The Logic of Diversity
"A new book, The Wisdom of Crowds
] by The New Yorker
columnist James Surowiecki, has recently popularized the idea that groups can, in some ways, be smarter than their members, which is superficially similar to Page's results
. While Surowiecki gives many examples of what one might call collective cognition, where groups out-perform isolated individuals, he really has only one explanation for this phenomenon, based on one of his examples: jelly beans [...
] averaging together many independent, unbiased guesses gives a result that is probably closer to the truth than any one guess. While true — it's the central limit theorem
of statistics — it's far from being the only way in which diversity
can be beneficial in problem solving." (Three-Toed Sloth)
posted by kliuless
on Jun 20, 2005 -
Thought titanium was 'a bit different' for your wedding rings? Have you considered a ring made from your own bioengineered bone tissue?* Apparently the instigators are "...interested in how technological innovation is used by human needs and desire rather than the pure functionality of the innovation." A short report here
*May require extraction of wisdom teeth
posted by biffa
on Jun 10, 2005 -
AT&T Text to Spech
put out by AT&T labs is interesting to play around with. Select your language and accent and then go wild. You can even translate if you select the right accent.
posted by tozturk
on May 7, 2005 -
Students go 'phishing' for user info
Indiana University grad students conducted an e-mail experiment
showing the ease of login, username theft. The "hack" outraged some, but raised questions about privacy and the public sphere. A blog
was created specifically to provide a forum for students involved in the study. The site lists comments
-- some grateful that they have learned about phishing, but most are furious.
posted by ericb
on Apr 27, 2005 -
This is good
, an international not-for-profit organization of libraries, museums, and other research institutions, comes this incredibly useful research tool. Start with as vague a query as you like, it'll provide an ordered list of search limiters to help you zero in on the resources you need in a far more organic and rapid fashion than similar tools I've seen. An invaluable resource for students, librarians, and the curious.
posted by Grod
on Apr 27, 2005 -
Updatefilter: Remember all the uproar over the new AIDS superbug?
Well, think again. NY Magazine tells all about the "medical panic attack": ... After the frenzy died down, however, the new epidemic began to look a lot less fearsome. In fact, on closer examination, almost everything about this case seems murky. An investigation by the Department of Health turned up no evidence that the New York man passed the virus to anybody. And on March 29, the department put out a press release saying that the patient was responding well to his medications. ... “I thought this sounded familiar, so I Googled ‘superbug’ and ‘AIDS,’” said GMHC’s Gregg Gonsalves. He found two cases reported in 2001 by a noted Vancouver AIDS specialist, Dr. Julio Montaner. The Vancouver Sun quoted Montaner about the cases, but he could have been describing the newest Patient Zero ...
March post on it here
posted by amberglow
on Apr 24, 2005 -
is a site for tagging online academic articles. It lies somewhere in the intersection of del.icio.us, CiteSeer, and EndNote. When you tag an online article
, you can add your own metadata, develop your own collection, and share other people's collections. You can also export your collection to BibTex or EndNote. While you can't access articles that you or your institution do not subscribe too, there seems to be a fair amount of CiteSeer stuff in there, for instance in relation to collaborative filtering
. There are also some groups
, such as The Philosophy of Information
posted by carter
on Feb 24, 2005 -
Nature Publishing Group's Connotea
is an experimental bookmarking service for scientists. Created by Nature Publishing Group
it lets you keep links to articles and websites you use and helps you find them again. It is also a place where you can discover new articles and websites through sharing links with other users. By saving your links and references to Connotea they are instantly on the web.
posted by tidecat
on Feb 16, 2005 -
- follow physicists from around the world as they experience the World Year of Physics 2005.
posted by Gyan
on Feb 1, 2005 -
Mapping couplings at a high school
Sociologists graphed the romantic and sexual relationships of 80% of an entire high school (832 out of ~1000 students). The research indicates that high schoolers lack sexual alpha-persons resulting in partner maps that are mostly long lines rather than the more hub and spoke like maps common in adult maps.
posted by Mitheral
on Jan 31, 2005 -
The World Community Grid
is a project to use spare CPU cycles to help the world. The Grid is Windows only, but Folding@Home
is a cross-platform way to spend your extra CPU cycles, in an effortless (for you) quest to cure disease. And of course there's the original donated cycle project, SETI@home
posted by mosch
on Dec 31, 2004 -
Mobile-phone radiation damages lab DNA
. Sure to be controversial and certainly not the last word, but it raises some interesting points of conversation. Government surveillance becomes much easier with wireless communications and there is a huge
corporate financial investment in the infrastructure. Could we really trust the government(s) to tell us if this particular technology was
And at what point would you
give serious consideration to giving up a technology that had proved to be such an intrinsic part of your life?
Are you addicted beyond the point of no return? Other media carrying the story via Google News.
posted by spock
on Dec 21, 2004 -
Alfred Kinsey: Liberator or Pervert?
(New York Times link, I hope you know the drill by now.) A newish movie
explores the life of Alfred Kinsey
, sex researcher and founder of the Kinsey Institute
was author of the controversial book Sexual Behavior In The Human Male
. The controversy has blossomed oh these many years later with accusations that Kinsey's work is fraudulent
, and conducive to child based porn and fantasy
. The ultra-right seems obsessed with sexualizing his research in terms of "protecting the children"
. His observations have been linked to the addictive, destructive nature of pornography, that twists our notions of sex and love, and even enables the sexual abuse of college students in class. (Yeah, I know, that last sounds kinky, doesn't it?)
posted by Wulfgar!
on Oct 5, 2004 -
No pain, no gain, they say, and when it comes to real pain, the inverse is true as well
now have research indicating there's a memory of chronic pain,"
said Dr. Doris K. Cope, director of chronic and cancer pain for the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It changes the genic code
sometimes, it changes the biochemistry, and it causes new proteins to
Or in other words, the more pain you have, the more pain you have. (More on this
.) It's no wonder, then, that more money is spent on pain relief than any other medical problem, and that there has been so much pain research
and so many clinical trials
revealing such painful facts as redheads feel more pain
, men feel less pain
, and that there's a genetic difference
between tough guys and wimps. (Much more pain inside.)
posted by taz
on Sep 20, 2004 -
Eyetracking for fun and profit.
The Eyetrack III study observed 46 people for one hour as their eyes followed mock news websites and real multimedia content. This article summarizes their observations. Too impatient to read? Cool transparent heatmap overlay gizmo here
. Via the rather cool creativebits
posted by stonerose
on Sep 15, 2004 -
Let there be light - Canadian researchers have devised a new polymer material by manipulating buckyballs (carbon atoms that look like soccer balls). The technology could be used to create optical (light based) switches to replace electronic network switches. It could lead to an Internet based entirely on light.
posted by paladin
on Aug 22, 2004 -
Getting back into the groove
: In the corner of a California university laboratory, two men are battling against time to perfect a machine that will read old recordings - using special microscopes to scan the grooves - and software that can convert those shapes into sound. Their work could bring history to life.
posted by starscream
on Jul 26, 2004 -
When drug companies hide data. "The attorney general's civil suit accuses the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline of committing fraud by concealing negative information about Paxil, a drug used to treat depression. The suit says that the company conducted five clinical trials of Paxil in adolescents and children, yet published only one study whose mixed results it deemed positive. The company sat on two major studies for up to four years, although the results of one were divulged by a whistle-blower at a medical conference in 1999 and all of the studies were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 when the company sought approval for new uses of Paxil. At that time it became apparent that Paxil was no more effective than a placebo in treating adolescent depression and might even provoke suicidal thoughts.
My Dad was on Paxil until 26 days ago..... that's when he shot himself.
posted by Lusy P Hur
on Jun 6, 2004 -
The False Controversy of Stem Cell Research.
Kinsley: In fact, thinking it through is a moral obligation, especially if you are on the side of the argument that wants to stop or slow this research.
It's not complicated. An embryo used in stem-cell research (and fertility treatments) is three to five days past conception. It consists of a few dozen cells that together are too small to be seen without a microscope. It has no consciousness, no self-awareness, no ability to feel love or pain. The smallest insect is far more human in every respect except potential.
posted by skallas
on May 31, 2004 -
“Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do”
(warning: extremely graphic verbal description; for a different perspective, here's a critique
on the use of some references). "Homosexuals are sexually troubled people engaging in dangerous activities. Because we care about them and those tempted to join them, it is important that we neither encourage nor legitimize such a destructive lifestyle."
posted by 111
on May 14, 2004 -
Thou shalt not make scientific progress.
"Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush's religious convictions stand in its way."
posted by homunculus
on Mar 24, 2004 -
Scientists Accuse White House of Distorting Facts
The Bush administration has deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued today.--would you believe the scientists or the people's (almost) choice? May need free reg for NY Times.
posted by Postroad
on Feb 18, 2004 -
New form of mousepox developed.
A scientist has created an extremely deadly form of mousepox (a relative of smallpox) through genetic engineering. The new virus kills mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.
posted by Irontom
on Oct 30, 2003 -