Daily Posts

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 Returning now to the talk about debt started Monday. How does our government (45th executive, 115th congress) propose reducing public debt?

Our #45 proposes big cuts in programs which will harm children, old persons, persons with disabilities, poor persons. I guess the logic is that we do not need any persons needing those programs.

Best science — Best human rights

Tuesday, 30 May 2017 So, our #45 went to Europe and convinced European leaders that the USA is no longer a trustworthy friend. How bad will this get?

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Monday, 29 May 2017 We have many public policies which encourage persons to incur debt for many good purposes. This is good. It works.

But, it is gospel for some that government debt is bad. That reducing government debt is good. This experiment has been done many times. It does not work. It never works.

Best science — Best human rights

Friday, 26 May 2017 The executive branch of our government proposes a budget with huge reductions in spending on health care, huge reduction in medicaid. Let us apply a little basic science to see what will happen.

First, persons denied health care will breed superbugs which will cost much more than the reductions in spending. If we try very hard maybe we can breed superbugs which only hurt rich people.

Second, who gets the medicaid money? The answer is health care workers, owners, investors, and all the vendors they pay, and all the vendors those vendors pay, and . . . Hurting all of those persons is not smart. But, who expected smart?

Best science — Best human rights

Thursday, 24 May 2017 Today a link to a piece by Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic about a novel view of stages of life on Earth. This new view has five stages according to the forms of energy used. Thought provoking [link].

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Wednesday, 23 May 2017 This headline — "Arctic 'Doomsday' Vault, Meant To Protect Against Disasters, Gets Flooded After Permafrost Melts" — is an example of a great problem for science. A trustworthy story about the trustworthy science is not close to justifying that headline nor many others like it.

Every spring some water gets into the entrance of the tunnel leading to the vault and freezes onto the floor. The vault is a long way from the entrance, is protected by barriers, and is at -18 degrees Celsius where water would be frozen and harmless.

Here is a link to a trustworthy piece which gets the trustworthy science [link].

Best science — Best human rights

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

One more positive new item. AAAS started a series profiling members of Congress and their work about sciences [link].

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Monday, 22 May 2017 Monday a week ago I said that I was disappointed with follow up after the marches Then last week I found several positive new things. The main place to watch is the AAAS "force for science" site [link].

There you find news. You find a link to AAAS science budget sites. You find the nifty "Why science" site [link]

Via the AAAS "force for science" site you also find news of a new activity by our National Academy of Sciences. This new NAS activity tells stories about basic research which is giving us valuable rewards now. The first six stories are about behavioral research [link].

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Friday, 19 May 2017 What do you think happens when persons can choose to earn money by sending an electric shock which causes pain to an anonymous stranger or chose to earn the same money by sending the same electric shock to themselves and no one else could ever know which choice was made?

It turns out that most persons chose to send the electric shock to themselves. The experiment has been repeated so it is likely not a fluke. Still, this is early research so we should be cautious.

The next step is to ask why. To get clues the researchers did MRI brain scans while persons were making each of the choices. This is very early stage research.

Here is a link to a good piece about this research from the Scientific American web site [link].

Best science — Best human rights

Thursday, 18 May 2017 Our National Academy of Sciences [link] Just published a major report about the importance of investing in public health globally. The basic lesson of public health is that my health depends on the health of everyone everywhere.

The NAS report says that if we do not invest adequately in public health globally it is inevitable that there will be a global pandemic which will kill about 2 million here in the US.

Investing adequately in public health globally is also economically important. This investment is much less than the cost of not investing. This investment will increase the prosperity of all of us.

This investment is also important for "national security" (so called) because healthy people do less bad things.

Here is a link to a short piece about the NAS report by Science [link].

Best science — Best human rights

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 Best practice and trustworthy evidence are both missing in the paper #45 lies about to support his lies about voter fraud. Here is a link to a great analysis "The Tangled Story Behind Trump’s False Claims Of Voter Fraud" by Maggie Koerth-Baker [link].

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017 I said last Friday that an undergraduate class in philosophy of science opened new learning paths for me. I did continue to read philosophy of science but came to see that philosophy had to be too systematic.

That some philosophic system could apply to the many, many parts of science — including,for example, both cosmology and materials sciences — is a silly fantasy.

I also saw philosophers of science teaching one system doing incredibly nasty things to other philosophers of science teaching a different system.

I saw that historical studies could much better show how evidence in various parts of science becomes more trustworthy and much better show best practice in those various parts of science.

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Monday, 15 May 2017 I am disappointed that I do not see any follow up after the marches for science.

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Friday, 12 May 2017 Back then (1956) Miami University students needed two sciences to graduate. Biology or chemistry would not work for me because the part of my brain which should remember names does something else. I tried psycology for one lecture which was terrible.

I learned that philosophy of science could be my second science, which opened new paths for me.

Best science — Best human rights

Thursday, 11 May 2017 In those four grade schools and three high schools in three states I remember only one good teacher, Harold Blackburn teaching English Literature in Euclid, Ohio my senior year. He encouraged curiosity, inspired, was a good model. No one before came close.

Off to Miami University in southwest Ohio for frugality. Time to select a major. I entered the quonset hut left over from WWII to see a sea of small tables with upstanding signs announcing various fields of study. What to choose? My eyes settled on Physics because it is basic.

It turned out that I made great choices of university and major. Miami had a super history of teaching undergraduate physics. The four physics faculty members — George Arfken, David Griffing, Philip Macklin, John Snyder — were by far the best teachers I had before or since. Curiosity encouraged, doing encouraged, inspiring, great models of teachers, scientists, persons.

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017 My good friend and colleague Angela Ebreo was visiting here from her base at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She was asking me about my history, about why I chose to study Physics at university.

My answer starts with two books. First, The Mysterious Island by Jules Vern which I read in fifth grade, in my fourth grade school. Because of my need to be independent, I identified with the characters. I wanted to be like them, except for their racism and misogyny.

The second book is Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. I do not remember when I read this. Likely it was my junior high school year in my second of three high schools in three states. Again I identified and wanted to serve humanity like Martin Arrowsmith.

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Tuesday, 09 May 2017 Last year Alan Alda, well deserved, got the NAS 2016 Public Welfare Medal. In his talk he does not use Jane Lubchenco's word "engage," but engage is the main point in his teaching about science communication [link].

I was surprised to learn that at 81 Alan Alda is two years older than me. I do remember seeing his father in a small theater production mid last century. What fun it is to say "mid last century."

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Monday, 08 May 2017 Our National Academy of Sciences, our most trustworthy science source [link], recently held its 154th annual meeting and presented the 2017 Public Welfare Medal to Jane Lubchenco for her "successful efforts in bringing together the larger research community, its sponsors, and the public policy community to focus on urgent issues related to global environmental change."

Lubchenco's talk in response is especially important, making the point that scientists must engage with the humanity they serve [link].

You can also see responses of other award winners, which are super examples of sciences serving humanity, via this [link].

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Friday, 05 May 2017 Science does OK in funding for the remainder of the US 2017 fiscal year. Here is a link to a report about the AAAS analysis [link]. There are many useful links in this report including to the full AAAS analysis.

Meanwhile our US Department of Energy stopped paying for funded work in process and will not say why [link]. Chaos is not good government.

To end on a positive note here is a link to a nice AAAS video posted yesterday about the DC march for science. The speaker is Rush Holt AAAS CEO and publisher of Science, a savvy former member of congress [link].

Best science — Best human rights

Thursday, 04 May 2017 The word "politics" once meant public affairs of cities. Now I can not guess what people think they mean when they say "that is just politics" or say that marches for science "should not be political." These words are now useless. Our sciences are surely parts of our public affairs.

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Wednesday, 03 May 2017 Here is another nifty visualization about humanity. It compares NASA's images of Earth at night from 2012 and from 2016. The amount of change is surprising. Scroll all the way down through the site to find an interactive map where you can look in detail at any part [link].

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Tuesday, 02 May 2017 I am a big fan of data visualizations [link] which make it easy for all of us to understand our world. Here is a link to a very nice visualization of population done by the American Museum of Natural History [link]

I would add that in the hundred years after our civil war living conditions improved much more than in any time before or since [link].

I also see a missed opportunity at the end to talk about uncertainty and error. We need a good visualization about uncertainty and error.

You can also find many important population visualizations by Hans Rosling via this [link]

Best science — Best human rights

Monday, 01 May 2017 Good news: A long list of science organizations, after being part of the marches for science, signed and published a memo vowing to "carry on the spirit" of the marches. Maybe we will see a new movement for science.

You can read about this, and read about much more related to the marches and the emerging movement, via the AAAS [link] "force for science" site [link].

Best science — Best human rights


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