AlpineR writes: "The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has changed the recommendation on breast cancer screening (full report). Self examination should no longer be taught. Women in their 40's should skip all screening. Women in their 50's should reduce mammograms from annually to biennially. And women 75 and older showed no benefit from screening.
This change is a shock to many Americans who have personal stories of lives saved by early detection. How do we reconcile those anecdotes with the science and economics of healthcare?"
AlpineR writes: "Ars Technica has posted a long technical review of the architectural changes in Snow Leopard. File compression smuggles extra data into HFS+ files to speed I/O. The operating system is now almost entirely 64-bit and encourages developers to come along. Quicktime is being updated piecemeal into a modern, 64-bit video system with Quicktime X. LLVM and Clang offer two fast and flexible alternatives to compilation with GCC. Blocks bring dynamic programming features like for_each() to C-based languages. Grand Central Dispatch makes it easy to launch the right number of threads for the available hardware and encourages parallelization of code. OpenCL makes intensive processing portable to the CPU, GPU, or dedicated accelerators. The article also inspects the graphical changes in Snow Leopard and minor new features of the Dock, Finder, and system dialogs."
AlpineR writes: "The New York Times has posted an excellent essay by psychologist Steven Pinker on The Moral Instinct. He explains several modern theories of why humans have morals and how we distinguish between actions that are immoral, disagreeable, unfashionable, and imprudent. Most of our moral judgments seem to be hard-wired in healthy brains and are based upon concepts of harm, fairness, community, authority, and purity. But people disagree on moral decisions because of differences in prioritization of these concepts. Our moral circuitry is shaped by evolution, but the underlying concepts seem to exist in an abstract Platonic realm."
AlpineR writes: "Is there an opposite to absolute zero? An article from PBS's NOVA online explains several theories of the maximum possible temperature. Maybe it's the Planck temperature, 10^32 K, beyond which the known laws of physics break down. Or maybe just 10^30 K, the limit of some versions of string theory. If space is actually 11-dimensional then the maximum temperature could even be as low as 10^17 K, attainable by the Large Hadron Collider. Or maybe infinite temperature wraps around to negative temperature and absolute hot is the same as absolute cold."
AlpineR writes: "Two weeks ago Computerworld ran an article about quaint advertisements from years past and the story was discussed on Slashdot. While leafing through a paper magazine today, I realized that if we know which ads from the past have become humorously outdated then maybe we can look at today's ads and imagine which modern technologies will be considered archaic in the future. What advertisement do you think screams 'Way back in 2007...' and what will replaced it in coming decades?"
AlpineR writes: "Apple announced today that the release of OS X 10.5 Leopard has slipped from June to October. Apparently the development of the iPhone took attention away from the engineering and testing of Leopard. Too bad, I was looking forward to features like Spaces and Time Machine. At least it's sort of good news for Apple — the better their non-computer business does the less likely that the company as a whole will die."