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July 27, 2004

Talking to the Neighbors

Senior SETI scientist Seth Shostak says (nice lede!) that he expects we'll have located and perhaps sent a signal to an alien civilization within a single generation. Shostak's reasoning adds the discovery of many extrasolar planets in recent years to the Drake Equation, stirs in Moore's Law, and bakes thoroughly. This argument sounds reasonable, although as always people will disagree about the Drake Equation's unknowns.

Sponsored Subways?

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering selling naming rights to metro New York transit landmarks. This could include subway, bus, and train stations, and even bridges and tunnels operated by the MTA. This is supposed to delay fare increases but it's not clear to me just how long that might last (perhaps they'd better lease the naming rights). Still, there're a lot of things to name, and some interesting possibilities lie waiting: Yankees and Mets sponsoring stations in each other's neighborhoods, a "Phantom of the Opera" station in midtown, and perhaps wedding proposals from the odd billionaire.

July 26, 2004

Feeling Fifty

Yesterday, while Lance arrived in Paris, I rode my bike in The Good Sam Ice Cream Ride, a fundraiser for a nearby hospital. I intended to ride the thirty-five mile route, but the weather was cool, the wind was low, and course wasn't too hilly, so I upgraded to fifty miles. I'm happily tooting my own horn here, because this surpassed my longest ride ever by nineteen miles, and doubled the distance of my training rides.

By the forty mile mark the sun had come out, the hills had gotten steeper, and my bottom bracket was starting to creak and tick. I had this nasty idea that when I hit the steep final climb and stood up in the pedals my drivetrain would explode in a shower of metal. Fortunately this did not come to pass, perhaps because I cautiously stayed in the saddle as I climbed past the painted marker advising me to "begin puking here."

Completing my first half century was my goal for this season, so now I need a new goal. If I can find the right ride I think I'll try for a metric century (100km).

July 21, 2004

Hawking on Information Loss

As previously mentioned, Stephen Hawking now believes that information is preserved when material enters a black hole. Hawking has made his presentation at the Dublin conference, and the AP has a report, the first I've seen.

July 20, 2004

Sweet, Sweet Disaster

[You probably all saw this on Boing Boing yesterday but I didn't:]

The new film production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ground to a halt last Wednesday when a cameraman dropped a £300,000 camera into a vat of faux chocolate.

I can't think of anything more to say here.

You Can Get Anything in the Big City

Amidst the picketing firefighters outside Penn Station this morning I saw two women (a mother and daughter, I'd guess) who bore signs offering "Divorce! Low Cost!" They didn't look like lawyers. Perhaps they offer services as co-respondents?

New Standards

Heard on the way home yesterday: a jazz saxman playing the theme from "The Odd Couple."

July 16, 2004

Daddy Types

I just discovered Daddy Types, "the weblog for new dads." Lots of fun product hype (Gizmodo for those who can't, or shouldn't, buy toys for themselves any more) and a New York City focus (reports on public men's rooms with changing tables) are sure to keep me coming back. Great timing!

Hawking Says Not All Information is Lost

Stephen Hawking made a last minute request to address the attendees at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation (which starts on Wednesday, July 21). He says that he has resolved the problem of information loss in black holes, and has changed his own opinion of thirty years standing. Hawking has also conceded a bet that he made with Caltech's John Preskill on the issue.