Sunday, January 30, 2011

Astrology of Allstate Insurance: Statistics Fail Edition

Picard Facepalm

Very few things make me more discouraged than news stories and pronouncements that are so badly wrong. Captain Jean-Luc Picard knows how I feel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scientific Astrology

You may have heard about a story circulating around the internet about astrology being wrong. In short, an astronomer named Parke Kunkle talked to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune about how astrology’s dates bear little relation to actual positions of the constellations and that there is a 13th constellation that isn't included. It doesn’t seem like he intended it to be big news, but it made quite an impact on the internet all the same; doing a Google News search for "astrology" turns up hundreds of articles on the topic.

If you are like me and don’t pay any attention to astrology, this did come as a revelation: why wouldn’t a system with the prefix “astro-“ and using the names of constellations have to do with the positions of the stars?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Free Energy of Salvation

Free Energy of Salvation

This piece was inspired by a typo from a talk at the 11th International Workshop on Radiation Damage to DNA in Atlanta last May which converted “solvation free energy” to “salvation free energy.” I couldn't resist bringing to life the imagery that phrase conjured.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Disentangled Reality: Yet Another Blog

The current internet is a world littered with blogs. A major site without a blog is quite a rarity these days, and there are very many individual and group blogs that cover a wide range of topics. In some ways adding my voice to the cacophony would seem to be a waste of time. Indeed, running a successful blog—one with relatively regular posts maintained from its founding to the present date—is a time-intensive effort, and the internet is littered with the ruins of barely-started and long-abandoned blogs.

So why found yet another blog?

Quite simply, I want an outlet to record my thoughts on important and interesting topics in a public way for a general audience, and to practice the online communication skills that are becoming so necessary in the modern era. If people beyond my close friends and acquaintances find this to be intriguing and begin to read it, that would be wonderful, but it is not my original goal that this become a highly-trafficked destination.

What will this blog cover?

I plan to discuss an array of issues, all centered around examining this reality that we find ourselves in. Sometimes these discussions will be very deep (e.g. "Why existence?"), sometimes controversial (e.g. "What can we say about whether God exists or not?"), and sometimes mundane (e.g. "Why marzipan is a horrible food"). Often I may discuss a newly-published scientific article or current, especially political, event. I may also draw inspiration from my personal life, but I do not intend for this blog to become a personal journal.

Some good examples of the sort of material I will post on can be found at my old blog Talking to a Wall, listed under "My Favorite Posts."

Who am I?

My name is Nicholas Bauer, and I am a 25-year-old biochemistry Ph.D. graduate student at Emory University studying the regulation of DNA repair in eukaryotes (that includes us humans).

Why the ads?

Honestly, why not? Of course I don't endorse anything that is displayed in those boxes (at the right and at the bottom). Though if you ever see a distasteful ad come through, tell me about it so I can block it.

Update 4/25/11: I decided to remove the ads. Not nearly enough traffic to make anything, so they were just an annoyance.