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Comment Re:Hmm who is responsible for review? (Score 1) 84

From TFA

German anesthesiologist Joachim Boldt is believed to hold the dubious distinction of having the most retractions—about 90. Boldt's scientific record also came under fire several years ago by some of the same journal editors questioning Fujii's work.

Is this coincidence or a pattern? I have no idea how the journal publishing is supposed to work, but being the "victim" of the two most prolific forgers leaves me a little suspicious of the quality of the publishing in general.

Also, what is it about anesthesiology and its practitioners that makes them succumb to the lure of academic forgery? Something about people who enjoy putting other people at the edge of death being power-mad? Or, it could be that these journal editors just decided to crack down, and if a bunch of editors of say, cardiology journals did the same, they'd find just as much fakery in their field.

Comment Re:Knuckleball Pitcher here.... (Score 1) 87

And again, what the analysis of actual pitch trajectories shows is that the supposed effect of the varying forces on the ball due to the slight rotation in-flight is totally negligible! If they were not, the knuckleball trajectories would not be fittable to the 9-parameter equation, which assumes that the forces on the ball are constant after leaving the pitcher's hand. What the article suggests is really happening is that things like seam orientation do play a role in determining the forces on the ball at the release point, which in turn feed in to the trajectory. But these forces do not change mid-flight in any measurable way.

On the other hand, your description of slightly different knuckleballs that do different things is very interesting. The analysis of Dickey's pitches from last year did show two clusters of pitches with slightly different speeds. I wonder if a more extensive analysis of his pitches from this year would show more distinct clusters, indicating better control over his pitches, and if this can go some way to explaining his recent success.


Submission + - How repurposed military tracking technology is remaking the NBA (

PatPending writes: FTA:

The technology was originally developed to track missiles. Now, SportVU systems hang from the catwalks of 10 NBA arenas, tiny webcams that silently track each player as they shoot, pass, and run across the court, recording each and every move.

Their system captures the X/Y coordinates of all the players and refs--along with the X/Y/Z (3-D) coordinates of the ball--25 times every second (or 72,000 times a game). Algorithms take into account all sorts of variables to keep the system accurate, from the lines on the court to the reflections of flashing billboards. Another layer of software at a central server puts this raw data together into something meaningful. Information as specific as player ball touches and dribbles can be calculated within 60 seconds of being spotted by SportVU cams. Stats can generate these values in simple, automated reports.

On one hand, deeper data seems inevitable--and no one is disagreeing that SportVU has incredible potential with deep data--on the other, with no teams all that interested in sharing how they’re potentially innovating with that data, it’s making his job no easier. “I know for a fact some of those teams are using it quite a bit. They don’t tell me exactly what they’re doing with it. Some teams are fairly open and they ask for our help. Others are very secretive,” Kopp says. “Because, for a while, it is all about how you’re using it. Once they figure out something they think is meaningful, they don’t want anyone to get a whiff of it.”

Comment Re:Been there, done that! (Score 1) 87

The wind tunnel data analyzed in your link are in fact mentioned in TFA. Yes, these varying forces exist but the conclusion of the new analysis based on actual trajectories is that their effects are negligible. Also see the article mentioned below for more detailed science; I thought about linking it in the submission but was worrled about slashdotting the poor Prof! Looks like I needn't have worried; fewer people than I thought appear to share my fascination with the knuckler... :P

Submission + - Oregon State University Fires Climate Change Skeptic ( 2

brian0918 writes: "With finals approaching, Oregon State University chemistry professor Nicholas Drapela was fired without warning. Three weeks later, he has still been given no reason for the university’s decision to 'not renew his contract'. Drapela, an outspoken critic of man-made climate change, worked at the university for 10 years and was well-liked by students. Oregon physicist Gordon J. Fulks, another critic of anthropogenic climate change, has circulated a letter in defense of Drapela."

Submission + - The Physics of the Knuckleball 1

snoop.daub writes: R.A. Dickey, pitcher for the New York Mets, has been in the news this week after two dominant pitching performances in a row, holding opponents to one hit in each of the games for the first time since Dave Stieb did it in 1988. He has taken over as the league's only knuckleball pitcher after Tim Wakefield retired last season. But just what is it about the knuckleball that makes it hard to hit? Conventional wisdom has it that the lack of spin on the knuckleball causes it to move in completely unpredictable ways, even changing directions in mid-flight. In the last few years, there has been a lot of good science done to understand baseball pitch trajectories, and a few months ago Prof. Alan M. Nathan showed that knuckleballs aren't really so different from other pitches. It turns out that the same 9-parameter equation that can be used to describe other pitch trajectories applies just as well to the knuckleball. The difference appears to be that, like in a chaotic system, knuckleballs depend sensitively on the initial conditions, so that small changes can cause randomly different forces at the start of the pitch which determine the resultant trajectory. Much of this and similar work depends on the Pitchf/x tool, which has recorded the complete trajectory, spin angle and spin rate of every MLB pitch since 2007! Baseball really does have the best sports stats geeks.

Submission + - US wants inventive ways to get R&D out of college labs and onto the streets (

coondoggie writes: "The federal government funded some $135 billion in research and development (R&D) for all manner of science and technology and is now looking for a way to get a faster return on such investments.
Or at least that was the focus of a congressional Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation hearing this week looking for ways to improve collaboration between commercial concerns and nonprofit organizations, including universities, in addition to promoting the utilization of inventions arising from federally supported research and development."


Submission + - Best Science Fiction/Fantasy for 8 Year Olds 7

Jason Levine writes: My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in Science Fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults.

Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot". He liked these but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head.

Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8 year old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)

Submission + - Final Frontier Design Creating Budget Space Suit for Private Space Industry (

Zothecula writes: Although the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was unmanned during its recent first flight to the International Space Station, the success of that mission nonetheless marked a huge step toward future crewed commercial space flights. SpaceX, of course, isn’t the only player in this newly-forming industry – companies such as Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and Blue Origin are also hoping to take paying customers on rocket rides. However, while a lot of attention has been paid to the spacecraft themselves, one has to wonder what those private-sector astronauts will be wearing. Expensive NASA space suits, perhaps? Not if Ted Southern and Nikolay Moiseev have anything to say about it.

Submission + - Prisoners' Dilemma: New Result ( 1

dabrowsa writes: Bill Press and Freeman Dyson have proven a new result in the iterated prisoners' dilemma game. Using undergrad linear algebra they show that a single player can force the average payoff to the other player (within a limited range). An application is that the first player can simulate an evolutionary fitness landscape. Down-to-earth example: a player rich enough to be able to afford temporary losses can extort cooperation from a poor player. Sounds like capitalism, doesn't it?

The paper is at


Submission + - The Dry Ice 'Snowflakes' of Mars (

astroengine writes: "After collecting the vast quantities of data gathered by orbiting Mars spacecraft, MIT scientists have uncovered some rather interesting facts about Martian snow. For starters, as the majority of the Mars atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, the snowflakes are made from CO2 ice — basically tiny particles of 'dry ice.' Also, the snowflakes are very small — approximately the size of a red blood cell. "These are very fine particles, not big flakes," said MIT assistant professor Kerri Cahoy in a press release. If you saw these 'snowflakes' fall, "you would probably see it as a fog, because they're so small," she added."

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