CP Violation

So there's some pretty exciting news coming out of Fermilab:
To witness CP violation, physicists study particles to see if there is any difference in the rate of decay between normal particles and their antiparticles. The accepted theory of elementary particles, the standard model, allows for a low level of CP violation—including that revealed in the discoveries of the 1960s and 2000s—but not enough to explain the prevalence of normal matter. So researchers have been trying to find cases in which CP violation is higher. In November, the LHCb team reported that the decay rates differed by 0.8%—some eight times the amount the standard model is generally expected to allow, and perhaps enough to help explain the origin of matter's prevalence over antimatter.
This sort of difference in decay rates is a pretty difficult thing to measure since it's really a very slight difference, and as the article talks about, it's not entirely clear if this actually violates the Standard Model or not. And, even if it did, it's not totally clear where this would take us. Is the difference due to some essential difference between quarks and antiquarks? Are there differences between electrons and positrons as well? Muons and anti-muons? I won't even get into antineutrinos, since they're neutral particle anyway, and the difference that is coming to light from these experiments is likely due to some sort of electrical charge difference.

Is College Worth It?

Why are many many college students going into fields that will never allow them to repay the debts they're incurring? Part of the problem is that it's very easy for students to get loans for whatever amount they want. Of course, once they have them, nothing, not even bankruptcy can erase the debt. Alex, over at Marginal Revolution has an excellent take on the whole thing:
In 2009 the U.S. graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual and performing arts graduates in 1985. ... There is nothing wrong with the arts, psychology and journalism, but graduates in these fields have lower wages and are less likely to find work in their fields than graduates in science and math. Moreover, more than half of all humanities graduates end up in jobs that don’t require college degrees and these graduates don’t get a big college bonus.
The best thing about this article is this graph, which exactly shows what the problem is:


It seems like "web apps" have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. It's a real shame. They don't require any approval from Apple, they can work offline, and they're built with HTML5 and javascript.

If you want to see how they're built take a look at Currency.io. It's open source and very very slick.

Canadian cracks NYT paywall during his lunch break

An enterprising programmer donated his lunch break and put together a workaround to the new New York Times paywall.
"It’s just an iron rule of nerd-dom, if you put an interesting looking wall in front of us, we’ll try to get around it.”
If your business model can be broken by a programmer with 30 minutes to spend then you didn't really have a business model to start with.

The New York Times Paywall Returns

The New York Times is finally putting their paywall back up.
On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site. On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber. ... Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
I understand how tough the newspaper business has become, but making content hard to read and access on the Internet has not been a successful business model for anyone yet. I'm sure NYTimes.com knows what they're doing, but these changes raise an awful lot of questions about what content is going to be available from which sources. If a friend emails me a link to a NYTimes.com story will I be able to read it? Will services such as Twitter have to be whitelisted to enable access to content via links? By biggest question, though, is "how will this affect Instapaper?" If I can't Instapaper content then I'm going to find similar content elsewhere. Prices and details are here.

Modular Robots

When I was a kid I grew up surrounded by Legos. I spent hours rooting through boxes searching for the perfect pieces to make the array of spaceships and cars that occupied my younger years. At one point one of my friends got a Capsela set and my interest was peaked. There seemed to be a world of possibilities with those little spheres. I think it was the modularity that I loved so much. I'm a still a sucker for things that click together in any sort of functional way, and especially if they're robots. If these Cubelets are half as cool as they look then I'll be first in line.

Cubelets Engineering Prototypes

Love of Cheese: Explained?

Ever wonder why you love cheese so much? I do. Or rather, I did, until I read this fairly fact-free article on what cheese contains:
In 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories reported traces of the chemical morphine, a highly addictive opiate. It turns out that morphine is found in cow milk and human, purportedly to ensure offspring will bond very strongly with their mothers and get all the nutrients they need to grow.
The article goes on to try and draw a link between morphine and morphine precursors in cheese and the rates of obesity. If there were any actual numbers in the article describing how much morphine is in cheese, or why the rates of cheese consumption don't seem to correlate at all with obesity rates then it would be much more interesting. I'm going to stop complaining now.

The Meaning and Secret of Inception

I know that the cool thing to do these days is to talk about how Inception is not that great, but I loved it, and this analysis of Inception explores  exactly why.
The film is a metaphor for the way that Nolan as a director works, and what he's ultimately saying is that the catharsis found in a dream is as real as the catharsis found in a movie is as real as the catharsis found in life. Inception is about making movies, and cinema is the shared dream that truly interests the director.

Dropbox for Nerds

Holy wow, do I love Dropbox, and now someone has put together The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide. It's worth reading if only for this:

If you’re worried about your computer being stolen, you can easily use Dropbox to perform silent reconnaissance in the even it is stolen. You’ll then have a greater chance of retrieving your stolen computer.

To do this you’ll need to install a keylogger and/or screenshot applications and set the applications to log the data they collect to your Dropbox directory. If your computer is stolen then you’ll be able to monitor every key they push and even collect screenshots of whatever they might be doing. This would greatly increase the chances of recovering your computer.