April 19, 2018

Falsifiability

The Logic of Scientific Discovery

A statement, hypothesis, or theory has falsifiability or refutability if there is the possibility of showing it to be false. It is falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an empirical observation which could refute it. For example, the universal generalization that All swans are white is falsifiable since it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single swan that is not white.

The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper’s scientific epistemology referred to as ‘falsificationism.’ Popper stresses the problem of ‘demarcation’—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience. Continue reading

April 14, 2018

Twelfth Night

She's the Man

‘Twelfth Night, or ‘What You Will” is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601–02 for a festival marking the close of the Christmas season, on the twelfth night after Christmas Day, called the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. The play centers on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who disguises herself as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

The play expanded on the musical interludes and riotous disorder expected of the occasion, with plot elements drawn from the short story ‘Of Apollonius and Silla’ by English author Barnabe Rich, based on a story by Italian writer Matteo Bandello.  Continue reading

Tags:
April 6, 2018

Chernoff Face

Chernoff

Chernoff faces, invented by American statistician Herman Chernoff in 1973, display multivariate data in the shape of a human face. The individual parts, such as eyes, ears, mouth and nose represent values of the variables by their shape, size, placement and orientation.

The idea behind using faces is that humans easily recognize faces and notice small changes without difficulty. Chernoff faces handle each variable differently. Because the features of the faces vary in perceived importance, the way in which variables are mapped to the features should be carefully chosen (e.g. eye size and eyebrow-slant have been found to carry significant weight).  Continue reading

March 19, 2018

Sheats Goldstein Residence

Jackie Treehorn

The Sheats Goldstein Residence is a house designed and built between 1961 and 1963 by American architect John Lautner in Beverly Crest, Los Angeles, just a short distance from the Beverly Hills border. The building was conceived from the inside out and built into the sandstone ledge of the hillside; a cave-like dwelling that opens to embrace nature and view.

The house is an example of ‘American Organic Architecture’ that derives its form as an extension of the natural environment and of the individual for whom it was built. Lautner, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, sought to create unique structures that solved the challenges of their sites. Continue reading

Tags:
March 12, 2018

Precognition

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab

Precognition (Latin: ‘acquiring knowledge’), also called ‘prescience,’ ‘future vision,’ or ‘future sight’ is an alleged psychic ability to see events in the future.

As with other forms of extrasensory perception (ESP), there is no reliable scientific evidence that precognition is a real ability possessed by anyone and it is widely considered to be pseudoscience. Specifically, precognition appears to violate the principle that an effect cannot occur before its cause. Continue reading

March 1, 2018

Webring

GeoCities

webring is a collection of websites linked together in a circular structure, and usually organized around a specific theme, often educational or social. They were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly among amateur websites.

Webrings are seen by some as a relic of the early web of the 1990s. When the primary site that managed web rings, webring.org was acquired by Yahoo, ‘ring masters’ lost access to their webrings and the web ring hubs were replaced by a Yahoo page. By the time Yahoo stopped controlling webring.org in 2001, search engines had become good enough that web rings were no longer as useful. The webring.org site was still active in the mid-2010s. Continue reading

February 28, 2018

Bal Tashchit

Judaism and environmentalism

Bal tashchit [bahl tosh-keet] (‘do not destroy’) is a basic ethical principle in Jewish law. Deuteronomy 20:19–20 forbids cutting down fruit trees to assist in a siege.

In early rabbinic law however, the principle is understood to include other forms of senseless damage or waste. For instance, the Babylonian Talmud applies the principle to prevent the wasting of lamp oil, the tearing of clothing, the chopping up of furniture for firewood, or the killing of animals. In contemporary Jewish ethics, advocates often point to bal tashchit as an environmental principle.

February 19, 2018

George Foreman Grill

Foreman Grill

The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, commonly known as the George Foreman Grill, is an indoor, electrically heated grill manufactured by Spectrum Brands. It is promoted by former boxing champion George Foreman. Since its introduction in 1994, over 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold worldwide.

The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, as it became known, was introduced in 1994 and promoted with distinctive infomercials which featured Foreman. A combination of his affable personality and the unique features of the product made it a huge success. Such was the popularity of these infomercials that Foreman’s famous tagline, ‘It’s so good I put my name on it!,’ is now part of popular culture. In Asia, the grill is endorsed and promoted by both George Foreman and Jackie Chan. Continue reading

Tags: ,
February 15, 2018

Choke

Miracle at the New Meadowlands

In sports, a choke is the failure of a sportsperson or team in a game in a situation where maintaining their performance is highly important.

This can occur in a game or tournament that they are strongly favored to win, or in an instance where they have a large lead that they squander in the late stages of the event. It can also refer to repeated failures in the same event, or simply infer an unexpected failure when the event is more important than usual. Continue reading

February 10, 2018

Mafia State

oligarch

The term mafia state is a political buzzword to describe a system of government that is tied to organized crime, such as when government officials, police, and/or military take part in illicit enterprises. The term mafia is a reference to any organized crime groups strongly connected with the authorities.

According to US diplomats, a former officer of the Russian FSB secret service who specialized in organized crime, Alexander Litvinenko, coined the phrase ‘Mafia state.’ Both the Italian mafia and Japanese Yakuza have have, at times, established a close and friendly relationships with their respective governments.  Scholar of Law and Economics Edgardo Buscaglia describes the political system of Mexico as a ‘Mafiacracy.’ Buscaglia characterizes the condition between the state, the economy and organized crime in Mexico as a mutual interweaving.

Continue reading

January 31, 2018

Endurance Training

Raramuri

Endurance training is the act of exercising to remain active for extended periods of time, resisting fatigue. The term generally refers to training the aerobic system as opposed to the anaerobic system.

The need for endurance in sports is often predicated as the need of cardiovascular and simple muscular endurance, but the issue of endurance is more complex. Endurance in sport is closely tied to the execution of skill and technique. A well conditioned athlete can be defined as, the athlete who executes his or her technique consistently and effectively with the least effort. Continue reading

January 12, 2018

Sweater Curse

knitting

The sweater curse, or the ‘curse of the love sweater,’ is a knitting folktale which claims that if a knitter gives a hand-knit sweater to a significant other, it will lead to the recipient breaking up with them. In an alternative formulation, the relationship will end before the sweater is even completed. In a 2005 poll, 15% of active knitters said that they had experienced the sweater curse firsthand, and 41% considered it a possibility that should be taken seriously.

Despite its name, the ‘sweater curse’ is treated in knitting literature not as a superstition governed by paranormal forces, but rather as a real-world pitfall of knitting that has rational explanations. Several plausible mechanisms for the sweater curse have been proposed, but it has not been studied systematically. Continue reading