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Posts Tagged ‘remix’

22 DECEMBER, 2010

2010′s Best Long Reads: Science & Technology

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Longreads and Brain Pickings have teamed up to highlight the most fascinating in-depth stories published on the web this year. Earlier, we featured the best of Business and Art, Design, Film & Music. Our final spotlight shines on Science, Medicine & Technology.

FOR THE LOVE OF CULTURE

Google, Copyright and Our Future (Lawrence Lessig, The New Republic, Jan. 26, 2010)

Time to read: 26 minutes (6,454 words)

In the wake of the Google Books project—and the subsequent settlement with publishers — Lessig calls for a new approach that untangles copyright law and helps keep information accessible to all.

What are the rules that will govern culture for the next hundred years? Are we building an ecology of access that demands a lawyer at every turn of the page?”

For more on this complex and controversial subject, see our continuous coverage of remix culture.

SEARCH FOR A STRESS VACCINE

Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine (Jonah Lehrer, Wired, July 28, 2010)

Time to read: 23 minutes (5,700 words)

Lehrer profiles Robert Sapolsky, a scientist researching ways to create a vaccine-like treatment to protect people against stress. (In early research he’s injected a modified herpes virus into rodents’ brains.)

Sometimes it’s not enough just to tell people, ‘Jeez, you should really learn to relax.’ If stress is half as bad for you as we currently think it is, then it’s time to stop treating the side effects. It’s time to go after stress itself.”

NEW DRUGS AND CLINICAL TRIALS

New Drugs Stir Debate on Rules of Clinical Trials (Amy Harmon, New York Times, Sept. 19, 2010)

Time to read: 17 minutes (4,173 words)

A heartbreaking story from Harmon’s “Target Cancer” series about two cousins with skin cancer enrolled in the same clinical trial — but only one of them received the powerful new drug.

At times beseeching and belligerent, Mr. McLaughlin argued his cousin’s case to get the new drug with anyone he could find at U.C.L.A. ‘Hey, put him on it, he needs it,’ he pleaded. And then: ‘Who the hell is making these decisions?’”

THE STATUS QUO OF ELECTRIC CARS

The Status Quo of Electric Cars: Better Batteries, Same Range (Gail E. Tverberg, The Oil Drum, May 19, 2010)

Time to read: 16 minutes (3,940 words)

The Chevy Volt is Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year, but Tverberg argues that, in many ways, we’re no better off with electric cars than we were a century ago.

Weight, comfort, speed and performance have eaten up any real progress. We don’t need better batteries, we need better cars.”

AUTISM’S FIRST CHILD

Autism’s First Child (John Donvan and Caren Zucker, The Atlantic, October 2010)

Time to read: 33 minutes (8,165 words)

While there is quite a bit of attention on autism as it relates to children, what happens when they grow up? Donvan and Zucker track down Donald Gray Triplett, 77, the first person ever diagnosed with autism.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Donald’s life is that he grew up to be an avid traveler. He has been to Germany, Tunisia, Hungary, Dubai, Spain, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, and Colombia—some 36 foreign countries and 28 U.S. states in all.”

THE GOLDEN BOY AND THE INVISIBLE ARMY

The Golden Boy and the Invisible Army (Thomas Lake, Atlanta Magazine, June 2010)

Time to read: 19 minutes (4,777 words)

Writer Thomas Lake puts the H1N1 virus in human terms with this story of John Behnken, a 27-year-old Atlanta man who seemed an unlikely target for swine flu.

Dr. Stauffenberg had done close to 1,600 autopsies, and this was the first time she had seen an otherwise healthy person die from the unaided influenza virus.”

SHOULD WE CLONE NEANDERTHALS?

Should We Clone Neanderthals? (Zach Zorich, Archaeology, March/April 2010)

Time to read: 17 minutes (4,274 words)

An examination of the scientific, legal and ethical questions raised by the possibility that scientists may one day be able to clone neanderthals. At least one paleoanthropologist predicts: It’s going to happen.

If your experiment succeeds and you generate a Neanderthal who talks, you have violated every ethical rule we have, and if your experiment fails…well. It’s a lose-lose.”

THE PEANUT SOLUTION

The Peanut Solution (Andrew Rice, New York Times, Sept. 2, 2010)

Time to read: 21 minutes (5,258 words)

A peanut-buttery paste called Plumpy’nut is praised for its potential to help end malnutrition across the globe. Patents, intellectual property and competing interests make distribution more complicated.

I wouldn’t want to see a new world order where poor people are dependent on packaged supplementary foods that are manufactured in Europe or the United States.”

SHOOTING FOR THE SUN

Shooting for the Sun (Logan Ward, The Atlantic, November 2010)

Time to read: 13 minutes (3,149 words)

The story of Lonnie Johnson, an inventor with some 100 patents who is best-known for creating the Super Soaker squirt gun. His latest obsession: Bringing affordable solar power to the world.

Johnson is a member of what seems to be a vanishing breed: the self-invented inventor.”

THE PLASTIC PANIC

The Plastic Panic (Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker, May 31, 2010)

Time to read: 19 minutes (4,788 words)

Is the BPA found in plastic bottles actually harmful to us? And if so, why isn’t it banned in the United States? A look at the regulatory issues that keep potentially toxic chemicals in the marketplace.

The Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, does not require manufacturers to show that chemicals used in their products are safe before they go on the market.”

See more Longreads 2010 “best-of” lists here.

Mark Armstrong is a digital strategist, writer and founder of Longreads, a community and Twitter service highlighting the best long-form stories on the web. His thoughts about the future of publishing and content can be found here.

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09 DECEMBER, 2010

Dust Serenade: Interactive MIT Installation Honors Sound Science Pioneer

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In the latter part of the 1800s, German physicist August Kundt devised an ingenious experiment that allowed him to measure the speed of sound in different gases by visualizing its longitudinal waves through fine lycopodium dust — an idea inspired by another German physicist, Ernst Chladni, who in the late 1700s famously visualized sound in solid materials in his seminal sand figures. (Because, as we’ve learned, all creativity builds on what came before.)

This year, a duo of MIT students, Dietmar Offenhuber and Orkan Telhan, and Austrian sound artist Markus Decker teamed up to reenact Kundt’s acoustic experiment in Dust Serenade — an interactive installation consisting of tubes filled with scraps of words and letters — “cut-up theory,” a play on the empirical bravery that made Kandt revolutionary in an era of theoretical inquiry — which turn into figures of dust as sound waves touch them. Viewers can manipulate the frequency of the sound by swiveling a rod to create different sound harmonies, which in turn reconfigure the text in different ways.

‘Dust Serenade’ intends to remind us the materiality of sound. We invite visitors to rethink about the tension between their theoretical knowledge and the sensory experience.”

The project was funded by MIT’s Council for the Arts and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture. It is currently on exhibition at the rather wonderful MIT Museum until December 24 — do stop by if you get a chance.

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07 DECEMBER, 2010

A Creative Commons Christmas Carol

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We’ve examined the absurdities of copyright law on multiple occasions. But hardly anywhere are these more apparent than when it comes to music licensing. (Did you know that every time “Happy Birthday,” the world’s most popular song, is sung in a film, TV show or commercial, someone paid a fee and the song brings AOL Time Warner about $2 million in royalties annually?)

When trying to find holiday songs for their upcoming web series, Scotty Iseri and Matthew Latkiewicz got a first-hand taste for said absurdities. So, to illustrate how copyright law is nipping at the holiday spirit, they rallied some of remix culture‘s greatest advocates — CreativeCommons founder Lawrence Lessig, netcaster Leo Laporte, copyright liberalization crusader Cory Doctorow, Dick DeBartolo (known as Mad‘s maddest writer), Rocketboom’s Zadi Diaz, Wired founder Kevin Kelly, and Mark Frauenfelder of MAKE and BoingBoing fame — to write and record a CreativeCommons Christmas Carol. And it’s just as priceless as you’d expect:

For more on copyright law and remix culture, don’t miss Walking on Eggshells: Borrowing Culture in the Remix Age — the wonderful free documentary from Yale Law & Technology. Meanwhile, please consider putting CreativeCommons on your holiday giving list and support one of the most important movements of our time with a donation.

HT @cheloreilly

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