1. Big Thread O' Sciences and Maths

Precurser to science, skepticism, critical thinking. Read this first if you are new to this stuff.

Originally Posted by Carl Sagan
The Dragon In My Garage
by Carl Sagan

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
Last edited by s.ketch; June 3rd, 2011 at 05:53 PM.

2. Wow.. thanks for all these vids, should be interesting!

3. This thread makes me sad, thanks for reminding me how much I miss Carl Sagan you jerk.

I feel the same, I love science, technology and art. I usually post all the videos I found interesting about science and technology in my blog (some silly stuff too).

BTW, you got featured in my blog .

Edit, I totaly forgot to add a description. "A short film depicting the beauty of Moebius Transformations in mathematics" It's quite stunning!
Last edited by DefiledVisions; November 2nd, 2009 at 07:01 PM.

6. Here's a video I posted in the reference forum. I think you concept artists might find it intressting since it's about animal movement and how to design the perfect foot. Also included in the video: A bipedal octopus disguised as a rolling coconut!

http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_full..._movement.html
Last edited by LORD M; November 2nd, 2009 at 01:29 PM.

7. I saw this last week on cable & found it interesting. It's an episode from the History Channel's Universe series on our galaxy, The Milky Way.

Last edited by biglu; November 3rd, 2009 at 02:08 AM.

8. some other Youtube finds ...

the size of our sun in comparison to the other stars

the size of our galaxy in comparison to the known visable part of our universe

the brain and it's neuron network

Carl Sagan on evolution of the human brain and it's functions

the origin and evolution of genes

9. TED is awesome, too. Look for Richard Dawkins

10. Richard Feynman is one of my heroes.
Also. a youtube search of his name will bring up a bunch of other talks.

11. Endogenous Retroviruses (ERVs) have imprinted themselves on the genome of both humans and chimps, in the exact same locations, tens of thousands of times.. and what this means for evolutionary history deniers.

For some reason it's not showing up here... so you have to click the link.
Last edited by phoric; November 3rd, 2009 at 11:08 PM.

12. All my posts are being updated. Check the most recent posts.
Last edited by s.ketch; June 3rd, 2011 at 05:29 PM.

13. A little bit of fun for us, the heretics:

15. Wow. Just when I thought that there wouldn't ever be a thread greater than the cheer me up thread. I absolutely love all of this stuff. No fair though! It's going to take me weeks to get through all of Buckweisels stuff alone! hahaha.

All of those diagrams are amazing. Heres the nat geo "Guns, Germs, and Steel" documentary. IDK how to put in a vid from google video, and the youtube version is divided into 18 parts. 3 parts, really good stuff.

16. Awesome awesome awesome thread sir.

Allow my humble contribution: I know string theory has a bit of a bad rap with some physicists *cough* Sheldon Lee Glashow *cough* but I thought this was a really interesting and fairly well executed - if somewhat repetitive - documentary on how Quantum Mechanics replaced Classical physics, how String theory sprang from Quantum mechanics and general relativity, how M-Theory originated from String Theory and then some. If nothing else, then a decent overview of particle physics:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/program.html

Not quite sure how to embed them here, will check that out later>

17. Too bad, scientists can't test string theories.

18. In the future, when everyone has only 15 minutes of privacy, huge orbital particle colliders will prove everything!

19. sorry, imbedding was disabled. BUT THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT SCIENCE VIDEO!!!

A book that everyone interested in science needs to read:

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

21. Some things incl a good deal of TED talks:
(apologies if this doesn't work first time - I'm not sure I've got the embedding stuff figured out quite yet)
Cragin Venter on synthesizing life:

VS Ramachandran on mirror neurons:

Jeff Hawkins on Neurology and Artificial Intelligence:

Richard Dawkins on how we perceive our universe:

Juan Enriquez on technology and the economy:

and on Bioenergy:

and on Genomics:

Burt Rutan On Space Flight (not really science, but I find this one pretty exciting. Plus Burt's kinda cool.)

First hour of The Elegant Universe:

Richard Dawkins Interviewing Dan Dennet on Darwin:

On Nanotech:

DNA:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/genome/dna.html

CERN website:
http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/...e/Dark-en.html

PDF link to an extensive report on NBIC technologies and their impact on the foreseeable future of humanity; haven't gotten through all of it, and it's fairly repetitive, but also quite interesting:

http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechno...BIC_report.pdf
http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechno...IC3_report.pdf

22. Here's a story to tickle your sci-fi taste buds: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ein-wormholes/

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