Tag Archives | knowledge

Delusions in Science and Spirituality

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Charles Richet: “The improbabilities of today are the elementary truths of tomorrow.”

Myth has its charms, but the truth is far more beautiful. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth.* There is a quiet intellectual war going on; the naked truth is a fatality in the battle for scientific and philosophical supremacy. Since this book is about the “ongoing search for fundamental farces” let me open with this. Around the time I began writing Delusions in Science and Spirituality, a congressman from my own state (Georgia), Paul Broun, who is also a medical doctor, publicly announced, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and big bang theory—all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” adding, “Global warming is a trick.” Broun, as it happens, sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

*Winston Churchill’s famous words reflected his belief that in time of war the truth is so precious that it must be guarded by a posse of lies.… Read the rest

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Kids need to like what they’re reading to progress

Kids need to be interested in the book they’re reading, so it’s better if they choose it themselves. Flickr/Mike Mantin, CC BY-SA

Kids need to be interested in the book they’re reading, so it’s better if they choose it themselves. Flickr/Mike Mantin, CC BY-SA

Ryan Spencer, University of Canberra

When we think of reading for our children, we are often misled into thinking that we need to focus on one type of book, such as picture books or novels in order to practise specific, reading-related skills. However, this narrowly-focused approach to reading instruction can often have undesirable benefits, such as turning kids off reading altogether.

As parents, we often feel that when we select children’s books for them we are supporting them to achieve at their level – though this frequently has the opposite effect.

When we restrict choice, particularly to contrived, boring texts, children frequently see this as an indicator of their reading capability and therefore meet that low expectation. Once we take the restrictions away from what children read, their self-efficacy towards reading increases, therefore leading to an increase in their reading ability.… Read the rest

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1000-year-old Remedy Kills MRSA Superbug

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This article was sent to us by a reader. He asks, “How did ancient people have this knowledge?”

A medieval remedy of leeks, garlic, wine, and the bile of a cow’s stomach was used as an “eyesalve” circa the 10th Century. Scientists have recently discovered, much to everyone’s surprise, that this salve is also effective against antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

via New Scientist:

Sourcing authentic ingredients was a major challenge, says Harrison. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.

As “brass vessels” would be hard to sterilise – and expensive – they used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed.

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The Forgotten Mystic Secrets Of Athanasius Kircher

Writers No One Reads on the incredible genius of Athanasius Kircher, a sort of bizarro-da-Vinci who created jaw-dropping inventions and surreal, lavishly illustrated science books covering topics such as the people who live inside the earth:

Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) [was] a Jesuit priest and polymath who wrote more than thirty big books on everything from optics, acoustics, linguistics, and mathematics to cryptology, Egyptology, numerology, and Sinology.

Kircher wasn’t just a writer. He was an inventor of speaking statues, eavesdropping devices, and musical machines. (He is alleged to have invented an instrument called the cat piano.) He was the curator of an early modern museum — a cabinet of curiosities featuring the tailbones of a mermaid and a brick from the Tower of Babel — at the Jesuit college in Rome. He pursued his interest in geological matters by climbing down inside the smoking crater of Mount Vesuvius. And he was perhaps the first to use a microscope to examine human blood.

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Are Genius Scientists A Relic Of The Past?

No more Einsteins? Phys.org writes:

Dean Keith Simonton, professor at the University of California, in the journal Nature argues that it’s unlikely mankind will ever produce another Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc. because, he says, we’ve already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. New work will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base.

Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof of his assessment. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field.

The way modern science is conducted [may be] adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn’t leave much room for true insight, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries.

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Method Unveiled To Store Data Forever In Quartz Glass

If we hope to preserve the knowledge and art produced by human civilization long after we are gone, or send a message to beings far from us in space of billions of years ahead in the future, it can be done using quartz. Phys.org reports:

Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever (a few hundred million years at least).

Hitachi’s new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope. Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available—simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become—the data will always be readable, Torii said.

Hitachi have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers said they could start with storage services for government agencies, museums and religious organisations.

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Dotsies: Language Of The Future?

Dotsies is a minimal, dot-based alternate version of the Latin alphabet. Why have we not evolved past using a 3,000-year-old character system?

Since latin letters (a, b, c, etc.) are optimized to be written by hand, they take up a lot of unnecessary space. Your eyes have to move at a frantic pace from left to right to read. Get more screen space! Save paper!

It’s easier than you think. There are only 26 letters. It takes only about 20 minutes at memorize.com/dotsies to get them into your short term memory. Each letter has five dots that are on or off (black or white). You’ll be very slow at first, but will noticeably speed up over time. As you progress, words start to look like shapes.

DOTSIES

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