Monthly Archives: June 2008

The earth sings

Mark Morford, at SFGate, in April, wrote a lyrical, powerful piece about music the Earth itself is generating: “In other words, you love loud punk? Metal? Jazz? Deep house? Saint-Saens with a glass of Pinot in the tub? Sure you do. That’s because somewhere, somehow, deep in your very cells and bones and DNA, it links you back to source, to the Earth’s own vibration, the pulse of the cosmos. Oh yes it does. To tap your foot and sway your body to that weird new Portishead tune is, in effect, to sway it to the roar of the universe. I mean, obviously.”

As he mentions, scientists have been debating the source (or sources) of the ‘hum’ for a long time, a sampling:

Space.com (2000): Source of Earth’s Hum Revealed, Space Symphony Possible (Inaudible sound waves in the lower atmosphere that push and pull on the ground).

NPR: Detecting the Earth’s Hum for What It Is (it comes from the globe’s largest oceans during winter, apparently the result of powerful winter storms)

New Scientist (2007): Earth’s hum linked to coastal waves

LiveScience: Earth’s Hum Sounds More Mysterious Than Ever (might be caused by forces shearing across the world’s surface, from the oceans, atmosphere or possibly even the sun)

Mark Morford says this is the kind of thing, in our day to day driven world, we don’t take a moment to stop and ponder: “This is the kind of thing that, given all our distractions, our celeb obsessions and happy drugs and bothersome trifles like family and bills and war and health care and sex and love and porn and breathing and death, tends to fly under the radar of your overspanked consciousness, only to be later rediscovered and brought forth and placed directly in front of your eyeballs, at least for a moment, so you can look, really look, and go, oh my God, I had no idea.”

He’s right. My friends shake their heads at me sometimes and tease me for being a bit of a “hippie” for pondering this stuff. But it’s these kinds of mysteries that take my heart to flight, sing to me, and lighten my step as I think about the wonderful world we live in.

Welcome Back Shelley Powers

Shelley Powers is blogging about her latest book at Painting the Web, about all things society and tech at RealTech, on personal matters at Just Shelley, and about Missouri at MissouriGreen Her latest posts at MissouriGreen are covering the sandbagging efforts she has been taking part in and have been harrowing.

The news coverage of the weather and floods has been spotty at best. I’d like to urge folks to donate to the Red Cross (probably what Richelle and me will do this week) but I don’t know if that’s the best route to help for those of us so distant and disconnected.

The single most important skill for a software engineer

“How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python”:

The goal of this book is to teach you to think like a computer scientist. This way of thinking combines some of the best features of mathematics, engineering, and natu- ral science. Like mathematicians, computer scientists use formal languages to denote ideas (specifically computations). Like engineers, they design things, assembling components into systems and evaluating tradeoffs among alternatives. Like scientists, they observe the behavior of complex systems, form hypotheses, and test predictions. The single most important skill for a computer scientist is problem solving. Problem solving means the ability to formulate problems, think creatively about solutions, and express a solution clearly and accurately. As it turns out, the process of learning to program is an excellent opportunity to practice problem-solving skills.