The Life Cycle of Science

“There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there ever was such a time… On the other hand, I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics… Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’, because you will get ‘down the drain’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.” R. P. Feynman (1967) “The first processes, therefore, in the effectual studies of the sciences, must be ones of simplification and reduction of the results of previous investigations to a form …

The Insanity of the Defense

I. The Insanity Defense “It is an ill thing to knock against a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor. He that wounds them is culpable, but if they wound him they are not culpable.” (Mishna, Babylonian Talmud) If mental illness is culture-dependent and mostly serves as an organizing social principle – what should we make of the insanity defense (NGRI- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity)? A person is held not responsible for his criminal actions if s/he cannot tell right from wrong (“lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct” – diminished capacity), did not intend to act the way he did (absent “mens rea”) and/or could not control his behavior (“irresistible impulse”). These handicaps …

The Future of Solar is Bright!

The Future of Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Energy 1. The Problem 2. The Solution 3. The Results 4. The Benefits 5. An Investment in the Future 1. The Problem: Traditional sources of electrical power generation are running out as production will peak in the next decade but demand will continue to rise. Energy prices will continue to rise at a higher rate as well as the number of outages during peak hours. There is the obvious problem of the pollution we are causing to our environment. From my perspective, the world’s energy needs vary greatly; there is no clear single solution to the problem of supplying the world’s energy. All forms of energy production have issues associated with them, i. e. …

The Fundamentals of Psychological Theories

All theories – scientific or not – start with a problem. They aim to solve it by proving that what appears to be “problematic” is not. They re-state the conundrum, or introduce new data, new variables, a new classification, or new organizing principles. They incorporate the problem in a larger body of knowledge, or in a conjecture (“solution”). They explain why we thought we had an issue on our hands – and how it can be avoided, vitiated, or resolved. Scientific theories invite constant criticism and revision. They yield new problems. They are proven erroneous and are replaced by new models which offer better explanations and a more profound sense of understanding – often by solving these new problems. From …

The Fourth Law (of Robotics)

The movie “I, Robot” is a muddled affair. It relies on shoddy pseudo-science and a general sense of unease that artificial (non-carbon based) intelligent life forms seem to provoke in us. But it goes no deeper than a comic book treatment of the important themes that it broaches. I, Robot is just another – and relatively inferior – entry is a long line of far better movies, such as “Blade Runner” and “Artificial Intelligence”. Sigmund Freud said that we have an uncanny reaction to the inanimate. This is probably because we know that – pretensions and layers of philosophizing aside – we are nothing but recursive, self aware, introspective, conscious machines. Special machines, no doubt, but machines all the same. …

The Demise of Intellectual Property

Three years ago I published a book of short stories in Israel. The publishing house belongs to Israel’s leading (and exceedingly wealthy) newspaper. I signed a contract which stated that I am entitled to receive 8% of the income from the sales of the book after commissions payable to distributors, shops, etc. A few months later (1997), I won the coveted Prize of the Ministry of Education (for short prose). The prize money (a few thousand DMs) was snatched by the publishing house on the legal grounds that all the money generated by the book belongs to them because they own the copyright. In the mythology generated by capitalism to pacify the masses, the myth of intellectual property stands out. …

The Argument for Torture

I. Practical Considerations The problem of the “ticking bomb” – rediscovered after September 11 by Alan Dershowitz, a renowned criminal defense lawyer in the United States – is old hat. Should physical torture be applied – where psychological strain has failed – in order to discover the whereabouts of a ticking bomb and thus prevent a mass slaughter of the innocent? This apparent ethical dilemma has been confronted by ethicists and jurists from Great Britain to Israel. Nor is Dershowitz’s proposal to have the courts issue “torture warrants” (Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2001) unprecedented. In a controversial decision in 1996, the Supreme Court of Israel permitted its internal security forces to apply “moderate physical pressure” during the interrogation of …

The 2500-year-old Pythagorean Theorem

Pythagoras of Samos was a Greek philosopher responsible for important developments in mathematics, astronomy and the theory of music. He left Samos because of the tyrant who ruled there and went to southern Italy about 532 BC. He founded a philosophical and religious school in Croton that had many followers. PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM Although the theorem now known as Pythagoras’s theorem was known to the Babylonians 1000 years earlier he may have been the first to prove it. It’s the fact that “THE SQUARE OF THE HYPOTENUSE OF A RIGHT TRIANGLE IS EQUAL TO THE SUM OF THE SQUARES OF THE TWO ADJACENT SIDES”. According to one legend, Pythagoras (c.580 B.C.-c.500 B.C.) discovered the theorem while waiting to see Polycrates, the …

So If Retention Is So Harmful, What Should We Do? Teach!

Heading Toward a Long-term, Systemic Solution A Boston Globe editorial stated that for “40 years, study after study on grade retention has reached the same conclusion: Failing a student, particularly in the critical ninth grade year, is the single largest predictor of whether he or she drops out” (Edley, 2002). The editorial goes on to state that “widespread retention further exacerbates the achievement gap: In Massachusetts, for example, across all grades, African-American and Hispanics are retained at over three times the rate of whites” (Edley, 2002). According to research (Anderson, Jimerson and Whipple, 2002; NASP, 2003; Jimerson, Anderson and Whipple, 2002; Stenovich, 1994), some of the devastating effects of retention are: – Most children do not “catch up” when held …

Seven Things You Should Do To Help You Prepare For Exams

Okay, would everyone who likes Exams please put your hands up? That’s right; just raise them up nice and high. No, No, no one. Not one person. If you are a sane person, like me, you will hate exams. They are stressful, a lot of work and all in all a fact of life. That is right, a fact of life. When people leave school after 12, 13 years of school, they are often led into a false sense of security that their lives will be free from study and exams for ever. WRONG!!! Look, the bottom line is that no matter what you do, in this day and age you are always going to be in a situation where …

Serial Killers

Countess Erszebet Bathory was a breathtakingly beautiful, unusually well-educated woman, married to a descendant of Vlad Dracula of Bram Stoker fame. In 1611, she was tried – though, being a noblewoman, not convicted – in Hungary for slaughtering 612 young girls. The true figure may have been 40-100, though the Countess recorded in her diary more than 610 girls and 50 bodies were found in her estate when it was raided. The Countess was notorious as an inhuman sadist long before her hygienic fixation. She once ordered the mouth of a talkative servant sewn. It is rumoured that in her childhood she witnessed a gypsy being sewn into a horse’s stomach and left to die. The girls were not killed …

Reversing Mother Nature, Part One

We talked to North America’s leading In Situ Leach (ISL) uranium mining engineers, and had them explain exactly how ISL worked. Most of the significant ISL operations in the United States were designed and/or constructed by these engineers. They explained how ISL mining is really just reversing the process of Mother Nature. “Blossom” is what underground uranium miners called the crystals forming on the tunnel walls. Because the ore was in contact with air inside an underground mine, and as ground water moved slowly against the mine’s walls, a visible crust of uranium crystals would precipitate, or blossom along those walls. Making the uranium soluble doesn’t require a lot of oxygen and water because oxidization is a natural process. Adding …

Race and Racism – Some Concepts Defined

Despite adamant claims to the contrary, racism continues to plague many peoples around the world. The first step toward resolving issues of racial intolerance and prejudice is to develop an understanding of the underlying concepts and their labels. This (rather long) article touches on the following topics: • Stereotypes, Race, and Racism • Culture and Cultural Imperialism • Nationalism and National Imaginary I hope you find this article helpful. Stereotypes According to Stroebe and Insko (1989), the term ‘stereoptype’ originated in 1798 to describe a printing process that involved casts of pages of type. The term was first used in relation to the social and political arena in 1922 by Walter Lippman, referring to our perception of different groups. Since …

Parent’s Involvement in Children’s Education

ABSTRACT The importance of parental involvement as an accelerating and motivating factor in their children’s education is a worldwide-accepted fact. This research project provides an in depth explanation along with specific reasons, the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education. It also discusses the parenting techniques, their types and their consequences if neglected. It also describes the ways to measure the outcome of the positive parental involvement. Furthermore, it mentions the teachers involvement and the difficulties faced by the teachers in getting parents involved in their children’s (this is further supported by the examples of two teachers who with their deliberate efforts won the parents over to devote their maximum attention towards their children), single-parent involvement, children’s own efforts …

On Empathy

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999 edition) defines empathy as: “The ability to imagine oneself in anther’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It is a term coined in the early 20th century, equivalent to the German Einfühlung and modelled on “sympathy.” The term is used with special (but not exclusive) reference to aesthetic experience. The most obvious example, perhaps, is that of the actor or singer who genuinely feels the part he is performing. With other works of art, a spectator may, by a kind of introjection, feel himself involved in what he observes or contemplates. The use of empathy is an important part of the counselling technique developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers.” Empathy is …

NGOs – The Self-Appointed Altruists

Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV’s, sport $3000 laptops and PDA’s. They earn a two figure multiple of the local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists. Always self-appointed, they answer to no constituency. Though unelected and ignorant of local realities, they confront the democratically chosen and those who voted them into office. A few of them are enmeshed in crime and corruption. They are the non-governmental organizations, or NGO’s. Some NGO’s – like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Amnesty – genuinely contribute to enhancing welfare, to the mitigation of hunger, the furtherance of human and …