Geek out

edited April 2011 in Diversions
This can be a general placeholder for geeky/science stuff, but I just had to share this wicked cool tool -

This is the (evolutionary) shit: Time Tree

It gives nearly instant divergence times for any pair of living species (or taxa)! So much geek fun. Humans and alligators are more closely related than roaches and butterflies. Arthropod and chordate (including mammals) lineages separated almost a billion years ago(!), ~400 Mya before the Cambrian - I had no idea. It includes references for the studies the results are based on.

Seriously geeking out about this tool. I'm actually going to add it to my home tabs. Many won't care, probably, but I think everyone should an appreciation of the history of life on the planet. Results are more meaningful in the context of the categorized geological time scale.


  • Very cool kargatron, and great thread idea.

    I have a tendency to geek out over physics and cosmology despite the fact that I have no formal educational background in either. I recently laughed for several minutes at this xkcd cartoon:


    I then realized how much of a geek I am because the percentage of the population that understands the joke here is probably quite small.

  • I tend to geek out about statistical stuff, so dearly loved this xkcd. (Not showing it, because xkcd's would otherwise constantly take up this thread.
  • Two books that seriously messed up my world view, for the better hopefully, back in the '80's concerning physics and quantum mechanics, that didn't require digesting mathematical bases, were The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukov, and The Tao Of Physics by Fritjof Capra(?spelling) - some interest in Eastern religions helpful in the case of the latter. These are out of date to some extent now, but since the newer things are even more of a mind-f**k, they were great geek on experiences. Am still trying to wrap my perception around Brian Greene's string theory book, a bit less successfully. We live in a seriously strange world.
  • kargatron - Probably a good rule of thumb. The best part about the one you link to is the mouse over text. That's what really made me laugh.

    I'll keep those in mind BigD. Which Greene book are you referring to? The Elegant Universe?

    I thoroughly enjoyed Susskind's The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design, and it gave me a good basis to wrap my brain around the theory. I certainly couldn't explain it coherently to anyone else, but it has allowed me to track elementary discussions of others.

  • I was totally going to link the jelly bean cartoon, till I saw karg had already done so. I cover health news, so I have a front row seat on media scientific dumb-headedness.
  • nearly instant divergence times for any pair of living species
    The image that sprang to mind when I read this phrase was a group of researchers in labcoats dropping random pairs of species into a container together and seeing how fast different ones ran away from each other.
  • Craig, yes, it is The Elegant Universe. Enjoyed it,yes. Felt I was successfully conceptualizing things going on in very tiny strange dimensional places, hmm, not so much. There is another book I enjoyed, wasn't sure I had the title right and in searching I see it's on sale at Amazon for $3.16 - Strange Matters - full of strangeness.
  • Doofy:
    media scientific dumb-headedness
    Statistical misconceptions go way past that, I think. Humans are just naturally very, very bad in probability & statistics, built on a large foundation of a number of cognitive biases. I really do think prob&stat should be steadily taught from elementary school on, just to battle the natural wrongness our brains end up with on the subject.
  • But, kargatron, someone has to win the lottery!

    BigD - Yeah, I think it's fair to say that I'm not able to successfully conceptualize 10 dimensional strings. That's something that I just take smarter peoples' word that the math works. Of course I also find string theory ridiculous due its being utterly untestable and irrefutable, but that's another thing all together.

  • Civil War buffs? Here is great site featuring panoramic views of some more famous battlefield sites, and as they say....
    Behind The Stonewall.
  • BigD - You inspired me to read some Greene so I picked up The Fabric of the Cosmos. He's a fantastic writer. The chapter on quantum entanglement is particularly mindbending.

    Anyway, had to add this link from the BBC. The experiment it details is ridiculously cool.

  • Ummmm, maps - found this at the Library of Congress site - thanks to doofy's post on the National Jukebox getting me poking around there - Map Collections Home Page. I like maps. The National Geographic website has some cool ones also.
  • Thanks BidD-Bluez. I've just added it to favourites to explore when I have more time. I'm certainly a map geek - it is what got me into being a Geography teacher then University Lecturer in the subject. I still refuse to have sat nav in my car!! Nothing wrong with using a map, even if I did download it from the internet...
  • I'm also a huge map geek. Growing up most of my bedroom walls were covered by National Geographic maps, and my 6 month old's nursery has several framed maps on the wall already.

    I'll definitely check out that site when I have more time!

  • I was browsing last night and picked a WWII map of the Ardennes and was suitably amazed - between the zoom and scroll functions you can find the tiniest towns and road junctions. Would be a terrific bonus for any historical reading.
  • Ah, the Civil War: "The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg." source

    As for maps, Ken Jennings (he of Jeopardy fame) has written a book about maps due later this year.
  • Heh, today's xkcd mouseover text: Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at "Philosophy".

    I tested that on a random link, and got there in 19 pages. Pretty funny. Got in the general area by 10 or so.
  • It's a bit like you are only a maximum of five links away from anyone in the World. I'll give an example - I'm less than five links away from President Obama. I'm married to my wife - Prince Charles visited my wife's school a couple of years ago, where she showed him around the school - his mother is the Queen - yesterday the Queen met President Obama
  • I tried it - Thomas Dolby (thanks to that discussion on the Massive Drop thread), England, Country, Geography, Earth, Planet, Orbit, Physics, Natural Science, Science, Knowledge, Facts, Information, Sequence, Mathematics, Quantity, Property, Modern Philosophy, Philosophy.

    Wow, he blinded me with science!
  • Here's a test. Last night I posted on Facebook:
    Is there anything more beautiful in the world than a perfectly executed suicide squeeze? I think not.

    My family is apparently incompetent at the internet because 3 separate family members asked me what a suicide squeeze is. As I can't do a "let me google that for you" for my mother would be very hurt, I decided to be nice a paste the Wikipedia link into a comment (it turns out you can't do that, though, I did end of just telling them to google it).

    Anyway, that's a long and unnecessary introduction to suicide squeeze to philosophy: Suicide Squeeze redirects to Squeeze Play - Baseball - Bat-and-Ball games - Golf - Sport - Organized - American and British English Spelling Differences - American and British English Differences - American English - Dialect - Greek Language - Indo-European Languages - Language Family - Language - Communication - Meaning - (Philosophy of Language) [So close!] - Philosophy!

    17 moves.

  • edited May 2011
    If you start a chain that goes to "Human", then you get stuck in a loop and never attain philosophy. Happened to me on my first try (from "Kammerflimmer Kollektief")
    Edit: Tried skipping "human" and clicking the next link, "language". It loops back to : "human".
  • Craig, I was in St Louis during the 80s, when the Cardinals had those great base-stealing teams with Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, etc. With some regularity, they would win games on squeeze plays when everybody in the ballpark knew it was coming. It's such a great weapon, if you have a manager who knows how to use it and players who can pull it off.

    I don't think you could field a team like that anymore, in these post-Astroturf days. Yes, that included the team that got beat by Kirby Puckett and the Twinkies in '87!
  • Kammerflimmer Kollektief, Jazz, African American, black people (from 'black'), Race (from 'systems of racial classification'), population, species, biology, natural science, then
    Natural Science, Science, Knowledge, Facts, Information, Sequence, Mathematics, Quantity, Property, Modern Philosophy, Philosophy.

    or Human, extant taxon (from 'living'), biology...

    I think you clicked on something in parentheses or italics.
  • The first link I see under "race" is "humans", not "population"...but yes, then I had clicked "taxonomically" which was in parenthesis. It does eventually get there now.
  • 16 steps:
    Listed Buliding - Bridge - Structure - Intangibles - Economics - Social Sciences - List of academic disciplines - Academia - Community - Living (disambiguation page) - Life - Biota (ecology) - Organisms (there is a template at the top I ignored the links in it since it isn't part of the article) - Biology (template ignored) - Natural Science - Naturalism (Philosophy) - Philosophy
  • edited November 2011
    Back to Brian Greene - has anyone been watching the Fabric of the Cosmos series on Nova/PBS? Quite a mind-bender, and very nice graphics.
  • NASA's image of the day site has a really amazing DNA video today.
  • Damn, that NASA site is so freaking cool, how did it not come up before. If you go to the archive section you can download boatloads of cool pics which I use folders of for screen savers on my desktops - sometimes I just sit and watch the screen saver.
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