Monthly Archives: March 2013

Touchscreen gestures as interactive sculptures

Touchscreen Gestures

Touchscreen devices have become so ubiquitous that the five multi-touch gestures we use to operate them are now entirely second nature to us (and first nature to babies who are introduced to tablets as their first interactive experiences). Design student Gabriele Meldaikyte has translated what these gestures would look like if they were used to interact with analog objects, creating interactive sculptures that mimic the multi-touch experiences of  tap, scroll, flick, swipe, and pinch. As much as these gestures are a part of our present habits, things inevitably change. Meldaikyte believes that :

…in ten years or so these gestures will completely change. Therefore, my aim is to perpetuate them so they become accessible for future generations.

The math of mosh pits

A pair of metal head physicists at Cornell University who enjoy going to concerts and throwing themselves into mosh pits (I’ve done this a time or two back in the day — it’s fun) have taken an interest in the rules of motion behind the activity. “It was basically just this random mess of collisions, which is essentially how you want to think about the gas in the air that we breathe,” one said. So, they went to concerts and studied YouTube videos, and eventually created a mathematical model representing mosh pits, which they presented at a meeting of the American Physics Society, and this very cool simulator where you can change variables and see how the little moshers act.

Helen Beebee on the laws of nature

Helen Beebee on Philosophy Bites discusses Hume’s position that laws of nature are simply generalizations from experience that happen to continually hold true, among other positions on the topic.

Listen to Helen Beebee on Laws of Nature (mp3, audio)


So, you could think of laws as… just what you described.. a kind of shortcut, a way of figuring out stuff about the future, starting from the assumption that the universe does, in fact, behave in very nice regular ways, which we all hope it does.

…We hold certain facts about the world fixed, and vary other kinds of facts. So, for example, when I wonder what would happen if I drop my pen, I don’t hold fixed the fact that all the pens in this room are more than three feet off the air, right, that would get me to the silly answer that the pen would float in the air were I to let it go. The things that I would want to hold fixed, by and large, are the laws of nature. So I want to hold fixed the law of gravity, and not the mere accident that all the pens in the room are more than three feet off the ground, otherwise I’m clearly going to get the wrong answer.

Higgs boson confirmed

Although it was first announced last summer that scientists had found what they believed to be the Higgs boson in their experiments in the 17-mile-long LHC atom smasher, representatives from CERN are just now saying that they are almost completely confident that it is, in fact, the Higgs boson (which is apparently how long it takes physicists to feel confident in making a statement of this magnitude). “The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent, and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson,” a CMS spokesperson said. The Higgs boson was predicted by the Standard Model as the particle that gives you, me, and everything in the universe mass… something we obviously need to exist at all. See also the 6 reasons why finding the Higgs boson matters.