Free Thought

One major point I've tried to make over the last few years is that the so-called "individualization" or "personalization" of treatments claimed by practitioners of "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) is not "individualization" at all, but rather a sham that appears superficially like individualization but in reality is not. I say that because the "individualization" promoted by CAM practitioners is not based on science and clinical trials. Another point I've been trying to make is that the true "individualization" of treatments will require science, and it will not be easy. In fact…
In which physics tackles a burning question from the world of computing, a famous biologist says something idiotic, and the world's smallest violin plays for frequent fliers. ------------ Does Your Download Progress Bar Lie to You? | Wired Science | Wired.com Different browsers do this differently. Some show a little bar to indicate how much of the file you have downloaded as well as an estimate of how much longer you can expect to wait. Well, now the time has come. I am going to check these download progress bars. Why? I have no idea. "Was Einstein Right About Imagination?" - THE DAILY RIFF…
Welcome to the most recent installment in my very occasional series of interviews with people in the publishing/science blogging/computing communities. The latest is with Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt of PeerJ. PeerJ is a new startup in the scientific publishing industry, using a rather unique business model whereby authors will be able to pay one fee and they get a lifetime of publishing their articles in PeerJ. Please see my post with the PeerJ press release for more details. I recently had an opportunity to ask Peter and Jason some pre-announcement questions about PeerJ and I've included…
John MacCormick's new book, Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers, is very good. You should buy it and read it. Among all the debates about whether or not absolutely everybody must without question learn to program (pro, con), it's perhaps a good idea to pause and take a look at exactly what programs do. Which is what this book does. It starts from the premise that people love computers and what they can do but don't have much of an idea about what goes on inside the little black box. And then, what MacCormick does is take nine general types…
I know of a couple of cases where high schools are switching to the use of iPads or other tablets, replacing existing computer infrastructure with the handy and very cool computing device. When it comes to technology, I've never been particularly impressed with school administrations, and K-12 technology departments tend to be a little under-resourced as well, so it does not surprise me that this decision is being made. It is, of course, the wrong thing to do. I'm not talking about using iPads, I'm taking about canceling funding for future hardware cycles of laptops and desktops so the…
Somebody on Twitter linked this article about "brogrammers", which is pretty much exactly as horrible as that godawful neologism suggests. In between descriptions of some fairly appalling behavior, though, they throw some stats at you, and that's where it gets weird: As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, in 2011 just 20 percent of all programmers were women. A smaller percentage of women are earning undergraduate computer science degrees today than they did in 1985, according to the National…
As I mentioned last week, on Tuesday, April 17 I was part of a workshop on Creative Commons our Scholarly Communications Committee put on for York library staff. My section was on open data and the Panton Principles. While not directly related to Creative Commons, we thought talking a bit about an application area for licensing in general and a specific case where CC is applied would be interesting for staff. We figured it would be the least engaging part of the workshop so I agreed to go last and use any time that was left. Rather unexpectedly, the idea of data licensing and in particular…
As part of a workshop on Creative Commons, I'm doing a short presentation on Open Data and The Panton Principles this week to various members of our staff. I thought I'd share some of the resources I've consulted during my preparations. I'm using textmining of journal articles as a example so I'm including a few resources along those lines as well. The Panton Principles Why does Dryad use CC0? #sparc2012 a manifesto in absentia for Open Data Information mining from Springer full-text: I ask for freedom Textmining Update: Max Haussler's Questions to publishers: They have a duty to reply The…
As part of a workshop on Creative Commons, I'm doing a short presentation on Open Data and The Panton Principles this week to various members of our staff. I thought I'd share some of the resources I've consulted during my preparations. I'm using textmining of journal articles as a example so I'm including a few resources along those lines as well. The Panton Principles Why does Dryad use CC0? #sparc2012 a manifesto in absentia for Open Data Information mining from Springer full-text: I ask for freedom Textmining Update: Max Haussler's Questions to publishers: They have a duty to reply The…
Sparks Fly Over Shoestring Test Of 'Holographic Principle' " "The beauty of it is that we have the people who can come up with this low-risk, high-reward experiment," says Fermilab's Raymond Tomlin. "It's one shot, and if you discover something you go to Stockholm [to collect a Nobel Prize]. And if you don't see anything, you set a limit." Not everyone cheers the effort, however. In fact, Leonard Susskind, a theorist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and co-inventor of the holographic principle, says the experiment has nothing to do with his brainchild. "The idea that this…
As threatened a little while ago, this is the first of ten hopefully weekly posts looking back at the ten years this blog has been in operation. This one covers the period from the very first post on June 22, 2002 to June 21, 2003. When I started doing this look back, I was more than a little afraid that it would prove cringe-inducing. It's been ten years, after all, and in that time I've gone from a wet-behind-the-ears, recently married assistant professor to a tenured father of two and a published author. That's enough external change that I was expecting my early posts to seem, well,…
Why we need blue-sky research Internet con men ravage publishing Why I Pirate - An Open Letter To Content Creators Open Access Tenure: Put it in the File Bletchley Park tweet saves Alan Turing computing papers The little guys stand up to Amazon: Book distributor IPG fights for say in e-book pricing Are books and the internet about to merge? Reflective Teaching for Librarians Comments -- The Weakest Part of Blogs, the Weakest Part of Online Journals Censorship is inseparable from surveillance Libraries as Community Publishers: How to Turn the Tables Fighting HEARSE: Higher Ed Apocalpyse…
Bear in mind that my ancient philosophy is deeply unreliable; I'm just using NA as a label for a trait I think I can see amongst the "skeptic" folk one sees at WUWT and the like: an inability to abstract. Let me try to explain that by example, in case it isn't clear. To many people nowadays, with the success of science so obvious, the idea of abstracting problems isn't difficult. If you need to consider the motion of a ball on a surface, you begin with an abstract perfect sphere on a perfectly flat surface and ignore friction. You can then learn about Newton's laws of motion, about momentum…
Dear FSM, by all that is unholy, I think this is the last one. A final bunch of lists for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure. Every year for the last bunch of years I've been linking to and posting about all the "year's best sciencey books" lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year. All the previous 2011 lists are here. Top Books We Read in 2011, by L.A. Weekly Writers. The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah BlumSan Antonio Express-News: Best books of…
A couple more lists for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure. Every year for the last bunch of years I've been linking to and posting about all the "year's best sciencey books" lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year. All the previous 2011 lists are here. San Francisco Chronicle 100 recommended books American Anthrax: Fear, Crime, and the Investigation of the Nation's Deadliest Bioterror Attack by Jeanne Guillemin Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America by Richard White Steve Jobs by…
Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure. Every year for the last bunch of years I've been linking to and posting about all the "year's best sciencey books" lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year. All the previous 2011 lists are here. This post includes the following: Powell's Books Staff Top 5s of 2011. The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer Physics of the Future: How Science…
Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure. Every year for the last bunch of years I've been linking to and posting about all the "year's best sciencey books" lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year. All the previous 2011 lists are here. This post includes the following: Year in Reviews: Wall Street Journal: Twelve Months of Reading. The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) by Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Stephen Pinker Steve…
The Links Dump item about software patents this morning includes a lament that there are so many silly little software patents, organized so badly, that finding one you might be infringing would take forever. This may or may not be a convincing argument against them, but for a physics geek like me, my first reaction was "You just need a quantum computer running Grover's algorithm for searching an unsorted database." And I suppose there's a background element for a satirical SF novel in that-- quantum computers ultimately being developed not by banks or the NSA, but by lawyers looking to speed…
Breaking the barriers of time and space: the dawning of the great age of librarians. The Great Age of Librarians Achieving the "Golden Age of Librarians" -- An Ambitious Project of Deep Redefinition Nobody cares about the library: How digital technology makes the library invisible (and visible) to scholars Snooki, Whale Sperm, and Google: The Unfortunate Extinction Of Librarians When They Are Needed Most Potential Crisis May Be Brewing in Preservation of E-Journals Privacy?? Forgetaboutit!! Notes from the AE's desk (about being an editor at a journal) Computers in classrooms don't guarantee…
Brookesia micra sp. n. from Nosy Hara, northern Madagascar. Imagine a supercomputer suitable for this cute little guy, the recently discovered Brookesia micra. Developing computers and transistors at smaller and smaller scales is happening at a stunning rate. The most recent discovery, just published February 19 in Nature Nanotechnology takes the prize: a single atom transistor! From their Abstract {excerpted for clarity}: The ability to control matter at the atomic scale and build devices with atomic precision is central to nanotechnology. The scanning tunnelling microscope can…