"Because of that," he continued, "that means that the world would have never been created because none of the carbon would have been given 7 billion years to fuse together. We’d have to be 21 billion years old . . . and that would just screw everything up."
So, we had to ask.
If not the big bang, then how did the universe come about?
"I’m still working on that," he said. "I have an idea, but . . . I’m still working out the details."
Read the article. It is interesting on many levels. And watch his YouTube videos teaching Calculus with integration by parts and trig substitution. Not so much to get calculus, but to get a sense of how otherwise normal he is.
Among the laws it exhibits are the combined gas law, the ideal gas law and Maxwell-Bolztmann distribution, which is perhaps the most interesting. It shows that molecules in a given space can vary in energy level and so can exist in more than one phase at a single temperature – in other words that they can be liquid or gas at the same temperature.
Turns out… it is a heat engine. And is not perpetual.
Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.
I certainly am frustrated frequently by apparently healthy people dawdling along in front of me. It happens everywhere. At airports, at malls, in lines. Everywhere. What’s so hard about walking at a good pace?
I’m frustrated, but I haven’t ‘raged’ yet. Perhaps cause I don’t get to walk amongst people as often as I once did when residing downtown.
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.
Bad science. It affects us all the time. Light bulbs banned in California. Predictions of global warming, when it is more likely to get cold. Owls that aren’t native, nor endangered, stop logging. We are inundated with cause based science, where the cause is either financial benefit of the scientists, or some meta political goal.
So how do you spot bad science? It is surprisingly easy. I see it all the time as I read newspaper accounts of new studies, or even in scientific papers I peruse out of interest. Here are some guidelines:
Private. If they won’t share their raw data, it’s almost assuredly bad science.
Degrees of freedom. Small sample sizes (the study above used just 12 children) make for bad science.
Relative impact. If their big change is a relative one. I.E. a 20% change of a very small number already. Example… A study that says users of a certain supplement lose 20% more weight than those who don’t use it. Well… it was 20% more on an average weight loss of 1/2 a pound? Or does it mean an extra 5 pounds?
Making up data. If their samples aren’t actual data but synthesized. For instance much of the global warming “evidence” stems from less than 100 tree core samples, but to account for geographic distribution they “adjust” the samples and make up data. Nope.
Goals. Are they making a product or influencing a policy. If a product, it is probably okay science. You know if your plasma TV works. You don’t know, however – and never will know, if global warming was prevented.
Untestable. Does what the science predict occur too far off to prove or test? It’s probably bad, or at least is very subject to corruption and cannot be trusted without extreme verification of methods and data.
Cause meet Effect. Was the study just correlation? In other words, if the rooster crows just before sunset, did he cause the sun to rise?
Money. We can’t avoid it. But if the purpose of a study is to generate evidence requiring more study, what will the evidence show?
Is it a hard science or soft? Chemistry, Math, Materials – almost impossible to do bad science. And the obvious frauds, like cold fusion, violated several of the rules above. Soft sciences, like Economics, Psychology, Climatology… well, without hard standards, goals and money corrupt them, as we’ve seen in recent decades. Oddly, a “hard” science, Physics, fell prey to this as well. Theoretical Physics went off on “string theory” for the last 30 years. Real physics kept it hard, and kept doing good science, but Theoretical has been worthless for decades.
Put simply… unless it is pure numbers and physical laws, you probably can’t trust it.
So am I saying most science is bad? Well… yes, I guess I am. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, as the good stuff has immense value. But we definitely shouldn’t be comfortable, or quick, to allocate lives and treasure based on most science.
Note: The 4 Hour Body book has an excellent Appendix on identifying bad science.
With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation.
Since I’ve driven probably 12,000 miles in the last 6 months, I’d ready for a computer to take over!
Google, with a market capitalization of $170 billion, is a fraction of the size of the government. But… wouldn’t you say that Google has made your life better over the last decade? Now… how do you feel about government during that time?
It just highlights the benefits of letting people innovate and be rewarded rather than letting the government handle everything. Just imagine if this had been NASA doing this project… it would be hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of people and the car wouldn’t have left the lab yet.
My initial response… funding running low? My second response… cool. My thoughts after reading the article…. habitable in the sense that Detroit is habitable. Sure, I could “live” there, but no in any way I’d recognize as ‘living’.
I think it much more likely we will live in large space stations, or hollowed out asteroids than find a planet we can live on. If we ever get off this planet that is.
Of course… none of that will happen unless we defund NASA and let private ventures blossom to make money on space travel, exploration and, YES, exploitation. That’s right… let people make money off space and they will get there. Here is a simple one…. all profit made from space is TAX FREE. Sit back and watch the space race begin. With zip, nada, zero, government cost. Simple isn’t it.
NASA, and specifically our manned space program, has been a colossal waste of time and resources. Tang was cool, but we could have had it for less than the trillions NASA has spent over the decades.
I just read a book where injured space soldiers were shot with “Suspend” which suspended their bodily functions, permitting months or years doctors to work on them. Now, in today’s Telegraph Science Fiction joins real life…:
Researchers are now set to begin the first human trials of the technique, which involves replacing a patient’s blood with a cold solution to rapidly chill body temperatures.
Apparently it works really well in animals, and they expect it to work well in humans too. But suspending cellular operations you stop the build up of toxins that the blood stream would normally clear away – and that are what kills the brain in traumatic injury situations:
At normal body temperatures, brain death typically occurs in around four or five minutes as, at low oxygen levels, cells start to produce toxins that ultimately kill them.
By cooling the body so much, the cells are essentially put into a state of suspended animation that prevents this from happening.
They do it by replacing blood with a chilly solution that drops the body’s temperature to 10c (50 degrees F). They then have time to operate and fix injuries, who if not frozen would have died quickly from lack of circulation. Then they warm them up and they have no apparent damage from the cooling.
I wonder if you can use this to kill cancer cells? Anyway, as Instapundit says… Faster Please.
The perfect immune-modulating drug would target only the part of the system causing the problem. As of now, however, most immunosuppressive drugs work by dampening the entire immune system, which leaves the patient susceptible to short-term problems like infections and long-term afflictions as severe as cancer.
The new drug successfully kept most of the trial patients producing insulin at the two year mark. That is good news. The bad news…. that was 2001, and a drug you or I could be prescribed is a “couple years away”. That is too slow. I don’t know how much of the slowdown is bureaucracy, how much is science caring more about science than patients, funding, or just plain being hard – but I know that 3 of those obstacles could be eased.
I’ve tried one of the new Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs that suppress the immune system, but stopped due to side effects. Something that kept the body from attacking my joints, but didn’t keep it from fighting the flu would be pretty useful.
A recent finding by a New York researcher could be an important step to stopping Alzheimer’s Researchers have been trying to prevent growth of the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s by preventing a core component of it (gamma secretase which is used to make beta amyloid) from being made. But the methods found so far of stopping it had too many other side effects elsewhere in the body.
That was what he had found: a targeting protein that sets in motion the activity of gamma secretase, which makes beta amyloid. To further test the discovery, he genetically engineered a strain of mice that had a gene for Alzheimer’s, but he blocked the gene for the gamma secretase activating protein. The animals appeared to be perfectly healthy. And they did not develop plaques in their brains.
As usual, more work is needed. Primarily in how to keep the drug in the brain.
I hope this work is fast tracked, and I hope the FDA pulls its act together and realizes and permits Alzheimers and cancer drugs to market much quicker. Time is running out for tens of millions entering the years of life where these diseases take hold.
After seeing my grandmother suffer from Alzheimer’s I do not think there is a pill or shot I wouldn’t gladly risk to avoid that fate. Almost any side effect would be better.
Not unexpected. Enough peer pressure will get to anyone. Now the “skeptic” wants to declare global warming a “a challenge humanity must confront” and, here is the unshocking shocker, tax YOU to confront it.
In a Guardian interview, he said he would finance investment through a tax on carbon emissions that would also raise $50bn to mitigate the effect of climate change, for example by building better sea defences, and $100bn for global healthcare.
Yeah, like that would a) help and b) not be raised infinitely, c) not hurt way more people than imaginary global warming ever would. Dumb move Lomborg, but alas, not surprising.
Anyway, Bjorn… I’m sorry, but not surprised, to see you become just another shill spreading fear of global warming to pump up and fund policies you prefer.
May your Danish winters be colder than normal now.
James Burke, science historian, has generously donated his 10 part documentary “Connections” to the web. I’ve seen the series twice, at least. It fascinated me. He also wrote an excellent column with similar historical connections for The American Scientist, as well as similar documentaries for TLC in the 90s.
Connections explores an "Alternative View of Change" (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation. Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own (e.g. profit, curiosity, religious) motivations with no concept of the final, modern result of what either their or their contemporaries’ actions finally led to. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation, and is also the main focus of the series and its sequels.
To demonstrate this view, Burke begins each episode with a particular event or innovation in the past (usually Ancient or Medieval times) and traces the path from that event through a series of seemingly unrelated connections to a fundamental and essential aspect of the modern world. For example, the episode "The Long Chain" traces the invention of plastics from the development of the fluyt, a type of Dutch cargo ship.
Nickki Buck hears her first words in 10 years after having cochlear implants installed.
It is shocking, and silly, to me that many in the deaf “community” oppose this. Being deaf may not be a disability from many parts of life, but it still sucks. To not hear music? Or my kids singing, or birds chirping – when I could again? Not partaking of all of natures bounty, when you can, just seems silly.
I visited MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers working on these 15 years ago, and I’m glad their research has come far enough to help the typical deaf person.