Archive for January, 2013

Lighting up the Dark Ages

January 24, 2013

First there’s this BBC piece, which is basically a summary of a series of papers published over the last few months describing unusual isotopes in tree rings and ice cores from the 8th century, attributable to some kind of external high energy radiation ‘event’. Perhaps a supernova, a solar superflare, or— as per the most recent paper, which is the focus of the BBC piece— a gamma ray burst.

Too intriguing to just leave there. What’s pleasantly surprising is that it’s relatively easy to follow the the back-and-forth in the academic literature— even with the frustrating Nature paywalls, and without understanding much of the detailed science.

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Schumann Resonance

January 14, 2013

Also known, more poetically, as the Earth “breathing” or its “heartbeat”:

SchumannAnim_00759_web

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The Death of Theory: Kaggle, randomised control trials, and optimisation without understanding

January 7, 2013

Another effort to draw together some semi-coherent thoughts prompted by a couple of recent-ish items in the media.

Item 1:

“Down with experts”, a New Scientist opinion/interview piece from last month. It looks like Slate has the same interview subscription-free. (more…)