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Weekend Reading: After the 4th Edition

Mini Darth Vader Goes to the White HouseI hope that American readers are well-recovered from our annual celebration of our freedom to annoy and endanger our neighbors, and that everyone’s Higgs boson giddiness has receded to manageable levels.

On to this week’s links!

  • Mahir Ozdemir reminds us that brain imaging isn’t quite as sophisticated yet as we might think: What’s also difficult is to count on the (over)simplification that  brain patterns recorded when subjects are performing certain tasks in the tunnel of MR scanners would reflect, accurately, their brain activity when the person is doing the same task in the real world. (Via Vaughan Bell)
  • Nina Simon explains the deep connection between beer-brewing monks and arts and culture organizations: The monks make beer to support their monastic lifestyle, not to serve consumers. The exclusivity and the complicated path to purchasing the beer are not branding strategies to trump up the value of the beer. They are limitations that enable monks to spend most of their time being monks.
  • John Tedesco provides a helpful overview of true search engine wizardry: Search is all about someone else’s language. . . . “Part of the skill here is being fascinated about language,” Russell said. “You’ve got to think about equivalent terms.”
  • Lisa Gardiner reviews “Mobile Apps for Exploring Nature”: I often get sidetracked after using the W-A-L-K word out loud in front of my dog. Sometimes, I am looking for misplaced sneakers or sunglasses, but today I am downloading a few citizen science apps to my iPhone in hopes of turning our midday walk into an urban naturalist adventure.
  • Gary Wolf illustrates the benefits of spaced repetition in learning: Memorization is only a small part of learning, but it in many circumstances it is unavoidable. There is an ideal moment to practice what you want to memorize. Practice too soon and you waste your time. Practice too late and you’ve forgotten the material and have to relearn it. The right time to practice is just at the moment you’re about to forget. If you are using a computer to practice, a spaced repetition program can predict when you are likely to forget an item, and schedule it on the right day.

The device that’s changed my (and, arguably more importantly, my 9yo’s) attitude toward hardware and electronics more than any other is the Arduino, an open-source prototyping platform that lets you do all sorts of cool things straightaway. Massimo Banzi, who helped develop the Arduino, gave a TEDTalk about the project recently:

Bonus link: Luke Burns unpacks the most poorly-understood aspect of any doctoral defense in “FAQ: The ‘Snake Fight’ Portion of Your Thesis Defense.”

Have a great weekend!

Photo “mini darth visits the white house by Flickr user Laura Padgett / Creative Commons licensed BY-ND-2.0

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