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Submission + - SPAM: Authority in Experimental Science and Philosophy

biohack writes: An article in The Week with a provocative, albeit somewhat sophomoric, title "Why so many scientists are so ignorant" looks for evidence of a modern struggle for authority between "experimental science" and philosophy.

Many, though certainly not all, of the scientists who opine loudest about the uselessness of philosophy are public atheists. The form of atheism they promote is usually known as "eliminative materialism," or the notion that matter is the only thing that exists. This theory is motivated by "scientism," or the notion that the only knowable things are knowable by science.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Investigating the Complexity of Academic Writing (

biohack writes: While the general public might expect that researchers should want to maximize comprehension of their work, academic writing tends to follow an opaque style permeated with professional jargon and complex syntax. Proposed explanations for the emergence of this style range from experts generally finding it difficult to be simple when writing about their expertise to more complex social and cultural theories:

Cynics charge ... that academics play an elitist game with their words: They want to exclude interlopers. Others say that academics have traditionally been forced to write in an opaque style to be taken seriously by the gatekeepers—academic journal editors, for example.

Comment Re:My world is topsy-turvy (Score 1) 87

George Whitesides is a world famous chemist. If not for his intellectual curiosity, he could just earn a comfortable living by consulting for industry and VC firms. As for practicality and simplicity, Whitesides often looks for an inexpensive solution that can produce results that are almost as good as those achieved with state-of-the-art equipment. His group pioneered a number of such creative inventions in microfluidics and nanotechnology, many of which have been widely used and further enhanced by others. When I read that this paper device was developed by a Harvard professor, Whitesides was my first guess.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Annals of Improbable Research is Now Free Online (

biohack writes: "Annals of Improbable Research, the magazine that hands out the Ig Nobel Prizes, is now available for free online (in both HTML and PDF format). The AIR editor Marc Abrahams assured readers that the print version will continue alongside the free website.

"Our readers like to lock themselves in the bathroom," he said. "Therefore, the magazine will also continue to be available in the best of all possible forms: traditional on-the-toilet-readable paper-and-ink."


Submission + - Wii Sports Are Not Intensive Enough for Children

biohack writes: "A study published in the British Medical Journal found that playing Wii Sports does not provide sufficient exercise for kids.

Playing new generation active computer games uses significantly more energy than playing sedentary computer games but not as much energy as playing the sport itself. The energy used when playing active Wii Sports games was not of high enough intensity to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children.
The Internet

Submission + - Social Networks Are More Popular Than Porn (

biohack writes: "An analysis of site-visit statistics offered by a TIME columnist points to a surprising reshaping of online landscape. The 18- to 24-year-olds today are apparently too busy chatting with friends to look at online skin.

Currently, for web users over the age of 25, Adult Entertainment still ranks high in popularity, coming in second, after search engines. Not so for 18- to 24-year-olds, for whom social networks rank first, followed by search engines, then web-based e-mail — with porn sites lagging behind in fourth. If you chart the rate of visits to social-networking sites against those to adult sites over the last two years, there appears to be a strong negative correlation (i.e., visits to social networks go up as visits to adult sites go down).

Data Storage

Submission + - Hitachi Announces New CPP-GMR Heads (

biohack writes: "Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has demonstrated working prototypes of giant magneto-resistive (GMR) heads that use a current perpendicular-to-plane (CPP) approach. These heads will be able to read tracks that are less than 50 nm apart, ultimately pushing the practical capacity of desktop drives to 4 GB and notebook drives to 1 GB. The technology behind these new heads is described in more detail in a article, while a piece in EETimes includes a perspective from Seagate. Hitachi estimates that this new technology will replace the current tunneling magneto-resistive (TMR) heads in 2011.

Before TMR heads, the industry used more conventional GMR heads, but the current in the older versions ran parallel with the insulating layer. 'In a sense, it (GMR) is making a comeback in a different form,' said [Hitachi's CTO John] Best.


Submission + - Science in Islamic Countries (

biohack writes: "Physics Today recently published a thought provoking article on development of science in Islamic countries. The author, a Pakistani physicist, posits that 'Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.' The author makes a few strong conclusions, many of which are relevant to the general debate between science and religion.

Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or "butterfly-collecting" activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked.

The Internet

Submission + - 3D Browsing in SpaceTime

biohack writes: "SpaceTime(TM) has released a free beta version of a 3D browser this week. While it is not the first attempt to stack webpages in 3D, SpaceTime(TM) adds a convenient 3D search feature that automatically stacks search results from Google, Yahoo!, Flickr, and eBay. The developers also promise to add 3D searches for Amazon, YouTube, Email, MySpace, Music, RSS, and Live. For now, probably the best suggested use is to 'search Yahoo! Images and Google Images and take advantage of your computer's high powered graphics and fast broadband connection as SpaceTime(TM) displays thousands of images at once.'"

Submission + - World Population Becomes More Urban Than Rural

biohack writes: "A major demographic shift took place on Wednesday, May 23, 2007: For the first time in human history, the earth's population is more urban than rural. According to scientists from North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia, on that day, a predicted global urban population of 3,303,992,253 exceeded that of 3,303,866,404 rural people. In the US, the tipping point from a majority rural to a majority urban population came early in the late 1910s. Today, only a few states — Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, and West Virginia — are still majority rural. According to the researchers, rural people do not fare well relative to their urban counterparts. Maps of U.S. quality-of-life conditions, for example, show that poverty and low education attainment are concentrated in rural areas — especially the rural South — where the nation's food, water and forest resources exist."

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