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Posts Tagged ‘Cornell

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way… But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself”*…

 

“We’ve taken a complete rethink of how wood is used as a material,” said designer Gavin Munro. His production method upends traditional furniture manufacturing processes that involve cutting down trees, trucking logs, sawing the wood, then gluing back them together, generating a lot of industrial and ecological waste in the process.

Over the last four years, Munro and his team at Full Grown have been nurturing hundreds of willow trees, patiently waiting for the right harvest time. Guided by Munro’s studies in tree shaping and botanical craftsmanship, the trained furniture designer is using grafting techniques to coax the tree branches to form chairs, tables and lamp, and frames…

More at “This designer doesn’t make chairs. He grows them—from trees.”

* William Blake

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As we agree that there is nothing like a tree, we might recall that it was on this date in 1898 that the first school of professional forestry in the U.S., the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell, was created by an act of the New York State Legislature.  Dr. Bernhard Fernow, then chief of the USDA’s Division of Forestry, was invited to head the new College, and set about creating a 30,000 acre demonstration forest in the Adirondacks.  In part to test his theories of forest management and in part to help pay for the program, Fernow and Cornell entered into a contract with the Brooklyn Cooperage Company to deliver them wood…  and set about clear-cutting large swaths of the forest.  As a result of the public outcry that followed, the school was defunded and closed in 1903.  (It “reopened” under new management in 1911 at Syracuse University, where it has been operating since.)

Dr, Fernow

 source

 

Written by LW

April 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

Well, it’s true that they both react poorly to showers…

 

Randall Munroe (xkcd) riffs on the same chatbot-to-chatbot conversation featured here some days ago…

 

As we celebrate our essential humanity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that Jesse Lazear, a then-34-year-old physician working in Cuba to understand the transmission of yellow fever, experimented on himself, allowing himself to be bitten by infected mosquitoes.  His death two weeks later confirmed that mosquitoes are in fact the carriers of the disease.

source

 

The Ghost in the Machine…

Via the always-rewarding Dangerous Minds:

Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab says, “What happens when you let two bots have a conversation? We certainly never expected this…”

As we reconsider that dinner invitation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1991 that Burning Man opened in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, having moved from San Francisco’s Baker Beach.  All the best to readers headed that way now…

source: Howard Rheingold

UFOs (Unusual Feynman Objects)…

 

Richard Feynman was a once-in-a-generation intellectual. He had no shortage of brains. (In 1965, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics.) He had charisma. (Witness this outtake from his 1964 Cornell physics lectures [available in full here].) He knew how to make science and academic thought available, even entertaining, to a broader public. (We’ve highlighted two public TV programs hosted by Feynman here and here.) And he knew how to have fun. The clip above brings it all together.

From Open Culture (where one can also find Feynman’s elegant and accessible 1.5 minute explanation of “The Key to Science.”)

 

As we marvel at method, we might recall that it was on this date in 1864 that Giovanni Batista Donati made the first spectroscopic observations of a comet tail (from the small comet, Tempel, 1864 b).  At a distance from the Sun, the spectrum of a comet is identical to that of the Sun, and its visibility is due only to reflected sunlight.  Donati was able to show that a comet tail formed close to the Sun contains luminous gas, correctly deducing that the comet is itself partially gaseous.  In the spectrum of light from the comet tail, Donati saw the three absorption lines now known as the “Swan bands” superimposed on a continuous spectrum.

source

Audubon 2.0…

Bird of the Week: the Chipping Sparrow

From Cornell, an extraordinary new guide to birds (and birding).

As we smooth our feathers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1754 that the first editorial cartoon– Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die”– appeared in an American (but not yet U.S.) newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia).

source: EarlyAmerica.com

You ain’t got a thing if you ain’t got that swing…

source: CalTech

The identification of scientific laws has historically been a painfully long– and innately human– process of pattern recognition.  It took observers centuries to distill the laws of mechanics, for instance.  Now, as Science reports, researchers at Cornell have take a stab at using computing power to automate the process… and have some astoundingly-encouraging results:

For centuries, scientists have attempted to identify and document analytical laws that underlie physical phenomena in nature. Despite the prevalence of computing power, the process of finding natural laws and their corresponding equations has resisted automation. A key challenge to finding analytic relations automatically is defining algorithmically what makes a correlation in observed data important and insightful. We propose a principle for the identification of nontriviality. We demonstrated this approach by automatically searching motion-tracking data captured from various physical systems, ranging from simple harmonic oscillators to chaotic double-pendula. Without any prior knowledge about physics, kinematics, or geometry, the algorithm discovered Hamiltonians, Lagrangians, and other laws of geometric and momentum conservation. The discovery rate accelerated as laws found for simpler systems were used to bootstrap explanations for more complex systems, gradually uncovering the “alphabet” used to describe those systems.

Read the full-text of the article here.


As we reconsider the beauties of brute force,
we might send a cheery greeting to David Hume, the Scottish Positivist philosopher; he was born on this date in 1711.  Bishop Berkeley may have wondered if, when a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, it makes a sound.  For Hume, the question was whether the tree was beautiful (“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them. “)

David Hume

But then, it’s also the birthday of the (somewhat more “practical”) Roman Emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius, born on this date in 121.  “Why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements?”  Why indeed?

Marcus Aurelius

Written by LW

April 26, 2009 at 1:01 am

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