Occasional Bwoglines Part 1: Sciencey Edition
Written by Bwog Staff
Have you ever noticed how time seems to run so much more slowly when you’re not drinking 9 cups of coffee a day and putting half of that energy into being passively aggressive? Bwoglines leisurely returns with a first installment: a feast of not-strictly-topical links, and context—something we all wish we had more time for. You could learn something!
Thursday’s episode of the Colbert Report (remember when?!) featured Neil deGrasse Tyson, big deal astrophysicist and GSAS alum. When he’s not demystifying the movement of the tides, Tyson directs the Hayden Planetarium (totally worth visiting, by the way) and hosts PBS’s scienceNOW. So remember how Pluto used to be a planet? Well, Tyson led the charge against Pluto’s planet status by refusing to include it in the Hayden’s solar system exhibits. For the record, Pluto’s a “dwarf planet” now. It’s tough being tiny.
Tyson the galactic gospel also has a top-notch Twitter feed, featuring sub-140 character gems like “stunning thin crescent Moon this night, suspended in the western sky” and “solve one mystery and the universe presents another: which came first, the chicken salad sandwich or the egg salad sandwich?”
Another scientist story: NYTimes Mag interviewed Physics prof and string theory specialist Brian Greene for the annual Ideas issue. Greene on the definition of intelligence: “Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world.” We especially liked his defense of eggheads: “Is it maligning to be called an egghead? I strive for it,” said Greene. “We’re on this planet for the briefest of moments in cosmic terms, and I want to spend that time thinking about what I consider the deepest questions.” By the way he also collaborated on an opera with Philip Glass. Way cool.
Just one more reason computer scientists are going to take over the world: they double as hair stylists. Director of Columbia’s Computer Graphics Group, Eitan Grinspun, and his grad student groupies perfected the animation for Rapunzel’s endless mane in the new Disney flick, Tangled (Quentin Tarantino’s 4th favorite movie of the year!). Grinspun and his compsci cronies have helped Pixar, Disney, Weta and Adobe with all of their CGI (computer-generated imagery) needs. A fascinating NYTimes article describes the beauty of their “mathematically principled approaches” over the the old-school trial and error style of animation. Math… it’s “gorgeous!”
An artistic impression of Pluto based on Hubble Space Telescope generated images via Wikimedia