Sunday, April 1, 2012

Last Call

We'll leave you tonight with Mitt Romney as the embodiment of quantum political science: so completely unknown and unpredictable that he occupies all positions at once and changes policies based on the effects of the observer at any given time.

What does all this bode for the general election? By this point it won’t surprise you to learn the answer is, “We don’t know.” Because according to the latest theories, the “Mitt Romney” who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children’s toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse. 

And all of them losing to Barack Obama. 

Do read the whole thing, it's hysterical.

I've Got The Universe On A String

It turns out buried in the math out of the Large Hadron Collider is an interesting theory, that the weird numbers (if correct, and that a big jump here) may represent something much, much deeper: evidence of string theory.

Complex software models are used to understand the results from the Large Hadron Collider. These include simulations of the particle physics in the proton-proton collisions, as well as of the material and geometry of the detectors and the strength of the various magnetic fields. As more data are accumulated, the required precision of this software increases.

A recent review recommended that the number of decimal places used to represent numbers in the software should be increased. This means all mathematical constants such as e and pi, as well as physical constants and the measured dimensions of the detectors. So far, so routine. But when adding more precision to pi, a strange effect was noticed. The alignment of charged particle tracks across detector boundaries actually got worse when a more precise value was used. In addition, the agreement between simulation and data also got slightly worse.

This really should not happen – more precision should mean better alignment and better agreement.

Boring scientists say this is probably evidence that some physicists don’t know how to write proper code. However, string theorists have pointed out that a firm prediction of string theory is the existence of extra space-time dimensions. In a space which is curved into a higher dimension, the apparent value of pi can deviate from that seen in real life. And thus the LHC may have proved that they were right all along. More data are needed before we can be sure.

Of course, there's a much more interesting explanation involving the numbers "4" and "1" that would explain this mathematical oddity as well...

Breaking News

All the major news sources have broken the following:

People have decided to be kind to each other. Very scientific polls have indicated that regardless of religion, age or sexual orientation, we have become more tolerant and display more goodwill. Isolated problems still (and always will) exist, but overall people have understood that the bullying mentality is wrong. Every single time. Even when they believe or look differently than you do.

After finally realizing that gay citizens are still citizens, all states decided to honor an adult's choice to live how they please. Gay marriage will be recognized, and actually improves society because every single person is treated with dignity and fairness under law.

Women's rights were upheld today as they were recognized as citizens, too. The federal government stepped in and said that a woman's right to medical information should be protected. They also decided it is a direct ethical violation for a doctor to withhold or lie to a patient. It was also decided that gender is no reason to pay a person less, so businesses will be required to pay women and men the same amount when the duties and responsibilities are the same.

April Fool's!

But here's hoping for the day when we can report these things for real. Keep dreaming, in the face of this stupidity, our vision of a better world is the only driving force we have to make it reality.

Barr None... Roseanne Crosses The Line

But according to the Smoking Gun, on Wednesday, Barr tweeted the correct address for Zimmerman's parents, then deleted the tweet, then threatened to tweet it again.

“If Zimmerman isn't arrested I'll rt his address again. maybe go 2 his house myself," Barr tweeted.

Criticism came quickly from the comedian's more than 100,000 followers.

Maybe go over to his house herself? But she didn't, did she? Instead she was a coward and an egotist, deciding for herself to share information that is likely to get someone hurt or even killed. Tensions are rising quickly, and Barr just saw an opportunity to milk for attention. From her tone, she doesn't care a bit that it's at the expense of a murdered innocent. Threatening to retweet it is an abomination.

I fully believe George Zimmerman is guilty of stupidty, murder, and racism. However, his parents might be delightful people. Yes, anger breeds anger. Before condemning his parents think of the number of times you've met an idiot/genius and then their parents, and wondered how their genes produced this.

Don't make this idiot a martyr. Let him stand trial. It's clear he has not had the moral high road, let the other side keep it and not let him have a chance to claim it.

Awareness Of The Spectrum

The CDC says that diagnoses of autism are up 78% in the last decade as more and more parents, schools, and mental health professionals are becoming aware of the full range of what it means to be "autistic", especially among American boys:

Boys with autism continue to outnumber girls 5-to-1, according to the CDC report. It estimates that 1 in 54 boys in the United States have autism.

Mark Roithmayr, president of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says more children are being diagnosed with autism because of "better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50% of 'We don't know.'"

He said the numbers show there is an epidemic of autism in the United States.

Early recognition of signs of autism -- a neurodevelopment disorder that leads to impaired language, communication and social skills -- is vital because it can lead to early intervention, says Dr. Gary Goldstein, an autism specialist and president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

"There have been studies -- double-blinded studies -- to show that behavioral early intervention changes the outcome for children," Goldstein says.

That's roughly 2% of boys now, one in 50.  Compare that to 1980, when a small town school system thought I was just weird and put me in special ed classes after school for a year because they thought I was slow or weird when I was just bored out of my skull and reading high school level books in elementary school.  Kids these days are getting the help they need and a big part of that is awareness on the part of schools, communities, and parents.

In a sense it's both comforting and terrifying to see the number of kids with autism spectrum disorders up so much.  It means we've been underestimating and under-serving these kids for a long, long time.
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