Posts filed under “Science”

Solar Furnace Research Facility

Fun with Science:

Jem Stansfield travels to the Solar Furnace Research Facility in Southern France. He witnesses the incredible power generated by highly concentrated sunlight.

Category: Science, Weekend

New Elementary Particle Discovered (maybe)

Physics: Where we learn that the possible discovery of a fourth neutrino could help explain dark matter.


“Physicists working with a Fermilab neutrino experiment may have found a new elementary particle whose behavior breaks the known laws of physics. If correct, their results poke holes in the accepted Standard Model of particles and forces, and raise some interesting questions for the Large Hadron Collider and Tevatron experiments. The new particle could even explain the existence of dark matter.

Working with Fermilab’s MiniBooNE experiment — the first part of the larger planned Booster Neutrino Experiment — physicists found evidence for a fourth flavor of neutrino, according to a new paper published in Physical Review Letters. This means there could be another particle we didn’t know about, and that it behaves in a way physicists didn’t expect.

-Popular Science

Laws of Physics were made to be broken! (More Sciencey stuff after the jump)

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Category: Science, Weekend

Animators of Life: Where Cinema and Biology Meet Dr. Lue is one of the pioneers of molecular animation, a rapidly growing field that seeks to bring the power of cinema to biology. Building on decades of research and mountains of data, scientists and animators are now recreating in vivid detail the complex inner machinery of living cells. The field has spawned a…Read More

Category: Science, Weekend

My Brilliant Brain

From National Geographic:

Part 1 – Born Genius

Part 2 – Make Me A Genius

Category: Psychology, Science, Video

Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

I love that he lifted RSI’s animated approach: Beginning with Charles Darwin’s first encounter with the teeming ecosystem of the coral reef and drawing connections to the intellectual hyperproductivity of modern megacities and to the instant success of YouTube, Johnson shows us that the question we need to ask is, What kind of environment fosters…Read More

Category: Science, Weekend

How Aliens View Our Solar System

Hat tip Icanhasinternets

Category: Humor, Science, Weekend

Italian Landslide Captured on Video

Visually astonishing This February 2010 landslide is an example of liquefaction — the earth, rock and soil flow like a river. If you have never witnessed this, it is quite amazing to see . . . Italy Calabria About 200 residents have been evacuated from their homes after a landslide split a hillside apart in…Read More

Category: Science, Weekend

What Are the Limits of Sapient Judgment?

George Mobus teaches computer science to undergraduate and graduate students at the Institute of Technology, Computing & Software Systems at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

His background is quite broad: He has a PhD in Computer Science, an MBA in Decision Science, and a baccalaureate in Zoology (with substantial coursework in math, chemistry, and oceanography) from UW Seattle. His academic focus has been Biology: Specifically, evolutionary, cognitive, neuro-psychology — how the brain works to produce the mind and how did it come about through evolution.

He blogs at Question Everything, where this piece was originally published.



Sapient Judgment Has Weaknesses

In my working papers on sapience I describe one of the components of sapience as judgment and provide a brief overview of what role it plays in wisdom. I briefly mentioned some weakness or limitations to ordinary human judgment in that work, but left it a little vague. In this paper I want to go into more detail about how judgment works in the making of decisions and especially what some of the remaining problems with it are with respect to the current state of sapience in Homo sapiens.

Sapient vs. Pre-sapient Judgment

Sapience involves the capacity to influence good decisions (and give good advice) by applying judgment to complex situations. Decision making processing is the main job of intelligence as indicated in the working papers. Decisions need to be made regarding what action or behavior to take given the situation in the immediate environment. While the actual decision processing looks more continuous in nature, this discretized version will hopefully help to illustrate what happens in the brain*. The central circle in the below diagram can be considered a decision node in a decision tree structure (actually more of a web structure than a tree). The job that the intelligence processor has is, given the situation in which the animal finds itself, the “state of the environment”, to make a decision on which of many actions to take.


Figure 1. Sapient decision making depends on tacit memory models that influence intelligent decision making. See text for description.

Immediately surrounding the current decision point is additional information stored in working memory forming the context of the situation, how it came to be, factors that relate directly with the decision to be made. This context along with the current state that activated this particular decision point are fed into the intelligence processor’s causal model of the world. This model has been learned from past experience and represents the best estimate of what cause (from a selected action) and effect (on the future state of the environment as a result) to expect. The model actually contains the decision web along with several background influences such as affective valence marking that helps weight decisions when emotional considerations are operative (curved green arrow).

The learning component of intelligence is responsible for monitoring the actual outcomes of decisions vis-à-vis and building or refining the model over time. Then it uses the model to make selections for actions. The selections are always provisional or heuristic in nature. Intelligence processing is prone to several kinds of errors that might cause a misstep. Also, though not shown here, the creative function of the brain might intercede to suggest a different selection just in case it might lead to a better outcome and that could be the basis for modifying the model.

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Category: Psychology, Science

The Scientific Debate on Climate Change: Part 9, 10

9. Climate Change – Meet the Scientists

In response to several requests, I’ll put references in the video description rather than the body of the video:

In response to several requests, I’ll put references in the video description rather than the body of the video:

John Coleman listed as media graduate in 1957
University of Illinois Alumni Association…

Coleman claiming to be a meteorologist in Weather Channel founder suing Gore? Glenn Beck interview with John Coleman, March 5, 2008
Transcript at:…

Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Program….
list of Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM)…

Christopher Moncktons resume:
Whos Who 2010

Oregon Petition found at:

Steven C. Zylkowski credentials found at:……

Earl Aaagard web page:…

John Stossel clip from Global Warming? Really Bad? on YouTube…

Bob Carter listed as palaeoclimatologist in US Senate Minority Report,…

Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh
Phil Chapman
The Australian, April 23, 2008

Chapman bio on NASA website:…

Tim Ball 28 Years Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg
Letter to Paul Martin…

Tim Ball: for 32 years I was a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg.
Deniers vs Alarmists in the Eco-Argument
Orato website, May 28th, 2006…

Tim Ball lettrt to Royal Society, listed as professor of climatology…

University of Winnipeg website:

Geography course units at the University of Winnipeg…

Tim Ball described as professor of geography
Fraser Institute Website…

Tim Ball letter to Royal Society, listed as retired professor of geography:…

Global Warming, Two Points of View
Bio of Tim Ball showing time spent at University of Winnipeg…

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10. Climate Change – An imminent ice age debunked

In 2005 the media told us we were on the brink of another ice age. What happened?

(in chronological order)

Movie clip at the beginning from “The Day After Tomorrow”

Broeker’s hypothesis that melting ice will interrupt thermohaline circulation:
“Thermohaline Circulation, the Achilles Heel of Our Climate System; Will Man-Made CO2 Upset the Current Balance?” — Wallace S. Broeker, Science (Nov 28 1997)

Linkage of glaciation to shut down of AMOC:
“A model for Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheet variation”
– R. G. Johnson and B. T. McClure, Quaternary Research (Sep 1976)

See also “Was the Younger Dryas Triggered by a Flood?”
Wallace S. Broecker, Science (May 26, 2006)

“Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25° N”
– Harry L. Bryden et al, Nature (Dec 1, 2005)


“Britain faces Big Freeze as Gulf Stream Loses Strength”
– The Times (Dec 1, 2005)

“New Gulf Stream fears bring UK Ice Age warning”
– The Evening Standard (Sep 6, 2001)

“Scientists probing a dying current bring worst climate fears to the surface.”
– The Australian, (Dec 5, 2005)

“Fears of Big Freeze as Scientists Detect Slower Gulf Stream”
– The Independent (Dec 1, 2005)

RealClimate quote “while continued monitoring of this key climatic area is clearly warranted, the imminent chilling of the (sic) Europe is a ways off yet” at…

Richard Wood saying Britain and Scandinavia should cool if Gulf Stream slowdown was real:
“Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age”
– New Scientist, (Nov 30, 2005)…

Gavin Schmidt saying surface temps should have dipped:
“Scientists Say Slower Atlantic Currents Could Mean a Colder Europe”
– New York Times (Dec 1, 2005)

Robert Dickson saying much more data was needed to determine whether a slowdown was underway:

Harry Bryden saying not sure if change was temporary or signals a long-term trend:
“Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age”
– New Scientist, (Nov 30, 2005)…

Bryden says a variable signal, but too early to detect any trends:
“No new ice age for western Europe.”
– New Scientist, (Nov 7, 2006)…

Wunch saying it’s a complicated story reduced to a fairytale:

“Sea change: why global warming could leave Britain feeling the cold”
– The Guardian (Oct 27, 2006)…

“Can in situ floats and satellite altimeters detect long-term changes in Atlantic Ocean overturning?”
– Josh K. Willis, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS (Mar 25, 2010)

“New climate change myth: Gulf Stream is NOT slowing down”
– Daily Mail (Mar 30, 2010)…

– Daily Mail (Dec 2, 2005)…

“Global warming ‘will bring cooler climate for UK’”
– Daily Telegraph (Dec 1, 2005)…

“Gulf Stream is not slowing down, scientists claim.”
– Daily Telegraph (Mar 30, 2010)…

Category: Science, UnScience, Video

The Not So Quiet Sun

NASA click for larger graphic > Explanation: After a long solar minimum, the Sun is no longer so quiet. On August 1, this extreme ultraviolet snapshot of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a complex burst of activity playing across the Sun’s northern hemisphere. The false-color image shows the hot solar plasma at…Read More

Category: Science, Weekend