Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history, little serious research is devoted to these issues outside non-profit institutes such as the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, the Future of Humanity Institute, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, and the Future Life Institute. All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.

[Original article] Continue reading

Several Science Degrees Summed Up in a Sentence

Computer Engineering

Tons of chicks, just not very many


Everything you learnt last week is wrong


Spend 4 years trying to discover the cure to cancer, and the rest of your life manufacturing shampoo


Let me Google that for you

Computer Science (heterosexual girl)

The odds are good, but the goods are odd


Where alcohol IS a solution

Political Science

Your opinion is wrong

Aerospace Engineering

It actually IS rocket science


The art of figuring out which parameters you can safely ignore

Structural Engineering

Because architects don’t know what physics is


Where everything’s made up and the numbers don’t matter


“Meh, I’m within an order of magnitude”

‘I Fucking Love Science’ to get its own show on the Science Channel

Craig Ferguson will host a late night show on the Science Channel called ‘I F-ing Love Science’, a show inspired by a Facebook page (child friendly version) of the same name created by British biology student Elise Andrew. This is amazing news for the IFL Science team and the science community as a whole; because of Elise, millions more people will be touched by the awesomeness that is science.

I’ve been following IFL Science since pretty much the beginning and I have to say it is by far the most interesting page I have. Their page turns 2 years old on 10th March and this will be great birthday present for them!

“If you know anything about me, you know I love science. Science has a naughty secret — it’s that all things are connected. And this show is going to explore the randomness of science. Think of it as a late night Google search that goes a hundred pages deep until things get weird — and then you just keep going. And there is no better partner for this kind of smart entertainment like Science Channel and Elise.”

– Craig Ferguson

“When I created my Facebook page three years ago I never could have imagined that it would resonate with a worldwide audience of 11 million followers. This partnership with Craig and Science Channel is an exciting new venture that I hope will encourage more people to embrace the amazing, wonderful world of science.”

– Elise Andrew Continue reading