Category: Science and technology

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Some interesting things I learned today on my road to a successful career in data science:

  • Correlation does not imply causation.
  • If X predicts Y it does not mean that X causes Y.
  • Prediction is hard, especially about the future.
  • Causal relationships are usually identified as average effects, but may not apply to every individual.
  • The most important thing in data science is the question, the second most important is the data.
  • Often the data will limit or enable the questions, but having data alone won't save you if you don't have a question.
  • Beware of data dredging.

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Data Science Specialization

"The data may not contain the answer. The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data... no matter how big the data are."

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Philae starts the journey down to Comet 67P.

I've been anxiously waiting for something like this to happen since I watched the first lunar landing many years ago

Philae's Landing Through Rosetta's Eye

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During an interview, this is what the famous scientist Stephen Hawking had to say about death.

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

Although what he claims makes perfect sense when you think about it logically, I do not think that I have the courage yet to be fully convinced that it could really be true. Still, my gut feeling makes me feel kind of sorry for this poor guy actually believing in such a bleak existence. But it could very well be true.

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According to the great Richard Feynman, the responsibility of science is to foster an attitude of constant doubt, trying to understand to the best of one's ability, and yet accept the frustrations that we will all remain ignorant no matter how hard we search.

Doubt is not to be feared but seen as the inspiration to human progress. For without this freedom of thought that we know nothing, can we pave the road to the future with new technologies which were once deemed impossible.

Unlike religion which demands blind faith, complete and uncompromising belief in something we can never understand, the ways of science allow us the pleasures of grappling with fundamental problems and making more sense of them by taming our own thoughts.

Inspired while reading "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" by my favorite scientist. You might also want to check out this interesting video.

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Believing that everything can be described by numbers is one thing, but using that as a basis to believe that everything is numbers sounds pretty preposterous to me.

In a previous life I might have been an avid follower of Pythagoras, but I would have gone my separate way if they insisted I take the extreme view above.

Imagine their shock (and my glee) upon discovering that pi cannot be described using a fraction made of natural numbers.

Boy were they a long ways from irrational and transcendental numbers.

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Watch out for the giant meteor which is now whizzing past the Earth, a near miss in astronomical terms.

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He showed that every continuous function (one with a connected graph) is equal to the sum of its Fourier series except perhaps at some negligible points. (He actually proved a more general result, that a broader class of functions, called square-integrable, equal the sum of their Fourier series except perhaps at those points.)

2006 mathematics prize announced

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The real challenge is not so much selecting and implementing the best solution from the infinite possibilities of modern technology.

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Sorry, but now they have proven that it is impossible to go back in time and try to convince your teenage parents not to get married so that you would never be born.

Paradox explained.

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Many people nowadays are uneasy when it comes to trusting the infinite possibilities of technology.

There is just no way to know for sure ahead of time whether or not things are going to turn out as you expected them to happen.

But does that really matter?

The truth of the matter is that there is a finely tuned mesh of reality which combines the strengths of technology with the way things are meant to be.

This means that the human emotions and spiritual awareness cannot be underestimated when searching for the ideal balance between solutions based purely on fact and those solutions built upon faith that things will turn out alright.

That is why it is not a good idea to ignore (almost) completely the limitations of technology for the sake of getting things done now or never.

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In the Layman's Guide to the Banach-Tarski Paradox, an explanation is given to the seemingly impossible claim that it is possible to take a solid sphere, cut it up into a finite number of pieces, rearrange them using only rotations and translations, and re-assemble them into two identical copies of the original sphere. In other words, you've doubled the volume of the original sphere.

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A Dutch lesbian has given birth to the world's second cloned baby, the Raelian movement says.

No, I am not making this all up. Yes, I am telling the truth. Believe it or not it really happened. Read all about it in this Reuters article.

Sometimes one seriously wonders where the world is going to. These Raelian folks sound like a really strange bunch of dreamers with their cult. Check out the Raelian Revolution homepage if you really feel like flipping out.

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Way back in the year 1848 there was this construction foreman named Phineas Gage. His job was to lead a gang of workers in digging out a pass through the mountains for the railroad in Vermont. This was done by using heavy dynamite. One day poor Phineas was unexpectedly caught off guard when an explosion went off prematurely. This long metal rod used to tamp down the pieces of dynamite in the drilled holes flew upwards like a rocket launched into the sky. The heavy javelin-shaped structure pierced his skull, entered a point just below his left eye, went clean through his brain and exited out the top of his head.

The amazing thing is that he survived, even though a huge portion of his frontal lobe had in an instant been removed completely. A brand-new person, but not quite, this poor man at the prime of his life.

So whatever happened to poor Phineas afterall? Well, he survived just fine and at least appeared to function normally in many "rational" ways. Like doing mathematical calculations, reciting complex tasks, remembering names and dates, no problem with these kind of things. However, he seemed to have lost complete control of his emotional side, or rather he had no emotional side left over. Phineas became an unbearable person with whom to be. He was extremely asocial, cussed and screamed alot for no obvious reason. Quoting from an account by Dr. Harlow: "the equilibrium or balance, so to speak, between his intellectual faculty and animal propensities had been destroyed."

So it seems that the brain is organized in such a way that emotion cannot be logically separated from even the most so-called rational decisions we make in everyday life. Even the most basic objective and factual thoughts are connected to some underlying form of emotional wave patterns. To say the least.

All this is inspired by the following book which I am reading with much pleasure and philosophical back-slaps: "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain" by Antonio R. Damasio.

If you are interested in investigating this subject about the human mind in more detail then I can recommend you check out one or more of the following links:

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Are you bored? Here is something fun and amazing for your late evening entertainment. Type in some words on this page (Text to Speech) and hear a computer generated voice say them back to you!

Or click the following quote to hear Crystal talk philosophy: The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing

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Elements of the unknown make a welcome intrusion into an orderly life. Brainpower is the most efficient form of energy. Expression comes and goes in daring new ways...

Everyone nowadays knows that the human brain is divided into a right and a left hemisphere. Or so they say. The scientific community claims that specific human thinking and walking tasks are divided across this cortical separation in such a way that certain roles are delegated to the left side and other roles are delegated to the right side. Thanks to science we tend to view the human mind as a dichotomy, not only between right and left, but also bewteen intuitive and logical, feelings and senses, the good and the bad, being creative and being down-to-earth, and finally between physical and spiritual, the real and the unreal. And then there was the brain. Or was that the mind? Too bad the brain has been created in such a misleading physical form. Where is it exactly? The mind starts where the brain stops. The brain begins where the mind stops. The brain and the mind overlap the same areas of space and time.

The mind and the brain. The old man over there is speaking to us. Speaking ever so quietly. And then there was silence, complete silence...

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Sadly to say, at present there is no known cure for Locked-in Syndrome...

What is Locked-in Syndrome?
"Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body (except for those that control eye movement)."

If you are ever feeling sorry for yourself, then think deeply about this. What would you do if you woke up one day and found yourself suffering from this traumatizing experience?

If you are interested in this syndrome, then please have a look at one or more of the following links:

I am NOT trying to be morbid nor depressing nor overly melodramatic in order to grab one's attention. Rather, I think it is good to thinks about such things sometimes in order to put oneself in the proper perspective of worldy happenings.

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Q: What is a fart and why does it smell?

A: A fart is a combination of gases (nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide) that travels from a person's stomach to their anus. When a person swallows too much air or eats foods that the human digestive system cannot digest easily gas becomes trapped in his/her stomach. The only way for this excess gas to exit the body is through the anus.

The gas that makes your farts stink is the hydrogen sulfide gas. This gas contains sulfur which causes farts to have a smelly odor. The more sulfur rich your diet, the more your farts will stink. Some foods that cause really smelly farts include: beans, cabbage, cheese, soda, and eggs.

Taken from Infobeat which last year was taken over by Flowgo.

For today I needed just the right balance between the spiritual and the less-spiritual and that is why I decided to add this seemingly bizarre entry. If you do not mind, that is.

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I won, I won. I cannot believe it. I won!

"Our Space Heroes competition is now over. We had a mailbox bursting with entries, and lots of fun reading about your favourite space celebrities..."

Well as it turns out, my essay was actually chosen as one of the best essays. Who, me? Wow, it is even listed at the very top. I feel good. I feel really great. What an accomplishment.

I guess I was able to impress them enough with my short piece about Richard Feynman who I have always admired dearly. And it means that I win a Space DVD. Funny how in an earlier blog entry I gave up all hope that I could possibly win. Never give up.

Check it out for yourself at the BBC Space Interactive Competition.

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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2288 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.