January 27, 2003

Man vs. machine! What could be better than that? Garry Kasparov and Deep Junior face off over the next couple of weeks in NYC. Check out this CNN report on the match. The first game was won handily by Kasparov, check out this report at Chessbase. Chessbase is the best place to follow the match -- take a look at their media page. A brilliant addition to the popular literature on artificial intelligence is Feng-hsiung Hsu's Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion, a behind the scenes account of the last time Kasparov faced a computer in public. Computer chess is a topic that really interests me and I've been reading a lot lately on the topic. A big post of various resources is coming soon. And guess what? Yep, there is a Claude Shannon connection.

January 23, 2003

Am I obsessed with Google? If you're an academic librarian these days and you're not displaying at least some degree of Google anxiety, you're probably not paying attention. Has Google won? is an interview with Steven J. Bell at The Chronicle of Higher Education. It raises some interesting issues, especially about our assumption that full text databases are the best weapon in our arsenal to get students to use something other than Google in their research. His suggestion? Quality not quantity. From Lisnews.

January 22, 2003

Stephen Wolfram is the "wild and crazy science pundit" du jour these days. Of course, that doesn't mean what he has to say isn't weird, stimulating and thought provoking, as is this interview at the O'Reilly Network on bioinformatics.

January 11, 2003

David Hartwell is one of the secret masters of science fiction, editor at Tor, publisher of The New York Review of Science Fiction and editor or too many anthologies to mention. By definition, being a secret master means that he might be a little less well known than he deserves -- for example, you rarely see interviews with him. This recent interview in SF Revu should change that a bit. The connection to our mandate here? His most recent anthology (with Kathryn Cramer) is The Hard SF Renaissance. Hard sf being, of course, the most scientifically minded branch of the genre. From Locusmag.

January 8, 2003

One of the most valuable research skills it is possible to have is the ability to dig up obscure and forgotten knowledge. This skill may not be as important in the sciences as in journalism or history, although it should not be undervalued. Physicists, mathematicians, botanists and many others often use dusty old tomes as part of their research. Unfortunately, most new students refuse to believe that anything not on the Web could be important or useful. The Web may be transforming how research is done forever, but I don't think we need to throw out the baby with the bath water. One of our Science & Technology Studies profs, Ernst Hamm, pointed out this wonderful little article to me about journalism students. I think it is just as relevant to virtually every other field, highlighting some of the "old-fashioned" research skills such as persistence, imagination and hard work.