Links for 2012-05-11

  • Next Time, Fail Better – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education

    Humanities students should be more like computer-science students. I decided that as I sat in on a colleague’s computer-science course during the beginning of this, my last, semester in the classroom. I am moving into administration full time, and I figured that this was my last chance to learn some of the cool new digital-humanities stuff I’ve been reading about. What eventually drove me out of the class (which I was enjoying tremendously) was the time commitment: The work of coding, I discovered, was an endless round of failure, failure, failure before eventual success. Computer-science students are used to failing. They do it all the time. It’s built into the process, and they take it in stride.

  • Backreaction: Top Ten

    This is a repost and update of a six year old post in which I listed what I think are the most interesting and pressing open problems in theoretical physics, or at least the area that I work in, quantum gravity. I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit. This list doesn’t even pretend to be objective – it omits entire areas of theoretical physics – it is mainly a reflection of my personal interests; a summary of puzzles I find promising to spend brain time on.

  • Frequency comb takes a measure of distance –

    A new method for measuring distance based on an optical frequency comb has been unveiled by physicists in the Netherlands. The main benefit of the technique, which involves passing the light from an optical comb through a Michelson interferometer and analysing the resulting interference patterns, is that it allows distances to be measured accurately without already knowing the value to within half a wavelength of the light used. The technique could be used to measure the distance between satellites or to make very precise measurements of the dispersion of light in optical materials.

  • Way More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Animaniacs – Mental Floss

    When I started researching the history of Animaniacs, I contacted creator Tom Ruegger to see if he could fill in some gaps. I expected a few sentences in response to my questions, but Mr. Ruegger sent back seven pages of awesomeness instead. So if you happen to be searching for the real story behind Animaniacs, you’re in the right place.

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