Introduction to Cybernetics (1957)

Growing up as a fan of SciFi, I could not tell you when exactly I heard the term Cybernetics.  It was not an unfamiliar term the first time I saw Picard get assimilated by the Borg.  So when I came across this post on Hacker News today to a PDF of the book Introduction to Cybernetics by W. Ross Ashby and saw the copyright date of 1957 my mind kind of boggled.

From the Preface:
Many workers in the biological sciences—physiologists, psychologists, sociologists—are interested in cybernetics and would like to apply its methods and techniques to their own speciality. Many have, however, been prevented from taking up the subject by an impression that its use must be preceded by a long study of electronics and advanced pure mathematics; for they have formed the impression that cybernetics and these subjects are inseparable.
And in the first chapter he begins with:
Cybernetics was defined by Wiener as “the science of control and communication, in the animal and the machine”—in a word, as the art of steermanship, and it is to this aspect that the book will be addressed. Co-ordination, regulation and control will be its themes, for these are of the greatest biological and practical interest.
It was interesting to read through and see in-depth discussion on the nature of cybernetics without the filter of almost six decades of science and science fiction.

You can read the full PDF of the book here:


Chrome: Remove Most Visited From New Tab (revert it back)

The other day when I hit Ctrl-T in Chrome I was greeted with a new page that actually reminded me more of a poorly designed web site from the 1990s than the sleekness that I usually associate with Google's browser.

And judging by the sheer number of posts from unhappy users, I knew I was not alone in my dislike of having my most recent web sites showing up on a newly tabbed page.

Thankfully, though, one helpful user posted how to revert your new tabs back to how they looked before (without having to use the often mentioned New Tabs Redirect extension).


An example of what a flexible display could look like

There has been more talk lately regarding research and possible uses of flexible displays, and while watching a recent episode of A Certain Scientific Railgun S, one of the characters pulled out such a display from the side of her rather small cell phone.


How do you find your old Google+ Posts?

Odds are you have been in a conversation, composing an email, or watching a show and you suddenly remembered you had posted about it recently.  Or a month or a year ago.

You could, with plenty of diligence and scrolling of your mouse wheel, go through all of your posts until you find the information you were looking for.  And hope that your eyes do not glaze over and you miss the article you were trying to find.

Thankfully finding a specific post you made can be done with a few clicks right within Google+.


Visualizing the Numbers: What Do The Odds of 10^40,000 to 1 Look Like?

Recently I was fortunate enough to find a copy of Michael Talbot's book Beyond the Quantum at a used book store.  If he sounds familiar, that is because is the author of the popular book The Holographic Universe.

In reading Beyond the Quantum, written in 1986, you can see the foundation for many of his ideas that later became incorporated and expanded upon in his Holographic book (which came out in 1991, just one year before his tragic death).  He explores theories by David Bohm, Paul Davies, Richard Feynman, and many others in a quest to understand the world around us which tends to get a bit wonky when entering the world of Quantum Physics.

Toward the end of the book there were a couple of statistics that I found interesting.  The first was in regards to gravity by Cambridge astrophysist Brandon Carter: