Pure Pedantry

Archives for February, 2008

That is amazing: The basis of the 2×4-inch “Digital Tattoo Interface” is a Bluetooth device made of thin, flexible silicon and silicone. It’s inserted through a small incision as a tightly rolled tube, and then it unfurls beneath the skin to align between skin and muscle. Through the same incision, two small tubes on the…

Game Theory and the Super Delegates

Jay Cost at RCP uses a prisoner’s dilemma game to show why the absense of institutional structures is likely to yield a socially inefficient result in the Democratic primaries. He looks at the super delegates’ behavior in terms of what is good for them vs. what is good for the party: The core problem is…

NASA to shoot the moon

…literally: Scientists are priming two spacecraft to slam into the moon’s South Pole to see if the lunar double whammy reveals hidden water ice. The Earth-on-moon violence may raise eyebrows, but NASA’s history shows that such missions can yield extremely useful scientific observations. “I think that people are apprehensive about it because it seems violent…

Language Log details the results of this fascinating experiment. The researcher was looking at second language acquisition, and in order to have a control she tested the native-speakers on the gender of particular words in French. The assumption would be the native-speakers would all agree on the gender of the words, but she found that…

We have all heard about the runner’s high, and a great many of us have felt it. When you are running a marathon, about an hour or two in you feel a feeling of euphoria right like you could run forever. Of course you can’t, but you don’t feel that way. (In my case the…

10 Principles of Economics, Translated

This is just for Kara. A really common textbook for introductory economics classes is Greg Mankiw’s. In the first chapter, he lists 10 principles of economics. This guy has translated them into terms lay people can understand. Heads up: people are stupid. Just so you know what to expect… (video below fold)

It has been a big month for talking about the demographic transition here at Pure Pedantry. (See here and here.) Ronald Bailey at Reason had this interesting article speculating why people choose to have less children: children don’t make you happy. If economic security no longer requires having children and they don’t make you happy,…

Doctors at the University of Navarra have implanted an auditory brainstem implant (ABI) in the youngest patient ever attempted — a 13 month-old girl: A team of ear, nose and throat specialists and neurosurgeons at the University Hospital of Navarra, led by doctors Manuel Manrique Rodriguez, specialist in ear, nose and throat surgery and Bartolome…

Well, that’s good. The military successfully shot down a satellite whose decaying orbit brought up concerns that it might crash into…you know…something besides water. It had about a half ton of a compound called hydrazine that is explosive and toxic. While it is pretty unlikely that anything that explosive would survive a tumble through the…

Stanley Fish of the NYTimes Think Again blog has some interesting things to say about the appointment of Bruce Benson, oil magnate and Republican activist, to be president of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The appointment raised eyebrows and protests from the faculty and students. Partly the issue is that Benson has never sought…