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Psychological Impact Of Genetic Testing - Like All Psychology, It Depends

Jul 08 2019 - 14:07
Population level metrics such as Body Mass Index (BMI) or statistical correlation using epidemiology don't do much to inform individual experience, and psychology faces the same issue. Surveys can tell us whatever surveys can tell us about what a particular group of people taking surveys think, but there is a reason that no polling group does well with Congressional districts that are contentious. It simply doesn't work. As we learned when we first believed the anti-vaccine problem was a fringe religious issue, what people claim on surveys is not their behavior.(1)

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Autonomous Vehicles: Which Driving Style Will You Prefer?

Jul 08 2019 - 12:07
Automated automobiles are coming, the question is how they will behave. Not how they will perform, anything is guaranteed to be safer than millions of distracted individuals and ATM machines have shown what accuracy will look like, but how they will behave, their driving style, may impact individual uptake in the short term.

Do you want robotic efficiency, a car that won't stop at a cross-section when no other cars are around, or automation that emulates average human driving and not only stops but even peeks ahead to get a better "view" like a human might? The surprising result was that efficiency was not the overwhelming winner; people today prefer a blend of both. 

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Fake News, Or Just Bias Different From Our Own?

Jul 08 2019 - 11:07
The underlying central metaphor of the new Marvel film "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is that news shouldn't be trusted. Many agree, but whether or not people label it "fake" seems to be based on how different their own bias is.

If you are a Republican and regard CNN is biased, having a conservative voice on their network does not make the outlet seem less biased, it makes the participant seem less credible, even if they believe the individual is honest. 

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Confluence Of Hype: In Mice, A Genetic Change Prevents A Disease That Doesn't Exist

Jul 05 2019 - 11:07
In modern American culture, two exploratory fields in science compete to scare the public or suggest the promise of miracle cures; epidemiology and studies in mice.

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Is Your Cell Phone More Powerful Than NASA's Apollo Guidance Computer?

Jul 05 2019 - 06:07

Many people who are old enough to have experienced the first moon landing will vividly remember what it was like watching Neil Armstrong utter his famous quote: That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. Half a century later, the event is still one of the top achievements of humankind. Despite the rapid technological advances since then, astronauts haven’t actually been back to the moon since 1972.

This seems surprising. After all, when we reflect on this historic event, it is often said that we now have more computing power in our pocket than the computer aboard Apollo 11 did. But is that true? And, if so, how much more powerful are our phones?

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Guest Post: A. Kowacs, "Is There A Simpler Perspective On Some Fundamental Laws Of Physics?"

Jul 04 2019 - 11:07
Andras Kovacs studied Physics at Columbia University. He currently works as CTO of BroadBit Batteries company. Andras recently wrote an interesting book, which I asked him to summarize and introduce here. The text below is from him [T.D.]








This blog post introduces a newly published book, titled "Maxwell-Dirac Theory and Occam's Razor: Unified Field, Elementary Particles, and Nuclear Interactions".

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Violent Deaths In The Paleolithic

Jul 04 2019 - 10:07
The fossilized skull of a Paleolithic adult man from around 33,000 years ago and known as the Cioclovina calvaria has been extensively studied. But there was controversy over trauma on the skull--specifically a large fracture on the right aspect of the cranium and whether that specific fracture occurred at the time of death or as a postmortem event.

Computer simulations using twelve synthetic bone spheres tested scenarios such as falls from various heights as well as single or double blows from rocks or bats. Along with these simulations, the authors inspected the fossil both visually and virtually using computed tomography technology.

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New Study Says Many Chinese Fossil Fuel Power Plants Need To Run Low Capacity Or Retire Early - NOT Too Many For 1.5°C Goal

Jul 04 2019 - 07:07

This paper in Nature shows that if China and India ramp up their commitments to 1.5°C compatible, then the new coal fired power plants they built or are building will need to be used at low capacity or for a shorter than usual lifetime than the industrial average of 53% capacity for 40 years. However, that isn’t really anything surprising or unexpected, for instance this NGO report from March 2019 came to the same conclusion. There are some details about the way they did the analysis and the paper that gives a new slant on it all that is illuminating but it doesn't change anything about our prospects for staying within 1.5°C.

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We've Won The War On Smoking, Obesity Will Soon Be The Top Lifestyle Killer

Jul 03 2019 - 13:07
Though Europe and Asia still smoke far more cigarettes than intelligent people should, and therefore cancer rates due to that will stay high for another 20 years or more, the clear trend in lifestyle diseases is obesity-related ones.

That is actually a win, and far better than the bleak Population Bomb promoted by people like John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich just a few decades ago. Though there is still famine in parts of the world, they are parts of the world where groups opposed to science can manipulate people who don't trust outsiders or understand the technology, no differently than than distrust vaccines. The peaks and valleys of food have leveled out so famine is only going to decrease.

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So Long Antibodies, Welcome Frankenbody

Jul 03 2019 - 12:07
Our bodies can deploy biomolecules to find, tag and destroy invading pathogens. They work by binding to specific targets, called epitopes, on the surfaces of antigens - like locks to keys.

This selective tagging mechanism in natural antibodies has been valuable in engineering antibody-based probes that let them purify and study different types of proteins within cells. One technique, epitope tagging, involves fusing an epitope to a protein of interest and using fluorescently labeled antibodies to make those proteins visible - but only in fixed, dead cells.

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Even With China Emitting 5X As Much Energy CO2 As The US, Climate Goals Are Still Attainable

Jul 02 2019 - 06:07

Though numerical models don't always correlate with reality, a new paper states that the world can achieve a 2 degree Celsius climate-stabilizing goal and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, without closing newer plants that, let's be honest, no country is going to close.

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Artificial Intelligence In Hamburg

Jul 02 2019 - 05:07
Are you going to be in the Hamburg (Germany) area on July 7th? Then mark the date! The AMVA4NewPhysics and INSIGHTS ITN networks have jointly organized, with the collaboration of the DESY laboratories and the Yandex school of machine learning, a public lecture titled "Artificial Intelligence: past, present, and future". The lecturer is Prof. Pierre Baldi, from the Center for Machine Learning at the University of California Irvine.
The venue is the auditorium (horsaal) of the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) laboratories, just west of the center of Hamburg, at Notkestrasse 85. The event starts at 5PM.

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A Call For Natural Gas And Nuclear: PPCA Coal Reductions Won't Slow Climate Change

Jul 01 2019 - 13:07

The Powering Past Coal Alliance(1) wants to phase out coal power but are hampered by limited membership who don't have to face economic realities. Finland has different energy sources available than China has. And China is not going to be bullied by Finland, Denmark, or anyone else.

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East Asian Hot Boreal Spring Linked To Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures

Jul 01 2019 - 12:07

Changes in spring surface air temperature can vary widely and even impact socioeconomics in developing countries so it will be important to learn how to predict the variations of spring temperatures. However, the dynamics and predictability of East Asian temperatures during boreal spring are more challenging compared to those in the other seasons. 

Part of the difficulty is due to the spring predictability barrier. The predictive skill based on El Niño-Southern Oscillation decreases rapidly during boreal spring. For as long as climate change has been a concern El Niño has been considered a confounder.

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Multiple Sclerosis Patients Have A 66% Greater Risk Of Respiratory Cancer

Jul 01 2019 - 12:07

A 65-year follow-up study of 6,883 patients with Multiple Sclerosis suggests they have a greater overall risk of developing cancer than the general population, with an especially high risk of cancer in respiratory organs, urinary organs and the central nervous system.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong disease that affects the central nervous system, especially the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. MS is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults, and people with MS have on average 7 years shorter longevity.

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For Post-Menopausal Woman And Heart Disease Risk, Pear Is Better Than Apple

Jul 01 2019 - 10:07

It's generally believed that if you are going to be heavy, pear-shaped (fatter) in the waist and legs) is better than apple (fat around the chest) and a new study validates that holds true for postmenopausal even if they are not heavy and have a normal, healthy body mass index (BMI).

That requires some context. BMI is a fine population-level metric but generally useless for individuals. If you have a high BMI but know you are fit, don't think you need to shed muscle mass to lose weight. 

In postmenopausal women, storing a greater proportion of body fat in the legs (pear-shaped) whether having high BMI or not was linked to a significantly decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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How To Create A Good Excuse

Jul 01 2019 - 10:07

We've all offered an excuse for a poor reaction or any behavior we recognize we should not have engaged in; many have rationalized it to mitigate consequences or even make it socially acceptable. 

Stress, headaches, even ignorance can be proffered, but what makes an excuse plausible? In law, things are a little more clear, duress and coercion and psychological maladies have all been successful, but to families and friends it might not be as easy as convincing a jury of strangers. Especially if you do it often.

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53 Percent Of Survey Respondents Have Had Out Of Body Experiences

Jun 30 2019 - 17:06

At the recent Academy of Neurology Congress, scholars reported that among 1,034 people recruited from 35 countries via an online crowdsourcing platform asked if they'd ever had an Near Death Experience, 289 answered 'yes.' When were asked for more details, using a 16 point questionnaire called the Greyson Near-Death Experience Scale, 106 reached a threshold of 7 on the Greyson NDE Scale. Some 55 percent perceived the their feeling as truly life-threatening.

Among respondents, 73 percent who claimed a near death experience said it was unpleasant, but those with a score of 7 or above on the Greyson NDE Scale had 53 percent pleasant descriptions of it.

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Yes, With Climate Change, Our Generation’s Children Are Headed For A World With Nature And Wonder In It - And Their Children Too

Jun 30 2019 - 08:06

It's so sad when people think they can't have children because of climate change. Two years ago they weren't despairing, they didn’t even give it thought - it was not an election issue in the US elections in 2016, or the UK elections in 2017 even. Now it is one of the top issues for most governments worldwide. This gives so much more hope for the future, for those who have been following it all along, but many of those who have just begun to give it serious attention for a couple of years are already despairing only three years after the Paris agreement.

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Doctors, Don't Be Shy About Selfies From Patients - They Do A Lot Of Good

Jun 28 2019 - 12:06
Doctors, like scientists, often aren't big on putting themselves into stories and getting selfies with patients, or even accepting pictures as part of care. But selfies are a part of modern culture, and that means they are empowering to patients, so allowing pictures from patients and parents of patients may streamline health care and also keep costs lower.

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