Archive for category: Science

After All, It’s Not Their Money

01 Sep
September 1, 2017

Across the bay, the city of St. Petersburg wants to force homeowners to add solar panels anytime they put on a new roof.

They might make an exception for existing homes, but any new buildings, the city council at wants panels. And the homeowner or building owner gets to foot the bill. For another $10K. That’s about three times what I paid to put a new roof on my house last year. It’s about double what my mom paid for her roof.

All the council wants to focus on is all the energy they think this will generate. They refuse to think about:

  1. Solar isn’t as efficient as they expect.

  2. The cost to upgrade the grid to handle all that new energy generation.

  3. It will slow down development in St. Pete due to rising costs.

  4. People will have to take on more debt to do roof replacements. This will most likely lead to an uptick in foreclosures because some people will be unable to pay.

  5. Those who have to save up the cash will forgo necessary roof replacements, which will lead to even more problems, and more drains on people’s limited resources.

Of course, it’s not their money. So why should they give a damn if their brilliant idea hurts people.

Michael Shermer Blasts Lack of Ideological Diversity in Social Sciences

18 Feb
February 18, 2016

His article in Sci-Am is worth a read.

Shermer begins with saying the insanity taking place on college campuses can be laid at the feet of having no other ideologies to act as a reality balance. Locked in an echo chamber, it’s a race to the extremes – kind of like a primary race. 

Then Shermer lays out that bias affects not only the descriptive terms used during studies (conservative values as indicators of mental disorders), but in how the data is interpreted. 


Brown Eyes Blue

18 Feb
February 18, 2016

So, that’s where my brother and I got our sparkling blues.

Everyone with blue eyes alive today – from Angelina Jolie to Wayne Rooney – can trace their ancestry back to one person who probably lived about 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea region, a study has found.

Scientists studying the genetics of eye colour have discovered that more than 99.5 per cent of blue-eyed people who volunteered to have their DNA analysed have the same tiny mutation in the gene that determines the colour of the iris.

This indicates that the mutation originated in just one person who became the ancestor of all subsequent people in the world with blue eyes, according to a study by Professor Hans Eiberg and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen.

H/t Peter Grant (who you should be reading and buying his books)

Friday Quote – 1/29/16

29 Jan
January 29, 2016
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

Richard Feynman, from the Rogers Commission Report on the Challenger disaster

Challenger, 30 Years Later

28 Jan
January 28, 2016

Thirty years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight. Seven were killed.

This is perhaps the first memory where I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was in sixth grade, coming back from PE, when a teacher burst into the hall to tell us what happened. We watched the coverage for pretty much the rest of the day. A friend of mine was in Nature’s Classroom and actually saw the Y-shaped cloud.

Image is from CBS news.

Uber Delivering Flu Shots

18 Nov
November 18, 2015

As if I didn’t love this company already for its shattering of taxi cartels, they are now going to be delivering flu shots on November 19.

Customers who normally use the Uber smartphone app to call for a ride will be able to request a flu shot — and a nurse in an Uber car will show up at their home or office in about three dozen cities across the country.

The charge is $10, but the nurse can give up to 10 flu shots at each location for no additional charge. So work colleagues can split the cost among themselves.

Unfortunately, it’s only one day, but I hope this is an annual program by Uber.

Perhaps the Most Glorious Scientific Paper Written

13 Nov
November 13, 2015​

Doug Zongker of University of Washington, you are my hero!

P.S. There’s even a PowerPoint!

Friday Quote – 10/9/15

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

Science advances through tentative answers to a series of more and more subtle questions which reach deeper and deeper into the essence of natural phenomena.

Louis Pasteur 

Things Heard At the Scout Meeting

07 May
May 7, 2015

C’mon, we’re making a dry ice run!

I do so love science night with the nephew’s scout den.

There’s Gold in Them There…Sewage?

30 Mar
March 30, 2015

According to this article in the Guardian, scientists are looking at extracting valuable metals from human waste.

Sewage sludge contains traces of gold, silver and platinum at levels that would be seen as commercially viable by traditional prospectors. β€œThe gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” said Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey.
Smith and her colleagues argue that extracting metals from waste could also help limit the release of harmful metals, such as lead, into the environment in fertilisers and reduce the amount of toxic sewage that has to be buried or burnt.

Bad jokes aside, this is actually an interesting concept. It also reinforces the concept that as the price for a commodity rises, human ingenuity will come up with new ways to access those commodities. 

In this case, the commode. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).