The debate about the reproducibility of science bubbles onward, with everyone agreeing that it's a problem but of course nobody with power to fix it doing anything about it.
Recently I've been thinking that science as we know it sits in a very unpleasant middle ground.
On the one hand, despite the propaganda institutional science is biased against replication. This holes it below the waterline, and any serious scientist (alas) must consider fixing this in their field their top priority or they are consenting to just spin their wheels forever. We do not work formally enough to produce good results, because merely reaching "Peer Approved Once" and getting published is provably not a solid foundation to build on.
If one is inclined to take offense to that, consider the fact that scientists are supposed to be building on the work of others. It's very simple math to see that even if a uniformly-distributed 95% of the papers published are perfectly correct, that 5% has a disproportional impact on the accuracy of a tower of knowledge; as the tower grows, the chances of any particular new result containing a false result in the set of results it is building on approaches 1 quickly.
Many scientific disciplines would be lucky to have a 95% accuracy rate.
On the other hand, scientists are also not allowed to just "fool around", by virtue of not being able to get funding for it. Even simple experiments must be submitted, approved, funded, etc, all involving processes a great deal more complicated than the simple little English words imply. As a second-order effect it becomes a waste of time to go through the process for a small experiment, making the small experiments even less likely to be conducted than you would initially think. And yet, historically, a lot of great stuff happened from very skilled, knowledgeable scientists just fooling around. In only a few fields can a scientist afford to fool around on their own time and money, mostly the mathematical ones.
The system both crushes away the rigor we're promised in the brochure, and also crushes away any chance of serendipity or discovery on the cheap. The miracle is when we get any science at all.
Widespread angst about school quality is easy to fix... schools just need to look around and copy what's working out there in the real world.
Oh... uh... I may have gotten carried away on that last one. Maybe it should be, uh, covered differently....
I don't listen to the radio hardly at all anymore. Recently, I was with my wife while she was just idly flipping through, and I was astounded.
The electro/techno stuff was autotuned, but that's less of a surprise.
Autotune, autotune, AUTOTUNE!
Not even subtly, either, but cranked up as far as it will go before the high end simply explodes with noise.
Is there anyone left in the music industry that can carry a tune?
Gold in vault, target
Steel door closed, locked, key thrown away;
Thief laughs "There's no wall!"
Data stream flows, filling
Lake overflows; disaster!
Man trusts fellow Man,
fellow Man undeserving.
Script code injected.
Output easy, just append strings!
Master needs new novice.
Dark secrets made, shared
Tells foe the password is lost...
Rubber hose finds it.
"Love", Alice tells Bob
In anger, Eve flips one bit
Now love's checksum fails
Small time differences,
like the blink of a blink, yet,
timing attacks still work.
Chick digs my profile,
sends regards in attachment.
Virus, still no love.
That plaintext password?
Easy, but when the press hears...
thought too hard to bear.
Address sign-up forms,
Security mindset sees
a way to spam foes.
In response to this story about a possible impending Helium shortage, someone suggested on Hacker News that perhaps someday we can use nuclear fusion to produce helium.
As it happens I'd idly chatted with my wife about that a few weeks ago, but that wasn't enough motivation to run the numbers. This was. Could we produce enough helium to satisfy our commercial production of it through fusion, if we just assume we have fusion?
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