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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

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Bold move by worldchanging. The bottom line is: we’ve had enough of your nonsense, thank you very much. You can regurgitate your hallucinary circular arguments on your own blog. This is our place, and grievous denial of reality is not acceptable behaviour here.

Amen to that. Will they block evolution deniers next?

If you still find it amusing to argue with climate change deniers, here the complete guide. (ht BB, also via worldchanging).


Written by yishaym

June 18, 2008 at 10:09 am

quick, clean up that space trash before it kills us

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AFP reports That Nico Marquardt , a 13 yr old German schoolboy has upgraded the risk of the Apophis asteroid colliding with earth from NASA’s 1:45,000 to 1:450. Explanation? Nico’s calculations account for the risk of the death star being diverted by space junk.

BERLIN (AFP) — A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA’s estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.

Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.

NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.

The schoolboy took into consideration the risk of Apophis running into one or more of the 40,000 satellites orbiting Earth during its path close to the planet on April 13 2029.

I don’t think I’ll sleep very well for the next 21 years. Somebody get Bruce Willis on the phone.

Written by yishaym

April 16, 2008 at 9:16 am

The missing Soufflé, er, ah, link.

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Human life histories, as compared to those of other primates and mammals, have at least four distinctive characteristics: an exceptionally long lifespan, an extended period of juvenile dependence, support of reproduction by older postreproductive individuals, and male support of reproduction through the provisioning of females and their offspring. Another distinctive feature of our species is a large brain, with its associated psychological attributes: increased capacities for learning, cognition, and insight.

And where does it all come from?

Our theory is that those four life history characteristics and extreme intelligence are co-evolved responses to a dietary shift toward high-quality, nutrient-dense, and difficult-to-acquire food resources.

You know, its not easy finding a decent meal. You need big brains for that.

(Kaplan et al, 2000)

Written by yishaym

January 9, 2008 at 2:42 am

Posted in food, health, science

Folks-onto-logy: you heard is here.

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Ontologies are beautiful, but no-one uses them.

Folksonomies are used by everyone, but impossible to make sense of.

Enter Folksontology;  a Folksonomy on the edges and onthology in the core. Driven by two way dynamics of tags flowing in and being restructrued and concepts flowing out and being repurposed. Kind of like a dynamical-system algoritmical model of Wittgenstein’s language games.

Maths test tomorrow? wack some zombies

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Especially if you’re a girl. Recent research* shows that playing 10 hours of shoot-em-ups improves spatial cognition skills which are associated with success in mathematics and science:

Playing an action video game can differentially enhance male and female performance on spatial tasks; females showed larger improvements than males with prior gender differences virtually eliminated (Useful Field of View) or reduced (Mental rotation task).Non-action games may be less likely to have a beneficial effect because they do not sufficiently exercise spatial attentional capacities.

Spatial abilities—including MRT—have been associated with 1) success in mathematics and science courses (Delgado & Prieto, 2004); 2) performance on standardized tests (e.g. SAT: Casey, et al., 1995); and 3) the choice of mathematics and science in college (Casey, et al, 1995). [..] Superior spatial ability is related to employment in engineering and science (McGee, 1979) and females, who typically score lower on tests of spatial skills, are underrepresented in these fields with worldwide participation rates as low as one in five.

Non-video game players in our study realized large gains after only ten hours of training; we can only imagine the benefits that might be realized after weeks, months, or even years of action video gaming experience.

I find the erasure of gender difference fascinating. It strengthens the argument that such differences are predominantly cultivated by the kinds of things we do as kids. Its also interesting to see the parallel with the differences between art and science students.

On the down side, killing zombies is not like bike riding. you have to keep practising:

Underlying processes in the brain are qualitatively different from those in more typical cases of skill acquisition that involve practice—generally these show decay if there is no continued practice to maintain the level of skill.

*: 2007Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Difference in Spatial Cognition. Psychological Science, (18)10:850-855. PDF


Written by yishaym

October 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

Science shows: Liberals are smarter.

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Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.

Yeah, yeah. but its just a theory, you know. Like evolution. Anyway, here’s the original paper abstract:

Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism

David M Amodio1, John T Jost1, Sarah L Master2 & Cindy M Yee2

1 Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, USA.

2 Department of Psychology, 1285 Franz Hall, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.

Correspondence should be addressed to David M Amodio david.amodio@nyu.edu

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.

(digg story)

Written by yishaym

September 11, 2007 at 5:21 pm

truth, statistics and damn good visualization

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Hans Rosling takes on common myths about east-west, north-south, and tears them to shreds. And he does it using brilliant visualizations of undeniable facts. Statistics as you’ve never seen it before.
The only divide is in our prejudice. Not between Africa and Europe or North America and Asia, but between countries which tend to their citizen’s health and welfare, and those that don’t.

If you stick with it to the end, you’ll even learn why the OLPC is so important (hint here).

And some of the tools he uses are available online: http://tools.google.com/gapminder/


Written by yishaym

August 13, 2007 at 10:44 am