Tag Archives: research

July 18, 2016

The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists

Today, scientists’ success often isn’t measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It’s instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

I couldn’t agree more.

February 5, 2016

Three and a half degrees of separation

How connected is the world? Playwrights [1], poets [2], and scientists [3] have proposed that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else by six other people. In honor of Friends Day, we’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is 3.57. Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. The average distance we observe is 4.57, corresponding to 3.57 intermediaries or “degrees of separation.” Within the US, people are connected to each other by an average of 3.46 degrees.

Well, there we are. Not six but something closer to four. Or maybe even closer to three, given that the figure has shrunk each time Facebook—which continues to grow—has done one of these studies.

January 14, 2015

You know what’s worse than regular1 spam? Academic spam. “Please send us your paper, who cares about the actual field of research”. I especially hate this type of spam because it can sometimes be hard to distinguish from proper calls for papers.

  1. By regular spam, I mean proposed solutions to erectile dysfunction, dating sites and the like. []
November 8, 2013

How the kettle got its whistle

It may come as a surprise to some, but in all the years that people have been brewing tea, no-one has ever quite been able to work out why kettles whistle. In a basic sense, of course, the reasons are pretty clear, but the physical source of the noise and the specific reason for the whistling sound have both remained elusive.

The article includes a handy picture of what happens.

March 13, 2013

Mendeley

Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

I haven’t used it yet, but it seems to be getting pretty great reviews.

December 19, 2012

Video Games Targeted By Senate In Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced one of Congress’ first pieces of legislation related to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.: a bill to study the impact of violent video games on children.

I disagree with this notion, as does the Entertainment Software Association. Though declining to comment now, they have always maintained that video games do not cause violent behaviour:

“The myth that video games cause violent behavior is undermined by scientific research and common sense,” said Michael Gallagher, president of ESA, in 2010. “According to FBI statistics, youth violence has declined in recent years as computer and video game popularity soared. We do not claim that the increased popularity of games caused the decline, but the evidence makes a mockery of the suggestion that video games cause violent behavior.”

That’s not to say I’m against the idea of a new study as long as it follows common guidelines for scientific research. If past studies1 are any indication, this one will only provide further evidence falsifying the claim.

  1. No need to thumb though scientific journals, even — a fresh article by The Washinton Post provides the facts quite convincingly. []