Archive for the 'Science' Category

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made

A post on entitled Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made is a very thought-provoking post that explains that cancer virtually did not exist in antiquity.

One could argue that people did people did not live as long in the past as they do today, thus we live long enough to encounter cancer in our lives. Unfortunately, this is debunked because many monarchs lived in a very old age, especially Egyptians, and only one mummy of the hundreds uncovered had the disease. Cases only began to spike during the 17th century, and in child cases after the Industrial Revolution.

The conclusion:

Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.

Transcendent Man movie reivew

When I first heard that Transcendent Man will be released, I was very excited. I had its release dates marked in my calendar for months ahead of time. This movie was the only one of two things that I ever pre-ordered in my life, the other being the JoMoX MBase 11.

The film impressed me by illustrating so well in the video medium all of the things that I’ve read about Ray Kurzweil’s predictions. The film covered equally between who Ray Kurzweil is, his technological prediction about the technological singularity, and his longevity efforts. This is certainly a good film for anyone who is new to Ray Kurzweil’s concepts, but the film may fall short for anyone well acquainted with Kurzwiel’s writings and is trying to learn something new and deep.

The most interesting parts of the film for me were about the history of Ray Kurzweil’s life and how he lives today. I thought that it was very interesting how Kurzweil allowed his opponents state their opinions while Kurzweil provided virtually no direct rebuttal.

Be prepared to hear the word “exponential” and “exponentially” more times than you have ever heard in a 83 minutes.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ray Kurzweil’s ideas, begin in this order:

  1. Watch Kurzweil’s talk at TED from 2005.
  2. Read the The Ray Kurzweil Reader, a collection of essays published from 2001 to 2003 on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, radical life extension, conscious machines, the promise and peril of technology, and other aspects of our future world.
  3. Check out website Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence and subscribe to the newsletter.
  4. Then read one of his books, most notably The Age of Spiritual Machines1 and The Singularity Is Near.

1available as a free e-book, but I read it by checking out a free copy from my local library.

The River that Caught on Fire

Today at work, we had Green Fest, and as part of the Green Team committee, I volunteered to help set up for the event. After my shift, I walked around the exhibits, and I stopped by the Blue Thumb booth. At first, I was just being friendly to our vendors because the Blue Thumb project focuses significantly on amphibious biology, which is not particularly interesting to me. However, I was astonished how it related to our everyday lives in Tulsa.

Blue Thumb is a not for profit organization that uses volunteers to wade in streams and collect samples of little larva, bugs, leaches, and other gross looking creatures to determine the health of the water. When the proportion of the species is disproportionate or some creatures are missing altogether, then Blue Thumb reports the findings the state, which appropriates money and effort to find the root cause of the problem and corrects it.

Much of the Blue Thumb project is education of the public, and this is where it became interesting for me. I did not know that storm drains drain directly into creeks and are not processed by water treatment plants. So, for example, it is bad to wash one’s car in the driveway because the soap runs directly into creeks and hurts fish. Commercial car washes, on the other hand, are required to collect their drainage, process it, and then dispose of it correctly where part of the waste is handled by solid waste management, and the liquid it tied into the water treatment plant. So, using a local car wash is not only more expensive but good for local economy and washes one’s car a little better because it provides warm water, but it’s also greener.

I was glad to hear that most of the streams in Tulsa metro area are in great shape, but the Arkansas River, which is out of scope of the Blue Thumb project due to dangerous conditions and bacteria, has room for improvements. However, the Arkansas River is significantly in better shape than it used to be in the 1970s when it was at its worst. All the refineries and industrial parks along the river, starting in Colorado, used the river as a trashcan. Things only first started to turn around when the Ohio River was so polluted that it actually caught on fire and burned for a week.

This prompted environmental laws on the matter. The refineries around Tulsa did start using a landfill instead of dumping for some waste instead of dumping everything into the river, but they put heavy metals and toxic waste into these landfills that were designed for municipal waste. Furthermore, the landfill was used for 10 years, instead of 4 years, as designed. Eventually, the landfill caught on fire inside of itself and smoldered indefinitely causing locals to complain from related illnesses. So, the waste was moved to a new location around Sand Springs and was sealed off. Yet, the new site has pipes coming out to allow the decomposing gases, which continue decompose to this day, to escape.

I may need to drive by there one time to check it out. I learned very interesting history today.

Bilinguals better at multitasking, researchers find

I am glad to be bilingual. According to new research, I can multi-task better than monolingual people and prioritize tasks between multiple projects. Sounds like a good skill to have as a project manager.

Recent research indicates that bilingual speakers can outperform monolinguals–people who speak only one language — in certain mental abilities, such as editing out irrelevant information and focusing on important information, said Judith Kroll, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Penn State. These skills make bilinguals better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at one time.

With that said, I still don’t like to multi-task. I like to run marathons on one task to get it done. I like to just wire into a task, and dive deep into thinking about it and being creative with it.