Looking Inside Darwin’s Room (and Also Where Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron, & Kipling Did Their Thing)

Dar­win­ma­nia (as The New York Times dubbed it) is about to begin. Dur­ing the next year, we will cel­e­brate Dar­win’s 200th birth­day and the 150th anniver­sary of the Ori­gin of Species (down­load zip audio here) and the dis­cov­ery of nat­ur­al selec­tion. It’s pret­ty much a giv­en that the minu­ti­ae of Dar­win’s life will get thor­ough­ly reex­am­ined. So I fig­ured why not get ahead of the curve and give you this — Dar­win’s writ­ing room. It’s pro­vid­ed cour­tesy of the Guardian Book Sec­tion, which lets you take a peek at the writ­ings rooms of Vir­ginia Woolf, Lord Byron, Rud­yard Kipling, Mar­tin Amis and many oth­er impor­tant writ­ers. (You can also vis­it our piece from last year for more room pho­tos.)

Wind Powered Art

When art meets engi­neer­ing:

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Find Any Song Online and Share. Now.

Tinysong.com offers a ser­vice that’s rather impres­sive. You go to their home­page, search for a song, and then you can lis­ten to it online and share it with a friend (via a spe­cial­ly cre­at­ed url). Just how it all works (copy­right includ­ed), and just how deep the col­lec­tion actu­al­ly goes, I am not total­ly sure. But, the var­i­ous tests that I threw at it sug­gest that there’s a fair amount of depth there.

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Top 10 TEDTalks (and Do Schools Today Kill Creativity?)

Late in the week, TEDTalks named its top ten videos. Whether this is a quan­ti­ta­tive or qual­i­ta­tive judg­ment, I am not sure.  On the list, you’ll find Al Gore talk­ing about how to avert a cli­mate cri­sis, David Gal­lo show­ing amaz­ing under­wa­ter crea­tures, and Ken Robin­son describ­ing why schools kill cre­ativ­i­ty (we’ve post­ed that one below). Again the full list is here.

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Stephen Hawking’s Explosive New Theory

Arti­cle begins: “Prof Stephen Hawk­ing has come up with a new idea to explain why the Big Bang of cre­ation led to the vast cos­mos that we can see today. Astronomers can deduce that the ear­ly uni­verse expand­ed at a mind-bog­gling rate because regions sep­a­rat­ed by vast dis­tances have sim­i­lar back­ground tem­per­a­tures. They have pro­posed a process of rapid expan­sion of neigh­bour­ing regions, with sim­i­lar cos­mic prop­er­ties, to explain this growth spurt which they call infla­tion. But that left a deep­er mys­tery: why did infla­tion occur in the first place?” The rest here.

Superstring Theory Explained Dynamically

“In clear, non­tech­ni­cal lan­guage, string the­o­rist Bri­an Greene explains how our under­stand­ing of the uni­verse has evolved from Ein­stein’s notions of grav­i­ty and space-time to super­string the­o­ry, where minus­cule strands of ener­gy vibrat­ing in 11 dimen­sions cre­ate every par­ti­cle and force in the uni­verse.” If you want to get deep­er into Greene’s work on string the­o­ry, I would rec­om­mend refer­ring back to this pre­vi­ous post.

This dynam­ic pre­sen­ta­tion was made at the TED con­fer­ence. (PS You may also want to see Boing­Bo­ing’s new post: Top 10 TedTalks.)

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No Ice at the North Pole

The chance of ice dis­ap­pear­ing this sum­mer? 50/50. Wor­ri­some, I’d say.

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The Gas Mileage Illusion (and the Future of Electric Cars)

Giv­en the sud­den nation­al obses­sion with the price of oil & gas, it seems worth flag­ging this bit of video put togeth­er by two pro­fes­sors from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty. Some may find their per­spec­tive on gas mileage rather obvi­ous, oth­ers not. Either way, it can’t hurt to get their point across.

Sep­a­rate­ly, here’s a quick piece on the state of elec­tric cars and when they may be ready for prime time. You’ll learn here about the Tes­la Road­ster, a high-per­for­mance elec­tric sports car, that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 sec­onds and gets the equiv­a­lent of 256 miles per gal­lon. Pret­ty impres­sive, even if it costs $109k.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.