Gene profiling by US police

People add their genetic data to genealogy DNA databanks in the hope of tracing long-lost relatives, biological parents and so on. They don’t expect their genomes to be accessed by the police. Yet officials in the US have used “investigative genetic genealogy” in more than 100 cases. One genetic testing company, Family Tree DNA, has …

Continue reading ‘Gene profiling by US police’ »

Which foods are good for you?

For most medical issues random control trials, involving sometimes thousands of people, are usual.  But  most research on food is only observational, using unreliable food diaries and then tracking the health of participants.  About a million nutrition research papers have been published, but a fraction of these are good quality, randomized studies.  Most are very …

Continue reading ‘Which foods are good for you?’ »

Mass displacement by climate.

3.5 m people forced to flee cyclone Fani in India and Bangladesh 1000 killed and 617,000 uprooted from their homes by cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe Bahamas were recently devastated by Hurricane Dorian The Amazon forest fires are mostly caused naturally (although no one knows how many were man-made). Fast ice melt in Greenland  …

Continue reading ‘Mass displacement by climate.’ »

The threat of debt, Part 2

The Washington Post of November 30 reported that a decade of low interest rates has allowed companies to sell record amounts of bonds to investors, sending total U.S corporate debt to nearly $10 trillion, or a record 47% of the overall economy.  The Federal Reserve, the IMF and major institutional Investors are concerned that the …

Continue reading ‘The threat of debt, Part 2’ »

More on self-perception

9% of British men consider themselves handsome; a further 7% regard themselves as good-looking. By contrast, just 1% of British women describe themselves as beautiful and 2% as good-looking. (YouGov/The Times,  21 September 2019). Epicurus would no doubt have commented that it is what is in the hearts and minds of men and women that matters, …

Continue reading ‘More on self-perception’ »

Artificial intelligence

The promise of artificial intelligence is that it will make decisions faster.  But what happens if it makes bad decisions faster?  We are trying to replicate human skills that have evolved for millions of years, and yet we cannot predict accurately what decisions AI will come up with.  Just say AI progresses to a point where …

Continue reading ‘Artificial intelligence’ »

A literary judgment

to The Guardian: Notice seen recently in the window of the bookshop in Fowey, Cornwall: “The Post-Apocalyptic Fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs.” Harry Cavill, Camberley, Surrey    And an ancient complaint from an Epicurean: At the end of the 4th Century A.D Ammianus complained that the Roman Empire had lost its cultural moorings …

Continue reading ‘A literary judgment’ »

What is intelligence?

Far from being an indefinable concept, a single measure of intelligence underpins our problem-solving, musicality and even creativity and emotional skills When researchers talk about intelligence, they are referring to a specific set of skills that includes the abilities to reason, learn, plan and solve problems. The interesting thing is that people who are good …

Continue reading ‘What is intelligence?’ »

Is this Epicurean?

Heartlessness is now official US policy The Trump administration is deporting thousands of legal immigrants to countries “they barely know”. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement authority (ICE) can find any refugee “deportable” if they’ve a crime on their record – even selling marijuana – and that covers about 120,000 immigrants who came here as refugees. …

Continue reading ‘Is this Epicurean?’ »

Taking brain pills a waste of time

“Memory supplements” have become big business: in the US, a quarter of people over 50 are thought to take them, often believing that they help ward off dementia. But according to a new report, these people are wasting their money. Researchers from the Global Council on Brain Health looked at evidence across a range of …

Continue reading ‘Taking brain pills a waste of time’ »

Eating all your meals before 3 p.m could be good for your health

A study suggests that eating all of your meals in a 6-hour window may prevent diabetes. A research team at the University of Alabama tested a time-restricted diet in eight overweight men who were all on the threshold of developing type 2 diabetes. For five weeks in the Spring of 2018 the volunteers ate identical …

Continue reading ‘Eating all your meals before 3 p.m could be good for your health’ »

Flying and vapor trails

According to a new study, a huge amount of atmospheric warming is caused by the cloud-like vapor trails – or “contrails” – that planes leave in their wake when flying at high altitude. These are created when vaporised water condenses or freezes around sooty exhaust particles to create cirrus-type clouds. These can persist for hours, …

Continue reading ‘Flying and vapor trails’ »

The dodgy people who run people power

There’s much talk these days about the threat to democracy posed by Kremlin-backed troll factories spreading disinformation online.   But maybe we should pay more attention to our own homegrown “astroturfers” – political operators who concoct a following to give the appearance of spontaneous grass roots support. Looking at Facebook, for instance, you’d think frustrated …

Continue reading ‘The dodgy people who run people power’ »

When God lost our planet – a poem

Each day unfurled, Another world! God sits up there and gently nurses Spanking, brand new universes.   Purblinding flash! Oh, boom, oh, crash! A zillion atoms spun in space. Where did they fly? Some place, some place.   For thirteen billion years, we’re told, Did God his galaxies unfold With neutron stars and cosmic rays. Thus …

Continue reading ‘When God lost our planet – a poem’ »