Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


CSIRO takes axe to education and children’s outreach work to meet cuts

1 August 2014

CSIRO has had to make hard choices following government funding cuts.

Who needs to inspire Australian kids to love science? Who needs astronomy?

I’d write to the Minister for Science if the government hadn’t cut that too.



The Solar System – Our home in space

25 August 2013

I really like this video. It uses simple infographic-type visuals to describe the layout and components of our solar system.


Coursera: Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

14 August 2013

This week I started my second Coursera course: Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.

It actually started a couple of weeks ago so I need to catch up. I’ve only done the first week but am already finding it both mentally stimulating and sort of funny.

Here’s what I’ll learn:

  1. Infinity (Zeno’s Paradox, Galileo’s Paradox, very basic set theory, infinite sets)

  2. Truth (Tarski’s theory of truth, recursive definitions, complete induction over sentences, Liar Paradox)

  3. Rational Belief (propositions as sets of possible worlds, rational all-or-nothing belief, rational degrees of belief, bets, Lottery Paradox)

  4. If-then (indicative vs subjunctive conditionals, conditionals in mathematics, conditional rational degrees of belief, beliefs in conditionals vs conditional beliefs)

  5. Confirmation (the underdetermination thesis, the Monty Hall Problem, Bayesian confirmation theory)

  6. Decision (decision making under risk, maximizing expected utility, von Neumann Morgenstern axioms and representation theorem, Allais Paradox, Ellsberg Paradox)

  7. Voting (Condorcet Paradox, Arrows Theorem, Condorcet Jury Theorem, Judgment Aggregation)

  8. Quantum Logic (orthocomplemented lattices, projections, Gleason’s Theorem, probability and logic)



Foals – My Number

15 February 2013

This video is a puzzle.

Man, I am loving all the new Foals songs.


First Aid Kit cover Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”

26 May 2012

I’ve blogged before about Swedish sister country-folk duo First Aid Kit, because they’re amazingly fantastical. In addition to their own great music they’ve done some great cover tunes, like this autoharp-filled version of “It Hurts Me Too”.

We’ve now got a full version of a cover First Aid Kit did for French radio some time ago, of Patti Smith’s eerie, iconic “Dancing Barefoot”. Listen to the harmonies.


Great Big Sea at The Basement

6 April 2012

Great Big Sea are a pretty popular party-time band from Newfoundland, Canada. For 20 years they’ve blended East Coast folk music (strongly Irish-influenced) with pop-rock melodies and sensibilities. I saw them a couple of times when I lived in Canada, and once in London in 2007 (read the comments thread on that blog post; I attracted a nutter). They’re high energy. Their music is neither elaborate nor delicately crafted, but it’s delivered with punk-rock dedication.

Great Big Sea are on their first Australian mini-tour (a night in Melbourne and a night in Sydney, before heading up the coast to the Byron Bay Bluesfest this weekend). Like any good Canadian – and the Basement was packed with them last night – I went to see them play. I managed to drag along some friends, most of whom didn’t know GBS, but who had a pretty good time.

I was pleased to find out that the opening act was Katoomba one-man DIY blues band Claude Hay, whom I caught a couple of times earlier this year. It was a short set, but Claude won over the room with his smiling demeanour, soulful voice, and fiery fingerpicking.

Great Big Sea did what they’ve always done: ripped through Celtic-rock singalongs of just about all the hits I remember, including “Donkey Riding”, “Mari-Mac”, “Lukey”, “The Night Pat Murphy Died”, “Up”, “Run Runaway”, “Excursion Around the Bay” and so on and so on. The Canuck crowd knew when to sing, when to clap, and when to belt out a “Hey!”

The boys oozed enthusiasm and Newfie charm as they went. This was the first time for some of them in Australia, and there were oft-repeated jibes of Sean McCann falling for warnings about drop-bears. Sean also found it bewildering that this used to be a penal colony: if people were sent here for punishment, he wondered aloud, how bad must his ancestors – banished to Newfoundland – have been?

It was a feel-good kitchen party in a little basement club on the other side of the world, but I don’t think it felt much different from Corner Brook for Great Big Sea.


Canberra to be NASA’s eyes for Mars landing

4 April 2012

From the SMH, when the latest Mars rover touches down on the red planet’s surface on August 6th, it will be Australia telescopes that will be in position to watch. Read more here.


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