7 Quick Takes (3/23/11)

— 1 —

The Reason Rally is tomorrow, and I still need some help picking out a sign.  I’m only set on one so far which would read “Bayesian Conspirator” with Bayes Theorem printed above or below.


My goal is to only carry value-added signs (i.e. signs that no one else is likely to wave), and I’d prefer to promote specific things for other atheists to do or think, instead of knocking religion generically.

Suggestions welcome!

— 2 —

Oh, and in case you were wondering about Bayes Theorem, you can start with Yudkowsky’s beginner’s guide to Bayes, and then you may want to move on to this strange legal statistics problem.

— 3 —

Via io9, a really remarkable woodworking video:

This video, of course, reminds me of the cover Gödel Escher Bach, which I recommend to you always.

— 4 —

I’m fascinated by DARPA’s BigDog project and this video is amazing.  In the video below you can see the fastest, four-legged robot in existence.  It’s top speed is 18 miles an hour.


What I find most remarkable is how alien the robot’s movements look.  Although the scientists involved were guided by nature, they weren’t limited to it.  (h/t Wired)


— 5 —

And while we’re on the topic of transcending nature, Gizmodo has an interesting first-person story about the experience of having a magnet implanted in your finger.

I quickly learned that magnetic surfaces provided almost no sensation at all. Rather, it was movement that caused my finger to perk up. Things like power cord transformers, microwaves, and laptop fans became interactive in a whole new way. Each object has its own unique field, with different strength and “texture.” I started holding my finger over almost everything that I could, getting a feeling for each object’s invisible reach…

The best part of having the magnet implant was discovering invisible magnetic fields when I wasn’t actually looking. The first experience I had with this was walking through the intersection of Broadway and Bleecker in Manhattan. I passed through this intersection a few times before realizing that my finger would tingle at a certain spot. After paying a bit more attention, I realized that I was feeling something underground. At first, I assumed it was a subway car, but later came to the conclusion that it was most likely the subway power generator, or the giant fan that was cooling these generators. After noticing these underground waves at Broadway and Bleecker, I began feeling them all over Manhattan.

— 6 —

And now that we’re talking about body modification, I should mention I just came back from the midnight showing of The Hunger Games that my housemates and I attended in costume.  I didn’t have time for a major sewing project, so tonight’s costume was done primarily with makeup.

So, without further ado…

— 7 —

Brought to you by modeling wax, liquid latex, and Clove’s knives…

One of the random Tributes who dies off-stage!


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  • Anonymous

    A big part of my research involves animal gaits and patterns. A big reason why the cheetah looks alien is because it doesn’t exhibit any classical gait transitions. It’s all just one gait, where they drive amplitudes/frequencies up. Nature doesn’t do this, in part because it’s very inefficient at lower speeds (and you’ll notice how much the main body still rocks back and forth at lower speeds… this makes vision navigation more difficult than it needs to be). I would assume the engineers know about gait transitions, and just haven’t gotten around to including them yet. They probably just want to test their high gear and show it off.

  • I cannot wait to see the Hunger Games!!

  • I love your costume! I also love the first cartoon. Hysterical.

  • deiseach

    If you’re still looking for sign suggestions and it’s not too late, here’s a couple:

    From Goya’s print: “The sleep of reason produces monsters”

    From the Catechism (more or less): “Fideism is heresy”

    I’ve just come out of a circular argument that was getting more heated and less illuminating over on another blog, so I’m feeling that something along the lines of the question allegedly asked of Ghandi (“What do you think of Western civilisation?” “I think it would be a very good idea”) might be applicable; what do you think of reason? I think it would be great to see some in action!

  • Alex

    Leah, Completely off topic but thanks for recommending Awake. I haven’t watched TV in years but I so far I’ve been loving every episode. What do you think of it so far?