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Comment Re:Evolution, suckers.... (Score 1) 139

Let me see if I can make my post evolve to a less typoed version:

It makes some sense. The idea is that whenever you have a lot of bacteria reproducing, mutation rates being what they are, benefitial mutations will eventually appear. Chemostats, which are what these reactors will essentially be, have been used to test evolution experimentally in just this way.

Now, the flaw in Niedi's reasoning is that evolution is directed only to better differential reproduction. So, if bacteria reproduce before self-destruction, there will be no environmental pressure to select against this feature.

Comment Re:Evolution, suckers.... (Score 4, Insightful) 139

It makes some sense. The idea is that whenever you have a lot of bacteria reproducing, mutation rates being what they are, benefitial mutations will eventually appear. Something like this has been used to. Chemostats, which are what these things will essentially be, have been used to test evolution experimentally in just this way.

Now, the flaw in Niedi's reasoning is that evolution is directed only be better differential reproduction. So, if bacteria reproduce before self-destruction, there will be no environmental pressure to select against this feature.

Submission + - Reborn Coma Man’s Words May Be Bogus (wired.com)

Schiphol writes: The statements of a Belgian man believed to be in a coma for 23 years, but recently discovered to be conscious, are poignant, but experts say they may not be his words at all.

Rom Houben’s account of his ordeal, repeated in scores of news stories since appearing Saturday in Der Spiegel, appears to be delivered with assistance from an aide who helps guide his finger to letters on a flat computer keyboard. Called “facilitated communication,” that technique has been widely discredited, and is not considered scientifically valid.

“If facilitated communication is part of this, and it appears to be, then I don’t trust it,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics. “I’m not saying the whole thing is a hoax, but somebody ought to be checking this in greater detail. Any time facilitated communication of any sort is involved, red flags fly.”

Submission + - Paralysed Belgian misdiagnosed as in coma for 23 (bbc.co.uk)

Schiphol writes: A Belgian man who doctors thought was in a coma for 23 years was conscious all along. Medical staff believed Rom Houben had sunk irretrievably into a coma after he was injured in a car crash in 1983, and it was only in 2006 that a scan revealed Mr Houben's brain was in fact almost entirely functioning.

Comment Re:VERY interesting study in linguistics (Score 1) 31

Apparently, this is what happened with the Nicaraguan Sign Language, one of the latest natural languages to have appeared (on Earth).

Deaf people in Nicaragua used to communicate with hearing relatives using ad-hoc signing. Once the Sandinist revolution increased the schooling of deaf kids in the late 70s, all of these signing schemes surfaced at Nicaraguan schools, and little deaf kids, well, fixed them, and in the process created a real language.

Comment Re:Is it just me (Score 1) 721

It doesn't need to be all driven by dishonesty. There may be also the sheer intellectual interest in knowing what follows from a body of doctrine once you add an extra ingredient. It's surely idle -for non-believers, I mean- but it may be an honest piece of harmless fun.

Comment A chalk-talk instructor here (Score 2, Informative) 467

Well, I teach an undergraduate course and avoid using presentation software -which, anyway, would have been Lyx plus Beamer for me-, for largely the kind of reasons advanced in TFA. Most of my colleagues use PowerPoint or something similar this days.

And I'm starting to notice that many students actually prefer the PP-teachers. They want to have the information delivered in formulaic pills, "Concept A stands for blah; Concept B stands for bleh", and this is more easily achieved if the formulae in question are neatly projected on the screen. I could achieve the same effect by dictating, of course, but that's even more boring and less empowering for students that PowerPoint.

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