Old-school types are nostalgic for the days of walking into the library stacks and seeing what books catch one’s eye; digital tools often have trouble enabling this sort of accidental discovery, where a user finds something valuable that they didn’t even know they wanted. But serendipitous encounters don’t have to be analog; if anything, digital tools should be able to foster more serendipity, since they can effortlessly reorder categories, effectively rearranging stacks based on the researcher’s avenue of inquiry. But how would one engineer serendipity — and can we even call something serendipitous if it was engineered?

I’m feeling lucky: Can algorithms better engineer serendipity in research — or in journalism? » Nieman Journalism Lab

In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research. The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation. “For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science - NYTimes.com

I was very enthralled with the thrill of discovery and the drive for research and not as much paying attention to the consequences of, ‘If we answer these questions, what’s going to happen?’" he says. What was going to happen soon became apparent: Robotics started moving out of the labs and into the military-industrial complex, and Mr. Arkin began to worry that the systems could eventually be retooled as weaponized "killing machines fully capable of taking human life, perhaps indiscriminately.

'Moral' Robots: the Future of War or Dystopian Fiction? - Research - The Chronicle of Higher Education

We’ve observed a new particle. We have quite strong evidence that there’s something there. Its properties are still going to take us a little bit of time,” Joe Incandela, spokesman for the CMS experiment, one of the main Higgs-searching experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, said in the video. “We think this is pretty darned significant.

Leaked Video Appears to Accidentally Announce Higgs Boson Discovery | Wired Science | Wired.com

Princeton Review Founder Launches Noodle, A Search & Recommendation Engine For Education

Knowing that it can take weeks or even months to refine a search and make a decision on all matters education, Noodle Education is today launching what it believes is a better solution: A search and recommendation engine that helps refine the process and suggest educational opportunities based on what’s important to you.

Like Google, Noodle is attempting to organize an enormous amount of data, aggregating information on a wide range of learning options. As it is today, the search and discovery process for education is fragmenting, as you navigate to one resource for test prep, another for pre-K schooling options, another for guidance counselors, and so on. So, Noodle is attempting to create the first education discovery engine that combines aggregated data with socially-enabled search to help find formal and informal educational opportunities — from tutors and schools to study abroad programs and guidance counseling.

» via TechCrunch

Passing tests doesn’t begin to compare with searching and inquiring and pursuing topics that engage us and excite us. That’s far more significant than passing tests and, in fact, if that’s the kind of educational career you’re given the opportunity to pursue, you will remember what you discovered.

Noam Chomsky on the purpose of education. (via explore-blog)

(via explore-blog)