Request

I was asked to start a blog by several individuals and only decided to do so because I was constantly bombarded by questions or references (via email, phone, face-to-face, discussion boards, etc.) concerning articles in popular media about science research. I could finally start a blog that focused on something specific. Only, as soon as I started this thing, people finally stopped sending links to every online article or electronic version of some newspaper column or whatever they could find concerning physics, neuroscience, research methods, mathematics, biology, and other fields I’ve worked in. So all my would be sources for blog posts dried up, which explains the tiny number of blog posts given how long this blog has existed.

To the point: if any of the BILLIONS of followers I don’t have (and any of those I do) have questions regarding articles, documentaries, news, etc., on scientific research they are interested in, would like to know more about, are skeptical of, or even would like more references concerning, I would welcome such requests. Please.

Ask, and it shall be granted (sort of).

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7 Responses to Request

  1. Jeff says:

    I’m sure I could come up with some good topics (I had a blog going, but don’t post much at all anymore), they might be related to science, history, analysis of controversial political topics, and the historical implications of public policy and how it has failed to keep up with the modern economy or possibly hinder its very existence.

    So here a few:

    1) What is the cause of sinkholes (the kind that take out houses or big buildings)?
    a. Do they form from drilling for oil?
    b. Are they natural?
    c. A Combination of A and B?
    d. Something else.

    2) What are the causes of Tsunamis?
    a. Are they natural?
    b. Is it something due to human activity?

    3) Does the discovery of water on mars mean anything?

    4) Should we have a standard minimum wage or should we have a dynamically allocated one based on area and cost of living?

    5) Would it be feasible to create a beer drinking app to allow college aged adults to keep track of how many drinks they have had that night (and keep track of a BAC) or do you think it would encourage binge drinking?

    I’ll come up with some more later and post them here. =)

    • 1) Historically and statistically, sinkholes are almost all nature. They can be (and some are) caused by human, but there are so many sinkholes formed millions of years ago that we have a term for some of them: karst paleo-sinkholes (Karstification, the process that occurs in Karst landscapes/environments, is the dissolution of soluble rock, and dissolution is the primary mechanism for the creation of sinkholes). Most human-made sinkholes occur in Karst environments via e.g., soil piping or similar mechanism causing what’s called a cover-collapse sinkhole.

      2) I don’t honestly know (or at least what I know is probably less than what you’d find on Wikipedia, and less reliable).

      3) I don’t think so, but it is of extreme importance to many as stressed in e.g., Assessment of Mars Science and Mission Priorities (2003), Water on Mars and Life (Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics) (2005), & Water and the Search for Life on Mars (Springer Praxis Books Space Exploration) (2005). Personally, I think that as the main reason we are interested in water on mars is the possibility for life what matters actual evidence for life. A planet could have conditions just like that of the Earth and life could never emerge, and while necessary for life water is both insufficient and potentially detrimental: “Paradoxically, the very characteristics — water, oxidant supply and gradients in heat, chemicals, and light — that make so many environments habitable also cause them to be destructive to biosignatures”
      Grotzinger, J. (2009). Beyond water on Mars. Nature Geoscience, 2(4), 231-233.

      4) I can’t answer that. I’ve used economic models and research to study complex systems, and for that reason even were I a specialist in the field I would still say I can’t answer that. First because answering any “should” question ultimately rests on subjective beliefs, and second because both systems can succeed and fail.

      5) Yes it is absolutely feasible (rather easy, actually). In an episode of the BBC’s Sherlock in which Watson gets married Sherlock does this. I don’t think it would be very effective, though.

  2. Jeff says:

    I came up with some more.

    6) Is there any point of colonizing Mars when the vast majority of people on earth can’t agree on anything? i.e. war, politics, inequality, etc.

    7) When we look for alien life are we sure we aren’t the real aliens in vast universe?

  3. Jeff says:

    Okay, I knew you wouldn’t fall for some of my previous inquiries so here is a better one.

    We currently have different versions of Artificial Intelligence, but its based on a binary system, making things like vehicles and drones autonomous more so than actually resembling anything close to artificial intelligence.

    Do you think Quantum Computation and Computers will solve some of the hurdles current A.I. systems face?

    • Actually, my request was about specific articles on specific research (i.e., references that would lend themselves to research reviews). However, I am always happy to answer questions about any topic I can. I have, alas, been too much occupied with other matters than my blog that nobody reads to respond to your excellent suggestions. For this I apologize. But I do intent to respond, so please bear with me!

    • Quantum computation will at best speed up computing. It offers nothing really new. Conceptual processing isn’t algorithmic, so the solution isn’t doing what we are know only faster. It is in something like Biocomputing molecular or biomolecular electronics (biocomponents). Also, the main hurdle is that the whole of computer science and indeed all of mathematics has consisted centrally of ways in which to strip meaning and conceptual content from expressions, rendering them purely syntactic and therefore both unambiguous (because they are essentially meaningless) and capable of computation by rote manipulation. In short, computers work only to the extent that we can formulate instructions so precisely that they can be reduced to merely logical operations without the need for thought.
      I may write more on this in a post soon.

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