Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

This site moving

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

My blog is moving to http://www.johndcook.com/blog so I can use a fully configurable version of WordPress rather than the limited version this site uses.

If you’re using a reader, you can subscribe to the new site at http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheEndeavour.

I’ll keep this site up for a while, but new posts will be to the new address.

Merry-go-round water pump

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I ran across this on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, what he calls “the cleverest idea I’ve seen in years.” It’s a water pump for developing areas that works by having children play on in. Here’s a video from National Geographic demonstrating the pump.

Why Mr. Scott is Scottish

Monday, January 28th, 2008

During the Victorian era, Scotland produced the best engineers in the world. It became routine for British ships to have a Scottish engineer on board. Star Trek’s Scottish engineer Montgomery Scott reflects this tradition.

Scotty, in the original series

Source: Victorian Britian

Children don’t like clowns

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Hospitals often paint clowns on the walls of the pediatric wing assuming children like them. When someone finally asked kids whether they like clowns, they found that not one out of 255 kids questioned did.

See No Clowning for Hospitalized Kids for details.

Revisiting six degrees and hubs

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

In 1967, Stanley Milgram conducted the famous experiment that told us there are six degrees of separation between any two people. He gave letters to 160 people in Nebraska and asked them to pass them along to someone who could eventually get the letters to a particular stock broker in New York. It took about six links for each letter to get to the stock broker.

In 2001, Duncan Watts repeated the experiment, asking 61,000 people to forward emails to eventually reach 18 targets worldwide. The emails took roughly six hops to reach their targets, giving Milgram’s original conclusion more credibility due to the larger sample.

But a secondary conclusion of Milgram didn’t hold up. In Milgram’s experiment, half of the letters reached the target via the same three friends of the stock broker. These people were deemed “hubs.” In Watts’s experiment, only 5% of messages reached their targets via hubs. Watts’s thesis is that while hubs exist — some people are far more connected than others — they’re not as important in spreading ideas as once supposed.

See “Is the Tipping Point Toast?” in the February 2008 issue of Fast Company for more on Duncan Watts and his skepticism regarding the importance of hubs.

Faith and reason

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

From Saint Augustine:

Heaven forbid that God should hate in us that by which he made us superior to the animals! Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not even believe if we did not possess rational souls.