Weekend Coffee: Bring on the Autonomous Cars!

SelfDrivingCar

In a previous post, I wrote about the extremely cool technology of 3D printers. Today I want to geek out about another imminent technological advance I'm even more personally excited for: the self-driving car.This technology is exactly what it sounds like: a robotic car that senses its environment with ultrasound, radar and computer vision, automatically avoiding obstacles, obeying signs and traffic signals and following GPS routes to a programmed destination. But the transformative … [Read more...]

No Greater Power

PlanetEdge

When you arise from the abyssal depths of self-chosen slavery, when you step out from the obscuring shadow of superstition, you begin to see the world as it truly is. And with the clear sight that atheism grants, the next step follows naturally. Once we know what beliefs are false, we have to begin the much harder task of discovering what's true. I'd like to offer a signpost in that quest.As human beings, we find ourselves in a world not of our own making. But although we didn't choose it, … [Read more...]

The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

In an interview late last month, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who's widely viewed to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, announced that he doesn't know how old the Earth is:I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.I can't help suggesting that perhaps … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Weather Stories

Well, once again, a major storm is heading toward the East Coast and New York is in the bullseye. (Climate change? What climate change?) Last year, it was all about Hurricane Irene, which ended up passing over where I live without causing too much havoc. Hopefully, I'll be lucky twice. But just in case my power does go out, don't be too alarmed if I disappear from the internet for a few days. While we all stockpile bottled water and sandbags, let's have an open thread: What are your best/worst … [Read more...]

If the Secret Really Worked…

I've written in the past about the Secret, more properly called the Law of Attraction, the perenially popular New Age idea which says that merely thinking about something draws it to you and causes it to appear in your life. One consistent aspect of this idea is that its advocates claim it's an invariable natural law, as certain and predictable in its operation as gravity - although they never seem to explain what happens if two people both wish for incompatible things, like the outcome of an … [Read more...]

One-Half of One Cent

As I'm writing this post, NASA's latest Mars mission - the Mars Science Laboratory, also known as Curiosity - is just hours away from its destination. By the time you read this, we'll know if it touched down safely on the surface of the red planet. Curiosity is a robot rover about the size of an SUV, much larger than previous Mars rovers, and carries more scientific equipment. That makes it too big and too heavy to drop to the surface and bounce to a stop protected by airbags, the way that its … [Read more...]

Dinosaur Weather

I usually write optimistic posts. This is going to be a scary one. I apologize in advance. While I was in Columbus last month, I mentioned the furnace-like heat. Well, it wasn't just me. In what's becoming an annual tradition, heat records are being broken all across the country. And it's not just hot, it's dry: more than 80% of the continental U.S. is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, with no relief in sight. Corn and other crops are being decimated by the drought, the worst … [Read more...]

The Creation Order of Genesis

The discovery of the Higgs boson brought forth a fresh crop of high-minded religious apologists to favor us with platitudes about how science and religion can be reconciled, if only we "extremists" would stop fighting about it all the time. Here's one of them I came across the other week, who asserts that the creation order given in Genesis contains a hidden correspondence with the picture of life's evolutionary history assembled by scientists. As always, he has to phrase it in insufferably … [Read more...]

Is Your Soul an Information Field in Another Dimension?

[Author's Note: In keeping with the tradition that whenever you have a blog post whose title is a question, the answer is always "no"...] Of all the essays I've written, my favorite is "A Ghost in the Machine", presenting the evidence that our personality traits and sense of self arise from neural circuitry in the brain and not a supernatural soul. I've just found out that this essay has drawn a reply from the blog Paranormalia, written by Robert McLuhan. McLuhan writes that, despite the … [Read more...]

People of Light and Darkness

The big news this week is that the Large Hadron Collider, the massive particle accelerator at the European physics lab CERN, has apparently discovered the elusive and long-sought subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, which explains why other particles have mass. The hunt for the Higgs has consumed decades of effort by physicists all over the world, and its discovery fills in one of the last missing pieces of the wildly successful theoretical framework called the Standard Model. Naturally, … [Read more...]


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