The high-stakes online future of open-access science21 days ago
The Internet turned academic publishing on its head. With it researchers and journals began opting to publish open access to improve visibilitypaywalls be damned. But science can be strangely steadfast in its habits and most research articlesare still not free and open to all.
To that objective it’s the eighth-annual Open Access Weekone to celebrate all things open access in the world of academia. Open access is a new tendency in academic publishing where more periodicals and scientists are opting to make their data free and available to all. Some periodicals, like PLOS One, are altogether open access, whereas others publish open access on an article-by-article basis.
Generally speaking, publishing open access is meant for the benefit of science overall. It means that researchers looking to deepen their understanding of a particular subject can easily read the literature without having to go through obscenely expensive subscriptions to certain publications. Because open-access articles are published under creative commons licenses, it also means that researchers can create tools to aggregate articles under common themes.
For the layperson, open access also means the average non-scientists can immediately interact with the scientific literaturesomething the U.S. taxpayer may want to do since many studies are government money. Open access also allows researchers to better their knowledge and understanding: It means doctors have more access to new research.
The history of open access
To understand open access, we need to understand how research is traditionally distributedphysically and at great expense. Academic journals would take papers from researchers, send them off to experts in the field for peer review, and then choose to accept or reject the paper based on those reviews. Then they would publish the article with figures and tables and circulate it to libraries, academic institutions, and whoever paid for a subscription. According to this video published by the slice-of-life-in-academia webcomic, PhD Comics, subscriptions to particular periodicals can cost a library thousands of dollars per year.
That means institutions have to pick and choose which journals and publishing houses they are in favour of. If youre a researcher or graduate student at a particular university that doesnt subscribe to a specific publication, that means you hit a paywall when you try to access the full text of a journal article. Often you can read the abstract for free, but as weve written about before, abstracts are chiefly teasers.
If youre a layperson who doesnt work on colleges and universities, your access is even more limited to the point of not having access to science at all.
Why isnt everything open access ?
In addition to sciences general sluggishness to change, some lob decent criticisms of open science. Most of the debates centre around the idea of oversaturating the scientific community with a deluge of information. For researchers, this can make it difficult to parse out data and information that is and is not relevant to their own research. For laypeople, it is unable to lead to a misunderstanding of the dataintentional or notthat could lead people to develop misinformed beliefs.
Theres also the defense of maintaining at the least some science closed to prevent its misuse. In 2011 scientists made a particularly virulent strain of the H5N1 flu virus, inciting an ethical quandary of whether or not to publish the dataand how much of the data should be available to those who wish to access the paper.
Theres also the issue of cost. Open-access articles mean that institutions and individuals no longer have to pay for the article. That shifts the cost of publishing onto the researcher( and their institution) instead. This can open the door for some periodicals to fake peer reviews in order to take advantage of the income from publishing open access. But you can keep track of these predatory periodicals by consulting an ever-updating list of them online.
If you want to sink your teeth into some open-access goodness, check out our field guide to understanding science onlineitll help you learn to read and construe articles. Then hop over to open-access periodicals like PLOS One and eLife. You can broaden your science horizons by checking out individual open-access articles. Many databases such as Elsevier also have guides to their open-access material. PubMed has a filter for free full text articles on every search query to assistance narrow down outcomes to free and open-access articles only.
You can also check out PLOS Ones blog for more events about Open Access Week.
Photo via Ainsley Seago/ PLOS One( CC BY 4.0 )
Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud | Oliver Burkeman1 month, 16 days ago
The long read: Cheap and effective, CBT became the dominant kind of therapy, consigning Freud to psychologys dingy basement. But new analyzes have cast doubt on its domination and presented dramatic results for psychoanalysis. Is it is high time to get back on the lounge?
Dr David Pollens is a psychoanalyst who assures his patients in a modest ground-floor office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighbourhood probably only rivalled by the Upper West Side for the highest concentration of therapists anywhere on countries around the world. Pollens, who is in his early 60 s, with thinning silver hair, sits in a wooden armchair at the head of a sofa; his patients lie on the lounge, facing away from him, the very best to investigate their most embarrassing fears or fantasies. Many of them come several times a week, sometimes for years, in keeping with analytic tradition. He has an impressive track record treating anxiety, depression and other disorders in adults and children, through the medium of uncensored and largely unstructured talk.
To visit Pollens, as I did one darknes wintertimes afternoon late last year, is to plunge immediately into the arcane Freudian speech of resistance and neurosis, transference and counter-transference. He exudes a sort of warm neutrality; you could easily imagine telling him your most troubling secrets. Like other members of his tribe, Pollens ensure himself as an excavator of the catacomb of the unconscious: of the sex drives that lurk beneath awareness; the hatred we feel for those we claim to love; and the other distasteful truths about ourselves we dont know, and often dont wish to know.
But theres a very well-known narrative when it comes to therapy and the relief of agony and it leaves Pollens and his fellow psychoanalysts decisively on the wrong side of history. For a start, Freud( this story runs) has been debunked. Young boys dont lust after their mothers, or fear their fathers will castrate them; adolescent girls dont envy their brethren penises. No brain scan has in the past situated the ego, super-ego or id. The practice of charging clients steep fees to ponder their childhoods for years while characterising any objections to this process as resistance, demanding farther psychoanalysis looks to many like a swindle. Arguably no other notable figure in history was so fantastically incorrect about nearly every important thing he had to say than Sigmund Freud, the philosopher Todd Dufresne proclaimed a few years back, summing up the consensus and echoing the Nobel prize-winning scientist Peter Medawar, who in 1975 called psychoanalysis the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the 20 th century. It was, Medawar went on, a terminal product as well something akin to a dinosaur or a zeppelin in the history of notions, a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity.
A jumble of therapies emerged in Freuds wake, as therapists struggled to set their endeavours on a sounder empirical footing. But from all these approaches including humanistic therapy, interpersonal therapy, transpersonal therapy, transactional analysis and so on its generally agreed that one emerged triumphant. Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a down-to-earth technique focused not on the past but the present; not on mysterious inner drives, but on adjusting the unhelpful think patterns that cause negative emotions. In contrast to the meandering conversations of psychoanalysis, a typical CBT exercise might involve filling out a flowchart to identify the self-critical automatic thoughts that occur whenever you face a setback, like being criticised at work, or rejected after a date.
CBT has always had its critics, primarily on the left, because its cheapness and its focus on getting people promptly back to productive work constructs it suspiciously attractive to cost-cutting politicians. But even those opposed to it on ideological grounds have rarely questioned that CBT does the job. Since it first emerged in the 1960 s and 1970 s, so many studies have stacked up in its favour that, these days, the clinical lingo empirically supported therapies is usually simply a synonym for CBT: its the one thats based on facts. Seek a therapy referral on the NHS today, and youre much more likely to end up , not in anything resembling psychoanalysis, but in a short series of highly structured sessions with a CBT practitioner, or perhaps learning methods to interrupt your catastrophising believing via a PowerPoint presentation, or online.
Yet rumblings of dissent from the vanquished psychoanalytic old guard have never quite gone away. At their core is a fundamental disagreement about human nature about why we suffer, and how, if ever, we can hope to find peace of mind. CBT exemplifies a very concrete opinion of painful emotions: that theyre principally something be removed, or failing that, made tolerable. A condition such as depression, then, is a bit like a cancerous cancer: sure, it might be useful to figure out where it came from but its far more important to get rid of it. CBT doesnt exactly claim that happiness is easy, but it does imply that its relatively simple: your distress is caused by your irrational faith, and its within your power to confiscate hold of those faiths and change them.
Psychoanalysts contend that things are much more complicated. For one thing, psychological pain needs first not to be eliminated, but understood. From this perspective, depression is less like a tumour and more like a stabbing ache in your abdomen: its telling you something, and you need to find out what.( No responsible GP would just pump you with painkillers and send you home .) And happiness if such a thing is even achievable is a much murkier matter. We dont actually know our own minds, and we often have powerful motives for keeping things that way. We find life through the lens of our earliest relationships, though we usually dont realise it; we want contradictory things; and change is slow and hard. Our conscious minds are tiny iceberg-tips on the dark ocean of the unconscious and you cant genuinely investigated that ocean by means of CBTs simple, standardised, science-tested steps.
This viewpoint has much romantic appeal. But the analysts debates fell on deaf ears so long as experimentation after experiment seemed to confirm the superiority of CBT which helps explain the shocked response to a study, published last May, that seemed to show CBT get less and less effective, as a therapy for depression, over time.
Examining scores of earlier experimental trials, two researchers from Norway concluded that its consequence sizing a technological measure of its usefulness had fallen by half since 1977.( In the unlikely event that this trend were to persist, it could be entirely useless in a few decades .) Had CBT somehow benefited from a kind of placebo impact all along, effective merely so long as people believed it was a miracle cure?
That puzzle was still being digested when researchers at Londons Tavistock clinic published results in October from the first rigorous NHS study of long-term psychoanalysis as a treatment for chronic depression. For the most severely depressed, it concluded, 18 months of analysis worked far better and with much longer-lasting effects than treatment as usual on the NHS, which included some CBT. Two years after the various therapies ended, 44% of analysis patients no longer fulfilled the criteria for major depression, compared to one-tenth of the others. Around the same day, the Swedish press reported a finding from government auditors there: that a multimillion pound scheme to reorient mental healthcare towards CBT had proved completely ineffective in meeting its goals.
Such findings, it turns out, arent isolated and in their midst, a newly emboldened band of psychoanalytic therapists are pressing the instance that CBTs pre-eminence has been largely built on sand. Indeed, they argue that teaching people to guess themselves to wellness might sometimes make things worse. Every thoughtful person knows that self-understanding isnt something you get from the drive-thru, said Jonathan Shedler, a psychologist at the University of Colorado medical school, who is one of CBTs most unsparing critics. His default bearing is one of wry good humour, but exasperation ruffled his demeanor whenever our dialogue dwelt too long on CBTs claims of supremacy. Novelists and poets seemed to have understood this truth for thousands of years. Its only in the last few decades that people have said, Oh , no, in 16 sessions we can change lifelong patterns! If Shedler and others are right, it may be time for psychologists and therapists to re-evaluate much of what they thought they knew about therapy: about what works, what doesnt, and whether CBT has really consigned the cliche of the chin-stroking shrink and with it, Freuds picture of the human mind to history. The impact of such a re-evaluation could be profound; eventually, it might even change how millions of people around the world are treated for psychological problems.
How does that stimulate “youre feeling”?
Freud was full of horseshit ! the therapist Albert Ellis, arguably the progenitor of CBT, liked to say. Its hard to deny he had a phase. One big part of the problem for psychoanalysis has been the evidence that its founder was something of a charlatan, prone to distorting his findings, or worse.( In one especially eye-popping example, which only came to sun in the 1990 s, Freud told a patient, the American psychiatrist Horace Frink, that his sadnes stemmed from an inability to recognise that he was lesbian and hinted that the answer lay in making a large fiscal contribution to Freuds run .)
Marilyn’s dress to Britney’s gum: the social sciences of sky-high memorabilia prices2 months, 12 days ago
Celebrity items tend to be relatively common artefacts yet attract phenomenal sums of fund. Why?
In November last year, the dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John F Kennedy sold for $4.81 million. In 2004, several pieces of Britney Spears used chewing gum sold for up to 100 a piece. There is even a market for the belongings of scorned someones: A bracelet Charles Manson induced in prison is currently selling for $4,500.
Some of these, like Marilyn Monroes dress, reflect a moment in history. But the attraction of others, such as Britney Spears chewing gum, are harder to explain. Celebrity items tend to be relatively common artefacts such as garb or furniture. Their previous ownership rarely adds any functional value and they are often indistinguishable from other, apparently identical items in the marketplace.
Nevertheless, some people are willing to pay huge amounts of money to own these objects and museums regularly hold exhibitions of celebrity collections. Why?
Try it at home
The degree to which a person values celebrity memorabilia will fall along a continuum. Some people value celebrity belongings enormously, while other people care very little. The following thought experimentation is accommodated from a paper by George Newman and colleagues at Yale University.
Write down the name of your favourite living celebrity or public figure. This could be a movie star, a musician, a professional athlete, a politician, etc. This should be someone whom you like very much and would be excited to satisfy personally.
Now imagine that you have the opportunity to bid on a sweater that belonged to that individual. On a scale from one( much less likely to purchase) to nine( much more likely to purchase ), how willing would you be to purchase the sweater compared to an identical use sweater( in the same condition) that was not owned by your favourite living celebrity?
On a scale of one( exceedingly unpleasant) to nine( highly pleasant ), how pleasant would you find the experience of wearing the sweater?
Now consider the following:
There is very little demand for items owned by your favourite living celebrity, so even if “youre trying to”, it is highly unlikely that you could resell the sweater to someone else. How willing would you be to purchase the sweater knowing this, and how pleasant would you find wearing it?
And now consider the following information:
This sweater was given to your favourite living celebrity as a gift but he/ she never actually wore it or even opened the box that it came in. How willing would you be to purchase the sweater knowing this, and how pleasant would you find wearing it?
If you have time, repeat this set of ratings but this time imagine that the sweater belongs to a living celebrity or public figure who you despise.
How it works
In a series of studiesinvolving nine hundred and forty American respondents, George Newman and colleagues found that, on average, respondents willingness to purchase their favourite celebritys sweater was not much affected by the information that they could not re-sell it.
However, willingness plummeted when respondents learned that the sweater had never been touched by the celebrity. This was especially the suit for respondents who were also very sensitive to physical contagion( for example, saying that they would never feed novelty chocolate shaped like dog-doo ).
The writers argue that this pattern of findings show that mere associations and market forces-out have limited influence on the cult of celebrity memorabilia. Instead, they suggest that magical contagion beliefs are what is driving much of the market for celebrity memorabilia in the West.
Magical contagion was first proposed by anthropologists in the late nineteenth century when they find cultural practises focused on the transfer of a persons identity( or soul) into inanimate objects. This is thought to be the basis for rituals such as Haitian voodoo ceremonies and Tibetan processes to determine the next Dalai Lama. There is a growing wealth of research to show that magical contagion faiths are also widespread in scientifically literate, Western adults across a variety of context.
And these biases arise early. In a study I helped run with Bruce Hood( Bristol University) and Paul Bloom( Yale University) we found that children from four years of age believed that an object that had once belonged to the Queen was worth significantly more than an identical transcript. And farther research we have conducted with George Newman is showing that there are consistent cultural differences in people motive for buying celebrity memorabilia.
How did you get on? Do you value your favourite celebritys sweater a lot, a little or not at all? And what effect did the knowledge that the celebrity had never touched it have on your willingness to purchase it? Are you a magical thinker too?
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare2 months, 17 days ago
Australias natural wonder is in mortal threat. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a one-quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest. Employing exclusive photographs and new data, a Guardian special report investigates how the reef has been devastated and what can be done to save it
It was the smell that really have to go to diver Richard Vevers. The smell of demise on the reef.
I cant even tell you how bad I smelt after the dive the smell of millions of rotting animals.
Vevers is a former advertising executive and is now the chief executive of the Ocean Agency, a not-for-profit company he founded to raise awareness of environmental problems.
After diving for 30 years in his spare time, he was compelled to combine his work and hobby when he was struck by the calamities faced by oceans around the world. Chief among them was coral bleaching, caused by climate change.
His job these days is instead morbid. He travels the world documenting dead and dying coral reefs, sometimes gathering photo only ahead of their demise, too.
With the world now in the midst of the longest and probably worst global coral bleaching event in history, its boom time for Vevers.
Even with all that experience, hed never seen anything like the desolation he saw last month around Lizard Island in the northern third of Australias spectacular Great Barrier Reef.
As part of a project documenting the global bleaching event, he had surveyed Lizard Island, which sits about 90 km north of Cooktown in far north Queensland, when it was in full glorious health; then just as it started bleaching this year; then finally a few weeks after the bleaching began.
It was one of the most disgusting sights Ive ever seen, he says.
The hard corals were dead and covered in algae, looks a lot like theyve been dead for years. The soft corals were still dying and the flesh of the animals was decomposing and dripping off the reef structure.
Its the sort of description that would be hard to believe, if it wasnt captured in photographs. In images shared exclusively with the Guardian, the catastrophic nature of the current mass bleaching event on previously pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef can now be revealed.
Is the world truly better than ever?3 months, 18 days ago
The long read: The headlines have never been worse. But an increasingly influential group of thinkers insists that humankind has never had it so good and merely our pessimism is holding us back
By the end of last year, anyone who had been paying even passing attention to the news headlines was highly likely to conclude that everything was terrible, and that the only attitude that attained sense was one of profound cynicism tempered, perhaps, by cynical humor, on the principle that if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, one may as well try to enjoy the ride. Naturally, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump loomed largest for many. But you didnt need to be a remainer or a critic of Trumps to feel depressed by the carnage in Syria; by the deaths of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean; by North Korean missile exams, the spread of the zika virus, or terror attacks in Nice, Belgium, Florida, Pakistan and elsewhere nor by the spectre of catastrophic climate change, lurking behind everything else.( And all thats before even considering the string of deaths of beloved celebrities that seemed like a calculated attempt, on 2016 s part, to rub salt in the wound: in the space of a few months, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher and George Michael, to name only a handful, were all gone .) And few of the headlines so far in 2017 Grenfell tower, the Manchester and London attacks, Brexit chaos, and 24/7 Trump provide any reason to take a sunnier view.
Yet one group of increasingly prominent commentators has seemed uniquely immune to the gloomines. In December, in an article headlined Never be borne in mind that we live in the best of days, the Times columnist Philip Collins an end-of-year summary of reasons to be cheerful: during 2016, he noted, the proportion of the worlds population living in extreme poverty had fallen below 10% for the first time; global carbon emissions from fossil fuel had failed to rise for the third year running; the death penalty had been ruled illegal in more than half of all countries and giant pandas had been removed from the endangered species list.
In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof proclaimed that by many measures, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity, with falling global inequality, child mortality roughly half what it had been as recently as 1990, and 300,000 more people gaining access to electricity each day. Throughout 2016 and into 2017, alongside Collins at the Times, the author and former Northern Rock chairperson Matt Ridley the title of whose book The Rational Optimist constructs his inclinations plain kept up his weekly output of ebullient columns celebrating the promise of artificial intelligence, free trade and fracking. By the time the professional contrarian Brendan ONeill delivered his own version of the debate, in the Spectator( Nothing better sums up the aloofness of the chattering class than their blathering about 2016 being the worst year ever) the standpoint was becoming sufficiently well-entrenched that ONeill seemed in danger of forfeiting his contrarianism.
The loose but growing collection of pundits, academics and thinktank operatives who endorse this obstinately cheerful, handbasket-free account of our situation have occasionally been labelled the New Optimists, a name are aiming to elicited the rebellious scepticism of the New Atheists led by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. And from their perspective, our persisting mood of despair is irrational, and frankly a bit self-indulgent. They argue that it says more about us than it does about how things genuinely are exemplifying a certain tendency toward collective self-flagellation, and an unwillingness to believe in the power of human ingenuity. And “that its better” explained as the result of various psychological biases that served special purposes on the prehistoric savannah but now, in a media-saturated era, constantly mislead us.
Once upon a period, it was of great survival value to be worried about everything that could go wrong, says Johan Norberg, a Swedish historian and self-declared New Optimist whose volume Progress: Ten Reasons to Appear Forward to the Future was published just before Trump won the presidency last year. This is what attains bad news especially compelling: in our evolutionary past, it was a very good thing that your attention could be easily confiscated by negative info, since it are most likely indicate an imminent danger to your own survival.( The cave-dweller who always assumed there was a lion behind the next stone would usually be wrong but hed be much more likely to survive and reproduce than one who always presumed the opposite .) But that was all before newspapers, television and the internet: in these hyper-connected times, our addiction to bad news just leads us to vacuum up depressing or enraging stories from across the globe, whether they threaten us or not, and therefore to conclude that things are much worse than they are.
Really good news, on the other hand, can be a lot harder to place partly because it tends to occur gradually. Max Roser, an Oxford economist who spreads the New Optimist gospel via his Twitter feed, pointed out recently that a newspaper could legitimately have operated the headline NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY every day for the last 25 years. But none would have done so, because predictable daily events, by definition, arent newsworthy. And youll rarely watch a headline about a bad event that failed to occur. But surely any judicious assessment of our situation ought to take into account all the wars, pandemics and natural disasters that might hypothetically have happened but didnt?
I used to be a pessimist myself, says Norberg, an urbane 43 -year-old raised in Stockholm who is now a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington DC. I used to long for the good old days. But then I started reading history, and asking myself, well, where would I have been in those good old days, in my ancestors northern Sweden? I probably wouldnt have been anywhere. Life expectancy was too short. They mixed tree bark in the bread, to make it last longer!
In his volume, Norberg canters through 10 of the most important point basic indicators of human flourishing food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality and the conditions of childhood. And he takes special pleasure in squelching the fantasies of anyone inclined to wish they had been born a couple of centuries back: it wasnt so long ago, he find, that puppies gnawed at the abandoned corpses of beset victims in the street of European cities. As lately as 1882, only 2% of homes in New York had running water; in 1900, worldwide life expectancy was a paltry 31, thanks both to early adult death and rampant child mortality. Today, by contrast, its 71 and those extra decades involve much less agony, too. If it takes you 20 minutes to read this chapter, Norberg writes at one point, in his own fluctuation on the New Optimists favourite refrain, almost another 2,000 people will have risen out of[ extreme] poverty currently defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.
These onslaughts of upbeat statistics seem intended to have the effect of demolishing the usual intractable political disagreements about the state of the planet. The New Optimists invite us to forget our partisan biases and tribal allegiances; to dispense with our cherished theories about what is wrong with the world and what should be done about it, and breathe, instead, the refreshing air of objective fact. The data doesnt lie. Just look at the numbers!
But numbers, it turns out, can be as political as anything else.
The New Optimists are surely right on the nostalgia front: nobody in their right mind should wish to have lived in a previous century. In a 2015 survey for YouGov, 65% of British people( and 81% of the French) said they supposed the world was getting worse but judged according to numerous sensible metrics, theyre simply incorrect. People are indeed rising out of extreme poverty at an extraordinary rate; child mortality really has plummeted; standards of literacy, sanitation and life expectancy have never been higher. The median European or American enjoys luxuries medieval potentates literally couldnt have imagined. The essential finding of Steven Pinkers 2011 volume The Better Angels of Our Nature, a key reference text for the New Optimists, seems also to have been largely accepted: that we are living in historys most peaceful era, with violence of all kinds from deaths in war to schoolyard bullying in steep decline.
But the New Optimists arent primarily interested in persuading us that human life involves a lot less suffering than it did a few hundred years ago.( Even if youre a card-carrying pessimist, “youre supposed to” didnt require convincing of that fact .) Nestled inside that essentially indisputable assert, there are several more controversial implications. For instance: that since things have so clearly been improving, we have good reason to assume they will continue to improve. And farther though this is a claim merely sometimes made explicit in the work of the New Optimists that whatever weve been doing these past decades, its clearly run, and so the political and economic arrangements that have brought us here are the ones we ought to stick with. Optimism, after all, means more than merely expressed his belief that things arent even worse as you imagined: it entails having justified confidence that they will be getting even better soon. Rational optimism holds that the world will pull out of the current crisis, Ridley wrote after the financial crisis of 2007 -8, because of the route that marketplaces in goods, services and notions allow human being to exchange and specialise honestly for the betterment of all I am a rational optimist: rational, because I have arrived at optimism not through temperament or instinct, but by looking at the evidence.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Has the age of quantum computing arrived?4 months, 15 days ago
Its a mind-bending theory with the health risks to change the world, and Canadian tech company D-Wave claims to have cracked the code
Ever since Charles Babbages conceptual, unrealised Analytical Engine in the 1830 s, computer science has been trying very hard to race ahead of its time. Particularly over the last 75 years, there have been many astounding developings the first electronic programmable computer, the first integrated circuit computer, the first microprocessor. But the next expected step may be the most revolutionary of all.
Quantum computing is the technology that many scientists, entrepreneurs and big businesses expect to provide a, well, quantum leap into the future. If youve never heard of it theres a helpful video doing the social media rounds thats couple of million hits on YouTube. It features the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, detailing exactly what quantum computing means.
Trudeau was on a recent visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, one of the worlds resulting centers for its further consideration of the field. During a press conference there, a reporter asked him, half-jokingly, to explain quantum computing.
Quantum mechanics is a conceptually counterintuitive region of science that has baffled some of the finest intellects as Albert Einstein said God does not play dice with the universe so its not something you expect to hear legislators holding forth on. Hurl it into the context of computing and lets just say you could easily make Zac Goldsmith look like an expert on Bollywood. But Trudeau rose to the challenge and devoted what many science commentators thought was a textbook instance of how to explain a complex notion in a simple way.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
How the female Viking warrior was written out of history5 months, 1 day ago
What Bj 581, the Female Viking Warrior tells us about expected gender personas in archaeological inquiry.
In the 1880 s Scandinavian archaeologists uncovered a mausoleum containing all the applies is necessary in order to duel, including shields, an axe, a lance, a sword, and a bow with a establish of heavy arrows, together with two horses, a mare and a stallion. A organize of play sections have all along produce researchers to believe that this person be interesting to strategy, and may have employed the articles to propose engagement tactics. It was the mausoleum of a Viking warrior and naturally was assumed to be a male. It was labelled, and continues to be referred to, as Bj 581.
Physical anthropologists have all along been been able to identify attributes such as copulation and age from osteological analysis, and such investigations in the 1970 s conjured the prospect that this individual was, in fact, female. But the mausoleum goods! Forget the physical characteristics of the skeleton itself, the occupant had to be male.
This past month the American Journal of Physical Anthropology wrote a short analyse that laid the case to rest once and for all. Hedenstierna-Jonson and her squad scienced the blaze out of two Dna samples taken away from the skeleton, sequencing the genome, testing the mtDNA, and conducting strontium isotope analysis to not only pin down the biological copulation of the skeleton, but likewise to recognize geographic origins or” biological affinities”( specific populations she most resembles- includes the British Isles, the North Atlantic Islands, Scandinavia, and a flair of the Eastern Balkans) and the potential mobility of private individuals in life. Taken together, these variables add to the already complex picture of a cosmopolitan Birka, the 8th-10th-century Viking township in which Bj 581 was interred.
While the popular legend has been about a female warrior, the real narrative that underlies this study are the hypothesis the researchers merely blew out of the ocean. Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. do not equivocate in their statements that, for over a century, this individual was mis-identified as male because archaeologists, acculturated in a western culture with strictly defined gender personas, view men alone as warriors, or soldiers, or wielders of violence. A warrior, like warfare itself, is a cultural erect, practices and professions created by human societies to fulfill specific hopes. To presume uncritically that males alone are warriors leads to a cascade of other hypothesis about human behaviours that renders our attempt to understand those demeanors reasonably moot.
These types of hypothesis injure the scientific endeavour of archaeology. Assumptions involving gender characters do not just interpret women invisible in the archaeological register, premises seeing gender roles dilute a better understanding of past societies and the tremendous intricacy of human achievements and activities. Not simply are women invisible, but mortals are deterministic, and all of human history is nasty, brutish, and short.
This is not a brand-new problem in archaeology and anthropology. Our most fundamental categorization of ” soldier the tool creator “ was called into question by feminist researchers such as Joan Gero in the early 1990 s. Gero’s argument then was that stone tools, the most ubiquitous artifact in the archaeological account, were assumed to be manufactured and used by males, even in situation, such as house and village areas, where the program activities were assumed to be dominated by females. Gero represented clearly and concisely that ethnographic and historic sign does not in fact support the man-the-tool creator hypothesis, and that other aspects of our modern price system- our predilection to commodify labor, to quantify “energy” and “expenditure” and therefore give those things higher value- may in fact warp many of our research questions and a priori conclusions.
Skogstrand asserts that androcentrism in archaeology does all human copulations a disservice, underlining the fact that” The point that souls are representing the entire prehistoric society is not simply because women are rejected; it is mainly because men are not gendered .” By uncritically acquiring modern gender characters applied in the past, we are failing to understand how past publics lived and how they find the world. Men are therefore interpreted as invisible as ladies, and the past becomes abiding.
Already the identifcation of Bj 581 is being bogged down in pedantic statements interrogating whether this individual could have been a warrior. The genomics is somewhat certain- these are the remains of the status of women who genetically was part of the Viking world, and who was interred in a Viking tomb with Viking substance culture, specifically substance culture links with combat and war. It continues to be a challenge for some people to reconcile those variables. But those same people are missing “the worlds largest” implications of the genomics analyze. The real questions, the interesting questions: what does it mean that Bj 581 was a female? What does this tell us about how Viking society was structured? Was Bj 581 unique, or did she represent different categories of the status of women that has been largely demoted to mythology? And what can this tell us about how violent conflict was viewed and experienced? Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. just opened up a whole wire of research questions that remind us how complex, rich, and mesmerizing human societies actually are where reference is examine them for who they were and not to manifest who we think we are.
Hedenstierna-Jonson C ., Kjellstrom A ., Zachhrisson T ., et al( 2017) A Female Viking Warrior confirmed by Genomics. American Journal of Physical Anthropology . em>
Gero, Joan( 1991) Genderlithics: Women’s Roles in Stone Tool Production. In Engendering Archaeology: Girls in Prehistory, revised by Joan Gero and Margaret Conkey. Blackwell Publishers . em>
Skogstrand, Lisbeth( 2010) Is Androcentric Archaeology Really About Men? Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress.
‘Favorite scientist’? Please. No wonder @PPact’s reputation’s getting worse[ video]5 months, 2 days ago
By now, we know how seriously Schemed Parenthood sucks at attaining the occurrence for legalized slaying of unborn children. But that’s not about to stop them from trying anyway.
Today’s pro-abort push comes in the form of a month-old video starring a guy who made a name for himself by pretending to be a scientist: The one and only Bill Nye.
Oh, puh-leeze! That’s some projection there, Schemed Parenthood. It’s Nye and you self-righteous monsters who” literally don’t know what you’re talking about .” But then, it figures your” favorite scientist” isn’t an actual scientist .
True story. No wonder Schemed Parenthood likes him so much.
Dear celebrities- think the Earth is flat? Aliens constructed us? Help is at hand | Jules Howard5 months, 10 days ago
From BoB to Shane Warne to Dan Walker, there seems to be a little disarray about some fundamentals of life
Are you a creationist reaching the big time on BBC Breakfast? Or an American rapper who thinks the world is flat? Perhaps youre an Australian cricketer confused about how we can go from monkeys to apes to humans, without the need for pyramid-building foreigners? If youre a celebrity who is dangerously close to having opinions and notions about things you are a bit shaky on, never dread, help is at hand
If humans evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys ?
Haitians are noticing climate change impacts on extreme weather and agriculture | John Abraham5 months, 11 days ago
John Abraham: Zacharie Bien-Aime documents his observations of a changing Haitian climate.
A former student of mine, Luke Hacker formed an organization called Simply Love, which works in Haiti to support educational and agricultural growth in the country. Through this group, I was introduced to an agricultural expert who relayed this personal narrative about environmental impacts on the island.
The story below is from Zacharie Bien-Aime, Agronomist, Local Technique Agent for the United Nations.
Since I was a child, I was taught that there are two rainy seasons. One widens from April to June and another from October to November. As Haitian agriculture is dependent on rainfall for irrigation, farmers begin with clay preparation during the course of its month of February to be ready to plant when the first rainfall begins in April.
For some time, I have observed changes in Haitis climate. Extreme weather conditions alternate between severe drought in the dry season and high rainfall during the course of its wet season. In northwest Haiti where I run, we have just undergone four months of consecutive drought. Peasant plantations have lost most of their harvest because the crops cannot survive without rainfall. The rivers and natural water sources are dry resulting in a food crisis in the local communities.
For more than a month we have observed the presence of seaweed along the coast and experts claim that this is the consequence of climate change. The presence of this seaweed has serious repercussions for the fishing and tourist economy of these regions and also can present concerns to the health of the local population.
All of this is the consequence of environmental degradation. The Haitian people dont have access to other affordable energy resources so businesses and households use principally charcoal. This contribute to severe deforestation across the entire country. According to the records available in the archives of the Ministry of Environment, the vegetation coverage in Haiti is less than a 1.5% as of 2015.
In the agricultural sector of Haiti, climate change has caused a yield reduced to our principal harvests of rice and maize. Also acceleration of soil erosion under heavy rain has led to a decrease in the fertility and productivity of the clay. Regarding water resources, climate change has increased health risks of flooding and prolonged drought. Longer periods of droughts cause an increase in food insecurity and many other conflicts where consistent use of water is needed.
Given these obvious impacts to agricultural resources and natural water resources, it is important to induce the issue of climate change a national priority to be included in the political agenda of policy makers and NGOs in Haiti. Climate change is no longer a myth; it is a reality that we will have to deal with for many decades.
Coming on the heels of the agreement in Paris, stories like this reinforce the need to be committed to taking decisions on climate change. We cannot stop the climate from changing but we have the capacity to slow down those changes and to attain them far more manageable than they otherwise would be. Climate change affects us all, from the wealthiest nations to those that struggle most with subsistence economies. But we all benefit when we can take collective action.
Read more: www.theguardian.com