Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The japanese research institution RIKEN has built a wheelchair that reads the wheelchaired person's brainwaves using new brain-wave analysing technology. This new technology allows the wheelchair to be controlled with just a 125 millisecond delay, as opposed to conventional mind-readers that takes several seconds to react.
There are plans in the works for use of this technology in other fields too, like medicine and nursing care management. There's a host of future science fiction-y mind-control gadgetry that could use this technology. Personally, I imagine a future where you don't have to pain-stakingly, physically do things like driving a car. Instead you tell the car-or-whatever - with your mind - to take you where you wan't to go and then it does.
A study of the remains revaled that they turned to cannibalism to feed themselves and not as part of a ritual, that they ate their rivals after killing them, mostly children and adolecents.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
New Scientist reports that great white sharks hunting startegies are similar to that of human serial killers. This is another blow to the shark community, who already struggles with a reputation for blood-frenzied violence.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Basic question: What is science? The word comes from the Latin "scientia", meaning "knowledge". But science is more than a body of knowledge. Science is something you do and, at heart, doing science means testing ideas. The rest is just bookkeeping. Ask Zombie Feynman.
In reality, of course, science is done with more rigor than the Mythbusters do it. Doing good science requires intelligence, imagination and creativity. Scientists need to make careful observations, come up with good ideas and design crucial experiments. This is an ongoing process that develops increasingly more useful, accurate and comprehensive scientific theories.
"But doesn't scientists need to interpret evidence", you're wondering, "with brains known to be unreliable? What about observer bias?"
Science is not done by lone mad scientists, secluded from the world in their underground lairs. Science is a social enterprise. They cooperate and compete with other people. Also, a scientist's work is scrutinized in the peer-review process and experiments are repeated by other scientists. All to minimize the risk the something went wrong. It's not perfect, science is certainly not the Ultimate Quest for Absolute Truth, but it has this going for it: It works.
"Still", you persist, "what if the world is just one big illusion? Then it doesn't matter how many scientists agree".
Well, that's irrelevant. Science still works within the system; the underlying metaphysics of that system doesn't matter, as long as it's consistent. The fact that matter is mostly empty space doesn't it less real, does it? Would you be less of a person, with thoughts and feelings, if you foung out you were living in the Matrix? If it looks like reality and behaves like reality, it's reality.
Consistency is the one assumption that science make. Consistency is important because today's experiment would be meaningless if tomorrow's physics were different. The consistency can be due to fixed natural laws, particularly lazy gods or just careful programming of the matrix, the nature of reality doesn't actually matter. Luckily, the consistency of reality is a hypothesis that can be tested like any other hypothesis. And every day the natural laws stay the same.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Humanity is a young species, a newborn as counted on a geological timescale. It was not long ago when we lived in little huts of wood and clay, and when the bow and arrow were the height of our technology. And science brought us out to space, allowed us to split the atom and showed how we are related to all life on the planet. Today we have vast towers of steel and glass, and the height of technology changes from day to day.
I have little doubt that it will be science that saves humanity when disaster strikes, whether it is the climate changing, an asteroid hurtling towards earth, or madness-inducing eldritch abominations invading.
Science is important and wonderful and I love it. It is my intent with this blog to show just how important and wonderful it is, and to inspire other people to love science as much as I.