Facts or ‘Facts’?

"The video ratings and view counts suggest," the authors write, "the
presence of a community of YouTube users critical of immunization."
This is hardly limited to vaccinations; a quick search for content
based on "Duesberg" pulled up a number of highly rated and viewed
videos that promote his dangerous contention that HIV is a harmless
virus. Find a more prominent area of scientific controversy—say,
evolution or climatology—and it's easy to find a deluge of inaccurate
information.

Via Ars Technica

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Anti-Science

I don't think I'll see this in any US bookstores. Except perhaps as the "Truth" section.

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Scientific literacy in America

"A slightly higher proportion of American adults qualify as
scientifically literate than European or Japanese adults, but the truth
is that no major industrial nation in the world today has a sufficient
number of scientifically literate adults," he said. "We should take no
pride in a finding that 70 percent of Americans cannot read and
understand the science section of the New York Times."

via Press Esc

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Is it economic to be green?

After the Stern Review was released last week (more analysis here), BBC News message board is asking readers whether they are willing to pay green taxes. After reading a fair amount of the comments (~5 pages worth) I was dismayed that many BBC readers either think the review is just another British government way to tax the population, or climax changes are not scientifically proven, or worse still, admitted defeat because the small nation of Britain can't change the global climate so let's carry on as normal.

For the sceptics, why do they constantly asking for proofs? Does the IPCC reports proof enough? No. Do all the thousands of scientific papers on the subject enough? Apparently not either. I think it is because climate science (just like any science, really) is complex and the answers to any complex questions will inherently complex. But yet, most people are looking for the simple answer to ever more complex questions, in life or in anything.

As for those who don't want to pay the green taxes. They are the very same group of people that make me leave that country without regret. They want the best of both worlds, they want the cake and eat it. They complain about how bad the NHS is but yet don't want to pay the tax increase needed to modernize and reorganize the NHS. They just want their free health care. They complain about the state of the education system but yet do not want to pay tax that would raise teachers salaries or increase number of teachers. And with the green tax, apparently taxing the people who drive SUV/4×4 to deliver their kids to school is not right because their big car is 'essential' to their life.

Does having a conscious play no part in their decision making? Do we need the intervention of the Vatican church (or any religions for that matter) before the majority of the Earth's population will take notice? As much as I dislike religion as an organized movement, if that's what it will take to avert the upcoming climate crisis I am all for it.

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QotD: Teacher’s Pet

What was (or is) your favorite subject in school?

When I was at school in Hong Kong my favorite subject was science, with maths a close second. I despised Chinese while English came quite nature to me. Strange for a Chinese but it's true. Then when I emigrated to the UK and progressed to A-Level, maths and science had swapped and maths became my favorite subject with physics second. I liked computer studies too because it is hi tech but at that time my mind was in the clouds of abstract mathematics and so I was no good at writing programs in BASIC. I did learn Pascal on my own and managed to write a rudimentary algebraic graph drawing program. Really I was more interested in computer games than learning it as a skill.

Then I went to uni to study physics and I enjoyed that very much in the first year. The maths was easy (the double maths A-Level I took prepared me for it) and really not much work was needed to get good grades. Then in the second and final years we got into the heavy shit; thermodynamic, solid state physics, etc. that involves statistical maths. I hated them with a vengeance, but since they are a very important part of physics I ended up not doing well in exams. It was then that I realized while I love the concept of physics I am crap at actually applying the theory. Around the same time I found that computer programming came very easy to me and I started taking more and more computing courses as my optional units to boost my average. It worked and I managed to graduate with a degree!

And this is how a physics graduate ended up working as a software engineer/developer/programmer. The road isn't that windy, really…

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The Truth

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Leah and I watched the An Inconvenient Truth this afternoon. It was both nothing new and revelation to me. Nothing new because all the facts Al Gore presents in the movie, I’ve previously read in New Scientist over the course of perhaps a decade. Revelation because having Al Gore summarised all the facts and evidences in a coherent argument brings a much greater impact than each individual items.

Definitely a must see movie of this decade, along side Syriana, and Fahrenheit 9/11.

As for how carbon neutral we are, using the Carbon Calculator, Leah and I are both emitting less than the national average (9900 for me, 13000 for Leah, US national average is 15000 pound/year). This is still much higher than I thought we are emitting, taking into account of us not owning a car and having a very small electricity bills. The majority of our emission is from the trans-Atlantic flights that we take to UK every year. I guess we just have to cut down our European visit in the name of saving the planet!

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Risk

NASA Chief: Risk Inherent in Shuttle Flight.

Right on! For Michael Griffin.

DUH! To the people who think space flight is routine and safe, and need to be reminded that these brave astronauts know and accept the risk for the betterment of humankind.

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Mars? Yes! Hubble Space Telescope? No!

Rutan Takes Aim at NASA’s CEV Plans, Likens it to ‘Archeology’

“The budget forecast [for NASA] is to go out and spend hundreds of billions of dollar to go to Mars and yet you don’t have the courage to go back to the Hubble … it looks like you got the wrong guys doing it,” Rutan concluded.

How very true…

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Genographic Project Result



Genographic Project Result

The result of my DNA analysis for the Genographic Project has been uploaded! Contrary to popular misconception, I am Chinese 😉

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