Earlier this year, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that it was shedding the fear of paper cuts and turning itself over solely to anxiety over internet access cuts. The now online-only encyclopedia of record further noted recently that they were looking to adapt a communal, almost wiki form of a community for it’s publication.
For those who grew up with one of their multi-volume sets, it marks an extraordinary end of an era. Despite the wonderment of Encarta95 and wikipedia, itself, the Encyclopedia Britannica was, at worst, one heck of a beauty on your bookshelf. My family still has our circa 1985 set at my parents home.
Nostalgia also struck one of my favorite TED speakers, the poet Rives. Below is his reaction to EB 2.0.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I figured I would feature the most recent lecture I’ve watched. Supported fully by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Big History Project aims to promote a passion for learning, as well as a more comprehensive, big picture look at the history of how we got here and where we are. Bill Gates talks a bit about it here.
One of their big moments was the spectacular below lecture by Gates’ co-founder David Christian. Along with Carolyn Porco’s Saturn talk, this is one of the more visually stunning lectures you’ll see. Definitely worth the next 20 minutes.
A constant reader of this blog or anyone who has spent time discussing the subject with me will probably be able to tell that I’ve gone through a religious journey of sorts in the past few years. More accurately, I’ve delved into the topic, weighing philosophical, historical and scientific texts to determine that I am perfectly capable of being good without god and that, as a non-believer, I am proud to call myself an atheist.
While at times there are elements of religion I cannot accept or respect, I generally consider myself (or at least would like to consider myself) to be happily respectful of others’ rights to practice their religions and hold their own beliefs. I only ask that those individuals do not attempt to establish theocracies or impose their religious mandates on others.
My coming out as an atheist has also accompanied a continuing desire to learn more about various other religions. This edition of TED Tuesday includes three religious figures presenting at various TED conferences. They include a journalist experimenting with living an orthodox Christian life, a pop-culture pastor talking about how each of us should live uniquely, and an imam who just happens to be that guy building the mis-labeled “ground zero” mosque.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone and a premature Saturnium (Christmas, for you non-pagan believers).
So I haven’t posted an online lecture in a while. I was very tempted to simply post the excellent Munk Debate on the place of religion in modern society that was hosted in Canada a few weeks ago and featured Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair, but I figured that the copyright status of those files are a little less than, well, certain.
Instead, I’ve decided to post a couple of recent TED lectures that struck me as truly enthralling. The first is Denis Dutton’s Darwinian Theory of Beauty. This lecture not only passes science muster… it’s also one of the most truly beautiful presentations I can recall, incorporating animation into its powerpoint.
Two quick and interesting lectures on psychology and neuroscience for your Tuesday lunch hour. First up is psychologist Barry Schwartz, talking about freedom of choice and its impact on the human psyche and collective culture. Filmed at TedGlobal 2005 in July 2005.
Watch a lecture about happiness, after the jump. Read more…
I’ve strayed from TED a bit in the last few ones of these. So why not bring on the queen of the JPL to bring it back into focus. Especially with the US debut of Wonders of the Solar System this past week on the Science channel, a talk about Saturn and the Cassini probe seemed to be a great idea. Carolyn Porco is the awesome head of the Imaging Team on Cassini and is a regular on the Science and History channels and the celebrity astrophysicist circuit.
At TED2007 in March 2007, she spoke about Cassini and showed off some of their cooler images.
Click on through for some more science talks.Read more…
I will note that don’t have an opinion with respect to whether WikiLeaks’ existence is a positive or negative thing and whether the site’s leaks are a net positive or negative for both America’s governmental actions and national security. I’ve not thought enough on the topic to have an informed opinion.
Most certainly, WikiLeaks has been structured in a very conscientious manner, taking great care to cover their sources. And they do take legitimate measures to ensure validity of materials. But should everything be leaked just because it can be — noting, however, that they are quite clear in that they don’t publish everything they get? On that, I’m not certain.
Here is WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange in a conversation discussing the site just earlier this month at TEDGlobal 2010.
Yesterday I posted some of the best legitimate Neil de Grasse Tyson videos from the interwebs. Today, we’re going with pure fun, as in Colbert Report fun. Linked after the jump are the entirety of NdGT’s world record six appearances on the Colbert Report.
NdGT was the first Threepeat, Fourpeat, Fivepeat and Sixpeat guest on the Report.
Any time you get a chance to see NdGT work, you're constantly drawn to make plans to visit the Rose Center.
While most of the time I’m going to embed videos from TED lectures, sometimes I’ll go with non-TED videos that drive home a similar concept of pressing forth knowledge while providing entertainment. In the field of science and astrophysics, in particular, there’s simply no one better than Neil de Grasse Tyson.
Tyson is the revered host of PBS’s NOVA magazine show and is the director of the Rose Center and Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History. He’s also one of the most engaging folks when it comes to conveying enthusiasm for the sciences. Oh yeah, there’s also the whole Pluto thing (The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet).
I’ve linked a few videos for a reason, appearing after the jump.
A while back when I was a little more gung ho about updating, I posted Michael Shermer’s last TED lecture on strange beliefs. This time, we’ve got a bit more from the editor of Skeptic Magazine as he discusses the patterns behind self deception. Filmed at TED2010 in February 2010, Long Beach, CA.
Shermer’s works irks some new atheists in that he accepts the reality of and makes an effort to understand of religious beliefs (being squarely in the skeptic/agnostic column). I’m not sure I jive with the criticisms, as I feel Shermer’s supposed ambivalence as permitting him the characteristic of empathy. He tries to not only learn, but also understand why people believe what they experience.