Monday, 22 August 2016
Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/8/16
'Top European lab probes fake human sacrifice video'
So you think boffins are boring, do you? Huh! [scoffs]
As i write, this, if you go to Google and type in "cern" the 2nd top suggestion is "cern human sacrifice".
Searching for that would give you a range of churnalisations of the fact that some people, almost certainly scientists working at CERN, have, in the words of the press, been "pranking" but have "gone too far", with a "chilling mysterious video" of a "Satanic" "'Human sacrifice' ceremony" or "some kind of occult ritual" that "could undermine the actual science that goes on".
Putting all that to one side...
Did you know that a full indie zombie film has been recorded on the grounds of the LHC?
'DECAY Official Site: The LHC Zombie Film'
In fact i blogged it, 4 years ago, when it was newly released.
It was produced entirely by Physics PhD students, acted entirely by Physics PhD students, and recorded entirely on the CERN-owned grounds of the LHC, by Physics PhD students.
The only cause of the kerfuffle, in this case, is that it's not entirely sure whether anyone else knew about the film, before it was recorded.
If you'd like to see the 60-second horror movie, then you can find links to it in all kinds of places, like here, or on many conspiracy theorists' YouTube channels.
Oh yes! You didn't think they wouldn't think it were real, did you? But then, they probably think 'Decay' was a documentary too :-D
In other news:
It's yet another new world record, with July 2016 being the hottest month on record, for Planet Earth, in the 137 years of record-keeping. "July 2016 was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit (0.87 degree Celsius) above the 20th-century average, breaking last year's record for the warmest July on record by 0.11 degrees" according to the monthly report from NOAA.
And it goes on. Undeterred by all of the evidence that says they're wasting their time, the superstitionists who believe there's a Nazi gold train buried under Poland, have commenced digging. Last time we heard of them, the gold-hunters were claiming 10% of the haul, that geologists from Krakow's university had found to not be there. Arguably funnier than even this, is that the World Jewish Congress has declared that if they do find buried gold, then they wants it. It belongss to thems. It's minesesss. My precioussss Jewgold. LOL. They're not even trying to be astereotypical :-D
The Fail, Sun and Dependent have all heralded the end of morphine, this week, with a press release claiming to have found a non-addictive opiate-alternative that works better at dampening pain. The Fail even promised that it would end the "opioid epidemic". The chemical developed is, in fact, an opioid. It's been named PZM21, and the only study relating to its efficacy is this one, in which several of the authors state they have a provisional patent on PZM21 and related molecules, and are consultants and co-founders of Epiodyne, a company seeking to profit from the manufacture of new analgesics. So for a mouse-based study that is rampant with industrial corruption, what can we say about the methodology itself? Well, the total number of mice in the PZM21 group was just 13, and all the other sample sizes are also staggeringly small. Some even as low as 3. I'm not sure whether the researchers would consider this to be industry standard (they're too low, either way) but they shouldn't be making grand claims in press releases, off the back of them. Is PZM21 the saviour of analgesics, with superior pain-relieving power to morphine, but without side-effects, as they claim? On the basis of this one-and-only study, it would be wrong to say 'yes'.
It's been claimed, this week, that only half of your friends actually like you back. The claim stems from a study of 84 students in a Middle-Eastern, undergraduate business-management class, who were asked to rate their closeness to the other people on a scale of 0-5, with 0 and 1 being taken as 'non-friend' and 2, 3, 4 and 5 being 'friend'. But only if reciprocated. Unsurprisingly, people thought that if they counted someone else as a friend, then that would be reciprocated, but this was only true 53% of the time. Hence the claim that only half your friends like you back. But that claim doesn't consider that people have different perceptions of their relationships, when they know what the other people in the relationships' perceptions of them are. So if you think that Bob would call you a friend, then you're more likely to call them one. And if you think they bear a grudge against you, you're more likely to reject the possibility of calling them a friend. Even considering the selective sample and inherent uncertainty in rating friendships on a 0-5 scale, there are elements of what 'friendship' is that this study simply hasn't measured. And then, what use do business-management undergrads have for friends? Honing brown-nosing skills? Maybe nerds on science courses would rate each other much higher, because they've lived in the lab with each other, for so long. All this is conjecture. Do only half your friends like you back? On the basis of this study, it would be wrong to say 'yes'.
Dubious research of the week - mini-gingers are a medicine? According to a branch of the USA's 'Department of Veterans Affairs' that looks after ex-military personnel, and apparently also does detailed medical research on the side; if you crush root ginger, and grind it down really finely, until all the bits are nano-sized, then that ginger suddenly becomes a medicine, that's efficacious in treatment of bowel conditions, such as: Irritable Bowel Disease, acute and chronic colitis, Crohn's disease, and digestive tract cancers. Well, colour me ginger! Root ginger is very popular with quacks, because it's a widely-available product, with pre-existing superstitions attached. And like most quackeries, the claimed affects are panaceic - everything from curing gippy tummy to curing cancer. Sounds familiar. Lots of people are willing to incorrectly call the former 'IBD'. Even disregarding the lead researcher's Sinese background, where ginger-related quackery is very popular, at Wenzhou Medical University, and the odd use of terms from Physics in a Medicine context, which is classic quackery - 'energy', 'resonance', 'quantum' etc - i still think this is a dubious study, claiming dubious results; very probably under pressure from the dubious beliefs of dubious veterans, who want the VA medical centres to give them something dubious, without mentioning the dubiousness. It's exactly what's caused the antibiotics epidemic.
How did Gondwanaland's marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, really hunt its prey. It was far too heavily built to be hunting smaller animals, so must have been tackling larger prey, but there are multiple hypotheses about how it did this. Thylacoleo had large cheek teeth, shaped like incisors, but set sideways, so previous suggestions have been that it used its strong arms to hold its prey, they way placental lions still do today, while it used its cheek teeth to shear through the prey's neck, to debilitate it. But a new analysis provides a motive to reject this hypothesis, which i think makes sense. Thylacoleo's arms were evolved like humans' so that they could turn their palms toward them, making it easier to grapple prey. This is an adaptation that cats have, that dogs don't, but Thylacoleo's were more primatelike than other cats. Also, they had a huge dewpaw (on the thumb) that could be swivelled through a wide range of positions. It seems more likely that the massive strength of the arms were involved in taking the prey down, than has previously been suggested, simultaneously presenting the possibility that the huge cheek teeth were actually more for gripping than for slicing. It might simply have been that Thylacoleo had evolved a halfway-house, in which both the claws and teeth played a role in bringing Gondwanaland's large, furry prey under its control, and that either could deal the killer blow.
Whether honest or facetious, there is an important truth behind the claims of this last press release. People genuinely are bad at mental arithmetic, and they are bad at making ad-hoc judgements, with little time to commit to them. Sometimes they make bad judgements because they aren't willing to spend time on committing to them. But the end result is that they make bad decisions, on the basis of wrong beliefs, arrived at through fallacious analyses. For example, a 50% loss followed by a 50% gain will not leave you with the same as you started with - it will leave you with 75% of what you started with. Scale this problem of mental space up slightly, and we can see how tough it is to be a consumer, bamboozled by unit prices, product quality comparisons, and ecological considerations - a problem only exacerbated by salespeople, who flood us with extraneous data, in the hope that we'll accidentally go for the more expensive option, just to 'play safe'. This is a big reason why markets need regulation - it simply isn't possible to do all the data-crunching, on your feet, in the store - we need boffins, behind us, feeding us intel, or preventing the guys on the other side from feeding us baloney.
------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks
Word Of The Week: grallatorial -- pertaining to, or belonging to, wading birds - snipes, cranes, storks, herons, etc
Game Of The Week: Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist
Fact Of The Week: the fastest man over 100 metres is not Usain Bolt - it's Justin Gatlin. Assisted by wind, he's done the time in 9.45 seconds, for a Japanese gameshow
Unabashedly Sexist Research Expedition Of The Week: 'eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016' which is described as "The all-female crew members on the seven lead research vessels also aim to inspire young women to pursue careers in science and engineering" Who needs single-sex golf clubs when you've got people like them, eh?
------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff
'LCD Projectors - Dichroic Glass'
'Physics of Computer Chips - Computerphile'
'ScienceCasts: Electric Blue Sunsets'
'The Interlaced Video Problem - Computerphile'
'Nectarine = Mutant Peach?!'
'Is It OK To Pee In The Pool?'
'Smash Glow Crystals in a Blender'
'A Strange Change of Rotation - Numberphile'
'Emission Impossible | The Checkout'
'Snot Rocket Science | The Checkout'
'Signs of the Time: Series 4 Ep 10 | The Checkout'
'The Adventures of Dad³ - Groundhog Dad'
'"Forever Young Key" for Violin and Piano by Hyung-ki Joo'