The State of Junk Science

Here’s a little snapshot on the state of junk science and junk science reporting. Most articles are from September 2012, as this topic has received a lot of attention lately. Alok Jha’s False positives: fraud and misconduct are threatening scientific research offers a grand review of these lamentable issues, especially in psychology and other medical … Continue reading “The State of Junk Science”

The Lack of Flying Cars

David Graeber’s essay Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit opens with a complaint that should resonate with all science fiction fans: Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any … Continue reading “The Lack of Flying Cars”

Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance

Charlie Stross’s recent speech How low (power) can you go? is a fascinating and terrifying glimpse into a future where tiny computerized sensors have become ubiquitous thanks to ever-greater circuit density (Moore’s Law) and energy efficiency (Koomey’s Law). Stross performs back-of-the-envelope calculations for all his projections to ensure they are somewhat realistic, but in the … Continue reading “Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance”

Simulated Life

Computational biology reached a milestone last week. Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute presented the first software simulation of an entire living organism, albeit an extremely simple one: the single-cell bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium. The simulation models M. genitalium’s metabolic functions and all of its 525 genes (for comparison, multicellular organisms can … Continue reading “Simulated Life”

Distrust Observational Studies

There is now enough evidence to say what many have long thought: that any claim coming from an observational study is most likely to be wrong – wrong in the sense that it will not replicate if tested rigorously. Thus opens the 2011 paper Deming, data and observational studies by S. Stanley Young and Alan … Continue reading “Distrust Observational Studies”