karenhart28 asked: Hi Joe! Love your blog, and I wanted to ask: What year is it? Not in the Gregorian calendar but what actual scientific year for the earth is it? And if it's too hard to calculate, do we have an estimate? Thanks!


Kinda depends on where we set year zero, eh?

My first inclination was to answer this in relation to the Big Bang, calculating today’s date based on the age of the universe. When we average together the results of all the different scientific experiments that have sought to calculate that number, we get 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years, or an uncertainty of 37 million years. That’s less than 0.3% “?” territory, but still pretty fuzzy.

But wait! The idea of a “year” is based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun (and scientists have many ways of defining a year, as it turns out), so you can’t have “years” without Earth. I think Earth’s age is a better starting point. 

Based on radiometric dating of ancient meteorites and other really old rocks, scientists peg Earth’s age at 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years, an uncertainty of 50 million years. Sheesh, 1% error? Are we sure about anything?

That means it’s somewhere between year 4,490,000,000 APF* and 4,590,000,000 APF. Kind of a broad estimate, unfortunately, but it means that next time someone tells you to turn something in or finish a project at work by a certain date, you can just stare at them for a few seconds and say “But we don’t even know what YEAR it is, man…”** and just walk away. 

* “APF” stands for “After Planet Formation” and is an abbreviation I literally just now made up so it should not be deemed scientific, although I AM a scientist, so maybe just say it with conviction and everyone will believe you.

** I recommend using your best Spicoli impression while saying this.



Today marks 89 years since the literary classic, The Great Gatsby was first published.
Let’s celebrate this anniversary and make F. Scott-Fitzgerald proud by stepping into a New York Public Library branch and borrowing a copy of his great work of American literature.

And it’s still not in the public domain.


Today marks 89 years since the literary classic, The Great Gatsby was first published.

Let’s celebrate this anniversary and make F. Scott-Fitzgerald proud by stepping into a New York Public Library branch and borrowing a copy of his great work of American literature.

And it’s still not in the public domain.



Home-Made Tron:Legacy Light Cycle Arcade Game

Independent developer The Arcade Man has built from scratch a Tron:Legacy Light Cycle and first-person driving game to play with an Oculus Rift - video embedded below:

The evolution of tecnology allowed us to have amazing experiences. How many of us dreamed of being inside a game, this is a fantasy in the mind of all the nerdiest geeks.

Thanks to an amazing little device that allows us to be “inside a game” and the project I’ve developed in the last month, I think I can say that we are in a very good way to materialize a great part of Kevin Flynn’s dream…

I present you the RiftCycles Project.

This is a stunning and unique arcade prototype that combines the Oculus Rift with a Light Cycles simulator  that I built from scratch.

The game was developed (using Unity) by the portuguese startup Overflow Interactive and it’s a game based on the Light Cycle Battle from the Tron universe and fully compatible with the Oculus Rift.

You can find out more (including building documentation) here

Mute the video when you watch it.

(via paunexus6)

"I’m getting help, it’s just a slow process."

Lena Dunham, with a great response to David Letterman telling her to “please get some help” after she describes that taking too much time off gives an opportunity for her “existential angst to creep in”. 

This jumped out to me as a clear generational divide in terms of openness to therapy, and reminded me of the words we use casually that play a part in influencing deeper widespread feelings of shame about seeking “help”. “You need professional help” is probably something I said as a 4th grader on the playground to someone doing something weird, and I’d like to remove it from my casual use.

So in the past month, I’ve rethought using words including “bossy" due to Sheryl Sandberg’s campaign, "starving to death" and "wifebeater" from Louis CK’s SNL monologue, and now this. It’s all a good dose of perspective.

(via adriennes)



Game of Goats

[via to.]








As someone who wants to study the human consciousness I found this very interesting.

Scott Routley was a “vegetable”. A car accident seriously injured both sides of his brain, and for 12 years, he was completely unresponsive.

Unable to speak or track people with his eyes, it seemed that Routley was unaware of his surroundings, and doctors assumed he was lost in limbo. They were wrong.

In 2012, Professor Adrian Owen decided to run tests on comatose patients like Scott Routley. Curious if some “vegetables” were actually conscious, Owen put Routley in an fMRI and told him to imagine walking through his home. Suddenly, the brain scan showed activity. Routley not only heard Owen, he was responding.

Next, the two worked out a code. Owen asked a series of “yes or no” questions, and if the answer was “yes,” Routley thought about walking around his house. If the answer was “no,” Routley thought about playing tennis.

These different actions showed activity different parts of the brain. Owen started off with easy questions like, “Is the sky blue?” However, they changed medical science when Owen asked, “Are you in pain?” and Routley answered, “No.” It was the first time a comatose patient with serious brain damage had let doctors know about his condition.

While Scott Routley is still trapped in his body, he finally has a way to reach out to the people around him. This finding has huge implications.


How awesome is this! :-D!!


My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.

The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)

But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way? I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.

Then I thought: What the hell, it’s just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be. And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.


Bilbo Baggins is a girl: Until children’s books catch up to our daughters, rewrite them. (via daxsymbiont)

I’ll reblog this for forever

(via memymarie)

(Source: sashimigrade, via wreckandsalvage)


Untitled (1982), Jean-Michel Basquiat

Untitled (1982), Jean-Michel Basquiat

(via fingerskneesandtoes)




I did an interview with MTV Act! YEAH WHOO