Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I Wish We Taught More Statistics

Ed Yong explains what it means to say that something causes 16% of cancers.
It doesn't mean:
  • He can name the cancer victim
  • He is certain it causes cancer
  • His 16% is higher than someone else's 15%
  • 84% of cancer is caused by something else (100-16=84)
I'd like to live in a world where this makes perfect sense to everyone who has finished high-school math.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shaping Silicon on the Nano-Scale

Shaping silicon on the nano-scale promises a way to make a battery that stores lots of energy and lasts for many charges.

This remind me of the story of Thomas Edison's first long lasting light bulb filament. He took a bit of cotton thread, shaped as he liked and then baked it until all that was left was carbon. If he put a thin carbon wire in a vacuum, he had a reasonably long-lasting light bulb. Ingenuity never grows old.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Things You Find in Your Basement

Making a nuclear bomb is pretty easy, if only you can get the weapons-grade uranium. Apparently Kodak had 3.5 pounds of weapons-grade uranium sitting in a lab in the basement from 1974 to 2006. It is not enough for a bomb, but enough to make the Department of Defense awfully nervous.

 They used it to check chemicals for impurities.