(Found via Cory)
Category Archives: Science/Medicine
Apparently I do, at least according to these maps of American dialect and pronunciation.
My pronunciations are most likely to be like New York City (where I was born, but moved away to DC at age six) but several of them are not. Although I spent five years in the UK, and hang around a Brit a great deal, I don’t think I have (m)any English pronunciations, although I may have the odd bit of British slang.
The discovery of a new, more solid, superionic phase of water, made me think of Kurt Vonnegut, who in his novel Cat’s Cradle imagined an ultimately deadly state of water he called ice-nine, which was solid at room temperature. Fortunately the real stuff requires vastly greater temperature and pressure than found on the Earth’s surface:
One lesser known phase of water is the superionic phase, which is considered an “ice” but exists somewhere between a solid and a liquid: while the oxygen atoms occupy fixed lattice positions as in a solid, the hydrogen atoms migrate through the lattice as in a fluid. Until now, scientists have thought that there was only one phase of superionic ice, but scientists in a new study have discovered a second phase that is more stable than the original. The new phase of superionic ice could make up a large component of the interiors of giant icy planets such as Uranus and Neptune.
University of British Columbia researchers have found a new potential use for the over-the-counter pain drug Tylenol. Typically known to relieve physical pain, the study suggests the drug may also reduce the psychological effects of fear and anxiety over the human condition, or existential dread.
I think it would have been better poetic justice if the cure for existential angst were an anti-nausea drug.
Meanwhile, just remember: if it you take too much Acetaminophen, it will destroy your liver.
On the bright side, though, Acetaminophen is the only painkiller that doesn’t interact poorly with any of my meds….
Mosquitoes love me. In a crowd, I’m the one who gets bitten. So imagine my joy when I read about Gallinippers! Monster mosquitoes poised to strike Florida. I added the boldfacing in the quote from the NBC Science report that follows:
One of the most ferocious insects you’ve ever heard of — it’s the size of a quarter and its painful bite has been compared to being knifed — is set to invade Florida this summer.
The Sunshine State, already home to man-eating sinkholes, invading Burmese pythons, swarming sharks, tropical storms and other disasters, can expect to see an explosion of shaggy-haired gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), a type of giant mosquito, according to entomologist Phil Kaufman of the University of Florida.
And as adults, the voracious pests feed day and night (unlike everyday mosquitoes, which generally feed only at dawn and dusk). Their bodies are strong enough to bite through clothing, and they’re known to go after pets, wild animals and even fish, MyFoxOrlando.com reports.
“It’s about 20 times bigger than the sort of typical, Florida mosquito that you find,” Anthony Pelaez of Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry told Fox Orlando. “And it’s mean, and it goes after people, and it bites, and it hurts.”
Pelaez described the gallinipper’s bite as so painful it “feels like you’re being stabbed.”
Although the article says they can be as big as a quarter, judging from photos Gallinippers are often only the size of a nickel. Even so …
Steven Strogatz explains why “Our friends are typically more popular than we are.”
Short version: If they are friends with the likes of us, they’re friends with lots of people. (Presumably, the people who are really unpopular have no friends at all, so we’re not friends with them?)
This also explains what we would have to call the Gym Paradox,
… imagine going to the gym. When you look around, does it seem that just about everybody there is in better shape than you are? Well, you’re probably right. But that’s inevitable and nothing to feel ashamed of. If you’re an average gym member, that’s exactly what you should expect to see, because the people sweating and grunting around you are not average. They’re the types who spend time at the gym, which is why you’re seeing them there in the first place. The couch potatoes are snoozing at home where you can’t count them. In other words, your sample of the gym’s membership is not representative. It’s biased toward gym rats.
(Actually, the gym I go to is biased towards undergraduates, and if they’re not in better shape than I am then something is Not Right With The World.)
And the there’s what I call the Falling Tree in the Forest paradox:
This is also why people experience airplanes, restaurants, parks and beaches to be more crowded than the averages would suggest. When they’re empty, nobody’s there to notice.
Strogatz’s essay has lots more goodies, and also some math for those who fancy such delicacies.
After years of work on promoting policy change to make federally-funded research available on the Internet, and after winning the battle to implement a public access policy at NIH, it has become clear that being on the right side of the issue is necessary but not sufficient. We’ve had the meetings, done the hearings, replied to the requests for information.
But we’re opposed in our work by a small set of publishers who profit enormously from the existing system, even though there is no evidence that the NIH policy has had any measurable impact on their business models. They can – and do – outspend those of us who have chosen to make a huge part of our daily work the expansion of access to knowledge. This puts the idea of access at a disadvantage. We know there is a serious debate about the extension of public access to taxpayer funded research going on right now in the White House, but we also know that we need more than our current approaches to get that extension made into federal policy.
The best approach that we have yet to try is to make a broad public appeal for support, straight to the people. The Obama Administration has created a web platform to petition the White House directly called We The People. Any petition receiving more than 25,000 digital signatures is placed on the desk of the President’s Chief of Staff and must be integrated into policy and political discussions. But there’s a catch – a petition only has 30 days to gather the required number of signatures to qualify.
We can get 25,000 signatures. And if we not only get 25,000, but an order of magnitude more, we can change the debate happening right now.
Here’s the text of the petition (complying with an 800 word cap):
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Require free, timely access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.
We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research.
The highly successful Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process, and we urge President Obama to act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.
To sign the petition you:
- Have to be 13 years or older
- Have to create a petitions account on whitehouse.gov. This first requires giving a name and an email address and then clicking the validation link sent to that address.
- Click to sign the petition
Looks like a good cause to me. The petition will be open for signature for 30 days, but don’t delay — you might forget.