Local Roundup: Former Arcata standout Wilson named to NABC Honors Court

first_imgKansas City, Mo. >> Former Arcata High School standout Latrell Wilson, who recently graduated from Concordia University (Portland, Ore.), was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court along with five of his Cavaliers teammates, the association announced on Tuesday.The NABC Honors Court celebrates the talents and gifts that the honorees possess off the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom. These six Cavaliers are Christopher Edward, Taylor Harris, …last_img

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More Reasons to Doubt Scientific Pronouncements

first_imgIt’s unsettling to hear scientists say that long-held beliefs might be wrong, but that’s the nature of science.  Scientific “findings” are tentative, not absolute.  Some see this as a strength of science, but unless actual progress is demonstrated, that strength is called into question.  Recent news casts doubt on various beliefs that had been trusted for a long time.1.  We were wrong about Neanderthal Man:  For well nigh a century or more, Neanderthals were thought too brutish to make art.  Not any more.  Cave paintings alleged to have been created by Neanderthals have been discovered in Spain, New Scientist reported.  Dating tests are still being done on the figures, which appear to be representations of seals.  The correctives are more serious, though.  The article also pointed out that dating of other cave art is uncertain.  Paul Pettitt from the University of Sheffield let that cat out of the bag: “Even some sites we think we understand very well such as the Grotte Chauvet in France are very problematic in terms of how old they are.”2.  Rings around the tree dates:  What could be more reliable than tree ring dating?  Trees make annual rings; count them and you’ve got an absolute date.  Why, then, did PhysOrg report, “Tree rings may underestimate climate response to volcanic eruptions”?  A study re-evaluated some estimates, and found them overall quite good, with one “glaring error” – trees might not produce rings after a volcanic eruption strong enough to affect climate.  But if dates could be underestimated by factors not previously considered, could they be overestimated by other unknowns?  The article exposed some of the assumptions that go into the dating method:The potential absence of rings in the first one to three years following eruption further degrades the temperature reconstruction. Because tree-ring information is averaged across many locations to obtain a representative estimate of northern hemisphere temperature, tree-ring records with and without missing rings for a given year are merged, leading to a smearing and reduced and delayed apparent cooling.3.  Power Law, or lawless power?   One of science’s great strengths is the ability to describe nature mathematically.  But now, PhysOrg said, it’s time for a “frank discussion,”  about the use of power laws.  These are widely-used techniques to describe relationships between phenomena so as to show causation, instead of just correlation.  Causation is a vexed question in philosophy of science.  There’s nothing like a graph to give the appearance of objectivity.  Not so fast; Michael Stumpf [Imperial College London] and Mason Porter [Oxford], wrote in Science about “the inexact science of trying to apply the power law to situations in science where it’s not always easy to show a direct link between correlation and causation, a key problem they say, in much of the science that is conducted today.”  The original paper in Science began,1The ability to summarize observations using explanatory and predictive theories is the greatest strength of modern science. A theoretical framework is perceived as particularly successful if it can explain very disparate facts. The observation that some apparently complex phenomena can exhibit startling similarities to dynamics generated with simple mathematical models has led to empirical searches for fundamental laws by inspecting data for qualitative agreement with the behavior of such models. A striking feature that has attracted considerable attention is the apparent ubiquity of power-law relationships in empirical data. However, although power laws have been reported in areas ranging from finance and molecular biology to geophysics and the Internet, the data are typically insufficient and the mechanistic insights are almost always too limited for the identification of power-law behavior to be scientifically useful …. Indeed, even most statistically “successful” calculations of power laws offer little more than anecdotal value.Sure enough; Nature last month reported a rethinking about power-law extrapolation in geology.2 “Multi-scale modelling of the deformation of magnesium oxide reveals the need for a re-examination of the way in which laboratory data are used to estimate the strength of Earth’s lower mantle,” Andrew M. Walker said.  “….The results suggest that the usual power-law extrapolation is not reliable over the wide range of strain rates that must be considered, potentially changing our view of the way in which the deep mantle deforms.”  Note: “anecdotal value” is indistinguishable from “educated guesswork.”4.  Rethinking evolution:  Since the discovery of DNA’s structure and function as the carrier of genetic information in the 1950s, most evolutionary work has concerned mutations and natural selection on DNA alone.   A major new monkey wrench has come into focus in the last decade: Epigenetics – heritable information and processes that lie beyond DNA (see new book by Woodward and Gills, The Mysterious Epigenome).  One of the few papers to rewrite evolutionary history with epigenetics in mind is a paper in Current Biology,3 “Epigenetics: What News for Evolution?”   The news is that there is little news – yet.  They don’t even know the questions, let alone the answers.  The authors wrote, “Having a formal body of evolutionary theory that incorporates epigenetics, as well as developing a clearer quantification of the connection between epigenetic variation and phenotypes will allow us to more rigorously ask whether or how epigenetics plays an important role in adaptive evolution.”References:1. Stumpf and Porter, “Mathematics: Critical Truths about Power Laws.”  Science 10 February 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6069 pp. 665-666, doi:10.1126/science.1216142.2. Andrew M. Walker, “Earth Science: Limits of the power law,” Nature 481, (12 January 2012), pp. 153–154, doi:10.1038/481153a.3. Ben Hunter, Jesse D. Hollister, Kirsten Bomblies, “Epigenetic Inheritance: What News for Evolution?”  Current Biology, Volume 22, Issue 2, R54-R56, 24 January 2012, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.11.054.There is no question that scientists provide a wealth of knowledge in the form of data and observations of the natural world.  Whether they understand what they are looking at (particularly in questions of origins), and can explain it with rigor above that of anecdote, are entirely different questions.  Healthy skepticism is a virtue when approaching scientific claims – especially about non-reproducible phenomena, like origins.  Would that the skeptics, who are usually skeptical of creationism and naive about evolutionism, would develop some healthy skepticism about the nature and targets of their own skepticism.(Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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The world awaits the Olympics to kick off

first_imgThe last few hours before the world’s biggest sporting spectacle begins is always filled with tension and suspense.And as the city of London gives final touches to its seven-year-long preparation before the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night, everyone wishes the Games are peaceful and each of the 304 sporting events is fought in the right spirit.Gone are the days when the extravaganza called Olympic opening ceremony was kept as a secret. It has become almost a tradition now for other countries to spy on the drama that will unfold in those three hours plus.Glitz, glamour, light and sound, all that will go into the opening ceremony being directed by Danny Boyle has already been detailed. But there can still be a huge suspense as what the world will finally see through live TV signals can be different.The weather in London has been pleasant after an incredibly wet summer. The sun has been shining the last few days, which means the locals can wear bare minimum clothes.Four years ago, when Beijing wanted to show the world its sporting might and ability to organise a high voltage opening ceremony, they wanted to fire ‘rockets’ in the air to disperse the clouds!In London, no such thing has been planned and whatever nature decides will be accepted. The big problem for LOCOG, organisers of the London Olympics, is who will light the Olympic flame.Lord Sebastian Coe, head of LOCOG told Mail Today on Thursday who will light the torch is still undecided. From the man on the streets to social media like Twitter, there has been intense speculation.advertisementFive-time Olympic gold medallist rower Steve Redgrave and decathlete Daley Thompson are touted as favourites but Kelly Holmes, winner of the 800m and 1500 m in Athens, 2004, could also got a look in. But don’t be surprised if the organisers decide that more than one top former British athlete gets to do the honours.After the opening ceremony, it will be 15 days of pulsating action where riveting rivalries in track and field and swimming have already attracted attention, aroused interest and instilled desire.Usain Bolt vs Yohan Blake in the 100m and 200m and Michael Phelps vs Ryan Lochte in the swimming pool are events which the world is waiting for. Contests of these nature are played out only once every four years which is what the Olympics is all about.Looking at the global rivalries, the way China has grown as a sporting giant will be watched with interest. In the Beijing Olympics, China topped the medal tally with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze for an aggregate of 100 medals. The United States of America was second with 36 gold, 38 silver and 36 bronze while Russia were third.As the hosts, Britan will look to enhance its image as a serious sporting superpower. In Beijing , their tally did swell to 19 gold, 15 silver and 15 bronze for an aggregate of 47 medals.It is gold medals which matter the most and Britain will hope that its newest stars like Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins can fire their chances.Well before then opening ceremony, there have been a few goof-ups. At the women’s football event, a wrong flag of South Korea was shown to the North Koreans causing the match against Colombia to be delayed by an hour.Even though the organisers had to apologise to the North Koreans, it has already left people wondering what more gaffes are in store.For sheer precision and punctuality, what Beijing did as a host city was almost machine like. For London to hold a glitch-free Games will not be asking for too much despite a dip in their economy.The host nation is hoping that the Olympics will boost its economy, but each host has only been counting deficits at the end of the Games.And what about India’s chances at the London Olympics? There is an air of expectancy that this time around India can win more medals than the three at Beijing.In archery, shooting, wrestling, badminton, boxing and even mixed doubles, there are medal chances.Feats of Abhinav Bindra, Ronjan Sodhi, Deepika Kumari, Saina Nehwal, Vijender and the new boxing breed plus the wrestlers raise huge hopes. So does MC Mary Kom who represents India as women’s boxing makes its debut.With adequate government funding and the corporates also chipping in well now, Indian sport should do well. After all, post Beijing, the medal haul at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Guangzhou Asian Games did show an improvement.advertisementGone are the days when the Indian athletes competed in the Olympics just to mark their presence. The new age heroes believe in themselves and are ready to surprise the world.last_img read more

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