Category Archives: Science

Marc Andreessen On When The Robots Come To Take All Our Jobs

It’s one of the great mysteries of our time, why there are so many insisting that this time around is different. That automation, as it proceeds, is going to leave everyone out of work and idling away their time with nothing to do and no income to do nothing with. It’s as if no one is willing to believe that the Luddite fallacy was in fact proven wrong. What’s worse is that all too many of those getting this wrong are setting themselves up as thinkers, philosopher kings, on the subject and as a result of their complete misunderstanding of the basic situation then they’re proposing all sorts of nonsense.

The simple fact is that as long as there’s things that humans can do which add value then humans will continue to have jobs. And when there’s nothing left that humans can do which adds value then no one needs to have a job so who in heck cares whether there are any or not?

The Honor of Being Mugged by Climate Censors

I believe in global warming, Bjorn Lomborg writes, but also in responsible policies to address it. That can get you in trouble.

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Copenhagen Consensus research shows that policy makers considering climate change have practical solutions. Cutting fossil-fuel subsidies is a great idea. Each year $550 billion is wasted, mostly by developing nations, on subsidies that mainly help the rich. A dramatic increase in spending on green-energy R&D is needed, as innovation will drive down the price of green energy to the point that it can outcompete fossil fuels. A well-crafted carbon tax would help too.

But our analyses also show that Kyoto-style approaches—poorly designed EU climate policies, or the pledge to hold warming to two degrees Celsius—are costly and ineffective. There are much better ways we could spend money to help the planet.

Is sex good for you?

The Wall Street Journal just did a story on the benefits of sex. At a high level, the conclusion was that more sex was good for you. Obviously, this has to be conditioned upon that the partners in the sex act are adults, the sex is consensual, and that the goal is to have a loving bond. There is also the condition that both partners are healthy to begin with and they are taking appropriate steps to not transmit diseases to each other.

Does this really surprise anyone? Would anyone think that LESS SEX is better for you than MORE SEX?

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

A flurry of small studies suggest that sex is as good for your health as vitamin D and broccoli. It not only relieves stress, improves sleep and burns calories, it can also reduce pain, ease depression, strengthen blood vessels, boost the immune system and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

Solar Impulse sets out on historic flight

I wish the brave aviator and his crew luck on their “around the clock” flight! Stories that show the ingenuity of science and engineering are always interesting and motivating.

Read the entire story here but here is a small excerpt:

An experimental solar-powered aircraft took off from a Swiss airbase here in the early hours of Wednesday in a bid to make history by flying round the clock and through the night.
Solar Impulse whirred along the runway at Payerne in western Switzerland, reaching 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) as lone pilot Andre Borschberg gently lifted into clear skies at 6.51 am (0451 GMT) on a scheduled 25 hour flight,

“This should be a great day of all goes well,” said team chief Bertrand Piccard, who made the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a balloon more than a decade ago.

RANT! How dumb are the oil companies?

I am sure that you have heard of the current oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.  If you haven’t, here is a link – please come back after you have caught up with current events.

I am just aghast at how stupid these companies are. Current reports are that they didn’t install an “acoustic switch” on the well. From NewsInferno:

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded last week was not outfitted with a safety device that might have prevented the massive oil spill now nearing the U.S. Gulf Coast. The device, known as an acoustic switch, is a last-resort protection against underwater spills, and is required by regulators in Norway and Brazil. Unfortunately, the U.S. has no such regulation for oil wells operating off of its shores.

Neil Armstrong’s open letter

I know that I am showing my age but I distinctly remember watching TV when the famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong, took the first steps on the Moon. Ever since that day, Mr. Armstrong has been a hero of mine. Of course it helped that he was from north central Ohio which is less than a hundred miles from where I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Neil and others recently wrote an open letter condemning the new budget for NASA. I thought I should reproduce it here.

The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years.  Under the bold vision of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and with the overwhelming approval of the American people, we rapidly closed the gap in the final third; of the 20th century, and became the world leader in space exploration.

Space Elevators Climbing Towards Reality

Arthur C. Clarke often wrote about space elevators. Space elevators (in theory) are mechanical connections between the surface of the Earth and synchronous satellites.  This concept is pure science fiction – or is it? Great article in Wired that discusses some advances to develop the technology. Even with these developments, I doubt that this will happen in my lifetime.

Health Reform and Cancer

There is a very interesting opinion in the Wall Street Journal this morning that bears reading for anyone that is interested in both sides of the conversation on universal health care.  I am reproducing key parts that I thought were most interesting.  Click through to read the entire page.

As is obvious by Ms. Ulfik’s opinion, cancer patients should have a real concern about any change to their insurance and the way the “system” works.  While the US may have a large number of uninsured, we lead the world in innovation within medical and pharmaceutical technology.

Every cancer patient needs these things, especially hope. But the government’s plan to reform the health-care system in this country threatens all of this—particularly the development of new treatments.

 

Three years later the lymphoma was back and I faced more chemo. This is so often the pattern of cancer: recurring disease and repeated chemo. In the end patients often die not from the disease, but from the treatments.

Should scientists stay out of politics

Interesting post over at “Is It Getting Warmer?“.  It is a discussion of scientists and their thirst for getting too involved in politics.

It is an unfortunate turn of events that most big scientific discussions (such as global warming, in this case) turn into political discussions.  This could include other things such as abortion, stem cell research, and the teaching of evolution in the classroom.  All of these things have a strong scientific discussion which implies that there is a truth somewhere.  However, in these cases, the truth is not clear cut and the science is probably not solid.  In most of these cases, there is some level of gray in the conversation and much of what is discussed as fact is simply hypothesis.