Maybe you hate Google.
But you gotta admit, the big G is creative. Ideas fly out of Google faster than films out of Bollywood – Picasa, YouTube, Maps, Panoramio, Android, Earth, Bookmarks.. Always something new.
How long can creativity like that last?
Well, recently, Google announced that it is trying to be more focused. The workers were having too much fun. Too much fun is never good. It annoys the investors. Hence, going forward, there’ll be no more throwing piglets at walls to see what sticks. According to Larry Page, there will be “more wood, less arrows”. (Larry’s the CEO and gets paid to maintain order). To get the wood properly aligned with the arrows, Google flipped through its multitudinous projects to see what could go. Some projects were closed down, some remained. And some got combined. Just in case the “we’re serious dudes now” message wasn’t clear, Google Labs, itself, got the ax.
Is creativity finally wrung out of Google’s guts? The time spent on “go crazy” projects (which used to be 20% of the work week) has been reduced to .. Well.. 20%. No change at all. So I guess creativity isn’t eggzactly a thing of the past. Just reducing the arrows is all. This, supposedly, keeps “The Street” happy.
One project that was killed is aardvark. Which you probably never heard of. It works like this.
Say you finally dumped the Subaru.
“Google,” you say, ” I finally sold my 1995 Subaru. What do I do now?”
Good question. I’m on this.
I’m thinking “Subaru. This person probably shops at Whole Foods, wears natural fabrics, and wishes the Tea Party would drop dead! He.she should probably be looking at a Prius. Or a Mini.”
Well, dear reader, aren’t I smart! In fact, I’m smarter then Google’s famous search engine which would choke on that question. And WHY am I so smart? Because I got DNA in me. I’m a human. Maybe Google Search will be that smart some day.
Don’t be a breath holder.
Well, a while ago, Google Labs (rest in peace) realizing the problems of “natural language” , decided to waste an arrow. Maybe Google could come up with a way to get humans in the loop for certain questions.
The idea with aardvark was to “social up”. Users get to check off particular areas of knowledge. They become volunteer experts. They become the blood and bones of the animal.
As it were.
Mister ScienceAintSoBad (in his human guise) was such a user. He claimed to know about science.
Questions began to show up. Most were dopey.
As someone who works almost every day, is to stay in shape with little time?
Sounds like a fortune cookie, doesn’t it? He was probably looking for an efficient way to exercise. No WONDER it came to me. Probably because I checked off physics.
Another on-target question: What is the best way to tell my girlfriend I love her in every-way possible, and I don’t think she is annoying or anything she says bad about herself.
Whatever! I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject. If I were qualified to give advice on romance, would I wear these thick glasses and dress funny? Anyway, his syntax is off. If English is his second language, I’m impressed. If it’s his first one, he needs a new dictionary.
I’m looking for a excel spreadsheet app for ipad 2 that can use imported email documents that are excel spreadsheets already from a computer.
Okay, bubs. That’s legit, I guess. But kinda lazy. Ever hear of the App Store?
And here’s a guy who really doesn’t “get” natural selection: While some species ascend high in the atmosphere it seems as if birds do not fly too high for their safety. Do they, and if not how to they know what are safe altitudes for them? Why does say a magpie not have a go at flying up to geese migration heights?
That same day I received: How can you use only two fours to equal 4? Well, I passed on that one. Too deep for me. Maybe, the submitter isn’t originally from this solar system.
I also asked aardvark some questions of my own. I wanted to know if the minuscule vibrating strings that string theory’s based on can run out of gas. In other words, are they subject to the second law of thermodynamics?
In string theory, all “particles” are comprised of vibrating strings. The associated energy and mode of vibration of the string determines which specific particle the string will be. My question: does the energy of the vibrating strings decay over time? Do the laws of thermodynamics (entropy, in particular) apply at this level?
I got this response:
Well, I’m no expert, so feel free to restate the question when the answer is unsatisfactory. I believe a string will change its energy and mode only when it comes into contact with another string. This would be the same for conventional objects, except that the objects around us come into contact with other object all of the time, hence the decay in vibration energy.
He’s “no expert” but he BELIEVES that a string.. Always good to have someone share his opinions, I guess. I did wonder why he didn’t let the question pass to someone who KNEW the answer. But I was polite.
I thanked him.
I believe you are right though that’s what I hope to confirm. You refer to “conventional” objects. I assume you meant things that are, by convention, particles in the Standard Model (quarks et al).
Goes out on a limb:
No, they don’t apply at that level.
As I suspected but I was hoping for a bit more explanation. I thank him politely and ask why.
Sorry, I can’t help with more explanation
Can’t tell me with why. I don’t like this. If you know what yer talkin’ about, you can defend yer answer, right?
Just to clarify. You’re saying you know that the rules of thermodynamics don’t apply at that level but you don’t know why? If you don’t know why, may I (respectfully) ask why you’re so sure of the answer?
He, bravely, goes another round.
Thermodynamics is about macroscopic variables. String theory is about particle physics. I’m sorry if this doesn’t help and hope someone else can give you a satisfactory answer.
This is nonsensical (but it didn’t fool you, did it?) Anyway, I knew there wasn’t any more juice to be extracted. In the interest of civility, I was probably hypocritical:
In fact, that confirms my own understanding. Sorry to be pushy but I couldn’t tell from your very brief statement if you were just “playing” at aardvark as, unfortunately some do. I’m not sure what motivates people to do things like that (pretend to know when they do not) but it forces you to make a judgement about whether a responder is reasonably knowledgeable. Actually, you seem at about my own scientific level and I appreciate your thoughts on this.
I suspect that what’s going on at the string level is that a string is, in essence, a quantum of energy. Without an additional energy transaction, it is eternal. Maybe I will hear from a physicist who knows.
Later that month I tried to clear up my understanding of the way that separate particles get tangled up with each other over vast distances.
Does quantum entanglement transmit information faster than the speed of light (virtually instantaneous)? Some things I’ve read say that useful information can’t be sent this way. Others seem to suggest that this is an open question.
My answer came back:
Depends on your interpretation of “transmits information”. Unmeasurable things, such as a quantum state and phase, change instantly. But measurable things, things that are within the reach of experiments, cannot be used to transport information faster than light. Quantum physics has this loophole that some physical quantities are unmeasurable, out of reach for any kind of detection. That’s why Quantum theory can play this trick on us: a physical measure changes faster than light, but not a measurable one.
Thanks, Dan, for a knowledgeable and understandable answer. ( Not your fault that quantum mechanics is so damn nuts!)
I knew we were looking for radio signals from “ETs”. I wondered how far are we looking?
SEARCH FOR EXTRATERESTRIAL LIFE: I realize that the SETI program, itself, is currently mothballed, but I’m curious about something. What are the realistic distance limitations on this kind of radio search before noise is likely to overcome even a strong signal? Are their expectations of being able to identify (not translate, just identify) an intelligent signal beyond, say, 1000 light years? Further?
The answer arrived:
ask Carl Sagan
According to Brian Greene (and others), strings are under great tension but are not necessarily anchored at the ends. What force, then, balances this tension?
I don’t know, but sometimes he himself answers this kind of questions on his facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/BrianGreenePhysicist
on: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quantum-Physics/or his personal fb page announcements can be found when he is answering questions (he is very kind)
I admit I got a little testy. For heaven’s SAKE!
If you don’t know, don’t answer. OK?
If you don’t know the answer, don’t respond, OK?
He got testy back and raised me one:
Did you know that you can ask him questions by yourself? What is YOUR problem to talk with me like this? NOT OK! WTF?! You could ignore my ! ANSWER. AND, DO NOT SCREAM AT ME, OK? Keep in mind when you do not know an answer, it’s important to know, who knows it. Thank you.
I gave you a direct link to one of the people who definitely will be able to answer you. Even much more trustworthy then me.
Who could answer your questions better then one of the scientists, who invented all that theories? You make me angry!
no, not you make me angry, not even know you, sorry David.
Rage management, anyone?
My last exchange was with someone who asked:
What are some must-have android apps?
This one is easy to figure out with Google search. No need for aardvark, really. Lots of articles about “favorite” or “best” or “must have” apps. However, these lists probably tell you more about the writer than anything else. “Must haves” really depend on you and your lifestyle/work style. They also depend on your phone since not all apps work on all version of Android.
He already knew:
Thanks for the ride, aardvark. It’s been real.
Credit for the above image to Abraham Williams and Flickr
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.