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On This Day

  • 1981 : Director of Athletics Ed Coombs ’42 retires after 34 years of service to the College. At various times, Coombs coached basketball, baseball, golf, and football.


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Daily Archives

September 2014
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Your Phone: Smart, Hackable and Not Really Yours (Atlantic)



The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer examine phone “smartness” — and how owning a phone is so much more complicated than, say, owning a plunger.

They write, “When a thing connects to the Internet, three things happen: it becomes smart, it becomes hackable, and it’s no longer something you own.” Read “When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone.

Spoiler Alert: Computer Simulation Shows How the Milky Way Will End (Smithsonian)

Andromeda and the Milky Way Collide! from ICRAR on Vimeo.

It’s not unusual for two galaxies to grow and collide with another, with the result often destructive for at least one of the parties involved. In this instance, researchers at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research created an online simulation to show how the Milky Way galaxy might collide with its neighbor, the Andromeda. Even moving at speeds of hundreds of thousands of kilometers per hour toward each other, the Milky Way and Andromeda aren’t expected to collide for another four billion years.  Interestingly enough, while the collision might “destroy the galaxies as we know them …the components of those galaxies — the stars and planets and solar systems—may actually remain intact.” Read the article here.

The Ad-Free Social Network Alternative to Facebook (Boston Globe)

Social Network on White Laptop Computer

If there were ever an exodus from Facebook, then Ello would likely be the social network behind it. Declaring in its manifesto that “Your social network is owned by advertisers,” Ello offers an alternative social media platform that is clean, minimal, and ad-free. But what may be Facebook’s greatest asset — the pleasurable experience from clicking and “liking” — is noticeably absent from Ello.

Michael Brodeur from The Boston Globe writes that “With no advertisers to please, there’s a lot less clicking around. Ello’s navigational demands are jarringly subdued.” That may irritate some people, and that’s completely fine for Ello’s founder Paul Budnitz, who says that unlike Facebook, “We’re not here to try and rule the world.” Read the article here.

Brain-like Calculations Literally at Your Fingertips (Discover)

Hand and money staircase isolated on white

Giving new meaning to the notion of counting on one’s fingers, researchers have discovered that the neurons in the ends of our fingers perform some computational tasks independently of the brain. Learn more about it in Discover.

Maine Colleges Leading The Way On Sustainability (Press Herald)

Solar panels line the roof of Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Solar panels line the roof of Sidney J. Watson Arena.

From the state’s largest solar array at Bowdoin, to Colby’s biomass boiler, and the “super farm” at the College of the Atlantic, Maine colleges are making impressive strides in support of sustainability.

Why Most Of Us Crave Junk Food Late At Night (The Atlantic)

Ice creamDairy for breakfast, veggies at dinner, and ice cream at 1:00 a.m. If this sounds like you, there’s a good scientific reason for these common food preferences.

Science research delivers humor, spurs curiosity (The Chronicle of Higher Education)


“The Stinker,” the official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes.

What does research on treating nosebleeds with cured pork and a study about appearing in front of a polar bear in a reindeer costume have in common? They are both imaginative works that “make people laugh and then think,” according to Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific satirical magazine that awarded the Ig Nobel Prizes to those studies, among others. The magazine awards the prizes annually to highlight unusual research that may appeal to both the scientist and layperson. Characteristic of the magazine’s promise to incorporate humor with science, the ceremony’s winners are physically given their prizes by actual (bemused) Nobel Laureates. Read the article here.


Zeeman on Tipping Points and Environmental Resilience

zeeman2Mathematics professor Mary Lou Zeeman kicked off this year’s faculty seminar series with a talk titled “Harnessing Math to Understand Tipping Points and Resilience,” stressing the importance of bringing together the studies of math and the environment. In each weekly lunch seminar, faculty from across Bowdoin’s curriculum gather for a presentation by one of their colleagues, who is typically returning from a sabbatical devoted to research or an artistic project.

Environmental sustainability depends on the integration of a whole array of disciplines, Zeeman said – policy, economics, environmental science, and more – and mathematicians have the capability of bridging all of them. “But that requires an incredible amount of interdisciplinary courage,” she said. “We’ve got to train our students to do this, and give them that courage.”

Read on to learn why it’s so important to quantify environmental resilience.

Ultra Sharp TV Image Proves a Hard Sell (The Economist)



Ultra HD TV

If high-definition (HD) televisions appear to be all too common among American households, then TV makers may have good reason to introduce something new. Compared to HD sets, the new ultra-high definition (UHD) televisions promises to provide quadruple the number of pixels on the screen. But with UHD prices dropping and strong content already available, TV makers have been frustrated with the slow response of consumers to replace their HD sets.

Nick Valery of The Economist hypothesizes that the fast internet connections that UHD requires may make it inaccessible for all consumers. More importantly, Valery wonders whether UHD is “merely a stop-gap measure, while screen makers devise cheaper ways of producing OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays.” Read the article.

High-tech Parents Raising Low-tech Kids (New York Times)

girl child playing with ipad 128

Many parents nowadays accept (more or less reluctantly), the inevitability of their children’s exposure to technology at a young age — whether in the form of TV, smartphones, or iPads. It may be surprising, then, to learn that big names in the world of high-tech limit their children’s access to technology — even Steve Jobs did, before his death, telling The New York Times his children hadn’t used the iPad after its launch.

Tech parents may be more likely to limit screen time because they’re familiar with the risks of technology use, such as addiction. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech,” says Chris Anderson, the chief executive of 3D Robotics. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand.” Read the article here.