As a Star Trek fan, this made my day:
RT @ProfBainbridge One can agree with climate science, while still rejecting statist/socialist/anti-growth solutions.--"Solutions" the key!— Brent Spiner (@BrentSpiner) May 5, 2014
BTW, the OECD Environmental Directorate is a good place to start for climate change solutions that are pro-growth/pro-market.
You may have seen one of the many advertisements geared toward men asking if they suffer from "low T" — low testosterone levels that, according to the ads, can result in lost sex drive, diminished energy and moodiness. The answer, they suggest, may be as simple as applying testosterone through a gel or patch. ...
Now, a new joint study by UCLA, the National Institutes of Health and Consolidated Research Inc., has shown there is a twofold increase in the risk of a heart attack shortly after beginning testosterone therapy among men under 65 who have a history of heart disease. Further, the study confirmed earlier studies that found a twofold increase in heart attack risk shortly after treatment began in men older than 65.
From UCLA News:
Marriage is good for the health of men's bones — but only if they marry when they're 25 or older, new UCLA research suggests.In a study published online in the peer-reviewed journal Osteoporosis International, researchers found evidence that men who married when they were younger than 25 had lower bone strength than men who married for the first time at a later age.
In addition, men in stable marriages or marriage-like relationships who had never previously divorced or separated had greater bone strength than men whose previous marriages had fractured, the researchers said. And those in stable relationships also had stronger bones than men who never married.
In science fiction, we see all kinds of nightmare viruses that evolve immunity to vaccinations. The scary part? It could actually happen in real life, especially if anti-vaxxers encourage people not to get vaccinated. Populations with pockets of non-vaccinators are more likely to evolve vaccine-resistant viruses than populations where everybody gets a vaccination. ...
Keeping a group up-to-date on their vaccinations — especially children, who haven't been exposed to many types of the flu — will reduce the chance that the virus will be handed back and forth between the exposed and the naive populations. Keeping vaccination rates high can stop us from needing new vaccinations.
As friends and regular readers know, I hate to travel. This has kept me off the lecture/workshop circuit for a while, but now there's a breakthrough that could put me back on the road:
Today’s remote-presence robots are crude ..., amounting to little more than videoconferencing on wheels. But they can still be surprisingly nifty, as this correspondent discovered while pottering around RoboBusiness 2013, a robotics conference recently held in California, from the comfort of a desk 1,500 miles (2,500km) away, in Austin, Texas.
This was made possible using a Beam (pictured), developed by Suitable Technologies. It is a wheeled robot equipped with a camera, microphone and loudspeaker, and a screen displaying a live feed of its driver’s face. Instead of appearing to “locals” (as people at the remote location are known) as an image on a static desktop monitor, you are thus embodied in a physical object 1.57 metres tall, weighing just under 50kg and with a top speed of 1.5 metres per second. ...
Attendees at RoboBusiness reacted positively to the device, though a warm welcome was only to be expected from the sort of people that you find at a conference about robots. Conversations began and ended naturally, as they would in person, helped by the fact that you can point your Beam towards your remote interlocutor while talking, and turn away when you are finished. The only thing missing from the conference experience was the ability to sample free drinks. ...
Beams currently sell for $16,000 a pop, but the company wants to offer conference organisers the option of renting the devices to attendees at a price that would be competitive with the cost (flights, hotels, and so forth) of attending an event in person.
So if you want me at your next event, rent me a Beam!
There's an interesting article in today's NY Times on new findings about human evolution:
In a paper in the journal Nature, scientists reported Wednesday that they had retrieved ancient human DNA from a fossil dating back about 400,000 years, shattering the previous record of 100,000 years.
The fossil, a thigh bone found in Spain, had previously seemed to many experts to belong to a forerunner of Neanderthals. But its DNA tells a very different story. It most closely resembles DNA from an enigmatic lineage of humans known as Denisovans. Until now, Denisovans were known only from DNA retrieved from 80,000-year-old remains in Siberia, 4,000 miles east of where the new DNA was found.
The mismatch between the anatomical and genetic evidence surprised the scientists, who are now rethinking human evolution over the past few hundred thousand years. It is possible, for example, that there are many extinct human populations that scientists have yet to discover. They might have interbred, swapping DNA. Scientists hope that further studies of extremely ancient human DNA will clarify the mystery.
As a science fiction fan, this story got me to thinking that there ought to be a lot of alternate history/fantasy possibilities here. Suppose that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo floresiensis had not died out, but instead survived into modern times to compete with modern humans. Assuming the four races of man ended up with roughly equivalent intelligence, you'd have modern humans dominating Africa, Neanderthals dominant in Europe, Denisovans dominant in East Asia and "Hobbits" in Australasia. As is true today, the Middle East presumably would be a point of contact and conflict. The Americas might have been colonized by Denisovans crossing the Bering Straits, although perhaps also by Neanderthals coming across the North Atlantic or Hobbits following the Polynesian route.
I think somebody good ought to get on this idea before Amazon is overrun by hacks with their 99-cent ebooks discrediting the whole idea. I suppose there's always Hary Turtledove to call upon.
Recently, a group of scientists, engineers, and scifi writers gathered at the Royal Astronomical Society to discuss the latest ideas about how interstellar travel might actually happen. ...
Indeed, as a new The Economist article points out, starship research is enjoying something of a boom these days. Just a few years ago there was only one organization working on the prospect of interstellar travel, but now there's at least five, including NASA, DARPA, and several private organizations. ...
Ideas discussed included the visions of Freeman Dyson, notably his nuclear-explosion powered rockets (called Project Orion), and Daedalus, an unmanned vessel conceived by the British Interplanetary Society that that would use a fusion rocket to attain 12% of the speed of light, allowing it to reach Barnard’s Star, which is six light-years away, in a mere 50 years.
If you want to season your science with an amusing conspiracy theory, check out Charles Stross' new short A Tall Tail:
From the author of Rule 34 and Halting State, a tale of deception, engineering, and the most unlikely rocket propulsion technology imaginable.
A three-thousand word treatise published by The New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday has given anxious flyers prone to bouts of flatus good cause to breathe easy again, after a highly-scientific conducted by actual scientists produced empirical evidence supporting those in favour of farting on planes.To do otherwise is now officially bad for your health, according to Science.It took five researchers, gastroenterologists from all over the world, to determine that high altitude air pressure changes cause the body to produce more gas; gas that under the pretence of decency in a confined presurised cabin often remains confined in an even smaller pressurised cabin. It is there, under great duress, that the gas exposes its captor to the increased likelihood of contracting terrible ailments.The resulting "subsequent stress symptoms... hold significant drawbacks for the individual, such as discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia (indigestion), pyrosis (heartburn) just to name but a few resulting abdominal symptoms." Ergo, let it go.
Two thoughts. (1) A friend who knows of my aversion to flying thought this would get me back in the air. What exactly is he implying?
(2) In an era of austerity, surely even Obama and Reid would think that funding for this sort of nonsense could be cut. Right?
In a discovery that could derail the popular "Hangover" movie franchise, a team of researchers led by UCLA engineers has identified a method for speeding up the body's reaction to the consumption of alcohol.
In a paper published online Feb. 17 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Nanotechnology, Yunfeng Lu, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his colleagues describe successfully placing two complementary enzymes in a tiny capsule to speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body. The enzyme combination within the capsule essentially processes alcohol the way the liver does.
Lu, the principal investigator, said the enzyme combination could be ingested as a pill, chemically altering alcohol in the digestive system, even as the liver does its work.
"The pill acts in a way extremely similar to the way your liver does," Lu said. "With further research, this discovery could be used as a preventative measure or antidote for alcohol intoxication."
Makes me proud to be a Bruin.
In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen`s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston`s collection of documents.
We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.
We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen`s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream. ...
I wonder why they focus exclusively on the evidence of Johansen. After all, what of the crucial notes provided by Thurston's granduncle, George Gammell Angell? Or William Channing Webb's evidence from Greenland? Despite these lapses, obvious to the informed scientist (recall that I do have a M.S. in biophysical inorganic chemistry), I am pleased to see someone engaged at last in serious studies of R'lyeh, where dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
Like most law professors, I send out reprints of new articles. Unlike most, however, for several years I've done so by sending out PDFs via email. As I explain in the email message, I do so in part to reduce my carbon footprint.
This elicited the following response from a friend and colleague who fancies himself a wit:
Your CARBON footprint? You pinko liberal fellow-travelling wimp!! Resign your Republican Party membership now!
To which I responded:
It is possible to believe in anthropomorphic climate change AND believe that it is not an excuse for blowing up the size of government. To the contrary, it's an argument for eliminating both the market AND the many regulatory distortions that mean people don't pay a carbon price that includes all relevant externalities. Government's role should be to eliminate any true externalities that rise to the evel of causing a market failure and then get out of the way and let the market solve the problem.
My friend and case book coauthor Mark Ramseyer has posted a fascinating paper on Why Power Companies Build Nuclear Reactors on Fault Lines: The Case of Japan. The abstract follows:
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 38-meter tsunami destroyed Tokyo Electric's Fukushima nuclear power complex. The disaster was not a high-damage, low-probability event. It was a high-damage, high-probability event. Massive earthquakes and tsunami assault the coast every century.
Tokyo Electric built its reactors as it did because it would not pay the full cost of a melt-down anyway. Given the limited liability at the heart of corporate law, it could externalize the cost of running reactors. In most industries, firms rarely risk tort damages so enormous they cannot pay them. In nuclear power, "unpayable" potential liability is routine. Privately owned companies bear the costs of an accident only up to the fire-sale value of their net assets. Beyond that point, they pay nothing -- and the damages from a nuclear disaster easily soar past that point.
Government ownership could eliminate this moral hazard - but it would replace it with problems of its own. Unfortunately, the electoral dynamics in wealthy modern democracies combine to replicate nearly perfectly the moral hazard inherent in private ownership. Private firms will build reactors on fault lines. And so will governments.
I'm not on the marriage market and don't plan to ever be on it again, but for the benefit of those of you who are, here's some interesting results of a UCLA study:
... there have been many instances in which beautiful women were attracted to men of wealth and power, regardless of what they looked like.That’s all true, agreed Benjamin Karney, professor of social psychology and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA. But the key factor in determining whether such "odd" couples are happy in their marriages seems to depend on the "relative attractiveness" between the man and the woman, he explained. His research suggests that in cases where attractive women are married to less attractive men, the chances for happiness are fairly high."The [less attractive] husbands seemed to be basically more committed, more invested in pleasing their wives when they felt that they were getting a pretty good deal. Because for men, the attractiveness of their wives is part of the deal," said Karney, who is also an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation."For women, that’s not part of the deal. The deal that women get isn’t being with an attractive man. It’s being with a protective man, or a wealthy man, or an ambitious man, or even a sensitive man. So they didn’t care as much about the appearance of their husbands."