I’ve got only a superficial understanding of the revolutionary incompleteness theorems that Gödel brought forth while a preternaturally gifted young man. It will be the work of a remaining lifetime to learn it in any detail but it stimulates periodic revisits. This podcast from the BBC’s In Our Time series smacked my gob when I came across it: A very well-prepared moderator and three distinguished scientists discuss its impact. It starts with a punch and soars from then on. Yes, it is true that the posh accents predispose to trust but beyond that it is 40 minutes of serious yet freewheeling fluffless conversation that compels the listener to pay attention in the now and do homework afterward. The presumption on the listener to be prepared, attentive, and engaged is exhilarating. I can’t imagine such an exchange prepared for broadcast in the modern United States even by the remaining cultural outposts like NPR.
Youtube Channel: Philosophy Overdose
In days of old, when the city was pronounced ‘Los Anguluz’ and radio ruled the waves, “Romance of the Ranchos” offered half-hour looks at the many regions that congealed into our present megalopolis. Herewith the episode on what are now the Beach Cities.
Youtube Channel: Old Time Radio Researchers
The web’s archive of older industrial films is a recurring delight. Jam Handy, Coronet, and other firms crafted these with an attention to detail, calm explanation, and rigorous science that is harder(*) to find today when most equivalents are about sales rather than fundamentals. Jeff Quitney has uploaded a wonderful 1954 cleaned-up film to his Vimeo page on color theory and practice by the Interchemical Corporation. It begins with the importance of color to society – especially in packaging goods and people – and then gives a marvelous account of the optics involved. I’ve worked in the field for years but I learned to see things (pun intended) differently thanks to it.
The second film from 2016 looks at color in packaging through its emotional impact and its influence on design and designers. ‘Color In Sight’ resembles like Hustwit’s ‘Helvetica.’ A number of prominent designers talk about how they use and think about color in order to evoke a response, surface a memory, or reveal a part of the spectrum to the color-blind. I have no idea what I’d say to a nail-polish maker but Suzi Weiss-Fischmann (8m18s in) comes off as a fun seatmate on a long plane trip. I had a similar feeling about Helvetica’s Paula Scher. Interestingly, it is produced by TeaLeaves, a Canadian company specializing in very high-end teas for hotels. Judging by their Youtube page, they must spend a fortune on short films – many of which have little outward bearing on their products. I’ve never understood the appeal of tea but the videos are well worth a look.
(*) But not impossible by any means.
Vimeo Channel: Jeff Quitney
Youtube Channel: TeaLeaves
Since 2005, the LA Times has published the micturitions of one Charles McNulty as its ‘theatre critic.’ Since then he has striven to be the Niles Crane of stage criticism; uncheckable pomposity in tedious academic argot focusing squarely on getting himself back to NYC. Now Artsjournal reports of his assessment of Los Angeles theatre. He finds it wanting because the Center Theater Group and the oily Michael Ritchie aren’t leading the charge. A couple of the smaller outfits get a passing mention but this putz no doubt looks to GM for automotive innovation and Nokia for the latest in phones. He’s reviewed very few of the very many companies around, preferring the edgy climes of Costa Mesa and La Jolla when he isn’t reporting back from the East Coast. Apparently the Brooklyn sewers now empty into Hollywood writer’s rooms and thereby hangs the salvation of the form. Joy to the world.
The Times’s theatre coverage has gone from mediocre to nonexistent on his watch while his relentless pandering to Broadway runs counter to the non-arguments of the present piece. At least the actress Glenda Jackson had the good sense to give him the eminently deserved kick to the yodelayheehos when he went to “worship her.” With all of the changes Dr. Soon-Shiong is making at the LAT it is mind-boggling that he hasn’t sent this dingleberry packing. It will be a better city when he’s out of it.
Move over Igudesman, make way Joo. And roll over Beethoven while we’re at it. He’s hampered by a broken hand at the moment but before he fell to a mechanical bull, Lord Vinheteiro had some fun with a rubber chicken. Maybe more than is strictly legal. Always great to see opera get it in the chops.
Youtube channel: Vinheteiro
I’ve owned and/or used many toasters and toaster ovens. All have been crap. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, it all comes from some noname as cheap as possible factory, doesn’t work as advertised, and falls apart quickly after making marginal at best toast. Paying for quality is no longer an option. Alec from Technology Connections profiles a 1948 Sunbeam classic that still works due to a brilliant, timeless design. His channel and Techmoan both delve deeply into our electromechanical past finding, explaining, and often resurrecting devices we’ve forgotten.
Youtube Channel: Technology Connections
He even offers a video on his second channel that shows how to fix and update one of these from the second-hand market. Tempting, tempting.
Youtube Channel: Technology Connections 2
Modern ejumacation has gone multimedia and Powerpoint, often multimedia within Powerpoint. Some like 3Blue1Brown are brilliant at it (the multimedia, not Powepoint), others less so. Here’s a random assortment of lectures where good old chalk and boards prevail: E&M from IIT Madras, chemistry and cryptography from Ruhr Universität, Bochum, Fields Medalist Cédric Villani on something-or-the-other, and an early calm-for-him presentation by Jens Fehlau on the Leibniz integration rule made famous by Feynman. Finally, a tribute to a popular chalk, recently discontinued.
Youtube Channel: nptelhrd
Youtube channel: ChemieRub
Youtube channel: Introduction to Cryptography by Christof Paar
Youtube channel: Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS)
Youtube channel: Flammable Maths
Youtube channel: Great Big Story
The mere detection of gravitational waves two years ago was cause for celebration and, for those of us skeptical of LIGO, eating of crow. Now gravitational wave detections regularly cue electromagnetic observatories on the ground and in space with tighter integration to come.
Youtuber skydivephil puts the camera on several researchers active in developing the next generation GW systems and the ever more ambitious cosmological probing that these observatories will enable.
Youtube channel: skydivephil
Skydivephil and the unnamed narrator are self-effacing providing few details about themselves, not even their names in the nonexistent credits. They also have enviable access to many leading physicists and institutes, largely on the theoretical side. The style is simple: Let the speaker speak. It is a refreshing antidote to the modern space documentary which highlights the doom-and-gloom with an explosion and visual effect every fifteen seconds. Whatever one may think about string theory, loop quantum gravity, or their alternatives, it is refreshing to hear about them from the purveyors. Here’s the “Before the Big Bang” playlist with an assortment of views on modern cosmology (note that the episodes are in reverse chronological order.)