Friday, January 14, 2011

The decline effect

Two articles by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker discuss the decline effect and the selective reporting in science.

The first article argues that finding the truth is harder than we think:
The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.

The second one discusses some of the letters that Lehrer received.

Via Dennis L.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New business model for healthcare

Article about Cleveland Clinic and Medstar in today's The Washington Post.

From the article by Lena H. Sun:

The Cleveland model is a combination of royalties from licenses of technologies to established companies and the sale of shares in spin-off companies. Royalties from licensing generate about $10 million yearly, but overall revenue is increasing significantly, said Chris Coburn, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations. Last week, Boston Scientific paid $78 million for a Cleveland Clinic spin-off that is developing a system that uses deep-brain stimulation to treat traumatic brain injury.

How to reform college football

Sally Jenkins suggests six easy steps (The Washington Post, January 10, 2011).

Why does it need reform? Because it is "an illegitimate system in which nearly the half the top-level college football teams in the country were excluded before the first kickoff ever went up," she goes on to explain in another column today.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

How to declutter and clean

Article in the Wall Street Journal on one woman's experience with different spring cleaning methods.

Via Nicole Coomber's Symbol and Sustenance.

History of Engineering

The October 2010 issue of ASEE Prism had Robin Tatu's review of Engineers: A History of Engineering and Structural Design by Matthew Wells.

From the review:
This sort of contextualized overview enlivens Wells’s study of Baroque England’s penchant for “dismemberment” – the systemized study of parts, reassembled into wholes; the 18th-century struggle to devise a theory of elasticity; the technical idealism that suffused Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire building; and the frenzy of American industrialization, during which “almost every possibility for advantage was grasped at.”

It sounds, therefore, that this history is quite different from Henry Petroski's histories of particular artifacts, which focus on the never-ending challenge of overcoming a design's shortcomings.