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Elizabeth Holmes: The hypnotic tale of the rise and fall of Theranos | New Scientist, Mar 2019
"Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes built a $10 billion company on the promise of a miracle blood test. But it didn’t work. A new film, The Inventor, follows the fallout"
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtDaP18OGfw

"How could so many smart people have been duped for so long? "

"Eerily, Holmes named her prototype blood-testing machine “Edison”. The real Edison also pretended things worked when they didn’t."

"Ian Gibbons, Theranos’s chief scientist,was pushed out. Facing a legal battle involving the company, he took his own life."

"The film shows how Holmes and Balwani created a culture of paranoia. "
NewScientist  History  technology  biotech  tricksters  innovation 
yesterday by pierredv
How to upgrade your thinking and avoid traps that make you look stupid | New Scientist
" IQ does correlate with many important outcomes in life, including academic success and job performance in many workplaces. But it is less useful at predicting “wise” decision-making and critical thinking, including the capacity to assess risk and uncertainty and weigh up conflicting evidence."

Biases:

= "framing – our tendency to view certain statistics more favourably depending on the way they are phrased"

= "sunk cost fallacy: the tendency to pour more resources into a failing project to save sacrificing your initial investment, even though it will ultimately cost you a lot more than simply giving up"

= "gambler’s fallacy, the belief that chance events somehow even themselves out"

= Solomon's paradox: "find it easier to reason wisely about other people’s dilemmas than our own"

= "motivated reasoning, which means we apply our intelligence in a one-sided manner, to build arguments that justify and rationalise our own intuitive views and demolish the arguments of others"

= (perceptions of expertise can lead to) "earned dogmatism – the sense that you have earned the right to remain closed-minded about a subject, while rejecting arguments that disagree with those views"

"The Dunning-Kruger effect has now been replicated many times. Those studies have mostly examined basic skills such as numeracy. If you look at people with specialist expertise, however, a very different picture emerges."

Tips from the sidebar "Keeping your thinking on track"
= self-distancing
= consider the opposite of what you had just been thinking
NewScientist  IQ  intelligence  wisdom  fallacies  tips  bias  risk-assessment  cognitive-bias 
15 days ago by pierredv
Life’s secret ingredient: A radical theory of what makes things alive | New Scientist, issue 3215, Feb 2019
I couldn't figure out what he was on about.
Lots of "arguments by ethos" i.e. citing big name people to support his arguments
See also
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23030730-200-demon-no-more-physics-most-elusive-entity-gives-up-its-secret/
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23731720-400-im-building-a-machine-that-breaks-the-rules-of-reality/


maxwell demons

"Physicists and chemists use the language of material objects, and concepts such as energy, entropy, molecular shapes and binding forces. These enable them to explain, for example, how cells are powered or how proteins fold: how the hardware of life works, so to speak. Biologists, on the other hand, frame their descriptions in the language of information and computation, using concepts such as coded instructions, signalling and control: the language not of hardware, but of software."
physics  biology  NewScientist  entropy  Maxwell-demons  thermodynamics 
6 weeks ago by pierredv
I'm building a machine that breaks the rules of reality | New Scientist, Apr 2018, Vlatko Vedral
"Tobias Schaetz ... he described an experiment looking at ions inside a crystal. He gave them some energy and watched how they cooled. Unlike a cup of coffee, which cools gradually, the ions seemed to lose energy for a while, but then the energy suddenly bounced back. It is proof of what we had suspected: the rules of classical thermodynamics don’t always apply in the quantum world."

"I thought I would make a quantum version of a heat engine ... The idea was to set up pairs of organic molecules and raise them to a high energy level by shining light on them. Left alone, the molecules will return to a slightly lower energy level, re-emitting light of a different frequency as they do so. ... If we set up the experiment just right, the emitted light won’t carry any information that could tell us which of the two molecules it came from. According to quantum theory, this forces them to become entangled, so that when one drops to the lower energy level, the other one automatically does too, with both emitting light in unison in a process called superradiance."

"... we were scooped ... Walmsley and his team saw that light was produced quicker than the classical rules of thermodynamics predict"

"Felix Binder, now at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has shown that quantum batteries can charge more quickly than normal ones"
NewScientist  thermodynamics  quantum-mechanics  Vlatko-Vedral 
6 weeks ago by pierredv
Matter, energy… knowledge: How to harness physics' demonic power | New Scientist, May 2016
"Information is a real, physical thing that seems to play a part in everything from how machines work to how living creatures function.

Recently came the most startling demonstration yet: a tiny machine powered purely by information, which chilled metal through the power of its knowledge"

"Others realised that the demon’s trick depends on its knowledge of the molecules but Szilard’s breakthrough was to quantify the information the demon needed"

Landauer & Bennett: "Accounting for the cost of deleting information restored some balance to the demon’s thermodynamic world, but it was a little unsatisfactory. The demon still gets away with bending the second law for a while – until its head gets too full."

"Takahiro Sagawa and Masahito Ueda ... worked out that you can salvage the second law by adding an extra term called mutual information ... Sagawa and Ueda’s updated second law shows how much work you can extract from a system for a given amount of demonic knowledge. It doesn’t hold only when memory is erased."

"In 2010, Shoichi Toyabe then as at Chuo University in Tokyo and his colleagues built a working demon using a tiny plastic rotor, a camera and a computer. ... Jukka Pekola and his team at Aalto University in Espoo created a microscopic demon ... With no work being done, how can the system cool while the demon gets hotter? The feat seems impossible until we incorporate Sagawa and Ueda’s mutual information."

"If information alone can have a physical effect, then it is a physical thing. So what kind of thing is it? "

"Well, Pekola’s demon is not going to bring us perpetual motion. It is still governed by the restrictions Landauer hit upon: it can create a temperature difference that could be used to do work, but only at the cost of repeatedly wiping its memory, which requires work."
NewScientist  information  Maxwell-demons  thermodynamics  entropy 
6 weeks ago by pierredv
An AI conference warns us why we need to mind our language | New Scientist issue 3212, Jan 2019
"We’re using the wrong words to talk about artificial intelligence."

"Language is at the heart of the problem. In his 2007 book, The Emotion Machine, computer scientist Marvin Minsky deplored (although even he couldn’t altogether avoid) the use of “suitcase words”: his phrase for words conveying specialist technical detail through simple metaphors. Think what we are doing when we say metal alloys “remember” their shape, or that a search engine offers “intelligent” answers to a query."

"Without metaphors and the human tendency to personify, we would never be able to converse, let alone explore technical subjects, but the price we pay for communication is a credulity when it comes to modelling how the world actually works. No wonder we are outraged when AI doesn’t behave intelligently. But it isn’t the program playing us false, rather the name we gave it."

"Earlier this year in a public forum [Turkish-born Memo Akten, based at Somerset House in London] threatened to strangle a kitten whenever anyone in the audience personified AI, by talking about “the AI”, for instance."
NewScientist  language  quotes  metaphor  thinking  cognition  AI  anthropomorphism  culture 
7 weeks ago by pierredv
An audacious new plan will make all science free. Can it work? | New Scientist
"We fund scientific research through our taxes but often have to pay a hefty fee to read its findings. An uprising aims to bring the knowledge paywall crashing down"

"This all adds up to a very lucrative business. In 2013, academic publishing generated global revenues of $25.2 billion. Profit margins are reported to be between 30 and 40 per cent: the figure is hard to verify, although not disputed by the industry’s leading trade body, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers. Indeed, last year Elsevier, the world’s largest academic publisher, reported a profit margin of nearly 37 per cent, amounting to £913 million. In other words, academic publishing is one of the most profitable businesses in the world."
NewScientist  PlanS  Research  publication  business-models 
10 weeks ago by pierredv
Termites in Brazil have covered an area the size of Britain in mounds | New Scientist Nov 2018
In the dry forests of northeastern Brazil, an area of 230,000 square kilometres – larger than Great Britain – is covered in 200 million regularly spaced mounds, each about 2.5 metres tall. These mounds, known to locals as murundus, are the waste earth dug out by termites to create a vast network of underground tunnels, and some of them are up to 4000 years old.

The termites have excavated over 10 cubic kilometres of earth to build the tunnels and mounds, making this the biggest engineering project by any animal besides humans, according to Stephen Martin from the University of Salford, UK.
NewScientist  awesome  insects  biology 
10 weeks ago by pierredv
There's a dark side to self-control. Here's why you should loosen up | New Scientist Nov 2018
"Willpower is the secret of success – or so we've been told. But too much can be bad for the body and mind. The trick is to know when to give in to temptation"

"Much of our current understanding of self-control stems from the work of psychologist Walter Mischel "

"What’s more, the greater obedience associated with high self-control may be damaging for oneself as well as others. People with high self-control report feeling less satisfied with their partners and colleagues, believing that others take advantage of their dependability."

"She found that small cues indicating high self-control (whether someone flosses their teeth, for instance) prompted volunteers to allocate them more work, while also underestimating the effort they would need to put in to complete the work. The assumption, it seemed, was that someone with high self-control could simply “get on with it”. Koval says she has witnessed many friends and colleagues who have been taken advantage of in this way. "

"And it gets worse. In the long run, high self-control can be a source of regret. ... Rather than feeling pride in their achievements, most wished that they had exercised less self-control, not more."

"Perhaps the most troubling finding, however, comes from a survey of nearly 700 African American families from poor neighbourhoods. In line with much of the previous research, teachers’ assessments of children’s self-control predicted many later outcomes: those scoring highly were more likely to enter college, for instance. Yet they also had high blood pressure and showed elevated levels of hormones commonly associated with stress."

" At the very least, programmes designed to boost self-control should offer greater support to help children cope with those additional stresses. But Uziel is also keen on using so-called nudge techniques to improve behaviour without the need for self-control. "

"As Uziel points out, people with high self-control may doggedly pursue a goal even once it has stopped being personally meaningful. You might also make more effort to deliberately leave empty windows in your diary that allow greater spontaneity and indulgence (see “A lazy path to self-control”)."
NewScientist  willpower  self-control  * 
april 2019 by pierredv
Feedback: The diesel scent of London, now available in a bottle | New Scientist Oct 2018
Air unfreshener

NOTHING stirs the memory quite like smell, so for absent metropolitans, how about a bottle of London fragrance? The concoction, prepared by artist Michael Pinsky and a team of master perfumers, evokes “an olfactory snapshot of Piccadilly Circus”, with “long notes of diesel, and a tar accord with a butch subwoofer taste”.

Those who wish to take a sensory trip abroad can also breathe in the gritty sulphurous smog of Beijing, or the sharp tang of rotting garbage and car fumes reminiscent of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city scents are part of a project to call attention to air pollution around the world.

Turning perfumery on its head, Pinsky sought to find a use for bad smells instead of trying to mask them. Londoners could sample the foul air in “pollution pods” erected in Somerset House in the city earlier this year. This installation has long since wrapped up, but those who missed it need only step outside for an approximate experience.
NewScientist  humor  satire  art  aromatherapy 
april 2019 by pierredv
Exclusive: Grave doubts over LIGO's discovery of gravitational waves | New Scientist Nov 2018
“We believe that LIGO has failed to make a convincing case for the detection of any gravitational wave event,” says Andrew Jackson, the group’s spokesperson. According to them, the breakthrough was nothing of the sort: it was all an illusion.
LIGO  gravity  cosmology  experiment  NewScientist  physics 
april 2019 by pierredv
The animal economists that can wheel and deal as well as any human | New Scientist Dec 2018
"As we get to know Earth’s myriad other species better, it is becoming apparent that many animals and organisms make trades, and that some are surprisingly savvy wheeler-dealers capable of manipulating the market in their own selfish interests. From frisky baboons to fish offering spa treatments on the reef, pretty much everywhere we look in nature we find evidence of surprisingly sophisticated economic decision-making. Even fungi are at it, and according to the latest studies, these brainless soil dwellers give the impression of being more rational than us."

"... over the past few years, biologists have shown that scores of animals are capable of responding to market forces, including chimpanzees, macaques, mongooses, ants, wasps and small fish called cichlids. In one of the most recently unearthed examples of a biological market, the traders don’t have brains at all. Kiers studies the underground marketplace in which mycorrhizal fungi trade phosphorus for carbon with the roots of plants."
NewScientist  economics  rationality  biology 
march 2019 by pierredv
The world's great nations are revisiting the moon. But where's Europe? | New Scientist Dec 2019
"Since the beginning of the Soviet state, space travel has been associated with utopianism, exemplified by 19th-century visionary Nikolai Fedorov and his colleague Konstantin Tsiolkovsky."

"For the US, going to the moon was all about rugged, pragmatic individualism; for the Soviets, it was a parable for their communal social philosophy. This enactment of national myth is apparent in the Chinese moon programme. Chang’e is the name of a goddess who flew to the moon after she drank an elixir of immortality to stop her husband’s enemy from stealing it: a story of heroic and dutiful self-sacrifice that underlies China’s Moon Festival in the autumn. ... more recently the government has revived legends and historical figures such as Confucius to mobilise nationalist sentiment."

** Not clear to me how this is "enactment of national myth" - unless one defines myth as Merriam Webster https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth
"2 a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society"
NewScientist  space  utopianism  myth 
march 2019 by pierredv
Tourism is four times worse for the climate than we thought | New Scientist
To help stop global warming, cancel that round-the-world holiday. Tourism has expanded so rapidly that it now accounts for 8 per cent of the greenhouse gases we belch into the air. That is up to four times previous estimates.
tourism  environment  climatechange  NewScientist 
february 2019 by spencertree
Fat and proud: Why body-positive activists say obesity can be healthy | New Scientist Sep 2018
"Growing calls for "fat acceptance" fly in the face of accepted medical advice, but studies show you can be overweight and healthy"
NewScientist  health  weight  obesity  fat  life-expectancy 
january 2019 by pierredv
Mind-reading devices can now access your thoughts and dreams using AI | New Scientist, Sep 2018
"We can now decode dreams and recreate images of faces people have seen, and everyone from Facebook to Elon Musk wants a piece of this mind reading reality"

"From an fMRI brain scan, Liu’s AI can say which of a selection of 15 different things a person was viewing when the scan was taken. For example, if someone was looking at a picture of a face, the AI can detect patterns in their scan that convince it to say “face”. Other options include birds, aeroplanes and people exercising, and the AI can call the correct category 50 per cent of the time."

Jack Gallant, UC Berkely: "When shown brain scans of someone watching a different YouTube video, the AI was able to generate a new movie of what it thought the person was viewing. The results are eerie outlines of the original, but still recognisable."

"Yukiyasu Kamitani at Japan’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute first showed in 2013 that it is possible to train an AI to detect the content of someone’s dreams, describing each in basic terms such as whether there was a male or female character, the objects included and details about the overall scene. Kamitani’s system has an accuracy of about 60 per cent."

"However, one big drawback of EEG is that there is so much unwanted noise to contend with. "

"The progress using AI with fMRI is causing people to rethink what EEG might be capable of."
NewScientist  AI  neuroscience  dreams  recognitioin  fMRI  EEG  ethics 
january 2019 by pierredv
Art: The Science Gallery opens in London | New Scientist Sep 2018
"From heroin to Playstation, we are all users argues Hooked, a captivating show to launch a gallery with ambitions to demolish the boundaries around science"
NewScientist  London  art  travel  museums  galleries 
january 2019 by pierredv

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