An Unasked Question, Answered

I’d never really thought about it before, but it’s true: my backyard swimming pool* doesn’t have a strong chlorine smell, and the water doesn’t sting my eyes.  Turns out that’s because folks at my house don’t pee in the pool. Tip from Sara Hoyt writing at the Instapundit.  Lots of links there about too manyContinue reading “An Unasked Question, Answered”

Blinded Me with “Science”

Writing in The New Atlantis, Daniel Sarewitz says “Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble.”  The public has swallowed the myth of scientism and Vannevar Bush’s self-serving rationalization for federally-funded Big Science: Scientific progress on a broad front results from the free play of free intellects, working onContinue reading “Blinded Me with “Science””

The Doorway Effect

Ever have this happen?  Walk through a doorway and immediately lose focus, forgetting what you had just intended to do? This is an extreme example of the “doorway effect” which is a manifestation of our brain’s method of spatial processing.   This and more are the subject of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or MedicineContinue reading “The Doorway Effect”

How many significant figures should I use?

That question gets asked dozens of times every semester in my statistics classes; it’s pretty clear that most of my students have no sense of scale or proportion about numbers. But now I have Dr Rhett Alain’s short answer in his Dot Physics Measurement and Uncertainty Smackdown, wherein he refers to the (extremely) long answerContinue reading “How many significant figures should I use?”

Pathological Altruism

Add the term to your vocabulary. From James Taranto’s ever-amusing Best of the Web Today, read about the work of Barbara Oakley, an associate professor in engineering…defines pathological altruism as “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” A crucial qualification is that while the altruistic actor failsContinue reading “Pathological Altruism”

Egg yolks are bad for you. Oh, wait. No they’re not…

First some guy in a rush to publish a paper decides egg yolks are almost as bad for you as smoking, then some other guy reads the paper and declares it hogwash.  It’s a bunch of Canucks, so you gotta make allowances. Tips from Instapundit and BlissTree. Update  (18 August).  BlissTree reminds us that eggsContinue reading “Egg yolks are bad for you. Oh, wait. No they’re not…”

Does this mean we need to start worrying about Peak Dust?

Two amazing facts: The vast amount of mineral nutrients required to sustain the Amazon rainforest come from dust storms in the African Sahara, and We’ve known about this for six years (for some small values of we). And I really dig the estimate of the amount of dust that makes it across the Atlantic toContinue reading “Does this mean we need to start worrying about Peak Dust?”

Oh noes! It’s ‘sposed to go the other way!

Paleoclimatologists working in Lapland have some new and interesting findings: Professor Dr. Jan Esper’s group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first timeContinue reading “Oh noes! It’s ‘sposed to go the other way!”