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Updated: Jan 21, 2014
We must expect posterity
to view with some asperity
the marvels and the wonders
we're passing on to it;
but it should change its attitude
to one of heartfelt gratitude
when thinking of the blunders
we didn't quite commit.
--Piet Hein (Grooks)
Millions of "Urban legends" are sent every day.
How do you recognize one when it arrives? For example,
you get a list of terrible injustices, each one where a criminal
sues the victim (and wins!) for an injury acquired in
the process of committing the crime. We obviously need
tort reform . Or do we? Are we being had?
The gold standard resource for getting at the truth is the
web site, http://www.snopes.com .
The Particle Data Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
provides a great set of
links on particle physics. You can find excellent introductory
articles, interactive websites with educational games, and the
most recent experimental data. There is also a fine site
maintained by Fermilab that gives
plain english explanations of recent particle theories and
experiments performed at Fermilab. Jatila van der Veen at UCSB has an
unusual site with
educational materials she developed for teaching physics and astronomy.
History of science
Those of you with an interest in the history of scientific
and literary thought and accomplishment will be well rewarded by
Nobel e-Museum, http://www.nobel.se/nobel/index.html .
In addition to introductory
educational resources such as an educational primer on the structure of
matter, this site has biographies,
presentation speeches, and nobel lectures of every
honoree since the inception in 1901!
What is pseudoscience? How can you recognize it? What scams
are out there?
Here is a nice page on
pseudoscience that gives a number of good links.
Robert Park has written an interesting book,
Voodoo science: the road from foolishness to fraud,
Oxford Press, 2000, and he recently wrote an article giving
a list of the
Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science
Assembled by philosopher Robert Carroll, the
is an informative, well-hyperlinked and well-researched
web document on many topics of contemporary interest.
Anyone with a femtogram of curiosity will find it easy to get
absorbed in the articles.
Cargo Cult Science
1974 Caltech commencement address, also reprinted
in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
(original version here).
Google, of course.
Nancy Blachman has made an excellent
Creative Commons, for search and
other features offered by Google.
It's worth spending a couple of hours going through,
and if you want more background and tricks,
she has co-authored How to Do Everything with Google
with Fritz Schneider and Eric Fredricksen.
Great essays and other fun stuff
Paul Graham's essays. Paul Graham is an original
thinker, and his essays are written with clarity, simplicity
and depth. Always provocative and original, Graham goes way
beyond programming to some of the central issues of
social organization and creativity. And you can buy the
dead tree rendition of some of the best, Hackers and Painters,
O'Reilly Media, 2004.
Joel Spolsky's blog/essays. Joel Spolsky has written
hundreds of essays since 2000 on software and many aspects of
programming, design and related business. The essays are
always well-written, thought-provoking and fun to read.
To get a feel for his writing style and approach to programming,
see this essay on
Making Wrong Code Look Wrong.
An outstanding set is collected in two books, Joel on Software
(2004) and More Joel on Software (2008).
Tales from the Mac development team.
These are anecdotes about some interesting days at Apple,
neatly organized by categories,
and recited by Andy Hertzfeld and other key developers.
Some of it reads like Dilbert.
- Larry Lessig's
Free Culture. Lessig is one lawyer you don't want
on the proverbial bus at the bottom of the lake. The creator
Creative Commons, (a copyright mechanism for everything),
his current ambition is to change the implementation of
copyright law for the digital age. We wish him success.
History of Burma Shave. A journey down nostalgia
lane for old timers -- some of the best doggerel ever written,
A (true) fable for our time
Ron Avitzur and Greg Robbins tell the
story of how the
graphing calculator came to be included with the Mac in 1994.
Two engineers, in the face of gross managerial incompetence,
and working in an Apple culture where defying
authority was acceptable, refused to give up their dreams
and did something amazing.
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