Saturday, February 28, 2009

2009 edge question reprise--If one combined the predictions contained in the articles "Wisdom Reborn", "The Open Universe", "Homo Evolutis", "Culture" and "A new kind of mind" it would seem that the next big change is for humanity to evolve into one big organism--a worldwide artificially intelligent open-ended, culture-driving web.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Homo Currens

He probably doesn’t remember this, but I have a specific recollection of a conversation with Brother Steve many, many years ago in which he claimed that he had figured out the evolutionary basis for humankind’s talent for endurance running. He offered that early humans, lacking both speed and strength compared to other animals, hunted by chasing down prey until it dropped from exhaustion. He imagined the hunt as this long, unrelenting footrace with some antelope or deer, with the poor animal looking back from time to time wondering, "Who are those guys?"

While humans are generally poor sprinters compared to other animals, their endurance running ability is unique among primates, and it’s pretty rare even among other mammals – with the sizeable exception of social carnivores (dogs and hyenas) and hoofed mammals (horses). But I’d never heard Steve's theory confirmed, nor had I heard any other suggestion for why nature chose this trait for us. That is – until yesterday.

Scientists digging in a Kenyan desert have found what they believe to be the oldest humanlike footprints known to date – made some one and a half million years ago. Reporting in this week's issue of the journal Science, the anthropologists say the creatures that made the prints were probably Homo erectus, a direct ancestor of modern humans.

Homo erectus appears to have been built much the way modern humans are. Studying the more than a dozen footprints, the scientists determined that the individuals had heels, insteps and toes almost identical to humans, and that they walked with a long stride the way we humans do.

"The prints match a men's shoe size of about 9, which gives you a height of about 5 feet 9 inches," says Brian Richmond of George Washington University, who was part of the excavation team. "Here, we have really compelling evidence that they were walking with a long stride, they had an arch in the foot the way we have, and the arch puts a spring in our step, which makes walking more efficient," he says.

Now, here’s the interesting part. Dan Lieberman, an anthropologist at Harvard University, says the footprints confirm that the evolution of the foot was crucial to becoming human. For one thing, it allowed people to run.

"Imagine you are a Homo erectus and you are hungry," he says. "And you want to kill something for dinner. The weapons available to you are incredibly primitive, so one thing early hominids might have included in their repertoire of hunting strategies was to run animals in the heat." Eventually, he says, the prey would collapse and could then be killed.

Ah, so, it turns out that Steve was correct all along.

Endurance running is in our blood. It’s part of who we are, and sets us apart from the other primates. Long before we had brains, we were running. As with most things, Springsteen had it right: baby, we were born to run.

When I was in high school, spring track began about this time of year, right on the heels of the winter thaw. Not a bad time to get in touch with your inner Homo erectus and hit the roads.

MySpace Codes

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Family Pictures

Update: Jim brought to my attention that there maybe some confusion about the pictures. The pictures will not be posted on the blog, instead the link for pictures in the right column of the blog will contain a "last updated" date. The pictures are more accessible on the Picasa webpage versus the blog. This post with slide show intention was to alert people of the changes (links etc.) and where to look. In fact more pictures have already been posted (Christmas) on the Picasa. The slide show in the right column will stay, but posting will mainly be for writing. Family videos will continue to be added to the blog until I find a suitable alternative-Youtube and Veoh have copyright issues with the videos.

I changed to Google Picasa service-it has unlimited bandwidth a month so expect more pictures to be added in the coming days. Here is the album to view and download the pictures. Also a link is on the right column of the blog so people can quickly access the albums without searching for this post.

Grandma's B-day Video Part 4

Ken Mink 73 year old Collegiate Basketball Player

A Follow up on Big Myk's post concerning the 73 year old collegiate basketball player, Ken Mink. Mink failed Spanish-now is ineligible and forced his team to forfeit a game. Just another typical apathetic college athlete.

A Curiosity

Hey this is Tommy, sorry for not posting earlier. This has been on my mind recently and i would like to see what others opinions are on it. so i had this conversation with a friend of mine about UFO's. I came up with a theory that instead of people seeing UFO's in the sky they are really seeing time machines from the future landing. I think this is possible cause no one ever sees aliens so maybe its just humans, thats why we do not what it really is.

Sorry for the randomness
Tommy Harvey

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grandma's 90th Pictures

Here are 24 photos of Grandma's birthday party. Unfortunately, I can only upload 100 megs a month so watch for monthly additions over the next four months. The pictures are downloadable and are as large as possible thus exceeding my bandwidth quickly with only a small amount of photos. I wanted everyone to have access to the best pictures possible in case anyone wanted fairly high resolution photos. Click on the picture and click on "All Sizes" to get the largest size and the ability to download the file.

Another sex difference -- the way we sin

According to a recent report from the Vatican, men and women sin differently. See Vatican study shows how sexes differ on the seven deadly sins .

The report is based on a study of confessions carried out by Father Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar. I suppose, being too old to actually sin himself, Fr. Busa decided to begin cataloguing other people's sins. The Pope's own personal theologian backs up the report in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, so it must be a pretty good study. The study examines how frequently men and women confess to engaging in the traditional seven deadly sins announced by St. Gregory the Great in the late 6th century: lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger, envy and pride.

It turns out that we didn't really need a study to tell us how men sin. Lust was number one for men, followed by gluttony and sloth. Duh.

The sins of women (being the more complicated sex) are less predictable: pride, followed by envy and anger. Gluttony and sloth are at the bottom of women's sinning preferences (well, nothing too surprising there).

I suspect that the high levels of anger in women are due in part to the amount of sloth committed by men.

And let me make a plug for my own sex. St. Gregory ranked the seven deadly sins based on the degree the sins offended the command of love. Under his ranking, lust, the principal male sin, offended love the least, while pride, the female sin of choice, violated love the most. We men may be fat, lazy lechers, but we haven't lost our sense of humanity.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Curing Aids

Even though vaccines and cures have not yet been found, could HIV be eliminated through current medicine and smart Public Health Policies? Eliminate HIV similar to Smallpox. Should screening for HIV be standard during your checkup like blood pressure? Can you force drugs on a group of people to eliminate a pandemic killing 2.1 million people a year? Is it feasible? The Plan to Cure HIV.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lancet and the Iraqi Studies

This is a response to Myk's comment, I wanted to touch on both things included in the comment so I decided to make a new post as this no longer pertains to the marijuana commercial post. I probable should have saved this for Grandma's B-day, oh well.
"Peter:"That article I posted in my comment is from the Lancet a really good medical journal, the British version of the New England Medical Journal."

My public health expert I used some years back in an AIDS case (from of all places Johns Hopkins), said that Lancet, while commanding a certainly level of respect, tended to be out there somewhat and not trusted by everyone. Lancet, if you recall, published the two fairly heavily criticized Iraq mortality studies."

I wonder if the health expert knows the authors of the Iraqi study-it was a Johns Hopkins study. Also "not trusted by everyone" not sure about the Lancet but for the Iraqi study, the non trusting groups are mainly the U.S, British, Iraqi government and journalists. Large numbers of statisticians, epidemiologist and pollsters agree with methodology and results. Of course there is always debate around the imprecision that results from all cluster polling however I would not go so far as to say it heavily criticized by the scientific community, opposite in fact. It was lambasted in the media (The study needed Nate Silver as PR, he would have won over the media like he did my heart with his savvy polling). I do not take the study as the complete truth (though very objective in carrying out standard population polling methods), however I do believe the Iraqi study is very important as it was the only survey to use active population polling versus every other method that used passive surveillance (news reports and hospital records etc). Interestingly Les Roberts (one of the authors) did a very similar study (he has done countless) on Rwandan refugees-1.7 million had been killed. The study is widely accepted and resulted in the UN requesting 140 billion in aid, the withdrawn of foreign armies from Congo and the US state department pledge an addition 10 billion in aid.

As for the Lancet, I was a little off in my comparison to the NEMJ. It is more like NEMJ=Princeton University, the Lancet=lowly Duke or Columbia University. The impact factor (scientific study on validity of Scientific Journals) of the Lancet is extremely high, meaning high number of scientists use its resources, ranking it in the top ten of hundreds of journal publications (#10 versus NEMJ #2). Three docs I talked to this morning (anecdotal evidence) would have no reservation in using journal articles from the Lancet. All scientific journal articles are debatable (some more than other) hence peer reviewing. The Iraqi study was no different, garnering debate (though not any more extensive versus other polling studies) over its shortcomings-heavily criticized though, not really.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sept. 18th

Via Zero Hedge, whose title for this post was "How the World Almost Came to an End at 2pm on September 18th":

"On Thursday (Sept 18), at 11am the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the U.S., to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in the matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help and pumped a $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there.

If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2pm that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the U.S., would have collapsed the entire economy of the U.S., and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

ONDCP Commerical

The Office of National Drug Control Policy/Partnership for a Drug-Free America (ONDCP) just launched a new ad campaign against marijuana making their total expenditure to date 1.7 billion dollars. This ad campaign was launched after the ONDCP paid 43.7 million dollar for a 3 year independent study of the effectiveness of the ad campaign. The study reported that the ads do not work. After seeing this new fear campaign on the gateway effect of marijuana I feel that the ONDCP again missed the mark but I leave it up to you guys to be the judge.
American Family stuck in Pakistan
The above link can explain itself. Check out the videos in the blog.

This just made my Christmas Wishlist

Finally I can take a Sunday drive with my personal helicopter 8000 feet in the air.

2009 Edge Question

This year's question, answered by hundreds of professors, scientists, writers, etc.: "What will change everything? What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live and see?"

Some pretty interesting answers. My favorite is Alison Gopnik's "Never-ending childhood." He predicts that a new information economy will result in a longer period of learning because people will be well-off enough to just spend time thinking about stuff: "universal and extended schooling means that the period of flexible learning and dependence can continue until we are in our thirties."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

British Snowmen

LONDON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Heavy snow forced closures of London Heathrow Airport runways, transit service, schools and courthouses Monday, and generally brought everything to a standstill. It, nevertheless, created a healthy outlet for British creativity: