drwex: (Python)

In the course of a mini-rant about how we can do better than Nature, Neil deGrasse Tyson tells an extremely abbreviated version of one of my favorite jokes.
drwex: (WWFD)
Two articles I've read recently that impressed me.


Ta-Nehisi Coates continues to be fantastic in talking about race.



How one game company used "science" - that is a combination of gleanings from social science and psychology - to modify player behavior. It's a brilliant piece of work.
drwex: (WWFD)
I know at least gsh reads my LJ once in a while and maybe other readers know more physics than I and can shed light (ha, you see what I did there) on this.
The Beeb Confused Me )
drwex: (VNV)
Science Friday has a bit on with Oliver Sacks that includes some advice on distinguishing hallucinations. For example, he says, if you see a sky-blue cow up in the air, that's a hallucination.

And that reminds me of an old piece of advice (which I know I've shared with several of you):
When you are tripping, all cars are real. If you see a purple car with pink polka-dots on it coming at you out of the sky, get out of the way. You might be hallucinating the sky.

I believe I first heard this from someone at Senior House, but darned if I can remember who it was.
drwex: (WWFD)

Over at the HuffPo, Noah Gray (who is a senior editor at Nature) has a really good step-by-step "how to" on reading abstracts of scientific papers. Often with prepublications, or authors' Web sites or citation sources like SSRN the abstract is all you have to go by and it's nice when an author makes the abstract clear. Gray breaks down what a (well constructed) abstract looks like.

In particular, it's often easy from an abstract to see exactly where mainstream media has gone off the rails in reporting. Though I do wish more scientists would put a little more into the well portion of "well-written abstract."

(h/t Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boingboing for the original pointer)
drwex: (WWFD)

You may recall a couple weeks back I pointed to a critique in Scientific American related to ways in which attempts are being made to attract more girls (and women) into science. Now there's a chance at the above URL for you to show you can do it better. For science!
drwex: (Default)

If this video does not thrill you nearly to tears then you might not be a space geek.
drwex: (WWFD)
Elinor Ostrom was the only woman to win the Nobel prize in Economics and one of the few non-economists to win it. Her work expanded our understanding of how "tragedy of the commons"-type problems could be handled.

I had a brief brush with her early "Governing the Commons" as part of my dissertation research. I had not realized until I read some of the obits for her just how prolific she had been in the last two decades, particularly working on areas such as informal economies and knowledge economies, though she's best known for hands-on work with physical systems like community grazing fields and village-level irrigation systems. Unlike a lot of economists she didn't just sit in her office and create mathematical formalisms. She did real field work in Africa and Asia.
drwex: (WWFD)
Another group of climate-change skeptics has done even more extensive analyses and re-analyses of temperature measurement data and come to the same conclusion: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/10/climate-skeptics-perform-independent-analysis-finally-convinced-earth-is-getting-warmer.ars
"Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK," said Richard Muller. "This confirms that these studies were done carefully and the potential biases identified by climate change skeptics did not seriously affect their conclusions."

As I've said before, the majority of people who doubt that man-made global warming is happening are like the people who still think cigarettes don't cause cancer. But it's good to see earlier results re-confirmed. The group appears to have been testing two of the more rational skeptical challenges - urbanization as a bias in temperature records, and confusion with short-term reversals and local trends. Both factors were shown not to be significant in the overall picture.


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