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Science and technology micro-summaries for July 15, 2019


5 months ago4 min read

City-dwellers are as cooperative as country folks; Shaquille O'Neal's net worth quadrupled after following advice from Jeff Bezos; Pro baseball's first robotic umpire; Deciding how much to trust modern medicine; and Mining bitcoin on a 50 year old Apollo computer

Straight from my RSS feed:
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.


pixabay license: source.

  1. Urban Civility: City Dwellers Are Not Less Prososcial Than Their Rural Counterparts - (Paywall/Abstract only) Researchers expected that the anonymity in cities would lead to a decline of cooperative behavior. That's not what they found. h/t Daniel Lemire who points out that, measured over time instead of per-person, cities may have a higher frequency of rude encounters due to the increase in raw numbers of social interactions.

  2. Shaquille O'Neal says he 'quadrupled' his net worth after adopting an investment strategy he learned from Jeff Bezos - He invests in things that he believes in, quoting Bezos, "Is it going to change people's lives?"

  3. ‘Robot’ umpire calls first professional baseball game with one hitch and no controversy - The event happened in York, PA, at a York Revolution minor league game. The ball from the first pitch was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The robot called its decisions in to the umpire on the field, and the umpire relayed the calls to the players. Only a single call raised consternation from any players, although iPhone technical difficulties knocked the robot out of the game for half of the fourth inning, during which the on-field umpire took over. h/t Communications of the ACM

  4. Is Medicine Overrated? - This review of Medical Nihilism, which is published by Oxford University Press, cites the following key points: (i) Medical research is biased towards positive results; (ii) More rigorous replication studies rarely confirm the findings; (iii) Harmful effects are often unreported; (iv) The health care industry often engages in disease mongering; (v) Screening doesn't save lives; and (vi) Modern medicine is overrated. The book argues that doctors should prescribe less medicines, and patients should take less medicines, only acting when the medical benefit is firmly proven - in cases like insulin or antibiotics. The following excerpt summarizes the argument:
    There is no place I would rather be after a serious accident than in an intensive care unit. For a headache, aspirin; for many infections, antibiotics; for some diabetics, insulin—there are a handful of truly amazing medical intervention, many discovered between seventy and ninety years ago. However, by most measures of medical consumption—number of patients, number of dollars, number of prescriptions—the most commonly employed interventions, especially those introduced in recent decades, provide compelling warrant for medical nihilism.

    Add to this a link from Daniel Lemire - Most new drugs are useless.

  5. STEEM Mining Bitcoin On The 15-bit Computer That Brought Man To The Moon - @kralizec reports on Ken Shirriff's project to mine bitcoin on a 50 year old Apollo Computer. Aside from the age of the machine, the project was also challenging because of the need to convert from the hardware's 15-bit architecture to bitcoin's 32 bit. Most modern can compute thousands of hashes per second, but the Apollo computer takes about 10 seconds per hash. (@kralizec will receive 5% of the rewards from this post.)

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