2004: The Good News

According to the United Nations, as of 2002, 70 percent of the world’s nations were holding multi-party elections. Fifty-eight percent of the world’s population lived under a fully democratic system of governance. Both of these figures are at their highest points in human history. The Freedom House (search) think tank gave 89 countries containing 46 percent of the world’s population a ranking of “free” in the 2003 edition of its…

Miraculous visions

IN THE span of 18 months, Isaac Newton invented calculus, constructed a theory of optics, explained how gravity works and discovered his laws of motion. As a result, 1665 and the early months of 1666 are termed his annus mirabilis. It was a sustained sprint of intellectual achievement that no one thought could ever be equalled. But in a span of a few years just before 1900, it all began…

MASSIVE (Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere)

The MASSIVE database (last updated on 12-7-04) contains information on over 1700 science and math songs. Some of these songs are suitable for 2nd graders; others might only appeal to tenured professors. Some songs have been professionally recorded; others haven’t. Some are quite silly; others are downright serious. –MASSIVE (Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere) Lame acronym. Cool concept.

The Global Baby Bust

You awaken to news of a morning traffic jam. Leaving home early for a doctor’s appointment, you nonetheless arrive too late to find parking. After waiting two hours for a 15-minute consultation, you wait again to have your prescription filled. All the while, you worry about the work you’ve missed because so many other people would line up to take your job. Returning home to the evening news, you watch…

Blogs Provide Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster

Bloggers at the scene are more deeply affected by events than the journalists who roam from one disaster to another, said Xeni Jardin, one of the four co-editors of the site BoingBoing.net, which pointed visitors to many of the disaster blogs. “They are helping us understand the impact of this event in a way that other media just can’t,” with an intimate voice and an unvarnished perspective, with the richness…

Play Time: MMORPG Play as an Economic Activity

The recent popularity of “eBaying” — the sale of seemingly fictive “property” within MMORPG — has raised numerous questions about the nature of MMORPG play. In particular, many have asked why players choose this practice, and how it might affect the game. This paper addresses these issues by examining some of the motives that drive MMORPG players and developers, and by outlining the economic forces that constrain or coordinate those…

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High-Tech Holiday Light Display Draws Everyone But the Skeptics

Mr. Komarnitsky gave radio interviews to stations as far away as Australia. Web sites from NYTimes.com to geek hangout Slashdot.org linked to his site. An Associated Press item about his site was picked up by newspapers from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C. As of midday Monday, according to Mr. Komarnitsky, the “Web cam” was asked by online visitors to snap a new picture in the same spot 334,832 times. The…