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13 Things That Do Not Make Sense 1013

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the wookies-on-endor dept.
thpr writes "New Scientist is reporting on 13 things which do not make sense. It's an interesting article about 13 areas in which observations do not line up with current theory. From the placebo effect to dark matter, it's a list of areas in need of additional research. Explanations could lead to significant breakthroughs... or at least new and different errors in scientific observations. Now there are 20 interesting problems for Slashdotters to work on, once you combine these with the seven Millennium Problems!"
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13 Things That Do Not Make Sense

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  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric@brouhaha. c o m> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @10:25PM (#11972180) Homepage Journal
    Here's the Slashdot story [slashdot.org] on the study that seemed to discredit the placebo effect.
  • by daveo0331 (469843) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @10:28PM (#11972202) Homepage Journal
    Two groups of test subjects. Tell Group A the usual story, some people are getting placebos while others are getting the real thing and no one knows who's who. Tell group B everyone's getting a placebo. Give everyone placebos, and see if the pills being taken by group A have any effect.
  • 13 or so (Score:2, Informative)

    by ICECommander (811191) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @10:40PM (#11972269)
    The whole "WOW" signal does not lead to the existence to extraterrestrial civilization. The researchers that discovered the event said that it very well may have been a terrestrial signal that bounced off the atmosphere. This one should have renamed the New Scientist to Pseudo Scientist. :-P.
    Here is something else that does not make sense (or for which there is no standing theory): Tachyons [wikipedia.org], or particles that travel faster than the speed of light.
  • by rdwald (831442) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @10:49PM (#11972333)
    Why not include the Columbia prayer study? Oh, yea, because it's been thoroughly discredited [csicop.org]. Just like the Belfast study will be soon enough.

    One million dollars [randi.org] says homeopathy is a placebo. Do you want to argue with it?
  • Re:Homeopathy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by RollingThunder (88952) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @10:53PM (#11972358)
    I thought the homeopathic test was performed on white blood cells in a solution - not in a body, leaving no possibility for the mind to affect it.
  • Re:And number 11.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by trendyhendy (471691) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:01PM (#11972398)
    The AC parent is quoting the Chewbacca Defence [wikipedia.org].
  • by Nasarius (593729) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:02PM (#11972402)
    Argh. No it doesn't. Why don't you try actually reading the Constitution?

    "Pursuit of happiness", a reference to Locke's "pursuit of property", was a principle stated in the Declaration of Independence, a document that has no bearing on US law.

  • On cold fusion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Avumede (111087) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:06PM (#11972426) Homepage
    This article sort of looked like bullshit to me, especially the cold fusion part. Notice how they hint that cold fusion has been replicated, but don't actually go out and say so. Then they quote an "Engineer" saying the evidence is strong, like they couldn't find any scientist that would support their claim. So I asked [straightdope.com] at the Straight Dope Message Board about the cold fusion, and got some interesting answers. What I learned basically confirmed that (to the knowledge of that fairly well informed board), yes, cold fusion still is unlikely and unreplicated.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:07PM (#11972432) Journal
    Methadone will get them high, just not as high, and the effects last longer, so a new high isn't sought quite as fast. It's also deliverable via tablet for the same effect, which is much safer and less expensive than intravenous delivery. However, it is, as you mention, extremely addictive, and it's important to watch patients closely, as withdrawal from it is still extremely painful, and can last longer than heroin withdrawal.
  • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:09PM (#11972448)
    Because he's confident, he doesn't put her on a pedestal, and doesn't let her walk over him, unlike the hundred other guys who turned into idiots when they saw her.
  • Re:Assholes (Score:5, Informative)

    by thefirelane (586885) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:22PM (#11972534)
    Seriously, this is not a troll, read this:

    Why 'Nice guys' are such losers [heartless-bitches.com]
  • Depend on the test (Score:5, Informative)

    by aepervius (535155) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:27PM (#11972561)
    For an a normal drug test there are two types of test. The one you do in labor (first on cells culture then later on cobaye animals) and later the one you do under hospital condition (on human). I am roughly simplyfying here. Those hospital test mostly consists in double blind experiment if possible (the patient do not know what they get, some get nothing (water/sugar) other get the substance, and neither the patient nor the experimentor at the starts know who is given what, only after the experiment is finished the experimentor can check from a reference number that this was the drug or sugar), or in the case where it is not humanly possible (for example cancer drug) where a live depends on it, then a simple hospital trial.


    In the case of homeopathy this NEVER depend on life, but since this is only sugar (for any dilution beyond Avogadro number) they do not need the labor trial and can be tested directly on double blind. Fact is, all study I know of in double blind , the group getting the drug and the group getting nothing did not show any statistical difference. In other word their body reacted as if they got nothing (which they did... Since beyond 20CH I think , you have no active molecule). In other word in double blind nobody has yet of today proved that homeopathy worked. Ever.


    Now there are a serie of controversial experiment where ONE attempt to dilue some allergen substance, and then after enough dilution to ahve nothing of the alergen in the end liquid, attempt to make it react with Basophile (the so called bevenist experiment). Up until now all of those experiment yelding positive result where either downright fraud, or sloppy experimental design (forget to clean up, or bad dilution processes). And seriously I doubt any new results will change that. This would be a MAJOR news for all physiker (physicist?)...
  • Re:Homeopathy. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xoro (201854) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:46PM (#11972662)

    If the homeopathy study has any validity, it should have been replicated independently several times by now. Has it? (I don't know, I'm just askin'). I'm surprised that the article didn't comment on the importance of this.

    FTFA:

    The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine.

  • Re:Assholes (Score:3, Informative)

    by bje2 (533276) * on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:53PM (#11972700)
    here's a good test of the a-hole vs. nice guy routine...not sure if it's 100% real or not...but it makes for an interesting read...

    http://www.galaktek.com/cgi-bin/index?page=deffec [galaktek.com]t 2.html
  • by Xoro (201854) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:54PM (#11972705)

    Point 1) Placebos have an effect, except when they don't, such as when a drug is replaced with another which counteracts the original's effects.

    Point 4) A placebo controlled study showed that homeopathic remedies are effective.

    It doesn't say that the studies in point 4 was "placebo controlled". It sounds more like the cells they were testing were in a pitri dish, not in a person. It does mention that no large-scale placebo-controlled study of homeopathic remedies has been shown to be effective.

  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:03AM (#11972775) Homepage
    Um, no, you don't comprehend the experiment. The body, upon receiving the placebo saline, acts as if it's getting the morphine unless the placebo contains a morphine inhibitor. One conclusion: the body is generating actual morphine on its own.

    Hey, my roommate in college claims that I have a THC gland.
    -russ
  • Re:Assholes (Score:3, Informative)

    by bje2 (533276) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:12AM (#11972813)
    that link got messed up...just go here [galaktek.com] and select the "Deacon Effect"...
  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:15AM (#11972848)
    The BBC program "Science and Nature" had an episode on BBC Two, which was called "Homeopathy: The Test" which first aired last year on Tuesday 26 November, 9pm.

    The results of a controlled, random, double-blind study were that the effect did not actually exist.

    Here's the link:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/homeopa [bbc.co.uk]t hytrans.shtml

    I think what we are seeing here is a six month editorial lead time on articles in New Scientist (giving their research department the benefit of the doubt).

    -- Terry
  • read closer.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by roshi (53475) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:18AM (#11972865)

    Point 4 showed that homeopathic remedies are effective in vitro, on specific human white blood cells.

    No chance for the placebo effect to come into play.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:28AM (#11972918)
    My understanding is it helps with the addiction (in the sense it subtracts the high and makes Puritanical zealots happy) but unlike (pure) heroin it causes organ damage throughout the body. So, you can be happy and piss off the Puritans or you can achieve permanent organ damage. The only other factor is that you may go to jail, be subject to civil forfeiture [fear.org], or put to death by the government if you choose to piss off the Puritans.
  • The last test I saw for a time-variable alpha was John Bahcall looking at the ratio of [O III] 4959 to 5007 emission in Sloan Digital Sky Survey quasars, which found no change. The high-z absorption line studies by the Australian group failed to convince me anything was really going on. Shouldn't have been one of the 13.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:50AM (#11973046)
    Methadone causes organ damage. Taking it is a death sentence.
  • Here is the URL to the Bahcall paper: http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/astro-ph/0301507
  • by Cycnus (162186) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:21AM (#11973172) Homepage
    I find it strange that they mention the Belfast homeopathy test in their list.

    Not long ago (in 2002), there was a very good, very scientific test done by Horizon on the BBC using the very same technique.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2512105.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    It seems that part of the problem in the Belfast findings may be due to the fact that the cells that had a reaction were manually counted, possibly introducting a bias known as "the experimenter effect", of which little is really known apart from the fact that it exists (a bit like the placebo effect).
    There is little doubt that the experimenter acted in good faith, but the fact was that the very controlled experiment commissioned by the Horizon (involving the Royal Society and a number of specialists in various relevant fields) ended up showing a statistical no-greater-than-chance result.

    Now, before you say "how can you trust a TV show", I'll say that Horizon is no ordinary TV show. It's probably the best, most balanced and scientific accurate show ever to grace the screen. Those who are lucky enough to be able to watch it will probably agree.

    There is another large scale experiment being done at the moment on homeopathy, invoving both homeopaths, scientists and people like James Randi.
    Randi predicted that the experiment will show no more than we already know today, that homeopathy is not worth much as a medical practice, but that most believer will be undeterred by any amount of evidence.
    The real question to test a practitionner of alternative medecine is to ask: what would it take you to admit that it doesn't work?
    For many, nothing will.

    But it's worth investigating anyway, I'm ready to consider that there is some benefit to it if tangible, undisputable proof was found. It would certainly help to use homeopathy if its field of action -if there is any- was actually well known, and if it is doing better there than other types of medecine. http://www.homeowatch.org/ [homeowatch.org]

  • Problem with HTML (Score:3, Informative)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:23AM (#11973179)
    The markup on that page uses <UP> for superscripts. But it's supposed to be <SUP>. The result is we read things like inflation blowing up the universe by "a factor of 1050 in 10-33 seconds". That's supposed to be a factor of 10 to the 50th power in 10 to the -33rd power seconds. It's surprising to see a professional outfit like New Scientist making such an important and fundamental error.

    Or is it a problem in my browser? Are they doing something so that <UP> should be treated as a synonym for <SUP>, and Firefox isn't handling it right?

    How does it display for other people?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:32AM (#11973209)
    care to provide citations?
  • by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:34AM (#11973218) Journal
    Because it *IS* legal you god damn dirty hippie. Go back to Vancouver.
  • by runderwo (609077) * <runderwo@ma i l . w i n . org> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:47AM (#11973262)
    Used to be delivered by bottle. As in cough syrup.
  • by nickco3 (220146) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:07AM (#11973327)
    You post is inaccurate because:

    * It invokes The "God of the Gaps" Argument.

    This argument has the form:

    * There is a gap in scientific knowledge.
    * Therefore, the things in this gap are best explained as acts of God.

    This is not based in logic. It is simply a statement of pessimism about the future progress of science.

    Down through the centuries, science has eliminated a great many of its gaps. People who had used the Gap argument were embarrassed, since their God shrank in power with each new scientific advance. For example, after the work of Galileo and Newton, it was no longer thought that angels pushed the planets across the heavens.
  • Re:On cold fusion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jace Harker (814866) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:13AM (#11973345) Homepage
    I actually read the final report of the DOE committee that recently reviewed cold fusion research. Contrary to what this article implies, the committee concluded that most of the new research on "cold fusion", while of much higher quality, was still as inconclusive as the old evidence. They identified a couple specific physical phenomena that were both unusual and well-documented, and suggested further investigation of those.

    In all I thought the committee's conclusions seemed reasonable, pragmatic, and scientific, without being strongly prejudiced for or against the "cold fusion" effect. However, in the media (such as this article) the final report has been painted with much broader strokes. I find that disturbing.

    Slashdot covered the DOE report here [slashdot.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:34AM (#11973606)
    as a doctor working in the field of substance misuse i need to clarify this:
    Methadone does come in an injectable form but the oral preparation is safer in terms of number of fatal overdoses
    Methadone also doesn't give people the euphoria that heroin gives them.
    Some people develope an addiction to heroin specifically becoause they get addicted to the euphoria, others develop their habit because they don't like the withdrawal effects. This second group tend to achieve maintenance and reduction of the chaos in their lives on methadone and once they have achieved the necessary psychological and social infrastructure necessary to withdraw then they can have their doseage reduced to zero. Those who seek the euphoric affect tend to use methadone to remove the withdrawl effects but continue to use illicit drugs on top of this in order to achive their high. This group may well be able to have their addiction controlled more successfully with injectable diamorphine (heroin). Various european countries are exploring this option and 2 pilot projects have been set up in the UK in order to research this very point. Once the results of these have been audited then policy as a whole will change. Almost all substance misusing people who approach drug dependency services do so with the aim of coming off drugs but it has to be done in a safe and controlled manner to attempt to try and put mechanisms in place for them to address the reasons why they became addicted in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:01AM (#11973673)
    First off, IANAP (I am Not a Physicist)

    However, I have taken some more advanced undergraduate courses in electromagnetics and optics. Caveat emptor, so hopefully, this doesn't come off as being too condescending, and is, in fact, more or less accurate :)

    First off, it's necessary to understand the difference between group velocity [wikipedia.org] and phase velocity [wikipedia.org]. Basically, a pulse of light can be thought of as a sum of many perfect sinusoids, each of which travels through space with a particular phase velocity. The superposition (sum) of all of these waves appears to travel with the group velocity (note that in almost all media save for vacuum, the phase velocities are not equal and so distortion of the wave packet, the shape of the pulse, takes place as the pulse propagates). Got it? Good.

    For the easy problem: slowing the speed of light is nothing new (though the degree to which they managed to slow light down is quite impressive!) The index of refraction [wikipedia.org] is the ratio of the phase velocity in a medium to the phase velocity in a vacuum. As a very simplistic explanation, this difference is due to the delaying of light when a photon hits an electron, is absorbed, and gets released some infinitesimal amount of time later. Almost all materials have indices of refraction greater than 1 for all wavelengths of light. For those that don't, e.g. x-rays in certain crystals driven at frequencies near their resonance, phase velocities are greater than the speed of light, but the fact that they cannot be modulated implies that Relativity remains safe since no INFORMATION is travelling faster than the speed of light. As a neato application of the slowing of light, optical delay lines for fiber optics currently consist of diverting signals into spools of optical fiber, where they're held until signals can become resynchronized. Work is currently being done in using these really high n materials to create optical delays.

    As for the slightly harder problem of the laser pulse apparently travelling faster than the speed of light... When the researchers sent the pulse of light into the medium, this pulse consisted of the multiple sinusoidal waves mentioned above. These sinusoids cancel out at the front of the pulse and towards the end of the pulse, and produce the pulse (typically a Gaussian [wolfram.com]) in the middle. Remember what I said about the index of refraction being the ratio of phase velocities to vacuum phase velocities? Some of the sinusoids will travel faster than others, with the result that the sinusoids at the beginning of the pulse that previously cancelled out no longer do so, and so the group velocity appears to be faster than the speed of light. If you were to physically block the laser until just a few moments before the pulse of light was generated, and then detected the pulse a little down the road, you'd find that the maximum speed (the distance from laser to receiver divided by the time from unblocking to receiving the pulse) would be the speed of light. Once again, information does not travel faster than the speed of light (though the group velocity appeared to do so).

    So old theory, though it's really cool to see it applied. You'll also note that both of these experiments made use of a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) [wikipedia.org] which is a really hard to prepare state of matter in which quantum effects are readily observable. A lot of really cool (no pun intended) physics is being/will be done involving BECs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:04AM (#11973681)
    Even more incredibly, the same two issues were ALL OVER THE NEWS the last week!
  • by runderwo (609077) * <runderwo@ma i l . w i n . org> on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:08AM (#11973692)
    How can pot make you have antisocial behavior? That's absurd.
    Of course, "antisocial" is loaded here. Being labeled as such usually just means that you don't conform to the rules and/or expectations of society. Which is obvious, if you are a known pot smoker - you are both breaking the law openly and engaging in an activity which many people find to be a sign of weakness rather than something positive.

    Usually, the claimed effect by drug warriors is "psychosis" or "psychotic symptoms". This sounds terrible at first and has fueled many a hysterical rant at the podium. It is further bolstered by the common drug warrior association of marijuana use with onset of latent schizophrenia (no cause and effect has been established here, though a correlation is always good enough for drug warrior usage). As for the psychosis claim, the evidence quoted is one of two studies, one done in the UK and one in NZ. Unfortunately, neither of these studies can be fact checked by the layman, since they are published in journals to which access is restricted to professionals in the field. However, both of them have been refuted when someone knowledgeable about cannabis eventually gained access to the studies.

    The problem is that the studies used questionnaires to collect their data, instead of relying on diagnoses of psychosis by medical professionals. I can't recall the exact questions that were asked (and a link is eluding me at the moment), but some stick out in my mind:

    • Do you feel like you and society do not have much in common?
    • Do you sometimes feel like you are being persecuted?
    Point being, the questions were loaded, and anyone who has used cannabis would recognize the "psychotic symptoms" indicated as normal effects of cannabis use.

    Of course, these "scientists" were likely well paid for their work. Again, all a drug warrior needs is a vague association to continue to push their propaganda. If they are ever called out on it, they can innocently claim they were misinformed rather than that they were lying. Of course what they would like you to ignore is that they used your money to pay for vacuous studies specifically crafted to support their lies.

  • by mankei (248730) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:15AM (#11973712)
    This is a common misconception among undergraduates taught by clueless professors, that the group velocity cannot be larger than c. Actually the group velocity in certain materials can become larger than c, when the light frequency is near the resonance of the atoms in the medium. This still does not violate special relativity, because the group velocity is just the speed of the peak of the pulse, which doesn't carry the first bit of information. The real velocity at which the first bit of information travels is called the signal velocity, which is how fast a waveform shaped like a heaviside step function travels. It has been theoretically proven about fifty years ago by Sommerfield and Brillouin that this signal velocity is always c regardless of the dispersion of the medium. Interest in this topic was re-ignited recently only because technology nowadays allows the experimental observation of exotic group velocities, but theoretically the problem was solved long ago.
  • by mankei (248730) on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:14AM (#11973872)
    My knowledge of the proof comes second-hand from a book called "Modern Optics" by Robert Guenther, which does a qualitative explanation of the proof that is supposedly contained in a book called "Wave Propagation and Group Velocity" by Leon Brillouin. For more recent research, look for papers by Raymond Chiao from Berkeley, who seems to be the leading researcher on superluminal propagation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:33AM (#11974069)
    If it worked, than every glass of water should kill us. And cure of us of all ills.

    Hopeopathy isn't merely dilution. It is dilution in a series of unusual steps. A glass of water isn't similar to a homeopathic dilution in any way.

    I once knew a highly trained medical doctor who used homeopathy. He said it shouldn't work, yet it seems to, and nobody seems to know which of the cargo cult steps in the production of a remedy were the important ones.

  • by Cycnus (162186) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:54AM (#11974126) Homepage
    Your point is silly.
    Randi doesn't try to convince you to believe in what he says: either his observations are right and accurate or they aren't.

    Randi, as a stage magician, is able to see where there could be potential issues in an experiment where the state of mind of the experimenter could influence the outcome of what he is researching.
    You need a good grasp of human psychology to be able to detach yourself from those very human flaws (at least as far as scientific enquiry goes).

    Guys like Randi may not always be liked as they are more artists than scientists themselves, but science is intrinsically unable to deal with deception as trust in your fellow scientists and your human subjects is paramount to the scientific endeavour.
    Having people like Randi around is actually very beneficial to science as they can point out those pesky human flaws that can jeopardize any good experiment.

    Whether you like him or not is irrelevant: he's helping real scientists devise real experiments that have reliable and replicable results.
    His actions in that field of human enquiry speak for themselves.

  • by lucat (814182) on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:02AM (#11974148)
    Hmmm... this would actually prove that the real medicine is ineffective... imo...
  • Giordano Bruno (1600)

    Lucilio Vanini (1619)

    And that's in the first page of "Scientists Burned at stake" search on Google.

  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:11AM (#11975400) Journal
    Yes. We need to say that you don't know what you're talking about.

    Methadone was discovered in Germany in 1937, but it was during a search for a more effective surgical analgesic, not as some Nazi-inspired plan. Believe it or not, even in Nazi-controlled Germany, there were good people doing things for good reason.
  • Re:Methane on Mars (Score:4, Informative)

    by RayBender (525745) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:59AM (#11975934) Homepage
    Can someone answer the question as to how prevalent hydrocarbons are in our universe? [..]The theory goes that many natural hydrocarbons were trapped in the earth as the planet formed and that oil is not a product of decaying animals.

    If by "Hydrocarbons" you mean long (>3 carbons) chains of C and H then the answer is that they are exceedingly rare. However, methane (one carbon) is relatively common in the atmospheres of the outer planets (and the moon Titan). Hydrogen, by itself, is the most abundant element in the universe, and carbon is also quite common (it's a product of stellar fusion). But you rarely if ever find conditions where the two will bind together in long chains.

    The theory of an "abiotic" origin of oil is pretty shaky, to the point of being wrong. It came from two observations: 1) loud bangs heard off the east coast of the U.S. which somehow led to the idea that it was caused by methane seeps (it was the Concorde. I kid you not!) 2) The observation that most hydrocarbons associated with life (things like ear wax and various fats) are made up of odd numbers of carbon, while oil has equal abundances of even and odd-numbered chains.

    There several lines of evidence against the abiotic theory: 1) we understand how temperature and time can change the odd/even ratio in hydrocarbons, 2) people tried drilling for "deep oil" (look up "Siljan" in Sweden) and found nothing. 3) various other isotopic abundace ratios are consistent with life.

    For a really excellent discussion of where oil comes from (including a dicussion of the abiotic hypothesis), read "Hubberts Peak" by Kenneth S. Deffeyes.

    As for methane and life on Mars; things are still too uncertain to know. There are ways to explain small amounts of methane without life. It's harder to explain more short-lived species like formaldehyde and (I believe) methanol. Stay tuned on that one...

  • by teromajusa (445906) on Friday March 18, 2005 @11:33AM (#11976350)
    Are you sure about that? Medieval theory of motion was based on Aristotle. The idea was that straight is the natural motion for all earth bound things, not that earth bound things always move straight. Read about Aristotle's theory of motion here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/GreekScience/Students /Tom/AristotleAstro.html

    Medieval intellectuals were not stupid, they just started from some faulty premises. Try reading Aquinas some time. Its not easy stuff. And they did not freely ignore obvious physical phenomena, as can be seen by the complexity of some of the Ptolemaic models of the solar system.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:14PM (#11976859) Journal
    There are several definitions [reference.com] of "antisocial", but when I hear the word, I usually think if it in the technical sense [mentalhealth.com], as in Antisocial Personality Disorder [wikipedia.org].

    But back to the matter at hand, the idea that smoking pot will make you a safer driver is a crock of shit. While it may make a person "more careful", it will most definitely cut down on reaction time [druglibrary.org] and lower cognitive ability [drugabuse.gov], even days later.

    The Robbe Study [druglibrary.org] is often cited as proof that marijuana makes drivers safer, but it doesn't show what some pot smokers think it does. The Robbe study concluded that impairment from THC was less than alcohol or not greater than medicinal drugs. Somehow, "not greater than" becomes "safer than" becomes "safe, no impairment".
    The results of the studies corroborate those of previous driving simulator and closed-course tests by indicating that THC in inhaled doses up to 300 g/kg has significant, yet not dramatic, dose-related impairing effects on driving performance (cf. Smiley, 1986). Standard deviation of lateral position in the road-tracking test was the most sensitive measure for revealing THC's adverse effects.
  • Re:From the center? (Score:2, Informative)

    by kps (43692) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:49PM (#11977246) Homepage
    What puts us in the center of the Universe?

    Nothing. We're in the centre of the visible universe. We're in the centre of what we can see, because we can see equally far in all directions. (This is pretty trivial, and is not one of the problems on the list.)

  • by jhurshman (722388) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:26PM (#11977619) Homepage

    [S]omeone observing something is NOT science. They have to test the observation against a theory, write about how it did or didn't, and be published. THAT is science.

    From what I have been able to find about Bruno and Vanini, neither would qualify as scientists under that definition. Again, take Bruno's contention of an infinite number of inhabited worlds. What observation could he be have been testing, and against what theory, which would have yielded that conclusion?

    One possibility is:

    1. The Earth is inhabited.
    2. The Earth is a planet.
    3. There are other planets in the universe.
    4. They are inhabited too.
    5. There are many other planets in the universe beyond the ones I have observed.
    6. The universe is infinite.
    7. Therefore, there are infinitely many planets in the universe.
    8. Therefore, there are infinitely many inhabited planets in the universe.

    Of the above premises, only 1 through 3 are what we would call observations. All the rest of the premises were for Bruno pure speculation (some of which subsequent observation has disproven).

    Perhaps another account of Bruno's thought can be reconstructed that fits your definition of science, but I feel his work is much more speculative/philosophical than "scientific" on your definition.

    Had [Galileo] not recanted, he would have been executed for publishing a theory that the sun was the center of the solar system....

    Um, no. At least, not according to this [rice.edu]:

    Galileo's belief in the Copernican System eventually got him into trouble with the Catholic Church. The Inquisition was a permanent institution in the Catholic Church charged with the eradication of heresies. A committee of consultants declared to the Inquisition that the Copernican proposition that the Sun is the center of the universe was a heresy. Because Galileo supported the Copernican system, he was warned by Cardinal Bellarmine, under order of Pope Paul V, that he should not discuss or defend Copernican theories. In 1624, Galileo was assured by Pope Urban VIII that he could write about Copernican theory as long as he treated it as a mathematical proposition. However, with the printing of Galileo's book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was called to Rome in 1633 to face the Inquisition again. Galileo was found guilty of heresy for his Dialogue, and was sent to his home near Florence where he was to be under house arrest for the remainder of his life. In 1638, the Inquisition allowed Galileo to move to his home in Florence, so that he could be closer to his doctors. By that time he was totally blind. In 1642, Galileo died at his home outside Florence.

    On this account, Galileo did not recant Copernican ideas, and all he got for it was house arrest.

  • by japhmi (225606) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:31PM (#11979149)
    I believe you are referring to Terri Schiavo, a tragic case.

    Congress has subpoenaed her to appear, simply meaning that they can't kill her (no law has been passed).

    removing the woman's feeding tube and letting her die in peace

    I don't think dying from starvation and/or dehydration would be considered 'in peace' by most people.

    according to her doctors, she's in an irrecoverable coma

    Well, it depends on which doctors you're talking about. Most say she's in a 'persistent vegetative state,' although most neurologists would say that you shouldn't do such a diagnosis without ever having done an MRI or a PET scan (CT/CAT scans were done over a decade ago, but they aren't good for this kind of brain injury). Besides, the fact that she can respond to stimuli proves that she's not in a persistent vegetative state.

    Oh, and she's not on life support. She's disabled to the point where she can't swallow, but they haven't tried therapies that may help - her husband won't pay for them. She can respond somewhat, and she has responded negatively when asked if she wants her feeding tube removed. The state courts in Florida are intent on helping her husband to kill her.
  • by gammelby (457638) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:59PM (#11979445) Homepage
    The BBC made a brilliant documentary [bbc.co.uk] that once and for all should shut up anybody that keeps talking about the marvelous effect of homeopathy. The Ennis woman from the article also appeared in that program, presenting her claims in some scientific way. The BBC program then arranged and monitored a study performed by a bunch of high-profile scientists that concluded it was utterly BS - and the only way Ennis could have reached her interesting results were due to either manipulation or plainly bad laboratory work.

    Ulrik

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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