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Posts Tagged ‘science’

Man Kills Gods; Creates Life in Lab

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him…”
Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science (1882), s126.

Long have we theorised the above line by a madman bearing a labtern not to be talking about the literal God believed in by so many theists. Instead, we interpret, he is talking about what this god represented for European culture, the shared cultural belief in God which had once been its defining and uniting characteristic.

So to has man thrown off the yolk of theism, every element of the divine has been replicated at large through science, trickery, art, illusionism except one final element; the creation of life.

Until yesterday when flamboyant geneticist Craig Venter held true to the pledge he made nearly 15 years ago, unveiling his magnum opus. This landmark of scientific progress, published in the Journal of Science, stands on the shoulders of his race to decode the human genome in his own laboratory, egotistically his own DNA I might add.

The madman carrying this lantern has indeed created the first instance of purely synthetic life, opening the doors nanoscience falter at with the potential to create designer microbes for special jobs such as production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, through to filtering contaminents from air and water.

“This is the first synthetic life that has been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromasome, made with four bottles of chemcals on a synthesizer from information on a computer,” Dr Venter said.

Lauded as a tour de force by Prof. Mattick from the Australian Research Council, Dr. Venters work is as ground breaking as science gets these days, the applications for man made life are phenominal and limited only by our imagination. That being said, mans imagination can often be self destructive, so think of all the fantastic synthesized zombie viruses the US military will make with this!

The bacterium used decoded DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides imprinting the synthetic DNA and inserting it into living bacterium, in this case Mycoplasma capricolum, allowing the bacterium to flourish with both it’s own and the synthetic DNA within, then finally using an antibiotic designed to kill all but the synthetic DNA allowing only the synthesized organism to proliferate and produce protein strands from the original Mycoplasma mycoides creating, simply, artificial life.

Klatu barada neck-tie?

Lisa Williams (@lwmedium) Charlatan ‘Psychic’

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Where do I begin? I recently saw an advert for her upcoming show, that was filmed by the Lifetime channel. She opens with her common pitch line, “Do you want to know everything?” What you won’t hear her telling you is that she is merely a charlatan who exploits the pain and suffering of people grieving using cold reading. Let’s set one thing straight, psychics and mediums do not exist. Conmen and women do. There has not been, in thousands of years of scientific documentation, one SINGLE example of the supernatural or paranormal existing under ANY scrutiny by learned and educated persons. It’s not because academics are closed minded, or have it in for the little guy, or have ANY other motivation other than pushing forward common sense, critical thought, and legitimate honesty of fact. Many deluded people out there honestly think it goes as far as there being complex conspiracies to conceal the ‘truth’ about ‘human psychic potential’, et cetera. In 1988 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject that concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.”[1]

Let’s examine this critically: Not a scrap of evidence ever put forwards that can stand up to scrutiny, or giant illuminati plot to enslave and opress humanity. You tell me which one comes up in that fight.

Cold reading, combined with warm or hot reading, is the method by which all ‘psychics’ operate. Many people do this for a living as mentalists, or magicians; these people when asked will usually be outright honest about their art and it’s complete lack of supernatural or paranormal involvement. In 2004, Williams gave a reading to a senior staff member of TV host Merv Griffin. As a result, Griffin worked with her to host a show of her own. The proverbial path to ruin is laid with good intent.  Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead aired for two seasons on the Lifetime network 2006-2007 and is set to air in Australia shortly. Her show Lisa Williams: Voices From the Other Side ran for five consecutive nights on the network in October 2008. The shows followed Williams on a typical day, as she claims to have ‘communicated with the dead,’ ‘investigates haunted houses,’ and conducts other ‘spirit-seeking activities.’ She claims she has spoken to Bob Hope, Princess Diana, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe and Ray Charles after they died.

Let’s examine a well known psychic critically: A 2001 Time article reported that psychic John Edward allegedly utilized hot reading on his television show, Crossing Over, where an audience member who received a reading was suspicious of prior behavior from Edward’s aides, who had struck up conversations with audience members and asked them to fill out cards detailing their family trees.[2] In December 2001, Edward was alleged to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline, where a reading for a cameraman was based on knowledge gained in conversation some hours previously, yet presented as if he was unaware of the cameraman’s background.[3] In his 2001 book, John Edward denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.[4]

I am VERY familiar with these methods and have used them out of the blue on random people in the streets of Sydney to illustrate the power of commonality to friends, and I know a close friend of mine, mentalist and stage magician Ryle Hilton, is exceptional at his art and absolutely blows peoples minds. I am not detracting from the SKILL involved in these acts, merely that using it to con and exploit people into believing only YOU can give them closure with their dead loved ones is abhorrent.

The following is sourced under fair use from Same Same, a publication for the Australian Gay and Lesbian Community that addresses some of the core elements of fail that is applied when handling ‘psychics’ in the press, with my comments in brackets.

Over the years Lisa has been challenged by many skeptics, including her own father. “He’s one of the biggest skeptics around!” she laughs. “But Dad has also seen first hand what I can do, and he’s seen how I give people a feeling of closure, and he says ‘you know what Lisa, I can’t take that away from you’.” [The closure given is fair enough, but the financial exploitation is unforgivable.]

One of the most public challenges Lisa has faced was with a skeptic named Laura on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Lisa said that during the reading she kept offering Laura details that should have resonated – like her father’s name, or that he was a ballroom dancer – but Laura remained unconvinced, and was intent on getting cold, hard facts. [Note the use of negative terms such as ‘skeptic’ just because someone was unconvinced.]

“I gave her the name John, but she wanted his full name, that kind of thing. I told her ‘I am only telling you what he is giving me, I can’t make it change’. I almost got up and walked away. I said, ‘if you’re not open to this then there’s no point in me being here’.” [Ie: Dummy spit.]

Lisa says that she often reads comments about her in online forums, where people dispute her authenticity. “People say ‘oh Lisa Williams gets all the ticket data and uses that to do background checks on people who come to her show’. Well hello, it’s just me. I don’t have a team of researchers. I certainly don’t put microphones in the bathrooms or under the seats. I laugh at it. Of course, when it comes to TV, the producers get given a certain story. The talent tells them ‘I want to communicate with my mum because of…’ but often there’s another story that comes out or that I bring out. [Lol.]

The last paragraph was the best, she admits that–like John Edwards–she has access to the core information, the ‘other story’ that ‘comes out’ is where the cold/warm/hot reading elements come into this.

I figured I would take these channels publishing her crap to bat and sent an email, given that the Lifestyle Channel and W are sponsors of my online life and commonly compensate me for critical evaluation (public or otherwise) of their programs or services, and considering I have a larger demographic reach than Lisa it will be interesting to see if they make a stoic legitimate call or just kowtow to a fast easy buck like a heroin dealer down a dark alley.

Here is a copy of one of my emails in it’s entirety: –

I am writing as a blogger who [details of financial arragements excised]. I write specifically to request that–in an effort to maintain fairness, legitimacy, honesty and integrity–that you cease publication of Lisa Williams, the ‘medium’ and other such charlatans.

Sure, you get viewers, sure you make a quick buck; but these people are exploiting the ignorance and idiocy of the masses, much like a drug dealer who peddles his wares amongst the foolish. These lecherous conmen and women exploit the pain and suffering of people by lying through their teeth, and there are avenues to be pursued for large financial and fame rewards if any individual can prove ANY element of the supernatural or paranormal exists through JREF, however most of these scum refuse to claiming they don’t want ‘wealth’ (even though they charge extortionate fees to fundamentally give people a pat on the back and tell them their dead family still love them), and none of these people pursue this proof of their talents for obvious reasons.

I am posting this letter on my blog, which will be replicated throughout my social networks and blogs demographic reach meaning over half a million people will view this within 24 hours. I would like a reply to this, and I advise you now it will be published as will your choice to continue to air these exploitative shows or otherwise. I hope you make the right decision.

So for now, I advise all of you to pass this on to your wanky airy fairy friends who believe in the supernatural and like a suppository of testicular fortitude it should thwart their idiocy, and stay tuned for the results of my correspondence to these networks, if they even dare reply. Oh, and Lisa, and I know your PR agent has shown you this because with my reach they wouldn’t be worth a pinch of shit if they haven’t, this isn’t a PR nightmare for you honey; it’s just a wake up call that you should get a day job that DOESN’T involve exploitation. In 50 years people like you will be locked up in prison for these crimes you perpetrate on innocent and vulnerable people.

And people like me, who’re probably only in for a night stay due to drunk and disorderly in public, will make sure you drop the soap. 😉

References:

  1. ^ Druckman, D. and Swets, J. A. eds. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories and Techniques. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.. p. 22. ISBN 0-309-07465-7.
  2. ^ Leon Jaroff (2001-02-25). “Talking to the Dead”. Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,100555,00.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  3. ^ Joe Nickell. “John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved”. CSICOP. http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-11/i-files.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  4. ^ Edward, John (2001). Crossing Over. Jodere Group. ISBN 1-58872-002-0.

Aggression / Gamer Link ‘Proven’

Exposure to violent video games makes players more aggressive and less caring.

Researchers say they have proved this conclusively after analysing 130 reports involving more than 130,000 gamers.

Iowa University psychology professor and video game researcher Craig Anderson said the results left little doubt – violent video games are bad for those who play them.

“We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method, the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behaviour,” he said.

The results are significant, as the impact of violent games has divided academics and been subject to long-running debate.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland last year expressed concerns about players becoming desensitised by violence in computer games, something that was being reflected in their behaviour.

“They see it (violence) happen in the movies and in video games and the person always gets up. Well, sadly, we know that’s not always the case,” he said.

The latest research comes as the Federal Government considers the introduction of an adults-only R18+ rating for games.

The move, which requires the agreement of all state and federal attorneys-general, is bitterly opposed by anti-violent video game activists, who argue it will expose children to unsavoury content.

The video games industry and gamers have mounted a campaign for reform, arguing the introduction of an adults-only category for games would bring Australia into line with the rest of the world.

The new study was published in the American Psychological Association journal Psychological Bulletin.

The team of international researchers, led by Prof Anderson, said exposure to violent games helped increase the risk of increased aggressive thoughts and behaviour and simultaneously decreased empathy toward others.

“From a public policy standpoint, it’s time to get off the question of ‘Are there real and serious effects?’ That’s been answered and answered repeatedly,” Prof Anderson said.

Australian Council on Children and the Media spokesman Dr Wayne Warburton said the research offered fresh ammunition against introducing an adults-only rating for games.

Posted: March 7th, 2010
Categories: games, general, pop culture, science
Tags: , ,
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Optic Fiber to go ‘Bubbly’

Optical fibres make it possible for us to use the technologies we take for granted, such as the internet our mobile phones, and other ‘unwired’ tech, but now new research from Macquarie University may hold the key to more cost-effective, energy-efficient, durable and easy-to-use fibre optics in the future.

Professor Town’s team of fibre optics specialists from the University’s Department of Electronic Engineering has been developing a new prototype for fibre optics which is made from a “bubbly” polymer fibre. “Our technique involves heating the polymer to form bubbles-it’s easier and cheaper than assembling tubes or drilling,” he says. “This could be a cheap, clean and relatively fast way of developing an optical network and the production process uses significantly less energy than if we were working with glass.”

Traditionally, glass has been used to produce optical fibres, but the equipment needed in order to process the glass at high temperatures makes this an expensive option. While several groups around the world are investigating polymer as a potential future replacement, the Macquarie team is the only group to develop and test a system which uses bubbles within the polymer to guide and scatter light.

Deliberately leaky fibres are ideal for transmitting data over short distances. “This technology would be applicable to, for example, inter-office connections where workers could use ‘wireless’ laptops within a certain area of the workplace,” Professor Town says. “The bubbly design allows you to scatter out of the fibre and also to scatter back in: if you can do that, it reduces the cost of coupling and the overall system costs are reduced.

“It’s like when you drive into the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and you can still listen to your car radio-they use a co-axial cable that leaks in a similar way so that you can receive the signal anywhere on the roadway.” He doesn’t go on to explain how a leaky feeder can be implemented with light, where light lost will cause errors in reception of the signals target.

Because the bubbly polymer allows light out and in, it also makes it potentially very useful for sensing applications. “This type of polymer optical fibre may also prove useful for distributed sensing of materials such as toxic or explosive gases,” says Professor Town.

Posted: January 10th, 2010
Categories: gadget, news, science, technology
Tags: , , , ,
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Action Games Improve Eyesight

I’ve had many an argument online with folks obsessed with ‘you’ll go blind’ mentality towards video games, amongst other things. I feel vindicated today as I read that a study found video games are “good for eyes”, far from being harmful to eyesight action games provide excellent training for what eye doctors call contrast sensitivity.

Contrast sensitivity is the ability to notice tiny changes in shades of grey against a uniform background, and is critical to everyday activities such as night driving and reading. It often degrades with age.

The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, reveal a previously unsuspected adaptability in the brain, and could open the way to new therapies, the researchers said. ”This is not a skill that people were supposed to get better at by training,” said Daphne Bavelier, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York state and the study’s lead researcher.

”It was something that we corrected for at the level of the optics of the eye – to get better contrast detection you get glasses or laser surgery.”

”What we found is that even without this correction you can help your brain make better use of whatever information is received from your retina,” she said.

For the study, Bavelier and three colleagues conducted two sets of experiments. In the first, they compared the contrast sensitivity of hard-core action game players with video game aficionados of the same age who preferred less rapid-fire fare.

In action games, players typically target and shoot figures that pop up suddenly on a computer screen. The researchers found that the action buffs were 50 percent more efficient at detecting contrast. But there remained a chicken-or-egg question: had their vision been improved by playing, or did they become action game players because they had better than average contrast sensitivity to start with?

To find out, Bavelier asked two groups of non-action video game players to undergo 50 hours of training. One played a popular point-and-shoot game called Call of Duty, and the other played a game that offered a rich visual experience, but one bereft of action.

”We found that the people in the first group improved by 43 percent, and the other group not at all,” she said. As important, the study also found that the improvement was not transitory. ”The positive effect remained months, even years after training, indicating long-lasting gains,” she said.

Is there some limit beyond which playing action games loses its positive effect or becomes detrimental? Can you, in other words, have too much of a ‘good thing’?

“For your visual system, probably not. For your social life, perhaps,” said Bavelier.

@OMGFacts Fails at #OMGFacts

Has anyone else noticed that user @AdorianDeck and his bum chum @brysonen are the users behind the recent cash in on the #omgfacts trend of Twitter creating @OMGFacts? Has anyone noticed how all of their facts tend to be wrong?

It’s like they’ve googled ‘list ob kool faxtz’ and are just copy-pasting without any critical evaluation or quality control. Idk about you, but shit like that drives me up the wall. On average most humans are pig shit ignorant, but ‘pop sci’ facts are the bane of academia, science, and thought. Nutshell ‘facts’ may be easy for the ignorant to digest, but they get stuck in the craw of anyone of any education.

It’s possibly one of my biggest pet piss offs, it’s always the pseudo-intellectual type who everyone knows are full of a substance other than book-learnin’s who spout such shit, propogated by morons, who later take these facts to be truths self evidently held on the grounds that they read it on ‘teh interwebs lololol~`!1′

I’m calling you out, bitch. @OMGFacts, employ some form of quality control, or hand the account over to your nearest University. But whatever you do, don’t let @DrKarl touch it, his pop sci facts are almost as ubiquitously fucking WRONG and flawed as yours are.

Posted: January 10th, 2010
Categories: general, lifestyle, pop culture, science, technology, twitter
Tags: , , , ,
Comments: 2 Comments.

Italy’s CNR is Bad Science

After hosting a panel earlier this year to discuss supposed flaws in evolutionary theory, Italy’s science agency the National Research Council (CNR) reportedly put up thousands of dollars to help with the publication of a follow-up book, Evolutionism: The Decline of an Hypothesis. The move has vexed many scientists in the country where the Vatican recently came out in support of Darwin’s ideas.

Authored by CNR’s Vice President Roberto de Mattei, the book asserts, among other things, that scientific dating of rocks is inaccurate and that dinosaurs went extinct just 40,000 years ago (rather than some 65 million years ago, not accounting for modern birds, of course), according to the blog ScienceInsider. The American Academy for the Advancement of Science blog notes that an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, is reporting that CNR provided 9,000 Euros (some $13,255) to help publish the book, which came out last month.

Posted: December 23rd, 2009
Categories: general, science
Tags: , ,
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