Science

PhDs couldn't tell an actor from a renowned scientist

Forty years ago, a singularly interesting lecture was held at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. The subject was 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.' The speaker was Dr. Myron L. Fox from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a pupil of von Neumann and an authority on the application of mathematics to human behavior. The attendees were psychiatrists and psychologists (MDs and PhDs) who were gathered for a training conference. They listened to the lecturer with great interest, asked many questions and were satisfied with speaker's replies. They gave him flying grades in the satisfaction questionnaire. Nobody suspected anything wrong. In reality the speaker was an actor and knew nothing on the subject of his lecture.

Hypoxi Vacuum Therapy - Sucking at science?

With the summer finally here, now is the time you wish you'd kept up those arbitrary New Year's resolutions and joined the gym, maybe cut down on the booze, or perhaps even tried using some self restraint and not gorged yourself on that tub of Häagen-Dazs you found in the freezer.
 
It seems that wherever you turn, there's a barrage of quick-fix diets and "scientifically proven" methods in order to make us look our best, or at least attempt to emulate the figure of the latest celebrity to be placed on the cover of Elle.

Colombia, dripping with water

The topical image that comes into mind when thinking about tropical countries is that of palm trees in a hot sandy beach, and you wouldn’t expect a country dripping with water and green pastures. However, even if the size of Colombia (1.14 million km^2) is only about 1/8th of the United States, it is one of the countries in the world with a largest volume of available water, only surpassed by Russia, Canada and Brazil. Colombia’s annual average yield is 67 litres/s/km^2, almost seven times the world’s average (10 litres/s/km^2).

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May(un)fair? Your chances of winning at McDonald's Monopoly

McDonald's are once again running their Monopoly promotion, where along with your food you can collect stickers featuring properties from the famous board game. It's not just a matter of filling up a sticker book, of course - collecting properties can win you big prizes - but only if you manage to build up a full set of any particular colour. It's basically a lottery with a cunning twist - it's easy to feel you're closer to winning than you really are.
 
For example, to win the top prize of £500,000 you just have to find the two dark blue properties (Park Lane and Mayfair), but whilst there are plenty of the former going around, it seems, from reading the competition rules,that there is just one Mayfair sticker in the entire country.If this is true, it means that thousands of people will find themselves "just one sticker away" from winning a small fortune, when in reality their minuscule chance of winning has barely increased.

Nuclear risk

News from Japan is getting worse and worse. After an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.9 shook Japan on Friday afternoon, a tsunami swept the east coast of Honshu claiming thousands of lives. As a consequence of the combined effect of earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost off-site power supply and back-up diesel generators which compromised the power plant security. The disabling of the plant’s cooling system resulted in the breaking of the Unit 2 reactor containment, and explosions at both Units 1 and 3.
 
The lastest news informs us of another fire in the Unit 4 reactor and Unit 5 reactor vessel diminishing water level. Radioactivity has reached dangerous levels and the population 20-kilometres around the power plant, as well as most of its workers, have been evacuated. It is the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

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