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Submission + - Wasp virus turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The green-eyed wasp Dinocampus coccinellae turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters. Three weeks after a wasp lays its egg inside the hapless beetle, a wasp larva bursts from her belly and weaves itself a cocoon between her legs. The ladybug doesn’t die, but becomes paralyzed, involuntarily twitching her spotted red carapace to ward off predators until the adult wasp emerges a week later. How D. coccinellae enslaves its host at just the right time had been a mystery, but now researchers believe the insect has an accomplice: a newly identified virus that attacks the beetle’s brain. The findings raise questions about whether other parasites also use viruses as neurological weapons.

Comment Re:Predictive Power (Score 1) 560

You need to plug in the actual CO2 emissions instead of their predicted CO2 emissions. All that growth out of poverty in China meant much more CO2 than was assumed. The IPCC overview uses a linear trend. As you can see from:
the CO2 emissions increased quite a bit faster in the late 90's. This overproduction of CO2 means the models would predict more warming if you feed in the actual CO2 emissions.

Comment More Evidence (Score 4, Informative) 376

The most recent issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives is focused on the patent issue.


All articles reach similar conclusions to the first (Boldrin and Levine). They have been saying the same thing about patents for over 10 years, so don't expect their careers to be destroyed or whatever other apocalyptic scenarios were discussed above. They are academic economists who have worked for a several strong research departments and feds over the years. They (and others) provide very strong evidence that the current patent system does not help consumers/citizens. That is the purpose of laws governing commerce, correct?

It is highly likely that a perfectly designed and operated patent system would be better than no patent system. Given the reality of humans running things, this is unattainable and no patents are probably better than the current system for consumers. When examining the evidence, this claim appears obviously true (to me at least, but I read the Boldrin/Levine book a decade ago). The NIH and NSF could pick up the slack in funding pharma research, and in other fields, first-mover advantage seems to provide plenty of monopoly profits for innovators.

Comment Re:Simpler than that (Score 1) 227

It is not a principal-agent problem at all. It is a collective action problem. The entire group benefits if a sufficiently large subset contribute to the pot (reduce emissions). It is still in the best interest of all individuals to not contribute except for the single individual who moves the pot over 150 (reduce global emissions enough to avert disaster). The representatives are acting in the best interests of their constituents, thus it is not a principal-agent problem. This entire experiment is merely a slightly more complex version of the prisoner's dilemma. It stands more as a critique of experimental economics than as any critique of climate negotiations or game theory. At best, there are a few take-aways: 1. Telling people disaster is likely will probably result in higher emissions, as there is no reason to cut if disaster will occur. 2. Telling people exactly how much emissions need to fall AND how much everyone else is cutting can easily lead to more emissions than the case of uncertainty or ignorance. Both of these results are intuitively clear. They can be rigorously derived from simple tools that have existed for decades. It is unclear to me why it was necessary to 'test' these ideas with silly, small numbers on Columbia undergrads.

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