Christoph Klein, director of the Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital in Munich, is considered an excellent doctor with plenty of ambition. Too much? For years, Klein has been pursuing an experimental study. Several of the children he has treated are now dead.[more inside]
Dan Aykroyd grew up with psychic researchers and seances, which lead to the original Ghost Smashers idea, which in turn would become the Ghostbusters film. As he and his father, Peter, discussed on Q TV, their shared interest in the unexplained continued. A significant work of theirs was Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, a Canadian science fiction drama television series co-created by Peter Aykroyd and Christopher Chacon, a researcher of psychic and parapsychological phenomena, and episodes are hosted by Dan Aykroyd. You can now see the show, as archived by fans, on YouTube (72 episode playlist). [more inside]
The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Just in time for Rio, a trio of scholars led by Bent Flyvbjerg have published their findings on cost data for both Summer and Winter Games, starting with the Rome 1960 Summer and Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Games, and continuing until the Sochi 2014 Winter and Rio 2016 Summer Games. The average cost of putting on the Olympics? US$ 8.9 billion dollars. [more inside]
Maia Szalavitz [mefi's own maias] talks about her new book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction on Fresh Air with Terry Gross (transcript) - "We have this idea that if we are just cruel enough and mean enough and tough enough to people with addiction, that they will suddenly wake up and stop, and that is not the case."
During the 1940s, Harvard University's psycho-acoustic laboratory--installed in the boiler room under Memorial Hall--was a center of secret, government-directed wartime research into the effects of sound on the human ear and mind. One obscure product of this work became known as the Harvard Sentences, a set of "phonetically balanced" sentences containing a mix of phonemes typical to conversational English. These sentences are still used today by Verizon's baseline engineers, among others. Gizmodo's Sarah Zhang has more on the history of the Harvard Sentences. Meanwhile, over at Tedium, Ernie Smith offers a T-Mobile test number (858-651-5050) where you can listen to a recording of several Harvard Sentences, calling it "pretty much the most poetic, automated thing I’ve ever heard." A full list of the Harvard Sentences can be viewed here. [more inside]
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (previously) administers operating grants to researchers in areas of basic, clinical, and population health research. Recent changes to the way CIHR reviews and awards grants have many scientists warning that "there is little hope that the best ideas and projects will be funded" and calling for a rollback of the changes. [more inside]
Early in his career cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst was offered several years salary to sit on bad data. He explains to Spiegel Online why he declined:
The patients that took part in our research did this on the expectation that their data would be used. In this study the participants had had cardiac catheterization. They had risked their lives for the study! So you cannot hush up the results![more inside]
In Excellence R Us: University Research and the Fetishisation of Excellence (commentable version here) the authors "...examine how excellence rhetoric combines with narratives of scarcity and competition and show that hypercompetition that arises leads to a performance of 'excellence' that is completely at odds with the qualities of good research." Inverse interviews one of the authors. Times Higher Education interviews another. [more inside]
Vitalik Buterin invented the world's hottest new cryptocurrency and inspired a movement — before he'd turned 20 - "I think a large part of the consequence is necessarily going to be disempowering some of these centralized players to some extent because ultimately power is a zero sum game. And if you talk about empowering the little guy, as much as you want to couch it in flowery terminology that makes it sound fluffy and good, you are necessarily disempowering the big guy. And personally I say screw the big guy. They have enough money already." [more inside]
Low-flying research drones have to watch out for whale snot. Researchers for Ocean Alliance are using DJI's Phantom 4 drone to shadow blue whales in the sea of Cortez, allowing them to capture pictures, video, and — yes — gooey biological samples without disturbing the creatures.
Magic Mushroom Drug Lifts Depression in Human Trial - "The findings show that more research in this field is now needed. 'This is the first time that psilocybin has been investigated as a potential treatment for major depression', says lead author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Imperial College London."
After nine years of censorship, Canadian scientists can speak about their work. Although it may take time for the policy changes to make their way through the bureaucracy. [more inside]
From April 20 to July 10 , a team of NOAA and external partners who are participating both at-sea and on shore will conduct the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition.You can follow the expedition website's daily updates for such sights as this beautiful and chill jellyfish, or perhaps an ROV hanging about, among other things.
Drugs in the class "Anticholinergics", which includes Benadryl, Dramamine, and an ingredient in Tylenol PM, have been associated with increased risk of dementia or other cognitive impairment. [more inside]
What did Americans know as the Holocaust unfolded? How did they respond? A new initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, "History Unfolded" is using crowdsourcing to scour newspapers across the country for articles that ran between 1933 and 1945 on the plight of Europe’s Jews. The project focuses on 20 historical events from the time period. [more inside]
How does a TV show go from an idea to something you can watch ? Caroline Framke spent six months following the production of an episode of FX's critically lauded spy drama 'The Americans' to find out.
And it’s even easier with a bit of international cooperation: Time lapse video of USCGC Bristol Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley working together to break ice from Sarnia to Windsor, Ontario, in one day. Further inland, Amphibex icebreaking machines are used to break ice on the Red River in Manitoba to prevent flooding from ice jamming ahead of spring. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to icebreaking... [more inside]
“Why We Post” project has just been published by nine anthropologists, led by Daniel Miller of University College, London via
The rats who sniff out tuberculosis. by Emma Young [The Guardian] The African giant pouched rat can be trained to sniff out tuberculosis more accurately than most lab tests. So why is the medical profession still sceptical? [more inside]
That’s how Sarah Norfolk describes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Seventeen other sufferers also offer their impressions of this debilitating condition. [more inside]
Beneath glimmering chandeliers at an Art Deco movie house built into the side of a mountain, 150 silent-movie buffs sat wide-eyed as snippets from films lost decades ago lighted up the screen. Their quest: Name the film, or at least spot details that will advance the cause. The fans shouted clues as a piano player wearing an old-time parlor vest and a thick period mustache improvised jaunty scores. They scoured vintage magazines on their laptops, checked film databases on their tablets, and scrubbed their brains for odd bits of early 20th century cultural history. Every frame had the potential to unlock a secret.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World - "With interviewees ranging from Elon Musk to a gaming addict, Werner Herzog presents the web in all its wildness and utopian potential in this dizzying documentary." (via)
25 years ago, Paul M. Romer's oft-cited article: "Endogenous Technological Change" (pdf) was published in The Journal of Political Economy. In it, he tried to explain how technological progress and knowledge creation affected the dynamics of growth. Romer’s model (pdf) became the "primary engine that fueled a decade-long re-examination of long-term growth in economics." This past October, Dr. Romer posted 7 follow-up blog entries to his historic paper, in order to 'revisit the basics,' starting with: Nonrival Goods After 25 Years. [more inside]
We have identified ten red-flag areas that can help to differentiate healthy debate, problematic research practices and campaigns that masquerade as scientific inquiry. None by itself is conclusive, but a preponderance of troubling signs can help to steer the responses of scientists and their institutions to criticism.
Academic press offices are known to overhype their own research. But the University of Maryland recently took this to appalling new heights — trumpeting an incredibly shoddy study on chocolate milk and concussions that happened to benefit a corporate partner. It's a cautionary tale of just how badly science can go awry as universities increasingly partner with corporations to conduct research. [more inside]
Jack Gilbert, a Microbial Ecologist at Argonne and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, gave a free public lecture at Argonne. In recent years, scientists have discovered that our bodies teem with microbial life, which outnumber our cells 10 to one. In his talk, Gilbert explored how your microbial world influences your health, probing where that microbial world comes from, and highlighting the ways in which your lifestyle, diet and medical treatment can influence your microbiome.
“Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost,” the researchers wrote in their paper. It exists, they continued, and it’s called “interacting with nature.”
Writer Michael Rosenwald called on Steven Welty to identify a strange smell in his home. Welty knows a lot about how air moves, and he knows about the stuff in moving air that can make us sick and die. From Popular Science: [more inside]
You might expect love to be the last frontier breached by data. It is the Antarctic of the human experience, richly feeding the oceans of our emotions, yet somehow remaining elusive and unknown. Philosophers have argued over it for millennia without arriving at a satisfactory definition. Poets like Erich Fried capture its strange mix of pleasure and pain, the sense of its essential ungovernability: “It is foolish, says caution / It is impossible, says experience / It is what it is, says love.” [slhuffpo]
Altmetric's top 100 academic research articles of 2015. These are the articles that captured the most attention from the mainstream media, blogs, Wikipedia, and social networks this year, according to Altmetric.
In the early 1960's, drugs like LSD and psilocybin found their way out of university labs and onto the street -- and their value as medicine was lost as their status as protest and party drugs emerged. Mass recreational use, conservative political forces and a continuing media frenzy ensured the vilification of hallucinogens – until drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms were completely outlawed in 1970. Serious medical research would not begin again until the early 21st century, four decades later.Turn on, tune in, and heal thyself - CBC's Ideas presents High Culture, a 3-hour (2--3) series examining the use of psychedelics to curb anxiety, alcoholism, and depression. [more inside]
How Chuck Jones drew "The White Seal" (YouTube) / Animator Chuck Jones on creative work and not comparing yourself to others (YouTube)
"the [UCLA Game Lab] fosters research and development in not only computer or video games, but also physical, tabletop, and other game forms. Known for its annual Game Art Festival at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California, the lab supports the production and exhibition of student work, but it also curates and promotes vanguard game design from around the world. Through its tripartite mission to push the envelope of game aesthetics, game context, and game genres, the lab nurtures game projects that often adapt contentious, controversial subjects not found (overtly, anyway) in many commercial games: issues of politics, gender and identity, industry and commerce, the environment, experiences of alterity, the silly and the surreal…. In short, all that composes lived experience becomes fair game, so to speak, for adaptation.." -- Playfully Subversive: the Many Roles of Adaptation in Making Games at the UCLA Game Lab by David O'Grady [more inside]
Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
Scholars are beginning to examine an unprecedented collection of European correspondence from the late 17th and early 18th centuries--a chest belonging to a Dutch postmaster which contains some 2600 undelivered letters, 600 of which have never been opened.
Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world's largest particle collider - "Two years ago, he agreed to become the inaugural director of the new Center for Future High Energy Physics in Beijing. He has since visited China 18 times, campaigning for the construction of a machine of unprecedented scale: a circular particle collider up to 60 miles in circumference, or nearly four times as big around as Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Nicknamed the 'Great Collider', and estimated to cost roughly $10 billion over 30 years, it would succeed the LHC as the new center of the physics universe. According to Arkani-Hamed and those who agree with him, this 100-trillion-electron-volt (TeV) collider would slam subatomic particles together hard enough to either find the particles that the LHC could not muster or rule them out, rescuing or killing the naturalness principle and propelling physicists toward one of two radically different pictures: that of a knowable universe, or an unknowable multiverse." [more inside]
The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way more formal relationships aren’t. In adulthood, as people grow up and go away, friendships are the relationships most likely to take a hit. You’re stuck with your family, and you’ll prioritize your spouse. But where once you could run over to Jonny’s house at a moment’s notice and see if he could come out to play, now you have to ask Jonny if he has a couple hours to get a drink in two weeks. [more inside]
In 1992-1994 and 2005-2009, Yuka Makino studied the lopping practices in the oak forests of Garwhal, Himalaya. Her PhD dissertation (PDF) contains a fascinating prologue describing the practical and ethical issues for conducting ethnographic research in an area where distrust of outsiders runs high and where gender and caste norms are strictly enforced. One afternoon, several children came and were chatting with us when a 10-year-old girl joined us. Though she still took part in the conversation in a loud voice, she stood at the edge of the veranda, far away from the door. (...) I realized that she was a Scheduled Caste girl and if she had stood at the doorway her shadow would have fallen into the room and may have touched my assistant’s plate of food, contaminating or polluting it. I let her stand there so that neither she nor my assistant would feel uncomfortable. [more inside]
Uber would like to buy your robotics department Today’s early-stage inquiry — so-called basic research, the Level 1 work, where scientists are still puzzling over fundamental questions — is financed almost exclusively by the federal government. It’s too far out, too speculative, to attract much investment; it isn’t clear if anyone will make any money on it. This wasn’t always the case.
In 2013, 230 researchers signed an open letter condemning the American Psychological Association's public stance on video game violence, which they say ignores all the evidence against claims that video game violence causes real violence. (Via RPS) [more inside]
A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that measures currently afoot in nearly every area of science to increase the transparency requirements for research will mean we can expect to see more of these seemingly dull results in the future -- and that's a good thing. Far from boring, those trials that find a drug doesn't do what we hoped can be equally as important -- or even more so -- than the ones that do.
As part of our special focus on innovation in Africa, we have developed a list of 40 remarkable African innovators. Actually, it’s more like 47 but we counted teams as one. Our decision to celebrate these idea creators and solution providers stems from our belief that the true wealth of Africa is not buried under its soil, but in the brains of its best minds. This list is a testament to that belief.
New research into the pain processing of mice has found male and female mice process pain differently, and the discovery may also apply to other species, including humans. Scientists are now questioning what this means for the future of medical research, which until now, has had a strong bias towards experimenting on male mice. [more inside]
New U.S. government research indicates that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women and at rates nearly equal to that of male veterans -- a finding that surprised researchers because women are generally are far less likely than men to commit suicide. The findings raise questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the United States' armed forces. [more inside]
Univalent Foundations Redefines Mathematics - "When a legendary mathematician found a mistake in his own work, he embarked on a computer-aided quest to eliminate human error. To succeed, he has to rewrite the century-old rules underlying all of mathematics." (previously) [more inside]
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]