24 March 2011

Dizziness Last night, once again, I woke up after 2 hours and was very dizzy; the room was spinning and I started to feel nauseated, clammy and sweaty. I started to say “oh no, not Monday night again”…but then realized that I had felt this way before: this felt just like seasickness! So I realized that if the spinning (vertigo) went away my nausea would clear up, hence I changed my sleeping position. It was no longer a problem.
But I do have a doctor’s appointment for Monday.

Workout notes
Yoga; on the flow parts I took it very easily; I made sure that I did each pose properly even if I went slower than the rest of the class. I took down dog and forward bends very slowly, taking care to look up as I bent from the waist and then to lower my head slowly.

Over lunch I did a weight workout (upper body) and then jogged two easy miles on the treadmill (20:20).
No problems, though this wasn’t one of my harder workouts.
rotator cuff
incline press: 10 x 115, 4 x 135, 3 x 135, 10 x 120
dumbbell curls: 15 x 20 lb, 15 x 20, 15 x 20, 10 x 25
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 (Hammer machine)
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 120 (last set with shoulder friendly grip)
sit ups: 4 x 25 (incline 1, 2, 3, 4). Note: I did these slowly so as to not take a chance with balance.
then I jogged 2 miles on the treadmill, taking care to NOT get in “the zone”; I quit as soon as it became “work”.

So I didn’t do “training”; I did an “old fart fitness” workout.

There is now a way of transmitting through metal. Note: this means that one can run bugs though metal too.

Yes, there is a clock that is powered by….dead flies? Flypaper catches them; they then decompose and the energy from the decomposition runs the clock.

More on communication technology
The Navy now has a new way of communicating to its submarines underwater via very low frequencies and an underwater telephone:

The signal sounded like crickets chirping, but the encoded message transmitted from the camp atop the frozen Arctic Ocean was music to the ears of the USS New Hampshire submarine crew.

Using a digital “Deep Siren” tactical messaging system and a simpler underwater telephone, officials from the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory at the camp last Saturday were able to help the submarine find a relatively ice-free spot to surface and evacuate a sailor stricken with appendicitis.

The alternative could have been a ruptured appendix, or an emergency surgery on the table in the captain’s dining room, said a relieved Dan Roberts, a senior chief and corpsman who handles the crew’s medical needs. “It would have been rough.”

Physics: Scientists have now produced the He-4 anti-particle (the regular Helium; He-3 anti-matter has already been produced)

Northern Lights show

(click to see the full sized photo at Cosmic Log plus another spectacular photo!

Science community: bad papers
Yesterday I had talked about a bad paper that had been published and then retracted by a (normally good) mathematics journal.
Well today, Jerry Coyne talks about a paper that appeared in Nature: it attacks the idea of “kin selection” in evolution.
He makes the following claim:

If the Nowak et al. paper is so bad, why was it published? That’s obvious, and is an object lesson in the sociology of science. If Joe Schmo et al. from Buggerall State University had submitted such a misguided paper to Nature, it would have been rejected within an hour (yes, Nature sometimes does that with online submissions!). The only reason this paper was published is because it has two big-name authors, Nowak and Wilson, hailing from Mother Harvard. That, and the fact that such a contrarian paper, flying in the face of accepted evolutionary theory, was bound to cause controversy. Well, Nature got its controversy but lost its intellectual integrity, becoming something of a scientific National Enquirer.

That might have been true in this case, but it isn’t just the most distinguished people that get bad stuff published. For example, I once complained about a paper that appeared in a mathematics journal that enjoys wide circulation. The editor eventually admitted to me that he found it hard to “say no” to the person who submitted the article. Note: this journal has a pedagogical focus and this wasn’t the case of claiming a false result.

But false results have found their way into the literature before. In the cold fusion case, though one of the scientists was well regarded, he wasn’t from an Ivy-caliber university when he and his partner got their results published.

And there is always this embarrassing case:


The Darwin-Oparin-Haldane “warm little pond” scenario for biogenesis is examined by using information theory to calculate the probability that an informational biomolecule of reasonable biochemical specificity, long enough to provide a genome for the “protobiont”, could have appeared in 109 years in the primitive soup. Certain old untenable ideas have served only to confuse the solution of the problem. Negentropy is not a concept because entropy cannot be negative. The role that negentropy has played in previous discussions is replaced by “complexity” as defined in information theory. A satisfactory scenario for spontaneous biogenesis requires the generation of “complexity” not “order”. Previous calculations based on simple combinatorial analysis over estimate the number of sequences by a factor of 105. The number of cytochrome c sequences is about 3·8 × 1061. The probability of selecting one such sequence at random is about 2·1 ×10−65. The primitive milieu will contain a racemic mixture of the biological amino acids and also many analogues and non-biological amino acids. Taking into account only the effect of the racemic mixture the longest genome which could be expected with 95 % confidence in 109 years corresponds to only 49 amino acid residues. This is much too short to code a living system so evolution to higher forms could not get started. Geological evidence for the “warm little pond” is missing. It is concluded that belief in currently accepted scenarios of spontaneous biogenesis is based on faith, contrary to conventional wisdom.

So, it happens, though I suppose one might expect more out of Nature.


Here is Fareed Zakaria on why President Obama’s “middle course” of helping out in Libya but NOT taking the lead is the right one:

America has always done better in the role of the reluctant imperialist. The simple fact is that the world does not like its leading military power to be overly eager to intervene in foreign lands. In fact, until the Cold War, the U.S. had a very different image from European great powers precisely because it had few expansionist impulses. America entered World War I after three years of bloody fighting just in time to tip the balance. It entered World War II only after Japan attacked it and Hitler declared war. The U.S. had the capacity to be an imperial power but chose not to be one. Yet during the Cold War, Washington developed the habit of intervening early and often in far-flung places, worried about communist takeovers. As a result, America was seen in much of the Third World in the same light as the European colonial powers, forfeiting a crucial moral and political advantage. (Comment on this story.)

In the Libyan crisis, the Obama Administration made clear from the start that it was not enthusiastic about military action and would support it only if it were requested by the Libyan opposition and the Arab League — and with Europe doing much of the heavy lifting. This led to a remarkable turn of events in which on March 12 the Arab League officially requested that the U.N. impose a no-fly zone over Libya. This shift has not gotten the attention it deserves. In the 66 years since its founding, the Arab League has served as a shield for dictators and rarely produced anything but windy rhetoric about Arab solidarity and Palestine. The idea that it would act against one of its members — and because of human-rights violations! — was unimaginable one month ago. Five days later, the U.N. Security Council passed resolutions authorizing action against Gaddafi’s forces. France and Britain were positively itching for military action.

Health care debate Republicans are always going on and on about how our current health care system has higher cancer survival rates than other systems. Well, we don’t have the highest survival rate, and the term survival rate can be misleading:

Beyond that, there’s a well-known problem with survival-rate comparisons, acknowledged in the Lancet Oncology study:

Cancer survival is a valuable indicator for international comparison of progress in cancer control,despite the fact that part of the variation in cancer survival identified in this study could be attributable to differences in the intensity of diagnostic activity (case-finding) in participating populations.

Here’s how I understand the over-diagnosis issue, in terms of an extreme example: suppose that there’s a form of cancer that kills people 7 years after it starts, and that there is in fact nothing you can do about it. Suppose that country A screens for cancer very aggressively, and always catches this cancer in year 1, while country B chooses to invest its medical resources differently, and never catches the cancer until year 4. In that case, country A will have a 100% 5-year survival rate, while country B will have a 0% 5-year survival rate — because survival is measured from the time the cancer is diagnosed. Yet treatment in country B is no worse than in country A.

Real life isn’t that simple, but you get the point: a society that tests for cancer a lot may have higher survival rates simply because it tends to catch cancer early on, even if it doesn’t treat cancer any better.

And cancer, of course, isn’t the only disease.

So are the Republicans lying, or are they merely stupid? Perhaps it is neither; they probably really believe that the United States, when it does thing the “free market way” really delivers the best possible results…sort as an act of “faith”. Well…I suppose that makes them blind?


March 25, 2011 - Posted by | Barack Obama, creationism, education, health, health care, mathematics, Middle East, nature, physics, political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republican party, republicans political/social, republicans politics, running, space, statistics, superstition, technology, training, weight training, yoga

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