Physics has quite a few counter-intuitive results; many of them are in quantum mechanics. That opens the door to the woo-woos, just as evolution draws attackers from religious fundamentalists.
Fortunately, mathematics is spared most of this, though we have a few cranks and crackpots; here is one of the worst cases (this guy thinks that he has shown that “countably infinite” is the same as “uncountably infinite”).
I suppose it is “philosophy” when David Albert takes Lawrence Krauss to task for not being explicit about what “nothing” means, but you don’t need a Ph.D. in philosophy to see that. And the bizarre fact of nonlocality was discovered not by philosophers, who as far as I can see had little input into that solution, but by scientists. It’s been explained by philosophers to the public, but scientists who are writers can also do that, and often do a better job since they really understand the nuances. Yes, you can say that scientists engage in philosophy when they interpret what they find, but all scientists who ponder the meaning of their discoveries can be said to practice philosophy. That doesn’t constitute an endorsement of professional academic philosophy. The thing is, the “philosophy” practices of scientists doesn’t require the kind of professional training that philosophers demand when they accuse scientists of being “philosophically naive.” That accusation has always seemed to me a self-serving claim for the importance of one’s bit of turf.
According to Tallis, philosophy will solve difficult problems not only in other areas of physics, but also biology. What areas need philosophical input?
Time. Tallis notes:
The physicist Lee Smolin’s recent book, Time Reborn, links the crisis in physics with its failure to acknowledge the fundamental reality of time. Physics is predisposed to lose time because its mathematical gaze freezes change. Tensed time, the difference between a remembered or regretted past and an anticipated or feared future, is particularly elusive. This worried Einstein: in a famous conversation, he mourned the fact that the present tense, “now”, lay “just outside of the realm of science”.
This is above my pay grade; perhaps writers can enlighten me about how philosophy will help straighten out the mess of time. I’d prefer to hear from Sean Carroll (not a philosopher) on this.
I can feel the “butthurt” right now…philosophers boo-hoo-hooing because, when they venture in to the realm of science, those who know the most about science (scientists) blow them off. 🙂
Who knows….maybe mathematicians can come up with, say, “the mathematics of word-salads” by which we can critique the philosophers? 🙂
This had me roaring with laughter:
A six-month study by AgriSearch, an on-campus research arm of Dalhousie University, has shown that genetically modified (GM) cucumbers grown under license to Monsanto Inc. result in serious side effects including total groin hair loss and chafing in “sensitive areas”, leading to the immediate and total ban of sales of all that company’s crop and subsequent dill pickles.
The tracking study of 643 men and women in Nova Scotia came about after reports began to surface about bald field mice and the bald feral cats that ate them being discovered by farmers on acreages growing the new crop.
“The bald wild animals raised a huge flag and we immediately obtained subpoenas for the medical records of all 600 plus adults who took part in focus groups and taste tests of the cucumbers by Monsanto in Canada,” said Dr. Nancy Walker, Director of Public Health Research at Dalhousie. “Fully 3/4 of the people who ate these cukes had their crotch area hair fall out. This is not a joking matter at all…these people now have hairless heinies.”
Click the link to read the rest. (and take a gander at some of the other headlines too)
“If enough people were praying, he would intervine…”
Before you say “shut up and do something to help”: I did. It wasn’t Mitt Romney money; it was on the order of a football game ticket (college) or a race fee. I am too tired to race anyway.
First, some science: studying salamanders is helping us learn more about potential limb and organ regeneration:
Salamanders’ immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have found.
In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University found that when immune cells known as macrophages were systemically removed, salamanders lost their ability to regenerate a limb and instead formed scar tissue.
Lead researcher, Dr James Godwin, a Fellow in the laboratory of ARMI Director Professor Nadia Rosenthal, said the findings brought researchers a step closer to understanding what conditions were needed for regeneration.
“Previously, we thought that macrophages were negative for regeneration, and this research shows that that’s not the case – if the macrophages are not present in the early phases of healing, regeneration does not occur,” Dr Godwin said.
“Now, we need to find out exactly how these macrophages are contributing to regeneration. Down the road, this could lead to therapies that tweak the human immune system down a more regenerative pathway.”
Salamanders deal with injury in a remarkable way. The end result is the complete functional restoration of any tissue, on any part of the body including organs. The regenerated tissue is scar free and almost perfectly replicates the injury site before damage occurred.
Truly awesome, no?
Now as far as this disaster in Oklahoma:
It sort of looks like a World War II carpet bombing.
Will climate change make tornadoes worse? More frequent?
“The short answer is, we have no idea,” Michael Wehner, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told NBC News. For years, Wehner has been studying the climate models for extreme weather, and he’s a lead author for the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as the federal government’s latest national assessment on climate change.
One problem is that the observational record for tornadoes has not been uniform over time. “It has a bias to it, because more people are living where tornadoes occur, and more people are out looking for them,” Wehner said. That contributes to the perception that tornadoes are happening more frequently than they used to.
The other big problem is that current climate models don’t have the resolution that’s needed to simulate the localized, violent activity of a tornado. Currently, global models are built up from atmospheric interactions on a scale of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Improvements in computer power could soon bring that down to a scale of 25 kilometers (16 miles). That should make it possible for scientists to simulate the weather phenomena that give rise to tornadoes, but not the tornadoes themselves, Wehner said.
On a larger scale, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent in a warmer world, Wehner said. “The metric that I like to look at is the daily amount of rain for a storm that happens once every 20 years,” he said. “That storm, in a much warmer world, would happen more frequently.” For example, if the world follows a “business-as-usual” scenario, he projects that the average temperature would rise 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, and that a once-in-20-years rainstorm would come around every five to 10 years on average.
That doesn’t necessarily mean tornadoes would be more frequent, however. In fact, the current projection calls for wetter spring weather in the northern U.S., and drier weather in the Southwest — with Tornado Alley right in the middle. “There’s some evidence that there might not be a change” in the character of a tornado season, Wehner observed.
I think that it is important to say what we have a good feel for and to admit what we don’t. As far as water born storms (hurricanes): yes, more heat in the oceans means more available energy. But the mechanisms for tornados are different.
There is much more in the article I quoted including a discussion about “tornado alley”: this, believe it or not, is not the worst place in the nation for tornado damage.
Here, you have people who really believe that some deity actually controls events on the earth. (I still don’t understand that one, especially in this day and age). This event blew away houses, killed in injured many and terrified even more.
Now they are praising this deity for saving a soggy Bible page?????? Really???? Seriously????
My initial reaction is: What a bunch xxxxx!!!!!!! What is wrong with these people???!!!!
But that would be unfair, and probably inaccurate. Statistically speaking, I am sure that many people who think this way have skills and abilities that I don’t have (being good with construction or carpentry, can run a business, can farm, etc.).
What this shows, IMHO, is the power of superstition to brainwash people and to make otherwise competent human beings say dumb and illogical things and to corrupt their thinking.
It seems to me that when readers declare that some piece of economics commentary is “wrong”, they often confuse three different notions of wrongness, which are neither intellectually nor morally equivalent.
First, there’s the ordinary business of expressing a view about the economy that the reader disagrees with – e.g., “Krugman is wrong, because the government can’t create jobs”; or, if you prefer, “Casey Mulligan is wrong, because we’re suffering from demand problems, not supply problems.” Obviously it’s OK to say things like this, and sometimes the criticism is correct. (I’m not wrong, but Mulligan is!) But equally obviously, there’s nothing, er, wrong about being wrong in this sense: people will disagree, and that’s legitimate.
His second “way of being wrong” is to make a technical error (say, a pop science author said that a “simply connected” manifold is “contractable”, which is false. is such an example. But there is no way one could expect a reporter to understand this; in fact which it comes to technical stuff this appears to be the case:
The third way of being wrong is to say something that is mind-numbingly false that can be fact checked by anyone who can read (e. g., “Obama raised income taxes on most Americans”).
I have to give Dr. Krugman credit though: he allows comments even from people who are ill versed in…well, just about everything.
If I were ever famous enough to have a specialty blog, I’d make passing some sort of exam a prerequisite to comment.
Yeah, we have to put up with a few woos but this is ridiculous!
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