Archive for the 'Science' Category
Posted by Zenpundit on 15th March 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
I have a new piece up at Pragati Magazine this morning, which focuses on a book review of Makers by Chris Anderson:
The Re-industrial Revolution
….If anything, Anderson has managed to understate the velocity with which the technology is advancing and the creative uses to which users are putting their machines. Since the publication ofMakers, a succession of news stories have revealed everything from Formlabs’ slickly designed Form 1 machine to users printing functional (if fragile) assault rifles, car bodies and biomedical surgical replacements for missing pieces of the human skull. One gets the sense that the genie is out of the bottle.
Anderson is not merely making a technologically oriented argument , but a profoundly cultural one. In his view, the existence of the Maker movement, operating on the collaborative, “open-source” ethos is an iterative, accelerative driver of economic change that complements the technology. Anderson writes: “…In short, the Maker Movement shares three characteristics, all of which are transformative:
Read the rest here.
Crossposted from zenpundit.com
Posted in America 3.0, Announcements, Business, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, India, Science, Society, Tech, USA | 5 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
…from galactic clusters down to charm quarks and below.
I linked The Scale of the Universe a while back…was reminded of it by a link on Don Sensing’s blog…the performance of the site seems to have been significantly improved since I saw it and is now much smoother.
And via American Digest, here is Magnifying the Universe.
Posted in Science, Space | 1 Comment »
Posted by Zenpundit on 28th February 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
It may be 1977 all over again.
Check out the Form 1 Kickstarter page
The Formlabs home page and their blog.
I recently reviewed Chris Anderson’s book Makers. What 3 D printing needs is the affordable, user-friendly, versatile device to move 3 D printing from the arcane realm of techno-hobbyist geeks to the general population’s “early adapters”, which will put the next “consumer model” generation on everyone’s office desk; eventually as ubiquitous as cell phones or microwaves.
Formlabs should send one of these to John Robb and Shloky for a product review.
Hat tip to Feral Jundi
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Predictions, Science | 1 Comment »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th December 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
There is information still coming to light about this awful case. Early reports, such as the name of the shooter and the alleged murder of the father, were predictably wrong. It turns out that the shooter, named Adam Lanza, a 20 year old with a history of odd behavior and some evidence of mental illness, such as autism, was living with his mother who was his first victim. There are a number of suggestive reports, that she decided to “stay home to care for” her 20 year old son.
The treatment of severe mental illness in this country has been altered for the worse by a movement that began in the 1960s when mental illness began to be described as a “civil rights ” issue. Several books and movies described abuse of power in commitment of the mentally ill. The first such movie was “The Snake Pit” in which a young woman is committed for what sounds like schizophrenia. The treatment of the time (1948) can be seen as barbaric but there was nothing else available. She did recover, although we know that without adequate treatment, recovery from schizophrenia is unlikely.
The movie that really devastated the mental hospital system was called “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starred Jack Nicholson.
The movie was powerful in showing the Nicholson character as a guy who just is “different” and harmless.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Health Care, Privacy, Science | 31 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 7th December 2012 (All posts by Ginny)
The musings on the random and tragic nature of life remind us of how little we know – and control. But it reminded me of the marketing of a step toward more control: how good are the DNA products? My daughter’s friend, visiting for Thanksgiving, sent her spit to 23andme. The results included a genetic tendency toward weight-related diseases, which led her to a diet and gym membership. Not surprisingly, it linked her with her mother, but also with a cousin neither she nor her mother knew existed. They met, looked each other over, compared notes: they were cousins.
Anyway, she sat in our living room flipping through her smart phone (it gives monthly updates); she was vulnerable to diabetes but less so to Parkinson’s. Genetic weaknesses are becoming obvious as we near retirement; unfortunately, we learn our vulnerabilities at every office visit.
Still, has anyone done this or similar ones? How accurate, how useful, and how much does this (or do others) add to the cloud-knowledge of genes & disease? (Other friends used a different site, but learned what human history would say – that they were both from England and before that Africa.)
Of course, whether it is worth the money or not, whether it is accurate or not, ignores the big question: does such knowledge lead us to believe we have an autonomy still not – never will be – ours? Will knowing more of “who we are” mislead or arm us?
Posted in Biography, Blegs, Science | 5 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 2nd December 2012 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
“On the afternoon of December 2, 1942, the Atomic Age began inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field. There, headed by Italian scientist Enrico Fermi, the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction was engineered. The result—sustainable nuclear energy—led to creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants—two of the twentieth century’s most powerful and controversial achievements.”
I was there halfway between then and now. I am a by-product of the Manhattan Project, being the son of a onetime rifleman in an infantry platoon who was on a troopship in the Pacific on August 6, 1945, in transit for Operation Downfall. He went to the Philippines instead, and never heard a shot fired in anger. I did not matriculate at Chicago to repay a debt – which is fortunate, because as things went, the University spent a good deal of money on me for (so far) no return whatsoever.
Earlier today I went to a lecture, “Talking Tolkien: War and J.R.R. Tolkien,” in the appropriately subterranean research center of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. It was given by Janet Brennan Croft of the University of Oklahoma, who has a book out that I suppose I will buy, to add to the same shelf containing the Hobbit, the trilogy, the Silmarillion, the Letters, and Tolkien and the Great War (all of which were referenced at some point in her talk).
I didn’t hear all that much that was new, but I didn’t expect to. It was well worth going, however; I suppose the biggest “delta” was about how his writing changed after he had children and especially when two of them served in the military in WWII. She also pointed out that all the heroic leaders in the trilogy lead from the front, while the villainous leaders are far in the rear, the equivalent of the “chateau generals.”
Another insight was how much the “black breath” and Frodo’s melancholia resemble PTSD. In combination with her remarks about parent-child relationships, this caused me to ask a question about what turns out to be Letter #74, written to Stanley Unwin on 29 June 1944, which includes the sentence: “I have at the moment another son, a much damaged soldier, at Trinity trying to do some work and recover a shadow of his old health.” – a reference to his son Michael, who was pretty severely PTSD’d for a while. So out of slightly morbid curiosity, I asked if she knew anything more about that episode. She did not but said that there are probably more letters, unpublished, that would have details, and perhaps they will eventually see the light of day.
Scripture reading in church this morning was Isaiah 2:1-5. Verse 4 is of course poignant in light of today’s anniversary. If we really are entering the Crisis of 2020, those swords won’t be beaten into plowshares any time soon. Indeed, some future analog of December 2nd, 1942, presumably involving nanomachinery rather than tons of graphite blocks and lumps of enriched uranium, will happen in a laboratory somewhere in the world in another decade or so.
Posted in Book Notes, Britain, Chicagoania, History, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, Religion, Science, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th October 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Once again, Craig Venter is looking for new challenges. The latest may be Martian DNA.
I have thought for some time that life on Mars is going to consist of microorganisms and be buried several feet below the surface of the planet soil. I have even blogged about it before.
Now, there is a possibility of a nucleotide sequencer that could go to Mars on the next probe in 2018.
In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet.
Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for a similar task.
“We want to make sure an Ion Torrent goes to Mars,” Rothberg told Technology Review.
Although neither team yet has a berth on a Mars rocket, their plans reflect the belief that the simplest way to prove there is life on Mars is to send a DNA sequencing machine.
“There will be DNA life forms there,” Venter predicted Tuesday in New York, where he was speaking at the Wired Health Conference.
Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer, as would be required on an unmanned Mars mission. Heather Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Venter, confirmed the existence of the project but said the prototype system was “not yet 100 percent robotic.”
Doing this on Mars would avoid the problem of contamination by earth organisms. New life forms that don’t use DNA might be a problem but most people who have thought about this believe that DNA is the genetic material of all life forms. Of course, protein, which may have been the original genetic material on earth could also be the Martian equivalent.
We are starting to see commercial spacecraft develop and one was used to reach the international space station recently. A Mars mission is another order of complexity but by 2018, it may be an option.
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Science | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st October 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
So a little over six weeks to go until Election Day; I guess we can call this the final heat. Texas is pretty much a red state stronghold, although there are pockets of blue adherents throughout. Yes, even in my neighborhood, there are a handful of defiant Obama-Biden yard signs visible, although outnumbered at least two to one by Romney-Ryan signs. It amounts to about a dozen, all told; I think that most of my neighbors prefer keeping their political preferences this time around strictly to themselves.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Leftism, North America, Obama, Science | 23 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 24th August 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Sorry I haven’t been blogging any during the last eight months but the truth is that I’ve been wrestling with a big decision that affects everyone and I didn’t quite know how to explain it. Now, I’ve come to a decision and I think it only right that I inform you all of it so that you have some time to prepare yourself.
Here goes… I’m turning off the Universe.
Yep, that’s right, the whole shebang, from littlest Higgs Boson to the greatest galaxy clusters. Say goodnight, Gracie.
I know this will be hard to accept, but, you see, you’re not real. I mean, you are real as far as the experience of yourself and every other human being you know of but you aren’t, you know, real real.
I’m not explaining this very well.
You see, I wrote you. That is to say I programmed you. I programmed you and every other person, place and thing in your universe. You’re just a simulation, a very big video game, based loosely on once-real people, places and things that I created. Not only did I create the simulation but I can start it, stop it, rewind it and alter it at will.
And all that kinda makes me god. I mean not GOD god but just god of the universe you experience. Let’s just say, “god as far as you are concerned.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Christianity, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Science | 19 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 14th August 2012 (All posts by TM Lutas)
The recent discovery of a huge pumice island that is larger than the state of Israel has led to scientific excitement, but not just scientific excitement. The questions arise who owns these rocks, and can one live on one of these pumice islands?
Patri Friedman, call your office!
Posted in Political Philosophy, Science | 8 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 18th July 2012 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
We can argue the pros and cons of religion all we like, but I’m not sure it will tell us much more than what our own basic hunches are.
This is part I of a two part post.
Look, there have been a couple of books out recently that suggest something — the universe or universe of universes — might just have come out of nothing, without nothing having to have come out of anywhere special itself.
And there have been a couple of reviews of those books that I’ve read recently, and they don’t think that “it’s nothings, nothings all the way down” is any better than “it’s turtles, turtles all the way down”.
If you’re interested in that discussion, the next two chunks will be of interest to you — but if not, you can skip them and go right to my follow up post — That’s it in a nutshell! — with its three short quotes and a question.
So here are the two chunks — gobbits, if you’re a literary type — that I thought might be of interest.
The first comes from David Albert‘s review of A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss. Albert is a philosopher at Columbia and the author of Quantum Mechanics and Experience:
It happens that ever since the scientific revolution of the 17th century, what physics has given us in the way of candidates for the fundamental laws of nature have as a general rule simply taken it for granted that there is, at the bottom of everything, some basic, elementary, eternally persisting, concrete, physical stuff. Newton, for example, took that elementary stuff to consist of material particles. And physicists at the end of the 19th century took that elementary stuff to consist of both material particles and electro-magnetic fields. And so on. And what the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all there is for the fundamental laws of nature to be about, insofar as physics has ever been able to imagine, is how that elementary stuff is arranged. The fundamental laws of nature generally take the form of rules concerning which arrangements of that stuff are physically possible and which aren’t, or rules connecting the arrangements of that elementary stuff at later times to its arrangement at earlier times, or something like that. But the laws have no bearing whatsoever on questions of where the elementary stuff came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular elementary stuff it does, as opposed to something else, or to nothing at all.
The fundamental physical laws that Krauss is talking about in “A Universe From Nothing” — the laws of relativistic quantum field theories — are no exception to this. The particular, eternally persisting, elementary physical stuff of the world, according to the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories, consists (unsurprisingly) of relativistic quantum fields. And the fundamental laws of this theory take the form of rules concerning which arrangements of those fields are physically possible and which aren’t, and rules connecting the arrangements of those fields at later times to their arrangements at earlier times, and so on — and they have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.
The second comes from Kathryn Schulz‘s review of Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? Schulz is the book critic for New York Magazine:
You can say A because B, B because C, C because D—but what explains D? If you say A, your explanation is circular. If you say because E because F because G (H, I, J, K … ), your explanation is an infinite regress: a taller stack of turtles. You might, instead, argue that D is explained by X, where X is some kind of necessary truth, a logical deduction or physical law. But this presents an interesting question: How, exactly, do you get a material universe out of a necessary truth? “Are the laws of physics somehow to inform the Abyss that it is pregnant with Being?” Holt asks. “If so, where do the laws themselves live? Do they hover over the world like the mind of God? … How do they reach out and make a world? How do they force events to obey them?”
Got me. Got everybody. Try as we might, we can’t find a way to tell a sound causal story about the origins of the universe. The absence of an explanation is one thing, but the absence of any imaginable form that an explanation could take is something else, and it has caused many cosmologists to throw up their hands.
So my general impression is that both religion and science are treading on thin air. And I don’t mind if you call it God, or Nothing, or Mystery.
I like it. No, make that: I love it.
But that’s me. Hopefully, you’re ready now for part II…
Posted in Religion, Science | 5 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 27th June 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
The comment thread on this post segued (oddly enough!) into a discussion of supercomputer designer Seymour Cray and a comparison of his multi-million-dollar systems with today’s ordinary personal computers. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a supercomputer from almost 60 years ago–the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator (NORC), built by IBM for the US Navy and delivered in 1954, which held the computing speed record for several years.
NORC came only 10 years after the computer age was kicked off by the announcement of the Harvard-IBM Mark I (click here for an interesting contemporary magazine article on that innovation), but it was vastly faster and more powerful. NORC’s arithmetic was done at the rate of about 15,000 additions or 12,000 multiplications per second, and the machine could store 3600 words (16-digit decimal numbers) with a memory cycle time of 8 microseconds. Lots of NORC information and pictures at this site. Applications included hydrodynamics, weather forecasting, logistics simulations, and the motion of celestial bodies. The hydrodynamics problems included studies of torpedo cavitation and of the earth’s liquid core. (Remarks by John von Neumann at the NORC dedication, including audio, here.)
NORC’s circuits used vacuum tubes–9000 of them—and the memory was electrostatic, employing a what were basically TV picture tubes with bits stored on the face as charges and continually refreshed. This technology represented the best speed/cost tradeoff for a high-end computer at the time, but it was very sensitive–apparently, a woman wearing silk stockings walking near the computer would likely cause memory errors because of the static electricity generated. (No doubt leading to much speculation about the correlation between female hotness and computer memory error rate.)
Construction of NORC cost $2.5MM, which equates to about $20MM in 2012 dollars. Some of the cost can probably be attributed to the one-of-a-kind nature of the machine and the pull-out-all-stops-and-make-it-the-fastest spirit of its design. But even a computer intended as a standard commercial product, the roughly contemporaneous IBM 701, went for about $1 million in early 1950s money.At first glance, it seems hard to believe that such a massive investment for such relatively slow and limited machines (by our present-day standards) could have made economic sense. But consider: a calculation taking 30 minutes on NORC might have required something like 30 person-years if done by human beings using the desk calculators of the time. The economics probably did make sense if the workload was appropriate; however, I bet a fair number of these early machines served more as corporate or government-agency status symbols than as paying propositions. (As a side note, I wonder if the awe generated by early computers would have been lessened had the machines not been so physically impressive–say, if they had been about the size of a modern desktop PC?)
NORC, which was in operation through 1968, has of course been surpassed by orders of magnitude by much cheaper and more compact machines. Its computational capabilities are trivial compared with those of the computer on which you are reading this. Yet, strange as it may seem, there are a lot of problems for which today’s computer power is inadequate, and the frontiers of supercomputing continue to be pushed outwards.
While researching this post, I ran across several articles dealing with a particular highly-demanding supercomputer application currently being addressed by computer scientists. This is the modeling of the physical behavior of cloth, which is important both for creation of realistic animated movies and in the textiles/apparel industry. (See for example this paper.) Simulating the movement of a virtual actress’s dress, as she walks down the street in a light breeze, apparently requires far more computer power than did the development of America’s first hydrogen bombs.
Related post: computation and reality
Posted in History, Science, Tech | 11 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 5th May 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
Tonight will be the occasion of a “super Moon”, which seems to be a term used by people who know a lot about the Moon to denote a full Moon that coincides with the Moon’s closest passage to Earth in its elliptical orbit. Cosmophobia aside, there is no reason to be alarmed. However, some Chicagoboyz are finding it necessary to shave more frequently than usual, and if you have a hot date tonight it might be a good idea to pack a disposable razor with your breath mints. Don’t let that stubble become any trouble. (I’m not sure if this advice applies to the ladies as well.)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Diversions, Photos, Science | 4 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 12th March 2012 (All posts by TM Lutas)
I tried to submit the following post to FT on a climate change story, GE rejects Republicans’ climate change doubts. My comment was rejected due to “suspected profanity”. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the problem is.
There is no doubt that climate is changing. The question under doubt is whether the changes are man-made and require trillions in expenditures to address. This last one is not as well established as they are economic and political questions, not scientific ones. The scientific fact is that we are undergoing a pause in warming that is, at best, at the far end of the lower error bar bounds of the current models. Once the error bars are exceeded, you toss that model out and get something better.
If you’re depending on these models to justify trillions in expenditures over the next decades, you take a step back and you are a bit humble. A cold year or two and the problem isn’t even arguable anymore. It means that the science wasn’t right and we’re driving the world economy blind, without working models. We might as well call in a shaman. He would have equal scientific validity as models whose error bars are exceeded by stubborn, plain, empirically observed reality.
We are currently undoing major scientific damage that the climate modelers have inflicted on science by hiding their data and stonewalling independent inquiry. The Berkley BEST effort at least will be open and the skeptics can take their best shot at working out the problems. And there are problems, from Briffa’s magic tree in the Yamal data set (the one tree whose inclusion or exclusion reverses the entire conclusion of a highly influential tree ring data set) to the reversal of sign in the Tiljander sediment data (you don’t get to just reverse signs on measurements when they are inconvenient to your conclusions). Time after time data that has been stonewalled turns out to have problems when it is finally pried out into the light of public scrutiny.
There is nothing wrong with GE betting on efficiency and reducing pollution. That isn’t what this is about. It is about public monies and massive changes in the world economy based on science that is tough to check because the original data is often kept out of the hands of skeptics.
Posted in Science | 19 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 10th February 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Posted in History, Science, Society, Space, Tech | 3 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 8th February 2012 (All posts by onparkstreet)
-from SHOTS, NPR’s Health Care Blog:
Health care reform is no laughing matter, but MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s new comic book on the subject aims to communicate some pretty complicated policy details in a way that, if not exactly side-splitting, is at least engaging.
In Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, Gruber steps into the pages of a comic book to guide readers through many of the major elements of the law, including the individual mandate to buy insurance, the health insurance exchanges where people will be able to buy coverage starting in 2014 and how the law tackles controlling health care costs.
I draw your attention to another graphic novel: The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.
While I was buying a copy of Persepolis from a real-life book store a few years ago, a young woman at the sales counter mentioned that there was a “great” graphic novel about North Korea that I might like. I’m not a graphic novel reader and I think Persepolis is it for me unless I decide to review the health care book, but it interested me that she seemed so enthusiastic about the topic of North Korea and graphic novels. I guess it makes sense given our “information overload” society. I don’t know. Why not look for clarity?
PS: Linking is not endorsement and all that.
PPS: What’s the “all that” about? Eh, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for the past week or so and my blogging has been pretty terrible because of it. I linked the health care graphic novel because it amused me, not because I am simpatico with the message. I think you all knew that already….
Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Bioethics, Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Media, Medicine, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Politics, Science, Society | Comments Off
Posted by Jonathan on 14th January 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
This is a new method for evaluating supermarkets. Instead of wasting time going into each store, comparing product selection, prices and so forth, we need only compare the quality of the stray chickens in the stores’ respective parking lots. You think I’m joking? See for yourself:
Publix parking lot
Costco parking lot
The data predict that Costco will be the superior store, and this prediction is consistent with the evidence. Our model thus has a perfect predictive record.
We could be onto something big here. Do the global-warming people know about this?
Posted in Humor, Science | 8 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 4th December 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and Michael J. Lotus (who blogs at Chicagoboyz.net as “Lexington Green”), are proud to announce the signing of a contract with Encounter Books of New York to publish their forthcoming book America 3.0.
America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life. Based on a new understanding of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.
America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family. This was America 1.0, as the Founders established it. The Industrial Revolution brought progress, opportunity and undreamed-of mobility. But, it also pushed the majority of American families into a new, urban, industrial life along with millions of unassimilated immigrants. After the Civil War, new problems of public health, crime, public order, and labor unrest, on top of the issues of Reconstruction, taxed the old Constitution. Americans looked for new solutions to new problems, giving rise to Progressivism, the ancestor of modern liberalism.
America 3.0 shows that liberal-progressive solutions to the challenges of America 2.0 relieved some problems, and kicked others down the road. But they also led to an overly powerful state and to an overly intrusive bureaucracy. This was the beginning of America 2.0, the America we grew up with, which dominated the Twentieth Century.
America 3.0 argues that the liberal-progressive or “Blue State” social model has reached its natural limits. Even as it continues to try to expand, it is now dying out before our eyes. We are now living in the closing years of the 20th Century “legacy state.” Even so, it has taken the shock of the current Great Recession to make people see the need for change. As a result, more and more Americans are calling for a return to our founding principles. Freedom and individualism are on the rise after a century-long detour.
America 3.0 shows that our current problems can be and must be transcended with a transition to a new America 3.0, based on modern technology, decentralized communities, and self-reliant families, and a reassertion of fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government and free market economics. Ironically the future America 3.0 will in many ways be closer to the original vision of the Founders than the fading America 2.0.
America 3.0 gives readers an accurate, and hopeful, assessment of our current crisis. It also spotlights the powerful forces arrayed in opposition to the needed reform. These groups include ideological leftists in media and the academy, politically connected businesses, and the public employees unions. However, as powerful as these groups are, they have become vulnerable as the external conditions change. A correct understanding of our history and culture, which America 3.0 provides, shows their opposition will be futile. The new, pro-freedom, mass political movement, which is aligned with the true needs and desires of Americans, is going to succeed.
America 3.0 provides readers a program of specific “maximalist” proposals to reform our government and liberate our economy. America 3.0 shows readers that these reforms are consistent with our fundamental culture, and with our Constitution, and will make Americans freer and more prosperous in the years ahead.
America 3.0 provides a “software upgrade” for the Tea Party and for all activists on the Conservative and Libertarian Right. It provides readers with historical evidence and intellectual coherence, to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the rising mass political movement to renew America.
America 3.0 shows that our capacity for regeneration is greater than most people realize. Predictions of our doom are deeply mistaken. We are now living just before the dawn of America’s greatest days. Within a generation, positive changes beyond what we can currently imagine will have taken place. That is the America 3.0 we are going to build together.
(Cross-posted from the America 3.0 blog.)
Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Announcements, Arts & Letters, Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Politics, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, RKBA, Science, Society, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, Transportation, Urban Issues, USA | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 20th November 2011 (All posts by David Foster)
About a week ago Instapundit linked this Wikipedia article about the higher-education bubble, noting especially the point that William Bennett predicted the bubble back in 1987. The post reminded me of some interesting and rather prescient comments that Peter Drucker made about education in his 1969 book The Age of Discontinuity. A few excerpts:
Resources and expectations:
Education has become by far the largest community expenditure in the American economy…Teachers of all kinds, now the largest single occupational group in the American labor force, outnumber by a good margin steelworkers, teamsters and salespeople, indeed even farmers…Education has become the key to opportunity and advancement all over the modern world, replacing birth, wealth, and perhaps even talent. Education has become the first value choice of modern man.
This is success such as no schoolmaster through the ages would have dared dream of…Signs abound that all is not well with education. While expenditures have been skyrocketing–and will keep on going up–the taxpayers are getting visibly restless.
Credentials and social mobility:
The most serious impact of the long years of schooling is, however, the “diploma curtain” between those with degrees and those without. It threatens to cut society in two for the first time in American history…By denying opportunity to those without higher education, we are denying access to contribution and performance to a large number of people of superior ability, intelligence, and capacity to achieve…I expect, within ten years or so, to see a proposal before one of our state legislatures or up for referendum to ban, on applications for employment, all questions related to educational status…I, for one, shall vote for this proposal if I can.
Dangers of “elite” universities:
One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…
It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Britain, China, Education, Europe, France, Science, Society, USA | 29 Comments »
Posted by Ralf Goergens on 2nd November 2011 (All posts by Ralf Goergens)
I am bit surprised the the Internet Archive isn’t much more well-known.
From their mission statement:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
Just follow the links in the quote above and you’ll find an incredible amount of each of the mentioned media.
Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Film, Music, Science | 5 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 9th October 2011 (All posts by Jonathan)
Watchful Waiting = Do nothing, even though it may be a good idea to do something, because it’s difficult to justify doing something when institutional third-party payers who evaluate everything in terms of population average costs and benefits rather than your cost and your benefit are making the decisions.
Precautionary Principle = Take extreme measures, even though it may be a good idea to do nothing, because it’s difficult to justify doing nothing when activists who evaluate everything in terms of hypothetical worst cases rather than probability weighted costs and benefits are making the decisions.
The question that always matters most is “Who decides?”. Answer it and you can usually predict what the answers to the other questions will be.
Posted in Medicine, Rhetoric, Science | 9 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 29th September 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Noting the passage of the creator of the Doritos chip who recently died at the ripe old age of 97, Glenn Reynolds quips, “I think the preservatives in junk food keep you young.”
Actually, there is reason to suspect that he might be right.
One of the most common preservatives is butylated hydroxyanisole also know has BHA or E320 in food labeling. BHA keeps foods from growing rancid by preventing the oxidation of fats by oxygen free radicals.
Say, what do you call a substances that controls oxygen free radicals? It’s right on the tip of my tongue…
… Oh, right, an anti-oxidant! You know, those things every other organic food product is advertised as having.
Benzoic acid, probably most commonly seen as Sodium Benzoate (E211) is another common bugaboo. In fact, its probably the poster child preservative being one whose name most people will recognize.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Medicine, Science | 15 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 18th September 2011 (All posts by onparkstreet)
Carter Doctrine:”The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region. The doctrine was a response to the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and was intended to deter the Soviet Union—the Cold War adversary of the United States—from seeking hegemony in the Gulf. After stating that Soviet troops in Afghanistan posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil,” Carter proclaimed:….”
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, as we remember the fallen and the many members of the armed services of the United States who have served for ten years of war, heroically, at great sacrifice and seldom with complaint, we also need to recall that we should not move through history as sleepwalkers. We owe it to our veterans and to ourselves not to continue to blindly walk the path of the trajectory of 9/11, but to pause and reflect on what changes in the last ten years have been for the good and which require reassessment. Or repeal. To reassert ourselves, as Americans, as masters of our own destiny rather than reacting blindly to events while carelessly ceding more and more control over our lives and our livelihoods to the whims of others and a theatric quest for perfect security. America needs to regain the initiative, remember our strengths and do a much better job of minding the store at home.
– Zenpundit, The Nine-Eleven Century
1. Canada and oil sands: “Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour). Oil sands are found in large amounts in many countries throughout the world, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada and Venezuela.”
2. Israel and Natural Gas: “In recent years, Israel has found and begun developing massive natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. There is much more wealth underwater– the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin contains as much as 122 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas — and all countries around the basin want a piece of the action.”
3. Russian state oil and American oil companies: “America’s largest oil company last week reached an historic agreement with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft. ExxonMobil now will take the place of BP (British Petroleum), whose dealings with Rosneft collapsed earlier this year.”
4. Dakotas and oil reserves: “America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.”
5. Bloom boxes: “One example to illustrate why the future is proving elusive in the USA: There is a stand-alone electricity providing unit called the Bloom Energy Server or “Bloom Box” — small, simple to use — which can power any home or commercial building. The wondrous box has already been test-driven; Google, eBay and a number of other Fortune 500 companies have a few Bloom Boxes and they’re saving fortunes in electrical bills.
In other words, the Bloom Box can make America’s electricity grid obsolete. There are only two things holding the box back from being installed in every residential, commercial and government space in the USA:
a) Bloom Energy, the company that makes the box, doesn’t have large manufacturing capacity.
b) The U.S. energy industry doesn’t want to be shoved around by a box. (The same for much of the ‘Green Jobs’ sector that the federal government has been pushing hard. The Bloom Box technology makes windmill and solar panel technologies obsolete.”
The GOP debates have been intellectually vapid and the fault does not lie entirely with our lightweight media moderators. Ladies and gentlemen, you are “auditioning” for the toughest job in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, you are genuinely interesting and accomplished people. Be leaders. Hire some decent speech coaches, do a little background wonky reading and show us your vision for the future.
Update: I made a few edits for clarity. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don’t know squat about this topic. Carl from Chicago is definitely the “go to” guy on energy topics around here but I’ve been bored with the debates and wanted to blog about that for some time now. Also, I don’t know what the whole “ladies and gentlemen” thing is about. It’s kinda affected. Incorrect, too. Only one lady has been involved in the formal debates….so far….
Posted in Americas, Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, International Affairs, Israel, Middle East, North America, Russia, Science, Society, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th September 2011 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The science community is now closing in on an example of scientific fraud at Duke University. The story sounds awfully familiar.
ANIL POTTI, Joseph Nevins and their colleagues at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, garnered widespread attention in 2006. They reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that they could predict the course of a patient’s lung cancer using devices called expression arrays, which log the activity patterns of thousands of genes in a sample of tissue as a colourful picture. A few months later, they wrote in Nature Medicine that they had developed a similar technique which used gene expression in laboratory cultures of cancer cells, known as cell lines, to predict which chemotherapy would be most effective for an individual patient suffering from lung, breast or ovarian cancer.
At the time, this work looked like a tremendous advance for personalised medicine—the idea that understanding the molecular specifics of an individual’s illness will lead to a tailored treatment.
This would be an incredible step forward in chemotherapy. Sensitivity to anti-tumor drugs is the holy grail of chemotherapy.
Unbeknown to most people in the field, however, within a few weeks of the publication of the Nature Medicine paper a group of biostatisticians at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, led by Keith Baggerly and Kevin Coombes, had begun to find serious flaws in the work.
Dr Baggerly and Dr Coombes had been trying to reproduce Dr Potti’s results at the request of clinical researchers at the Anderson centre who wished to use the new technique. When they first encountered problems, they followed normal procedures by asking Dr Potti, who had been in charge of the day-to-day research, and Dr Nevins, who was Dr Potti’s supervisor, for the raw data on which the published analysis was based—and also for further details about the team’s methods, so that they could try to replicate the original findings.
The raw data is always the place that any analysis of another’s work must begin.
Dr Potti and Dr Nevins answered the queries and publicly corrected several errors, but Dr Baggerly and Dr Coombes still found the methods’ predictions were little better than chance. Furthermore, the list of problems they uncovered continued to grow. For example, they saw that in one of their papers Dr Potti and his colleagues had mislabelled the cell lines they used to derive their chemotherapy prediction model, describing those that were sensitive as resistant, and vice versa. This meant that even if the predictive method the team at Duke were describing did work, which Dr Baggerly and Dr Coombes now seriously doubted, patients whose doctors relied on this paper would end up being given a drug they were less likely to benefit from instead of more likely.
In other words, the raw data was a mess. The results had to be random.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Bioethics, Environment, Health Care, Science, Statistics | 17 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 7th September 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
An era of the conceivable made concrete…And of the casually miraculous.
Adrian Veidt, The Watchmen by Allan Moore
A while back I found a post by pseudo-intellectual Peter Frase, pulling several mental muscles trying to imagine what it would be like to live in a Star Trek utopia if only it didn’t have intellectual property laws. [h/t Instapundit-->Overcoming Bias] That got me to thinking about how our contemporary world stacks up against Star Trek’s utopian vision.
Star Trek is often used as a starting point for musing about this or that utopia because everything in Star Trek seems so wonderful. Star Trek is Gene Roddenberry‘s vision of New Frontier democratic socialism evolved to a utopia so perfect that individuals have to head out into the wilds of deep space just to find some adventure. Watching Star Trek, one naturally begins to wonder what it would be like to live in a world so advanced that all of the problems we deal with today have been resolved or minimized to insignificance.
Well, we don’t actually have to imagine what it would be like to live in a Star Trek-like, radically egalitarian, technologically advanced, “post-scarcity” society because we live in a Star Trek-like utopia right now, right here, in contemporary America.
How can I say that? Simple, Star Trek the Next Generation takes place 353 years in the future from 2364 to 2370. If we were to think of ourselves as living in a futuristic science-fiction society we would likewise look back 353 years in the past to 1658.
Image what modern America would look like to the people of any of the world’s major cultures back in 1658! Any novel, movie, TV or comic book set in day-to-day middle-class America would read like astounding science fiction to anyone from 1658. Our society looks even more utopian in comparison to 1658 than Star Trek world 2370 looks to us today.
I’m not just talking about all the amazing and frightening technology like nuclear power/weapons, spacecraft, cars, cell phones, computers, the Internet, etc. I’m also talking about issues of want, individual dignity and social/political equality.
Just to start, by the standards of anywhere 1658 ,contemporary America is a land completely devoid of material poverty. No one in 1658 would consider anyone in America, even a street person, to be even marginally materially poor. Poor people today in American have a material standard of living that surpasses that of even the wealthiest individual in 1658.
For example, just turning on a faucet and getting safe, clean drinking water would look as amazing to a 1658 person as a Star Trek replicator looks to us today.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Science, Society, Tech | 12 Comments »