Courtesy of xkcd
October 30, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 26, 2007
After comments about the intelligence of the African race, which I wrote about earlier, Watson has “retired”.
October 24, 2007
I was reading my latest issue of Fine Woodworking when I paged to an article about free easy to use 3D modeling software. Typically free CAD software implies either difficult to use tools, however this latest software comes from Google and is surprisingly just as advertised. I highly recommend downloading Google’s SketchUp (download link) software or at least visiting the webpage to see what you can do with it. Note, I am in no way affiliated with Google.
October 22, 2007
Read this, we create as much CO2 emission from continuously burning underground coal mine fires that are not put out as all of the traffic, commercial and passenger, on the roads in the United States. It seems like if we want to reduce CO2 emissions that might be a good place to start.
October 21, 2007
October 20, 2007
James Watson, whose discovery of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize recently has caused a great deal of controversy after making statements in which he argued Africans have lower levels of intelligence. The article which was run in the newspaper, The Independent, here. Without sugarcoating it, there is academic literature that supports his statements:
Jensen, Arthur R. Educability and Group Differences. New York: Free Press, 1973.
__________. The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.
Hernstein, Richard J. and Murray, Charles. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class
Structure in American Life. New York: Free Press, 1994.
However, there is also a number of recent studies that have been done that indicate that intelligence may have a significant environmental component. Stephen Levitt, author of Freakonomics who is no stranger to controversy, jointly wrote a paper which concludes that infants have the same level of intelligence and only later in life do intelligence differences emerge. See the following articles for support of a nurture explanation over a nature one, in other words environmental over genetic: here and here.
A clinical trial that was designed only to test the safety of a new malaria vaccine was found to also have promising results on the efficacy front. The trial was conducted with 214 infants and was found to be 65% effective at reducing the risk of infection. One might wonder if it is a vaccine why wouldn’t the efficacy rate be substantially higher; because malaria is a virus that evolves over its lifecycle. It changes while in the mosquito, when it infects the liver and blood system. The virus is under the radar of the immune system while in its early stages in the body, which is why there is largely no initial immune response. The vaccine targets thwarting infection of the liver, other vaccines treat other stages. Assuming a 65% success rate in this trial, using basic probability techniques there is a 95% chance that the vaccine is between 58% to 72% effective. Previous vaccines have only been 30% effective. In order to be used in widespread campaigns the vaccine must be about as effective as this latest one has been showed to be in this early trial. By way of comparison, a mosquito net treated with insecticide is about 60% effective.
The next round of trials is slated to be conducted in the second half of 2008 with about 16,000 people in a much more rigorously control experiment, double blind and using a Hep. B vaccine as placebo. Everyone cross your fingers, the results could mean life or death for roughly one million children a year. Although big pharma is generally excoriated for any number of reasons, GlaxoSmithKline has funded the development and testing of the vaccine. FYI, I doubt there is much money in developing a malaria vaccine.
October 1, 2007
It is rare that I hear well articulated opinions about the current music industry. The music industry has all sorts of controversy that swirls around it for a variety of reasons. People in favor or against filesharing/DRM/Intellectual Property Rights/Record Labels usually have arguments that are very superficial and pithy. That is why the following set of articles are so refreshing, they are in depth and cut out the BS. They accurately describe the economics of the industry and incentives the various actors have which lead to some perverted outcomes for society. Without further ado follow the link.