The issue: there are some inherently illogical statements (example: “This statement is a lie.” )
Ok, say the correct answer is “B”. Then that means that you have a 25 percent chance of getting that right, which is A and D, but you have a 50 percent chance of selecting either A or D by choosing at random.
Today: travelling; a bit tired, so nothing. I am planning on running tomorrow, lifting and running Thursday and doing some running on Saturday. My daughter is visiting so this is my “spring break”.
April 2011: San Francisco. This is the “world’s longest DNA double helix”:
Speaking of life
Did you know that NASA released some Mars soil samples; the building blocks for life might be there?
PASADENA, Calif. — An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.
Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life — in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.
“A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “From what we know now, the answer is yes.”
Clues to this habitable environment come from data returned by the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments. The data indicate the Yellowknife Bay area the rover is exploring was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty.
The patch of bedrock where Curiosity drilled for its first sample lies in an ancient network of stream channels descending from the rim of Gale Crater. The bedrock also is fine-grained mudstone and shows evidence of multiple periods of wet conditions, including nodules and veins.
Curiosity’s drill collected the sample at a site just a few hundred yards away from where the rover earlier found an ancient streambed in September 2012.
Surf to the site to read more.
Beware of “algebra” courses named “honors” and the like:
Most U.S. high school introductory algebra courses labeled “honors” actually are no more rigorous than regular courses in the same school, according to a government curriculum survey released on Tuesday.
The study of high school algebra and geometry classes shows that mislabeling of math courses as tougher than they are is widespread, the survey authors told a news conference. […]
The survey showed that of high school graduates who took an algebra I, or introductory, class labeled “honors” by their school, about 73 percent were taught material analysts ranked as intermediate.
Eighteen percent of the students actually received a rigorous curriculum, the survey said.
But 34 percent of graduates who took an algebra I class labeled “regular” at the same school instead got a rigorous curriculum.
For geometry, among graduates who took classes labeled “honors,” 33 percent got a rigorous curriculum and 62 percent were taught intermediate material.
Nineteen percent of graduates who took a “regular” geometry course received a rigorous curriculum.
The study was based on 17,800 transcripts of graduates from about 550 public high schools in 2005. Analysts compared more than 120 different textbooks and their review questions and interviewed teachers to find the results.
Here is the dirty secret: algebra (the kind taken by high school kids) is really a basic prerequisite to move on to courses more accurately described as “honors”. This is in no way intended to insult adults who come back to algebra later in life; it is a fact that our brains become less nimble with age.
We went to the Thanksgiving day brunch at Wildlife Prairie Park; my wife, her nephew, her daughter and grandson were also there.
The bartender was wearing very tight hip-huggers…I wonder if her tip jar was full.
Sandwalk talks more about the “science is cool” campaign:
This poster is from Rock Stars of Science. There are six people in the photo: one of them is a rock star (I’m told) and five of them are famous scientists (I’m told).
Is this a good way to promote science? Martin Robbins doesn’t think so: ‘Rockstars of Science’ should be ‘Scientists of Rock’.
I could be wrong. Maybe this is a good way of reaching out to people. Maybe GQ’s readers are getting out their dictionaries and picking through those descriptions, stopping occasionally to stare at the blurry, bearded interloper in the background of Bob’s photograph. And maybe those readers are now more inspired by science as a result. If so, I’d like to see some evidence of it – maybe a poll of readers?
But I still can’t help but feel that if you have to resort to rockstars make science cool, you’re really not very good at communicating science. Because science is way cooler than rock stars.
You won’t be surprised to learn that Chris Mooney likes this campaign and ERV doesn’t. Jerry Coyne doesn’t like it either. Does anyone notice a pattern here? … The one person who isn’t a scientist is the one who thinks he knows how to promote science.
I love it. But Larry Moran does have a sense of humor; check out his post about “how to protect yourself from wi-fi radiation”. It isn’t everyday that you see a middle aged biochemist in a tinfoil hat (thumbnail links to Dr. Moran’s post):
Thanksgiving: here is some thanks that physics problems in the large (macroscopic) can be solved without know much (or at all?) about the small (microscopic). Example: you can solve a motion problem using Newtonian mechanics without knowing what is going on at the quantum level…or one can do fluid mechanics without knowing about the Brownian motion of the molecules.
Is Schizophrenia caused by a retrovirus that most of us have immunity to? There is a mainstream conjecture that this is the case:
chizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but the person who becomes schizophrenic is sometimes recalled to have been different as a child or a toddler—more forgetful or shy or clumsy. Studies of family videos confirm this. Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent, but it is remarkably consistent, showing up in 250 studies. That same pattern is seen in people with bipolar disorder or multiple sclerosis.
“The birth-month effect is one of the most clearly established facts about schizophrenia,” says Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “It’s difficult to explain by genes, and it’s certainly difficult to explain by bad mothers.”
The facts of schizophrenia are so peculiar, in fact, that they have led Torrey and a growing number of other scientists to abandon the traditional explanations of the disease and embrace a startling alternative. Schizophrenia, they say, does not begin as a psychological disease. Schizophrenia begins with an infection.
The idea has sparked skepticism, but after decades of hunting, Torrey and his colleagues think they have finally found the infectious agent. You might call it an insanity virus. If Torrey is right, the culprit that triggers a lifetime of hallucinations—that tore apart the lives of writer Jack Kerouac, mathematician John Nash, and millions of others—is a virus that all of us carry in our bodies. “Some people laugh about the infection hypothesis,” says Urs Meyer, a neuroimmunologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “But the impact that it has on researchers is much, much, much more than it was five years ago. And my prediction would be that it will gain even more impact in the future.” […]
Perron learned from their failures. “I decided that I should not have an a priori idea of what I would find,” he says. Rather than looking for one virus, as others had done, he tried to detect any retrovirus, whether or not it was known to science. He extracted fluids from the spinal columns of MS patients and tested for an enzyme, called reverse transcriptase, that is carried by all retroviruses. Sure enough, Perron saw faint traces of retroviral activity. Soon he obtained fuzzy electron microscope images of the retrovirus itself.
His discovery was intriguing but far from conclusive. After confirming his find was not a fluke, Perron needed to sequence its genes. He moved to the National Center for Scientific Research in Lyon, France, where he labored days, nights, and weekends. He cultured countless cells from people with MS to grow enough of his mystery virus for sequencing. MS is an incurable disease, so Perron had to do his research in a Level 3 biohazard lab. Working in this airtight catacomb, he lived his life in masks, gloves, and disposable scrubs.
After eight years of research, Perron finally completed his retrovirus’s gene sequence. What he found on that day in 1997 no one could have predicted; it instantly explained why so many others had failed before him. We imagine viruses as mariners, sailing from person to person across oceans of saliva, snot, or semen—but Perron’s bug was a homebody. It lives permanently in the human body at the very deepest level: inside our DNA. After years slaving away in a biohazard lab, Perron realized that everyone already carried the virus that causes multiple sclerosis.
Other scientists had previously glimpsed Perron’s retrovirus without fully grasping its significance. In the 1970s biologists studying pregnant baboons were shocked as they looked at electron microscope images of the placenta. They saw spherical retroviruses oozing from the cells of seemingly healthy animals. They soon found the virus in healthy humans, too. So began a strange chapter in evolutionary biology. […]
Viruses like influenza or measles kill cells when they infect them. But when retroviruses like HIV infect a cell, they often let the cell live and splice their genes into its DNA. When the cell divides, both of its progeny carry the retrovirus’s genetic code in their DNA.
In the past few years, geneticists have pieced together an account of how Perron’s retrovirus entered our DNA. Sixty million years ago, a lemurlike animal—an early ancestor of humans and monkeys—contracted an infection. It may not have made the lemur ill, but the retrovirus spread into the animal’s testes (or perhaps its ovaries), and once there, it struck the jackpot: It slipped inside one of the rare germ line cells that produce sperm and eggs. When the lemur reproduced, that retrovirus rode into the next generation aboard the lucky sperm and then moved on from generation to generation, nestled in the DNA. “It’s a rare, random event,” says Robert Belshaw, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in England. “Over the last 100 million years, there have been only maybe 50 times when a retrovirus has gotten into our genome and proliferated.”
Read the whole article; it is fascinating.
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