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My desktop at the moment (but not, sadly, my kitten):

Image: 125

Wowowow. CategoryFrighteninglyCute! --AC




Current script says, when starting: badger, badger, badger, badger version..... big snake !!!!
I like this place :)



Interesting article on online communities: [A group is its own worst enemy].




Quotes I collected for my thesis:



Research is the act of going up alleys to see if they are blind -- Plutarch

I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me -- Winnie the Pooh

There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep - Homer (800 BC - 700 BC), The Odyssey

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous - Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale - Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein

Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there’s nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone - Terry Pratchett

"Surprise is the essence of humor, and nothing is more surprising than truth." -Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance - Terry Pratchett

Fortunately science, like that nature to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor by space. It belongs to the world, and is of no country and of no age. The more we know, the more we feel our ignorance; the more we feel how much remains unknown; and in philosophy, the sentiment of the Macedonian hero can never apply - there are always new worlds to conquer; Sir Humphry Davy



And further news relevant to the comment below (thanks to MoonShadow pointing this out to me..): http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/usatoday/20041011/tc_usatoday/scientistsgingerlytapintobrainspower&e=2

So. No flying planes by mind control just yet, although Pong was a little further along than I expected...



On controlling complex aircraft through brain implants/'mind reading' by computer:
http://www.geocities.com/skews_me/implants.html

OK, it's geocities, but it seems believable. Quote: Direct neural control of complex machines is a long-term U.S. military goal. DARPA has a brain-machine interface program aimed at creating next-generation wireless interfaces between neural systems and, initially, prosthetics and other biomedical devices. — Rodney Brooks, “Toward a Brain-Internet Link,” WirelessNewsFactor?, 10 Dec 2003. The article goes on about the things people have done with implants and so on - but they are all very basic at the time of writing. The problem with this kind of thing is the fact that it is very, very hard to get permission to test humans. So no, they haven't done it yet, not even in the US military. I'm sure it'll be possible eventually, but if you think about how complicated an aircraft is and how much a pilot has to learn before s/he can control it 'automatically' - think how many individual neurons are going to be part of that hands -to-brain-to-hands network. Then think about the fact that once you've learnt a task - like riding a bike, for example - it doesn't go through your 'thinking' brain any more; it's become a natural reflex. The pilot would have to relearn all that. Then think about the number of neurons involved at the brain end in all the movements of the hands and feet. Even typing causes hundreds to fire. And to the best of my knowledge, to do this kind of thing they'd have to tap most of those hundreds. The brain is remarkably flexible, but controlling a sophisticated jet is rather more complex than moving a cursor on a screen.

Up-to-date research (public research, that is). I don't have a subscription from home, and I can't be bothered to go through CUS so it can wait until tomorrow for me to read it :)

I'll leave the rest of those to check out tomorrow. The search is 'brain implants control computer' in the search box on the [PubMed Entrez page]. You'll need subscriptions to view many of the papers, I'm afraid.




Animal activists campaign for the animals being used in experiments, right? Well, no, actually, only the cute and fluffy ones. Monkeys, cats, that kind of thing. I've often thought that it's a bit unfair to completely ignore the huge number of flies and other bugs used in research, but it would be a bit counter-productive to actually suggest this to an activist. The same is true of most efforts at preservation - rhinos (not cute and fluffy, but striking), elephants, tigers, pandas - the prettier the better. But today we got a letter through the door from [Buglife], a charity aimed at conservation of bugs of all kinds throughout Europe. I'm really, really tempted to give them some money, it's about time someone set up something like this :)
(PeterTaylor) Insert oblig. rant about Americanisation of English. Insectlife, I tell you.
I admit, I did think of desktops not drosophila when I saw the edit summary. ^^ --Requiem
In many labs any and all invertebrates are referred to as 'bugs'. As are bacteria. It's a common nickname :) - SunKitten



Psychedelic magic fruit fly muscles!

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Today's rant, directed at UkReligionChristian:

<Original Poster, on the tired old debate over evolution/creation>
> > >That was my point evolution does not fit, unless we move this bit here,
> > >that bit there .... Oh Hek just lie!

<me>
I'm curious how you think this works. Does every researcher take an oath when they start their research to uphold the evil untruth of evolution? Or is it just a few bad apples who are loudly proclaiming the theory. Who are they? Perhaps it's the researchers - people like myself, studying the ins and outs of evolution:

'Oh look. My results don't fit at all with our theory.'
'You better junk them, then - make them up instead. After all, no-one's going to notice - not our boss, not the others in our lab, not the reviewers of our paper, not the journal editor and not all the scientists who read the paper. They'll all take our word for it. Nobody'd bother doing any more experiments in this line of research.'

Random thought - this practice seems to be all but encouraged at high school. "Please turn to page xxx of your textbook. This is the experiment we're doing today. Here's what you should observe, and this is what you should conclude." 45 minutes later: "The results aren't what the textbooks say they should be." - "Oh, just make them up. Grab the ones from the textbook and insert a few 'off' ones."
My experience was more of the lines "Do this experiment".  I did the experiment, didn't get the results I was expecting, and often made up 'correct' values.  I was then told why the results I'd actually got were the correct ones.  After a while, I stopped making up the 'correct' values. --Angoel
MoonShadow wouldn't be too surprised if a lot of people whose science education stopped at GCSEs / A-levels never quite thought about why real scientists might want to behave any differently. It doesn't help that every so often scientists *do* go bad.
Yes, I know. Which is a problem with the system as well as a flaw in the rant. I decided not to insert comments to that effect here and for the paragraph below (which also happens, substituting 'my pet' for 'evolution'), because the rant flowed better without them :) - SunKitten

Or perhaps it's the bosses - the senior scientists who run the labs:

"Oh no, I don't like those results. Repeat the experiments until you get results that support evolutionary theory.'

Or perhaps it's (all three of) the (independent) people who review the papers:

"It's a paper about an experiment the results of which support Creation Science.'
'Write back to the journal and say it's rubbish. None of that round here.'

Or the journal editors?

'A paper supporting Creationism? No, can't be having that. Publish these papers instead.'

Perhaps it's the authors of the textbooks:

'This is my textbook, in which I thoroughly endorse Evolutionary theory. I cite all these papers with good results supporting Creation Science, but I say they don't say that. No one ever checks up on references, and everyone believes everything they read in textbooks, so it's fine.'

Maybe it's the teachers who teach the children wrongly. One wonders how this is supposed to work - surely if every lab makes up results to support a theory they'll end up getting something wrong. Maybe it *is* a global conspiracy, and every now and then the physicist down the road will check in with the palaeontologist next door to make sure they're getting dates and times just right.

'Oh, I've just made up a new date for the final formation of the earth. Here, does it fit with your research?'
'Hmm.. well, if you could make it a bit earlier, that'd be better. I've just published a paper saying these fossils are older than that.'
'Oh, no problem then. I'll move it back a few million years.'

To be honest, I find your assumption that all scientists are lying rather rude. I work in a lab studying the evolution of the Diptera. My colleagues are honest people who are studying intricate details of this fascinating work for a good deal less money than they'd get working commercially. Their results are published in journals available to anyone who wishes to read them - many are online for free (see www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi). There is no oath to support evolutionary theory at the expense of honesty, nor are there fudged results - or if there are, they are picked up by reviewers and other readers of papers. Details of experiments are published along with the results so others can repeat them or build on them. I see no benefit in lying and/or making up results.

I would appreciate it if you would explain your assertion above - maybe you have been in labs where everyone was hell-bent on pushing evolutionary theory at the expense of honesty. Perhaps you have spoken to teachers who will happily lie to the children they teach, telling them that every scientific theory is a fact. Perhaps you have seen textbooks which don't provide references for what they explain, or whose references are incorrect. In any case, I'd like to know - at the very least, I don't want to work wherever it is.
The thing about teachers would apply to all primary school teachers (who are expected to teach science nowadays) and the majority of secondary school science teachers.
Well, I managed to come through a fairly standard school with a decent impression of the ScientificMethod (and I started out Creationist). In any case, that there are bad teachers does not in any way invalidate the subject that they teach.
I didn't say it did.
On thinking about this again, I doubt very much that you'll find many teachers who think or teach that theories are facts. You may find many whose pupils go home thinking that that's what they were taught, but I don't think there are many who genuinely teach that - SunKitten
Most primary school teachers are not scientists - they may not understand the difference themselves - and even if they do, a primary school teacher is always right. Primary school children consider 'Miss' to be omniscient, and 'Miss' doesn't want to discourage them from that lest everything she says be treated as nonsense. (How many primary school teachers read this wiki? Count the flames to find out!) In my experience, A-level is about when teachers start introducing the distinction. And some freely admit that most science teachers lie to GCSE classes.
There is a good point here - for example, my primary school science teacher refused to believe that glass was a supercooled liquid (despite me pointing out the cathedral glass example). However, in secondary school, all the better teachers actually told you when what they were saying was in some way inaccurate. They didn't deliberately mislead. - CorkScrew

<end post>
I mean, don't people even think about what they say? 'Oh heck, just lie'? Pathetic. At least be realistic in your accusations of dishonesty. But no, not much realism round the CreationScience camp *dons FlameProofSuit*: <flamebait> Perhaps they've got so much experience of the way some of the more vocal creationist "scientists" operate that they can't conceive of any science anywhere operating differently, and "scientist" in their mind equates to "person who reinterprets the world around them creatively in order to justify their beliefs and preconceptions"? </flamebait> - MoonShadow
That sounds like a description of Dawkins except for the word "creationist".
He may not be perfect, but is it really your opinion that he [stands for] having the relationship between beliefs, preconceptions and observations of the world around him that way around? - MoonShadow
That's certainly not too far off the impression I got from reading The Blind Watchmaker.
I think I can see why you'd think this... he suggests a theory and then shows the evidence for it. This can come across as trying to prove a preexisting theory, but ignores the fact that the book doesn't necessarily follow the evolution of theories in a chronological manner - it looks at the output first and then sees how we got there. This doesn't mean that the output was created first. By contrast, in most religions, the output was pieced together long before any sort of scientific method was in common use. - CorkScrew
That... astonishes me. Please do feel free to point out to me where Dawkins says scientists should use their observations of the world around them to justify their beliefs instead of basing their beliefs on their observations of the world around them. --MoonShadow
I make particular reference to the computer program Dawkins talks about which draws pretty trees. He appears to see the tendency to producing nicer trees with time to be strong evidence for macro-evolution.
Is this supposed to be relevant to my last comment, or is it mis-indented? - MoonShadow, confused
It is a reply to your last comment. He doesn't say "Scientists should use their observations of the world to justify their beliefs", but he interprets the results of an irrelevant experiment as good support for his beliefs.
I can't respond to that, since I don't have the text to hand. I would be interested to see the text. Do you generally believe all experiments involving computer simulations are completely irrelevant to real-world processes? Does the text totally fail to define a connection between the simulation being described and the real-world process it is supposed to be modelling? I hate to put the question this way around, but would you say it is the intent of that text in particular to be a rigorous scientific publication, the way it is of [these] texts, or is it more like a New Scientist report? - MoonShadow
Computer simulations can be extremely useful, if done well. The book is popular science, and as such does not describe the simulation in anywhere near enough detail for independent reproduction. However, it tells us enough about the small-scale nature of the simulation that it would require a few pages of analysis to persuade me that it could even provide much weight for micro-evolution, which is what it models. I think continuation of this thread

would best be done over a copy of the book.

Gah, these people really irritate me. It irritates me that they irritate me. I'm going home (from my work in this DenOfIniquity? where we study LIES!).
Sigh. I could have written the above. I'm not sure whether I find their casual dismissal of the ScientificMethod or their approach to science (as descibed by MoonShadow above) more aggravating. -StuartFraser
Sorry, I'm slightly confused, not to say overwhelmed.  Are you, in fact in favour of Creation over Evolution, have I got it completely the wrong way round, or have I actually missed the point entirely **apologetic creeping** --PHL4IVI3R1D3R
I'm pretty sure SunKitten believes in Evolution since she is studying the effects of it (roughly speaking) on mosquitos at University... :) --K
I believe in both. I believe God created the universe, and I think that evolutionary theory is pretty accurate in describing how life arose on this world. My problem lay with the poster above assuming that scientists 'just lied' to cover up the gaps in evolutionary theory. That doesn't happen and (like I attempted to show above, with helpings of sarcasm), it'd be quite hard to do. Whether the gaps he sees are genuinely phenomena unexplained by evolution or simply the fact that he's not had it properly explained to him/not been bothered to read up on it, I don't and didn't know. I just got a bit sick of people assuming that 'the scientists' (like there is such a group) were lying to the public to push their evil theory. It doesn't make sense. And yes, I study the evolution of development in the Diptera, mainly the mosquito and the fruit fly. Does that answer the question? :) - SunKitten
Yeah, thanks, that's what I think as well.  (It's always nice to find out that you agree with someone on the big, philosophical questions ;))  --PHL4IVI3R1D3R
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