- 11:47 pm - Wed, May 22, 2013
Non-technical people will probably want to skip this one.
A professor at the University of New Hampshire claims to have proven that prime numbers behave like random numbers in important ways. For math people, it’s a very cool finding all by itself. For the rest of us, it matters because the theory of prime and random numbers is part of the foundation for highly secure cryptographic algorithms.
(The linked article is reasonably comprehensible for non-mathematicians, but includes further reading suggestions for the more technically inclined.)
- 9:37 am - Tue, May 21, 2013
If you read most “how to write” books, you’ll get the idea that “real” writers lay out nice linear outlines, neatly numbered like the ones in style guides, and then work straight through from beginning to end.
- 11:49 am - Fri, May 17, 2013
- 1 note
So you think you take pretty okay pictures? Take a look at these, and think again.
- 11:18 am - Thu, May 16, 2013
- 36 notes
“Van der Waals heterostructures comprise a new class of artificial materials formed by stacking atomically thin planar crystals. Here, we demonstrate band structure engineering in a van der Waals heterostructure composed of a monolayer graphene flake coupled to a rotationally aligned hexagonal boron nitride substrate. In our samples, [an] interplay between short- and long-wavelength effects resulted in a band structure described by isolated superlattice minibands and an unexpectedly large band gap at charge neutrality. This picture is confirmed by our observation of fractional quantum Hall states at ±5/3 filling and features associated with the Hofstadter butterfly at ultrahigh magnetic fields.” Via.
Whatever other useful properties graphene may have, it continues to support some really cool physics research.
- 9:15 am - Wed, May 15, 2013
The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. However, any expenditure it makes for political activities may be subject to tax under section 527(f).
From the IRS discussion of tax-exempt Social Welfare Organizations.
I agree that it’s outrageous to target organizations for heightened scrutiny based on their political views. Period. Full stop.
However, there are limits on what 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed to do with their tax-exempt donations. When an organization is engaged in political advocacy, the IRS is absolutely allowed to examine whether it is remaining within the definition of a “social welfare organization” or whether it has actually become, say, a political action committee.
When a 501(c)(4) organization brags about how much money it raises and how much impact it has on elections, it’s not outrageous for the IRS to want a closer look at its records.
- 10:08 pm - Tue, May 14, 2013
- 2 notes
Paul Krugman is a liberal, and unapologetically so. But he also has a Nobel Prize in Economics. So this brief economic history of the last five years is well worth the time to read and ponder.
- 9:07 am - Mon, Apr 22, 2013
- 1 note
Jade bear from the collection of Francis Boyd. Part of an excellent article on metallurgy and Chinese swords.
- 8:31 pm - Sat, Apr 20, 2013
- 2 notes
Chinese news anchor drops wedding bouquet, picks up microphone when earthquake hits.
The earthquake itself appears to have been fairly damaging, unfortunately.
Donations for earthquake relief may be made via the American Red Cross, which works with the Red Cross organization in China.
- 3:23 pm - Fri, Apr 19, 2013
A little bit of Boston history
My stay in Boston overlapped with the end of the Irish Troubles, a violent conflict over the status of Northern Ireland. Some funding — just how much is still disputed — for paramilitary organizations involved in the conflict came from people in the United States, and particularly from large Irish-American communities in places like Boston. Irish-American organized crime figures like Whitey Bulger were reputed to be involved in supplying arms to the paramilitaries. On the other hand, the late Senator Ted Kennedy and other leading Irish-American figures played important roles in the negotiations that ultimately ended the Troubles.
I mention this bit of history as a cautionary tale about the dangers of taking the actions of a few individuals as representative of an entire group.