Science/tech/university podcasts

EDX -Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.

University of Bath in the UK has this Podcasts of Public Lecture Series.


Nature has its podcast archive.

Stanford on iTunes – Faculty lectures, interviews, music and sports.

University of Washington’s Cryptography Course

CSE P 590TU – Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography – Plus related lecture slides and video archives.

Computer Science video lectures

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
Introduction to Algorithms + Course website

University of Washington:
Programming Languages + Course website
Applications of Artificial Intelligence + Course website
Computer Architecture + Course website

ArsDigita University (curriculum):
Web Applications
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
Object Oriented Program Design
Theory of Computation
Artificial Intelligence


 Scientific American

Scientific American (podcasts) from a popular science magazine,

the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., […] bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 150 years.

source: sciam

more University podcasts

MIT OpenCourseWare

Princeton University: WebMedia – Lectures

Tufts OpenCourseWare

Rice University: Live Webcasts & Archives

University of British Columbia Podcasts

University of Warwick podcasts

Utah State University OpenCourseWare


Openculture Master List of 1150 Free Courses

1150 free online courses from the world’s leading universities — Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford and more. Over 30,000 hours of free audio and video.

Findlectures: faceted index to thousands of hours of free online lectures

A curated database of free lectures, over 20,000 hours of audio,

[Edited from Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from 2006-2016 ]

Nobel Prize in Physics for Inventors of CCD

Willard Boyle and George Smith received the Nobel prize for their part in the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), the light detector used in digital cameras. The invention goes back to 1969. They used a metal oxide semiconductor to convert photons into a flow of electrons.

Smith and Boyle have already received the C&C prize for their invention in 1999. A press release from Bell Labs describes the CCD:

The device they invented stores information, represented by discrete packets of electric charge, in columns of closely spaced semiconductor capacitors. With multiple columns side by side, a CCD chip can record images. Reading out the information – for processing, display, or more permanent storage – is accomplished by shifting stored charges down the columns, one position at a time. The CCD’s sensitivity to light, coupled to this method of storing and reading out information, makes it a versatile and robust optical detector.

By 1970, the Bell Labs researchers had built the CCD into the world’s first solid-state video camera. In 1975, they demonstrated the first CCD camera with image quality sharp enough for broadcast television.

source: Bell Labs, September, 1999

The Nobel Lectures in Physics will be held on Tuesday, 8 December 2009, at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University and the lectures will be published at

Unfortunately, I could not find the the original 1970 paper online:

W.S. Boyle and G.E. Smith. “Charge Coupled Semiconducting Devices” Bell Sys. Tech. J. 49 (April, 1970). p.387-595

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Oct 06, 2009  ]

Missing lunar camera footage from 1969 Moon walk

The lunar camera footage recorded in July of 1969 of the first Moon walk had to be converted for the live television broadcast which degraded the images. It was first reported in 2006 by NPR that the original higher quality footage preserved by engineers on tapes were missing, triggering a 3 year search by NASA. The result of the search showed that the tapes are permanently gone, likely overwritten:

And the agency was experiencing a critical shortage of magnetic tapes. So NASA started erasing old ones and reusing them.

That’s probably what happened to the original footage from the moon that the astronauts captured with their lunar camera, says Lebar. It was stored on telemetry tapes, and old tapes with telemetry data were being recycled.

“So I don’t believe that the tapes exist today at all,” says Lebar. “It was a hard thing to accept. But there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence that led us to believe that they just don’t exist anymore. And you have to accept reality.”

NPR – Houston, We Erased The Apollo 11 Tapes

To see the results of NASA’s restoration efforts based on material that they were able to find, go to

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jul 27, 2009  ]


Science 2.0?

The CTWatch article The Coming Revolution in Scholarly Communications & Cyberinfrastructure predicts dramatic changes to peer-review as a result of the web

For all but a very small number of widely read titles, the day of the print journal seems to be almost over. Yet to see this development as the major impact of the web on science would be extremely narrow-minded – equivalent to viewing the web primarily as an efficient PDF distribution network. Though it will take longer to have its full effect, the web’s major impact will be on the way that science itself is practiced.

The list of references of the above article contains links to many of the new scientific communications applications.

Are social web applications capable of transforming the way in which peer-review is carried out?

The following are references to recent articles about the social web applications in science:

Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk? Wikis, blogs and other collaborative web technologies could usher in a new era of science. Or not. By M. Mitchell Waldrop

Science happens not just because of people doing experiments, but because they’re discussing those experiments,” explains Christopher Surridge, editor of the Web-based journal, Public Library of Science On-Line Edition (PLoS ONE). Critiquing, suggesting, sharing ideas and data–communication is the heart of science, the most powerful tool ever invented for correcting mistakes, building on colleagues’ work and creating new knowledge. And not just communication in peer-reviewed papers; as important as those papers are, says Surridge, who publishes a lot of them, “they’re effectively just snapshots of what the authors have done and thought at this moment in time. They are not collaborative beyond that, except for rudimentary mechanisms such as citations and letters to the editor.

Scholarship 2.0: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Mar 25, 2008 ]

Information theory

Fairthorne’s theory of notification is an elegant example of a theory in information science

Fairthorne’s theory of notification clarifies the foundations of information science. He defined ‘notification’ as ‘mention and delivery of recorded messages to users’, listing as the main elements of library operations: (1) Source (e.g., authors), (2) Code (e.g., language of a book), (3) Message (the signal), (4) Channel (e.g., microfilms), (5) Destination (e.g., reader) and (6) Designation (subject description).

Nitecki, Joseph Z. 1995. Philosophical Aspects of Library Information Science in Retrospect.



The scope of our activities and studies lie inside Discourse but outside Signaling, i.e., outside the scope of Shannon’s Information Theory. The variables involved are, in general terms, Source, Destination, Designation, and Message, Channel, Code. In the present context a Code is a symbol system used to indicate choices made from a set of Messages, and represented by patterns of physical events (signals or inscriptions) consistent with the physical mode and conditions of communication, the Channel, in the given social and physical environment.
Formally the Message set is adequately defined as an agreed finite set of distinct identifiable entities, from which choices are made by Sources. Here we regard it also as drawn from what can be told in a given recorded language. The Sources are those within the given environment who tell it, in the sense of being agreed and identifiable publishers, distributors, organizations, or accepted authors. The latter need not be actual authors. From the present point of view the works of Shakespeare, or of anonymous authors, are those records that tile local retrieval tools attribute to “Shakespeare,” or to “anon.” Tile Destinations are those within the given environment who are to be told, or wish to be told. They must be identifiable, but otherwise may be organizations, functionaries, groups, or individuals. A set of Designations is assigned to Messages, Sources, or Destinations to characterize them according to what is told, or is to be told. They are aspects of what the particular discourse is “about,” in some operational sense. For example, Subject Indexing assigns topics to the messages; author indexes may be classified by subject matter; Selective Dissemination of Information designates executives according to what they should be told about. Clearly the same set of Designations can be assigned differently according to circumstances. A reader (Destination) may well differ with the author (Source) as to the main interest (Designation) of an article (Message).

source: Morphology of “Information Flow” Robert A. Fairthorne. Journal of the ACM. Volume 14 , Issue 4 (October 1967)

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Oct 12, 2007  ]

Gaia theory – Earth as a living system

Gaia theory, named after the Greek Earth goddess, is a combination of hypothesis about the planet as a self-regulating living system. James Lovelock is credited with the publication of the first modern scientific article on the Gaia hypothesis in the New Scientist, he also recently published an article in The Independent where he speaks of his latest book The Revenge of Gaiaand warns of the danger of global warming. The philosophical predecessors to Gaia theory include Lewis ThomasTeilhard de ChardinBuckminster Fuller. The most common criticism of Gaia theory is the charge that it is teleological.

Although Gaia theories may seem controversial, the study of the inter-relationships between various life forms and their environment (ecology), homeostasis, and emergent properties are established and accepted.

The attempt to grasp the inter-relationships that exist among all of the components of the biosphere, oceans, geosphere and the atmosphere as an Earth ecosystem is a challenge for the human mind, but the need for scientific hypotheses is evident in an age when we attempt to take responsibility for our effect on the planet.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Mar 30, 2006 ]

Definition of a system

There are many definitions of what a system is, I like Mario Bunge’s definition:

“A system is a complex object every part or component of which is connected with other parts of the same object in such a manner that the whole possesses some features that its components lack – that is emergent properties” (Bunge 1996: 20).

Examples of emergent properties of a system: structure or history of social system. Examples of emergent properties of a component (i.e., part would not possess property if were independent or isolated): role, civil right, scarcity, price (Bunge 1996: 20).

quotes from: Bunge, Mario Augusto. Finding Philosophy in Social Science. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996.

In my understanding of open systems, its components are continuously changing with their environment. Open systems have the emergent property of continuous exchange (input/output) of their components with the environment. Ludwig von Bertalanffy argues that open systems reach states of equilibrium within and through this interaction with their environment. Closed systems are isolated from their environment. Is mathematics a closed system?

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jan 10, 2007]

Systems intelligence and interdependent arising

The concept of systems intelligence has been described by Raimo P. Hämäläinen and Esa Saarinen, researchers at the Systems Intelligence Research GroupSystems Analysis Laboratory of the Helsinki University of Technology. It is an attempt to formulate an applied systems thinking.

Esa Saarinen and Raimo P. Hämäläinen, argue that systems intelligence is a set of higher-level cognitive capacities, that are not explained by Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, or Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence. Gardner provided others that are not explained: common sense, metaphorical capacity and wisdom. Saarinen and Hämäläinen define systems intelligence as

intelligent behaviour in the context of complex systems
involving interaction and feedback. A subject acting with Systems Intelligence engages
successfully and productively with the holistic
feedback mechanisms of her environment. She
perceives herself as part of a whole, the influence of
the whole upon herself as well as her own influence
upon the whole. By observing her own
interdependence in the feedback intensive
environment, she is able to act intelligently.

source: Systems Intelligence – Discovering a hidden competence in human action and organizational life (PDF)

Systems Intelligence as described here seems to me to be an attempt at an industrial application of the Buddhist doctrine of dependent co-arising, Pratītyasamutpāda, the belief that “phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect”.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jan 10, 2007]

von Bartalanffy and biological systems

Ludwig von Bartalanffy ponders on the difficulties in trying to apply the 2nd law of thermodynamics to living biological systems. This law implies that entropy increases over time in physical systems.

Biological systems, however, are recognized as maintaining a continual state of flux. Never stationary or fixed in chemical or thermodynamic equilibrium, its components are constantly altered by metabolic events.

A system compensates for its deterioration by importing and processing energy. It attains dynamic equilibrium– between its own improbable state and the surrounding environment (Bertalanffy, 1968b, pp. 46-48; General Systems Theory. New York: George Braziler, 1968.)

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jun 20, 2006  ]

Allen Brain Atlas

Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, funded the development of the Allen Brain Atlas, which lets you navigate visual and genetic information about the brain

The Allen Brain Atlas is a web-based application that is designed to aid the expansion of brain science. Designed and developed in collaboration with an acclaimed group of scientists, the ABA enables users to access an extensive database of ISH images, ABA reference atlas, and gene expression masks. Future releases will allow users to search by gene expression pattern or level, and will contain an expanded gene data set.

source: Allen Brain Atlas, links added.

see also: NCBIWikipedia – Spatiotemporal gene expression

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jun 16, 2006   ]