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Science

October 30, 2014

"The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture"

Dang clever.

Kempf is the unlikely founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a consulting firm established in 2006 to promote science-intensive organic agriculture. The entrepreneur’s story is almost identical to Zook’s. A series of crop failures on his own farm drove the 8th grade-educated Kempf to school himself in the sciences. For two years, he pored over research in biology, chemistry, and agronomy in pursuit of a way to save his fields. The breakthrough came from the study of plant immune systems which, in healthy plants, produce an array of compounds that are toxic to intruders. “The immune response in plants is dependent on well-balanced nutrition,” Kempf concluded, “in much the same way as our own immune system.” Modern agriculture uses fertilizer specifically to increase yields, he added, with little awareness of the nutritional needs of other organic functions. Through plant sap analysis, Kempf has been able to discover deficiencies in important trace minerals which he can then introduce into the soil. With plants able to defend themselves, pesticides can be avoided, allowing the natural predators of pests to flourish.

October 29, 2014

"21 Days: An expert in biological warfare warns against complacency in public measures against Ebola"

Interesting. Apparently, as has been the case in other instances recently--proper diet, climate change, among others--the science is not "settled"

For one objection, Hatfill wants it known that, while it must be emphasized that airborne droplet and particle transmission between humans has not been evident in this outbreak, aerosol droplet transmission of Ebola virus has been shown in animal studies. “It is therefore irresponsible for government health officials to emphatically state that aerosol transmission does not occur,” he writes. He also believes the argument against a national quarantine is “inexcusable in light of the size of the current West African epidemic.”

But the politics are the same as almost always: "Life-saving drugs and deadly delays".

Related: "Ten Ways The Public Sector Is Failing And The Private Sector Is Succeeding Against Ebola".

October 28, 2014

"What Is The Most Powerful Thing In The Universe?"

I guessed "human ignorance" but that was wrong. It's gamma-ray bursts.

October 26, 2014

"Marauders of the Lost Sciences"

A blog presenting excerpts from great papers in economics, math, physics and statistics.

October 22, 2014

"Why Are We Grossed Out by Women With Armpit Hair?"

I'm not sure the answer is right, but your mileage may vary.

The answer, it seems, is embedded deep in the evolutionary nature of disgust. And in the central role sex plays in the evolutionary story. 

 

October 20, 2014

"Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies"

Thanks to the rank bias of teachers of "environmental science" today's high schools students are unlikely to know the enormous damage Silent Spring did. Show them this.

October 07, 2014

"What Happens When We All Live to 100?"

"As recently as a generation ago, it would have seemed totally crazy to suppose that aging could be “cured.” Now curing aging seems, well, only somewhat crazy."

October 01, 2014

"Wonder drug to fight cancer and Alzheimer's disease within 10 years"

Needless to say, bring it on!

Imperial College has discovered how to turn off an enzyme which is driving many incurable diseases.

The NMT enzyme makes irreversible changes to proteins which stop damaged cells from dying and, instead, speeds up their replication, causing cancer.

September 25, 2014

"How Understanding Randomness Will Give You Mind-Reading Powers"

I don't know about "mind-reading," but it will make you better informed than the average person.

More recently, psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman proposed the so-called Law of Small Numbers, a theory that accounts for human misunderstandings of randomness. Specifically, we wrongly expect small samples to behave like very large ones. So if you toss a coin five times, you assume that you'll get some variation of a pattern that includes two or three heads and two or three tails. If your coin lands on tails five times in a row, you tend to believe that it can't be a coincidence. But in fact, the odds of five tails in a row are 1 in 32—not especially common, but not terribly rare, either. "So we have all these sort of false positives where we figure there must be something wrong with that coin, or maybe the person's got some magic hot-hand in tossing coins," Poundstone says.

September 24, 2014

"Can you inherit experiences? Inside the weird world of epigenetics"

Weird is right.

Experiments have shown, for example, that the experiences of a parent might lead to molecular changes that aren't encoded in DNA but can still be passed down to children, affecting the health and behavior of future generations.

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