You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
Grayson Perry's lectures on art: "Art is very popular but I think many people are still quite insecure around galleries, particularly commercial galleries which are quite intimidating. I want to answer a few of the very basic questions that perhaps people even in the art world think that it’s almost too gauche to ask. They might think they’re irrelevant or even that they’ve all been answered now and everybody knows the answer. I’m starting with this lecture called Democracy Has Bad Taste, because I want to talk about the issue of quality because I think this is one of the most burning issues around – how do we tell if something is good?
Who tells us that it’s good? And of course does it really matter? And I want to talk about what are the criteria by which we judge art made today." [more inside]
posted by DanCall
on Oct 28, 2013 -
The Physics of Light and Rendering
is a talk given at QuakeCon 2013 by John Carmack, co-creator of Doom, Quake, and many other games at id Software and beyond. It provides a detailed but surprisingly understandable history of 3D rendering techniques, their advantages and tradeoffs, and how they have been used in games and movies. (SLYT, 1:32:01, via
posted by cthuljew
on Oct 17, 2013 -
I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television--words, books, and so on--are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science. [...] Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers of the preceding generation. What is Science?
, a lecture by Richard Feynman.
posted by Rory Marinich
on Jun 1, 2013 -
Geoff Carter's radical view of building in the ancient world, especially the archaeology of the lost timber built environment of Southern England. It is new research into of prehistory of architecture
With the ultimate conclusion that Stonehenge is the remains of a roofed shelter. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral
on May 19, 2013 -
The Lecture System in Teaching Science
"Meanwhile, back at the classroom, the lecture is drawing to a close. Just as the bell rings, the lecturer, if he's a really smooth operator, comes to the end of a sentence, a paragraph, a nice neat unit. He lays down his last piece of chalk — he knows exactly how many pieces the lecture will take — picks up his precious lecture notes, and goes out. The students, tired but happy, rise up and follow after him. Their heads are empty, but their notebooks are full. Their necks are a little tired; it's been like a sort of vertical tennis match: board, notebook, board, notebook. But other than that, everything is all right. Any student will tell you, "I never had any trouble with the course until the first examination."" [via
posted by dhruva
on Feb 6, 2009 -
collects lectures on a wide variety of subjects
from UC Berkely
that the universities have released under Creative Commons
. The site is still in beta
so it doesn't quite have the thousands of lectures its frontpage promises. It has many full courses, for example Benjamin Polak teaching game theory
, Amy Hungerford on the American novel since 1945
, Charles Bailyn's introduction to astrophysics
, John Merriman on the history of France since 1871
, Shelly Kagan on death
and Oussama Khatib's introduction to robotics
posted by Kattullus
on Feb 4, 2009 -
What happens when we leave behind cosmetics and societal norms to modify our bodies and minds to enhance who we are and what we can do? In this talk
, journalist Quinn Norton
explores how technology and flesh are coming together.
posted by Hypocrites
on Aug 23, 2008 -
is a pioneer in virtual reality
, a computer science professor
, a Disney Imagineer
, an innovative teacher
, and the co-founder of the best video game school in the world
. One year ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and after a long and difficult fight he's been given just a few more months to live
. This week he gave his powerful, funny, and life-affirming last lecture
to a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon University, entitled "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams". The WSJ's summary
, and a direct link to the complete video of the lecture
(2 hours, and unfortunately streaming WMV). Warning: hilarious jokes about dying.
posted by xthlc
on Sep 20, 2007 -
Bruce Sterling's talk at SXSW
is described on the landing page as a 'rant'. It isn't. What it is
is a survey from 10,000 feet at what's happening in culture and technology and on the web, and I reckon it's worth spending the hour of your life it'll take to listen to it. I hope you agree. [mp3, 59 minutes]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken
on Mar 19, 2007 -
Physics for Future Presidents
is a class taught at UC Berkeley by Physics professor Richard Muller. It's a class specifically for non-physics majors and teaches the real world results of the sometimes impenetrable math involved in university physics. After every lecture, you should come away with the feeling that what was just covered is important for every world leader to know.
I just sat through the entire hour and 13 minute nukes
lecture and was riveted.
posted by quite unimportant
on Nov 7, 2006 -
Science Live site
I found this because of the live coverage of the Festival of Science 2006 from Norwich, but found lots of other great links! Great for kids, but good for anyone curious about science.
"What if you could watch any popular science lecture you wanted to? What if you could participate in any popular science event? What if you could find out what scientists themselves have to say about the issues that are important in society today? ScienceLive is an initiative that seeks to bring some of the best popular science events (discussions, lectures, interviews) directly to your home, so that you can watch these events whenever and from whereever you can.
posted by k8t
on Sep 6, 2006 -
Is the looming war with Iraq the first Water War?
Should the signs really be saying No Blood for Water?
From -Water Wars: a lecture by (Adel Darwish)
"Oil has always been thought of as the traditional cause of conflict in the Middle East past and present. Since the first Gulf oil well gushed in Bahrain in 1932, countries have squabbled over borders in the hope that ownership of a patch of desert or a sand bank might give them access to new riches. No longer. Now, most borders have been set, oil fields mapped and reserves accurately estimated - unlike the water resources, which are still often unknown. WATER is taking over from oil as the likeliest cause of conflict in the Middle East."
posted by thedailygrowl
on Mar 17, 2003 -
Thomas Friedman gave at SAIS
a few days ago. A longer form, very interesting and informative explanation of what he's learned post-Sept. 11th about the Middle East. Windows Media video and Real video and audio all available.
posted by turbodog
on Mar 10, 2003 -
The state of Florida has charged a teenage student with a felony violation of a wiretapping law
for taping her chemistry class lecture.
posted by jfuller
on Feb 28, 2001 -