Saturday, December 26, 2009

Science future, science past

Can you predict the future of science? Can you describe its major accomplishments of the past half century? See what others think:

Decades of future science:

50 Science Sagas for 50 Years:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

UK's Royal Institution's Christmas Science Lectures

As a scientist or science enthusiast, you might want to know what they did, the names below, among them scientists, naturalists, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, and Presidents of U.K.'s Royal Institution, all of whom delivered one or more of the Institution?s Christmas science lecture-demonstrations:

"From Michael Faraday to David Attenborough plus adorable lemur ? many eminent figures have delivered Christmas science lectures at the UK's Royal Institution. The organisation has put on 180 series of Christmas lectures since 1825, delivered by a total of 105 lecturers including eight Nobel prizewinners."--

The names represent selected lecturers in a slide show by NewScientist, the slides showing a photo of the lecturer demonstrating in from an audience, each accompanied by a long side-bar description of the event and biosketch of the lecturer.

The Royal Institution's festive feasts for the mind

My favorite: Michael Faraday slide.

Sue Hartley
Susan Greenfield
Charles Taylor
David Attenborough
George Porter
Frank Whittle
Percy Dunsheath
Geoffrey Ingram Taylor
Edward Neville da Costa Andrade
Robert Stawell Ball
Michael Faraday

For info on the 2009 Lecture:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

150th Anniversary Publication Darwin's 'Origin' First Edition

November 24th 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life - a revolutionary work, hastily completed in response to Alfred Russel Wallace's co-discovery of the principle of 'suvival of the fittest'.

If anyone has a copy of the first edition and would care to share, this blogger would tenderly care for it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From the Unconscious to the Conscious

Here, a quote from:

Gazzaniga MS. (2008) Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-089288-3.

"How the brain drives our thoughts and actions has remained elusive. Among the many unknowns is the great mystery of how a thought moves from the depths of the unconscious to become conscious."

Any thoughts? Through memos?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Interesting View of Science Writing

I thought you might resonate with something science writer, Natalie Angier, wrote in her Introduction to The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston . New York, 2007, isbn-13:978-0-618-24295-5):

"..the time had arrived for writing, the painful process, as the neuroscientist Susan Hockfield so pointedly put it, of transforming three-dimensional, parallel-processed experience into two-dimensional, linear narrative. "It's worse than squaring a circle," she said. "It's squaring a sphere.""

3-D to 2-D. Parallel to linear processing.

Hits the mark, doesn't it?

The Wisdom of Many in One Mind

Herzog SM, Hertwig R. The wisdom of many in one mind: improving individual judgments with dialectical bootstrapping. Psychol Sci 2009;20:231-7.

Abstract: (paragraphed for easier readability)

The "wisdom of crowds" in making judgments about the future or other unknown events is well established. The average quantitative estimate of a group of individuals is consistently more accurate than the typical estimate, and is sometimes even the best estimate.

Although individuals' estimates may be riddled with errors, averaging them boosts accuracy because both systematic and random errors tend to cancel out across individuals.

We propose exploiting the power of averaging to improve estimates generated by a single person by using an approach we call dialectical bootstrapping. Specifically, it should be possible to reduce a person's error by averaging his or her first estimate with a second one that harks back to somewhat different knowledge.

We derive conditions under which dialectical bootstrapping fosters accuracy and provide an empirical demonstration that its benefits go beyond reliability gains. A single mind can thus simulate the wisdom of many

My Comment:

I will try to explain the method in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seeking Comments on Draft Version of Article Entitled ''Life''

See Life/Draft on the online 2nd generation Wikipedia, Citizendium. Seeking comments, suggestions, collaborators, etc., on an article I have been developing on the question, "What is Life". Comment here or email me directly (

Forget to Remember

Jonah Lehrer (Proust Was a Neuroscientist; How We Decide) discusses the virtue of forgetting in a 2007 post on his blog, The Frontal Cortex. Think what you would experience if you remembered every perception, every recollection of every perception and thought. If you think such a non-fadeable photographic mind a consummation devoutly to be wished, read Lehrer's post, and the comments it received.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Gardeners' Gopher Problem

My gardener friends complain endlessly about gophers eating and damaging their plants. They also recount their histories of tactics to defeat the furry little geniuses, all failures.

My thought: Build a small robot to wander the gopher tunnels, detecting and eliminating the furry little geniuses. Perhaps deploy a number of such robots per plot, each at different tunnel location, to cover all escape routes.

Seems to me if one can build a robot to vacuum one's carpets, one should have little trouble building one to solve the gopher problem.

Research and imagination needed for design specifications.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Will President Obama's Administration Address the Fundamental Problems Resulting from Global Exponential Population Growth

One test of President Obama's wisdom consists in a measure of the extent to which he recognizes that preventive measures often can trump curative measures, and not just in programs to prevent the most common devastating human diseases, which conceivably cost less than treating after the fact.

Questions that might arise in substantially reduce the rate of human population growth:

  • Given the amount of Earth's sustainable/renewable resources, and other related factors, what can we conclude about an optimal population cap for Earth?
  • Have we already exceeded that cap?
  • If so, how can we redress the situation?
  • If not, how can we ensure we do not exceed that cap?

For the most part, prevention of human disease requires human lifestyle changes, and an infrastructure that supports, not thwarts, its achievement. Prevention of human disease and disease of the Earth may require a similar approach.