Steve’s Links- Learning/Staying Current

Things to keep the gray matter in good working

SciTech Daily is a
comprehensive look at what’s new in, well, science and technology, plus it
includes many links as well as an Op/Ed section. Some other sites along this
line are the BBC
New’s Sci/Tech section
, and the New York Time’s
Science Section
(free registration

Ever wonder how the
differential in your car works? It’s fascinating. Look that and other
curiosities up in How Stuff
, by the same folks who do the well-known books of the same

Looking for a mental challenge?
Try the Car Talk
, a weekly brain teaser from NPR’s Car Talk guys, Click and
Clack, the Tappet brothers. The puzzlers are sometimes automotive, and
sometimes more general. You could even win a $26 gift certificate to the Car
Talk Shameless Commerce

I coined the wildly
popular term, “chronocentrism.” Like other -centrisms, it’s a subjective,
invisible force on our human natures that makes it hard to ponder what we don’t
know we don’t know. (You can go back and read that a few times if you want…
I’ll wait.)
is the innate tendency to believe that most things, like values, truths, even
reality have pretty much always been and will be the way they are now, or at
as they are now, whether your now is the
early 21st century, the Dark Ages, or the Ming Dynasty. Put another way,
chronocentrism is the lens through which we view and judge other times, although
we are most often unaware of the

For example, (and this is
an academic example–
try this at home) today intimate physical
relations with persons under 16 is a crime in the United States, ranging from
statutory rape to child molestation. For the ancient Athenians, the more famous
of whom we revere for their contributions to our body of knowledge, it was the
social norm to mentor, love,
and make love with teenage

So it is that we look
back with revulsion, when and if we include this unsavory tidbit in our personal
views of history, while Plato and his contemporaries might have looked at our
time with pity. Which value system is right? If it is the values of our time,
then what if, hundreds of generations hence, society once again agrees with
Plato’s time? Do we in our time become wrong simply because the citizens of the
future think so? Shouldn’t truth, right and wrong, even our perception of the
nature of reality itself be timeless?

The Clock of the Long Now

apologize for the extended digression. It is my nature to try and find the box,
and get outside of it to look in.
the whole point of this exercise was to raise
the question of time and its normally invisible effect on how we think. Which
is what the scientists, writers and thinkers at The Long Now
are doing, as they try to broaden our perception of
our time to include the past 10,000 years (back to the beginning of agriculture)
and the next 10,000 years. Among their projects, they are designing and
building a Millennium Clock?, which will run for
10,000 years, tick once a day, and use the sun’s position to remain accurate.
It won’t have hands or even display the month and day. It will only show the
year, and the position of the stars, sun and moon. It will need to be wound by
a person every 100 years, so that it hopefully will not be long forgotten. It
will be located on a remote mountain so that the winding does not become an
afterthought of a busy society–it will be an event, a ritual perhaps, which I
hope will reconnect future generations with the idea of the Long Now, and
long-term thinking. It’s just one of the fascinating ideas from some very
bright people, and worth a

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