Weekend Reading, 10/22/11

Happy Saturday morning! For your reading pleasure: studies on the effects of video games and television; quantum stuff; a little history; and reflections on computing, ethics, and the future.

These first two links will warm the old curmudgeon’s heart. Some studies had suggested that video games bore certain cognitive benefits (although even those seemed to me less than significant), but our first report is of a study that claims those earlier studies were deeply flawed. The second report is perhaps of a more serious nature and it points to the potentially negative side-effects of early exposure to television. The jury is still out on the iPad and similar devices, but caution seems to be in order.

“Video Game Studies Have Serious Flaws” by Mo Costandi in Nature News.

“It’s Official: To Protect Baby’s Brains, Turn Off TV” by Brandon Keim at Wired.

The next two pieces delve into the quantum world. I don’t pretend to understand it, but both these links provided some interesting stuff to think about … or just be impressed by, make sure to check out the video.

“Quantum Levitation” from scholars at Tel Aviv University on YouTube: Very cool. Not at all sure what the applications may finally be, but suggestively it was funded in part by Israel’s ministry of Infrastructure.

“Quantum Life: The Weirdness Inside Us” by Michael Brooks at New Scientist: While we’re on the quantum theme, here is an article that discusses some recent attempts to explore quantum biological effects. 

From quantum mechanics to a more philosophical exchange on the meaning of computing:

“Information Is Cheap, Meaning is Expensive,” George Dyson interviewed at The European: Dyson offers his take on the evolution of computing, ethics in a technological age, and how best to face future. “Information is cheap, but meaning is expensive. Where is the meaning? Only human beings can tell you where it is.”

And finally two pieces going back in the history of technology to a famous rivalry and the building  of an American technological marvel.

“Edison v. Westinghouse: A Shocking Rivalry” by Gilbert King at Smithsonian.com: Short piece retelling the story of Edison and Westinghouse, the competition over electric current (AC/DC), and the (intentional) electrocution of dogs, animals, and men.

“Construction of the Hoover Dam” photographs at The Denver Post: Fascinating photographs documenting the construction of the Hoover Dam, one of America’s technologically sublime marvels.

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