Sunday, 26 October 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/10/14

Hi Deinocheiri,

Some of the UK's population turned their clocks back an hour, on transitioning from BST (British Summer Time) to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on Sunday morning.

The really dedicated amongst them got up at 2 am to do it.

And the rest of them are going to be late for something.

In Russia, clocks went back to 'winter time' seemingly permanently, ending a three year experiment into permanent 'summer time'.

Maybe the thousands of people dying in heatwaves put them off the idea of permanent summer?

And maybe Game of Thrones put them onto the idea of a permanent winter? :-P

Interestingly, there's no clear case for the imposition of any one time standard, over any other.

Industrial economic claims will always contradict each other, as More Or Less found out, some time ago, so it all basically boils down to personal convenience.

Personally, i like having an extra hour to write this stuff in, but i don't think it's really worth it.

GMT+3 would ensure that most people living at high latitudes got up in daylight, but then winter sunclipses would occur at lunchtime.

That would make the days interesting, wouldn't it :o)

Is IKEA more generous than Norway?

Following the Torygraph's claim that a UN report shows IKEA (the flat-pack shop from Sweden) to have donated more money to countering the contemporary Ebola epidemic than Norway, Spain and Luxembourg, More Or Less have investigated:

'MoreOrLess: Screening for Ebola 24 Oct 14'

You won't be surprised to hear that the claim is false. But what you hear after that might make you slightly more cynical about IKEA!

You might remember me being snarky, last month, about a guy trying to sell a book, off dodgy DNA research into who 'Jack the Ripper' might have been.
{There's insufficient evidence even to support the idea that it was all one person}

Well, i just got even more snarky, because some scientist bloggers who work in the area have noticed an error in the research, that renders his (the author's) shallow claim completely empty.

'Jack the Ripper mystery: Back to square one'
{As if they ever got off it in the first place!}

The molecular biologist he employed to do the DNA analysis - Dr Jari Louhelainen - incorrectly classified the all-important genotype as '314.1C' which should have been '315.1C'.

The '314.1C' type is present in only 1 in 200,000 people, whereas the '315.1C' type is present in 9 out of 10 people! So what seemed to suggest Kosminski was more likely to have been a murderer, turns out to actually say nothing at all.

This is a highly technical, very specific area, that i would not have noticed. And this is what peer review is for.

When you're dealing with intricate science, understanding what every word letter and number means, can make the difference between understanding it and having no idea what you're dealing with.

In contrast, with a contentless subject, like Theology, anyone can call themselves an expert e.g. the leader of ISIS, who has a Theology degree and PhD in Islamic Studies.

Consequently, pseudoscientific journals like 'Answers Research Journal', the 'Journal Of Cosmology', 'The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine', etc, should not be considered scientific, even though they are peer-reviewed - the peers merely form an echo chamber of superstitious nonsense - they don't care about quality of evidence, or necessarily evidence of any kind!

Remember: peer review is not the end of the scientific process - replication is. The results published in pseudoscientific journals can not be replicated under scientifically rigorous conditions, no matter how many 'peers' rally around to repeat a mantra of "damp sugar is medicine".

In other news:

For decades, a pair of impressive dinosaur arms have hung in the Natural History Museum's dinosaur exhibit. They are the arms of a species called Deinocheirus mirificus, and impressive they are, too. Absolutely massive, and tipped with gigantic claws, the sign opposite them warns visitors not to presume that they are carnivores' arms. And indeed, discoveries in the last half-decade have revealed the rest of Deinocheirus' bodyplan to consist of dumpy legs, broad feet, a sail-bearing humped back, and head with a long snout and a beak. And also, a stomach filled with plants and fish. Dr Yuong-Nam Lee said: "We did not know their function before, but the long forearms with giant claws may have been used for digging and gathering herbaceous plants in freshwater habitats." Give enough time, and something will evolve to fill any niche.

A Chinese medical doctor, and outspoken critic of CTM (Chinese Traditional Medicine) pseudomedicine, has issued a Randi-style challenge to TCM practitioners, to demonstrate that they can actually do something. The specific challenge he's suggested, is to determine with 80% accuracy, whether a woman is pregnant (there's little leeway there) and at least one person has already taken him up on the challenge. Some TCM-ers think they can work out whether someone is pregnant, by checking their pulse. Obviously, pulse-checks have a real world value, but there's no evidence it can be used to distinguish pregnant people from non-pregnant people! Obviously, these quacks are going to fail; but what will the excuses be, when they do? Special pleading's bound to be the #1...

Swedish police have announced that they will be paying a man 16,000 kronor (£1,370 or $2,200) in compensation, for impounding alcohol that they had seized from his home, unjustly. But that's not what the compensation's for. This is: while impounded, some of the wine, beer and cider had passed its best-before date, and five bottles of vodka and ten bottles of gin had been drunk... and replaced with water! I'm pretty sure there must be a rule about the police not drinking contraband... mustn't there?!?

A recent study of American middle school students found that they have, on average, a *lower* degree of digital technology savvy than their middle school teachers. Adults tend to exhibit the belief that 'the younger generation' has an innate propensity for understanding and utilising digital technology, but this isn't actually true. Many kids (moreso than adults) do not know how to do a good Google search, or to use software to solve problems. This is because kids do not use them, whereas the teachers do, to make their work easier. There's been a campaign, in the UK, to get children obligatorily taught coding, which i think completely misses the point that contemporary ICT (coding included) is often arcane and useful to few, whereas general ICT skills are useful to everyone and still neglected, as if it were 'common sense' and/or like sex education - people are too embarrassed to learn/teach about how to do a Google search.

The tale of the unincredible shrinking goats of the Italian Alps. Alpine Chamois are a species of mountain goat, whose statistics have been tracked, amongst many others of course, for the last 30 years. Researchers have found that their body size has fallen by 25% in those 30 years, correlating with a 3-4 degrees C increase in temperature, where they live. Factors that are known to influence body size include nutrition abundance, temperature (due to the thermodynamics of maintaining a body) and predation (larger individuals are usually easier to catch) but nutrients have not become less abundant over this period, so it's either hunting or temperature changes as part of climatic change (probably both) that has caused the change. The researchers noted that Chamois have changed their behavioural habits - resting more - which suggests that temperature is discouraging them from activity that could cause them to overheat.

With funding from the US Department of Homeland Security, John Heidemann, research professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) et al have studied the phases of activity of the world's IP addresses, across 24 hours. There are 4 billion IPv4 internet addresses, and Heidemann and his team pinged about 3.7 million address blocks (representing about 950 million addresses) every 11 minutes over the span of two months, looking for daily patterns. To see a GIF and a video, showing the fluctuating activity, follow the link:

A cubic metre of copper has become the coolest in the universe, for a record-breaking 15 days, at just six milliKelvins - that's -273.144 degrees Celsius! The feat was accomplished at the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE), a particle physics laboratory in central Italy gathering scientists from Italy, the United States, China, Spain and France.

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Richard Saunders - Dr. Duarf Ekaf's Horoblescope (Oct 2014)' (my upload)

'Viral Comets: Truck Saves Plane' (Captain Disillusion)

'When Veritasium gets it Wrong! - Trial by EXPERIMENT!'

'Politics in the Animal Kingdom: Single Transferable Vote'

'Mile of Pi - Numberphile'
Pi is, as far as we know, a non-repeating figure, meaning its decimal places random (or at least pretty damn randomish) so when Matt's pointing out sequences, and absences of 4s, just remember that that is what you get from (maybe complete) randomness! And that is why statistical significance is important to research, and why it's not good enough to expect anecdotal claims to be believed - if the phenomenon's not repeatable, there's no reason to think it real.

'Oldest genitals reveal how ancient fish had sex'
Thirty-three seconds of sheer pleasure :-D

'Why is the Sun Yellow and the Sky Blue?'

'Seaborgium Chemistry - Periodic Table of Videos'

"My Vote, My Voice, My Right" by Roy Zimmerman

'Slow news day'

'Football club's mascot reprimanded for swearing at own fans and challenging them to a fight'

'21 Local Newspaper Stories That Could Only Happen In Kent'
I'm pretty sure they could happen anywhere else LOL

'Salamander Pile-up'


'Marc Abrahams: A science award that makes you laugh, then think'

Mad ozzie humour :-D

'The Chaser's Media Circus - Season 1 Episode 2'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: concupiscence --  a strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust

Etymology Of The Week: 'boot'/'reboot' -- meaning the 'starting'/'restarting' of a computer; comes from the term 'bootstrap' which was originally used (in the context of computing) as a term for the code that a computer starts itself by. A bootstrap is a loop at the toop of a boot, employed in a paradigm of futility - 'to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps' which seemed apt to the task computers have to do when they 'boot'

Quote Of The Week: “The inclination to sink into the slumber of dogma is so natural to every generation that the most uncompromising critical intellect must without intermission stand upon the watch against it.” - Otto Pfleiderer, 1902

Fact Of The Week: There is a dorid nudibranch (sluglike sea thing) - Goniobranchus reticulatus - that lives around the Philippines. It is hermaphroditic, and so all members of the species have penises, but after mating, the penis sloughs off! That means it has a detachable penis. Don't worry, though - it grows back within 24 hours.

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'A VERY BRITISH CULT starring Richard Herring Emma Kennedy Miranda Hart Alex MacQueen'

'24 Carrott Gold: Live in Birmingham - Episode 1 (2004)'

'24 Carrott Gold: Live in Birmingham - Episode 2 (2004)'

'24 Carrott Gold: Live in Birmingham - Episode 3 (2004)'

'24 Carrott Gold: Live in Birmingham - Episode 4 (2004)'

'24 Carrott Gold: Live in Birmingham - Episode 5 (2004)'

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