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Thu, 27 Oct 2016
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Global warmists attempting to change the definition of a hurricane so we'll have more of them!

Hurricane Joaquin as a category 4 storm in October 2015
This op-ed from IBD points out what we have been saying for years, that even though there is no trend in hurricane frequency of intensity, alarmists like Mashable's Andrew Freedman are trying to get the definition of a hurricane redefined, so that the trend will become a positive one. Recall that hateful science blogger Greg Laden asked Should There be a Category 6 for Hurricanes? after super typhoon Haiyan hit in 2013, something that ABC news opined had "already happened" without one shred of evidence to back up that opinion for a Category 6 storm. They also note:
Only three Category 5s have come ashore in the United States in the past century — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

But because of man-made global warming, most hurricane scientists say now we will probably be getting Category 4 and 5 hurricanes more frequently in the coming decades.


Japan: Researchers develop robotic 'babies' to encourage couples to become parents

© Franck Robichon/EPA
So I’m going on a big adventure … right?
Driven by a declining population, a trend for developing robotic babies has emerged in Japan as a means of encouraging couples to become "parents". The approaches taken vary widely and are driven by different philosophical approaches that also beg a number of questions, not least whether these robo-tots will achieve the aim of their creators.

To understand all of this it is worth exploring the reasons behind the need to promote population growth in Japan. The issue stems from the disproportionate number of older people. Predictions from the UN suggest that by 2050 there will be about double the number of people living in Japan in the 70-plus age range compared to those aged 15-30. This is blamed on a number of factors including so-called "parasite singles", more unmarried women and a lack of immigration.

So, what are the different design approaches that are being taken to encourage more people to become parents? These have ranged from robots that mimic or represent the behaviour of a baby through to robots that look much more lifelike. Engineers at Toyota recently launched Kirobo Mini, for example, as a means of promoting an emotional response in humans. The robot does not look like a baby, but instead models "vulnerable" baby-like behaviours including recognising and responding to people in a high-pitched tone and being unstable in its movements.



Eggs from scratch: Scientists hope new technique will cure infertility in humans

© getty images
For the first time, scientists have created viable mammalian eggs from scratch in the lab - and used them to produce healthy offspring.

Experts say the breakthrough could one day offer new hope to women who have lost their fertility - as a result of cancer treatment, for example.

However, it is likely to be many years before the technique - so far performed in mice - is reliable and safe enough for humans.

The scientists behind the discovery say the process could also shed light on the complexities of reproduction, and aiding the conservation of endangered species.

In the experiments, the Japanese team - led by Professor Katsuhiko Hayashi, from Kyushu University - used stem cells both obtained from embryos and generated from mature cells taken from the tips of mouse tails.


Distant world spotted far beyond Pluto

© NASA/ESA/ G. Bacon
An artist's conception of the view from the outer Solar System.
Astronomers have spotted a distant world that orbits far beyond Pluto, in the extreme reaches of the Solar System.

The object, known informally as L91, may be in the process of gradually shifting its way inward from the Oort cloud — a reservoir of comets and other icy bodies — into the equally icy Kuiper belt. No object has ever been seen doing this.

The discovery of L91 reveals more about the extreme worlds whose orbits lie beyond the gravitational influence of Neptune, the most distant giant planet in the Solar System. Researchers have yet to fully explain how these bodies end up in their current orbits."Every time we find another one of these objects it adds another piece to the puzzle," says Meg Schwamb, a planetary scientist at Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii.

Astronomers with the Outer Solar System Origins Survey discovered L91 in September 2013 using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii. The group has been conducting a detailed survey of a small portion of the sky, aiming to catalog and describe the Kuiper belt objects within.


Scientists grow hearts within hearts

© Bernhard Jank, M.D., Ott Lab, Massachusetts General Hospital
A recelluarized heart.
For decades now, there's been an image of human regeneration being a few cells dividing in a petri dish, hopefully growing into a shiny new organ. But the truth is that scientists' work is a bit more macabre. To make a new organ, it helps to be working from a dead one.

That goes for hearts, too. A little more than a decade ago, Dr. Harald Ott, now a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, developed a procedure that could rinse an organ of its cells, leaving behind an empty structure that can be repopulated with new ones. In the lab, Ott and his colleagues have taken ghostly hearts and resurrected them as new ones. Shocked with electrical pulses, those new hearts have even started beating again.

These regenerated organs are not yet strong enough to be subbed in for the originals in the human body. But that's the goal of this research: to be able to use a person's own cells to grow new body parts that can replace broken ones.

Apple Red

Sun, moon and Earth align for stunning supermoon finale to 2016


This year is closing on a lunar high note with the spectacular 'supermoon' phenomenon expected to occur an incredible three times before the end of 2016 - the first of which can be seen tonight.


Why so much Junk Science? The problem with p-values and how we got them wrong.

The aim of science is to establish facts, as accurately as possible. It is therefore crucially important to determine whether an observed phenomenon is real, or whether it's the result of pure chance. If you declare that you've discovered something when in fact it's just random, that's called a false discovery or a false positive. And false positives are alarmingly common in some areas of medical science.

In 2005, the epidemiologist John Ioannidis at Stanford caused a storm when he wrote the paper 'Why Most Published Research Findings Are False',focusing on results in certain areas of biomedicine. He's been vindicated by subsequent investigations. For example, a recent article found that repeating 100 different results in experimental psychology confirmed the original conclusions in only 38 per cent of cases. It's probably at least as bad forbrain-imaging studies and cognitive neuroscience. How can this happen?

The problem of how to distinguish a genuine observation from random chance is a very old one. It's been debated for centuries by philosophers and, more fruitfully, by statisticians. It turns on the distinction between induction and deduction. Science is an exercise in inductive reasoning: we are making observations and trying to infer general rules from them. Induction can never be certain. In contrast, deductive reasoning is easier: you deduce what you would expect to observe if some general rule were true and then compare it with what you actually see. The problem is that, for a scientist, deductive arguments don't directly answer the question that you want to ask.

What matters to a scientific observer is how often you'll be wrong if you claim that an effect is real, rather than being merely random. That's a question of induction, so it's hard. In the early 20th century, it became the custom to avoid induction, by changing the question into one that used only deductive reasoning. In the 1920s, the statistician Ronald Fisher did this by advocating tests of statistical significance. These are wholly deductive and so sidestep the philosophical problems of induction.

Comment: See also:

Most science studies are tainted by sloppy analysis

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

Evidence based medicine - A coin's flip worth of certainty


Possibility comet struck Earth only 10M years after dinosaur extinction

© James Thew
Comet hits Earth 56M years ago creating telltale glassy spheres found in sediment cores.
Some 56 million years ago, carbon surged into Earth's atmosphere, raising temperatures by 5°C to 8°C and causing huge wildlife migrations—a scenario that might mirror the world's future, thanks to global warming. But what triggered this so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) has remained a mystery.

Now, in new work presented on 27 September at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America and published this week in Science, a group of scientists bolsters its claim that a small comet impact kicked off the PETM, stirring up the carbon just 10 million years after a similar event decimated the dinosaurs. The group announced the discovery of glassy, dark beads, set in eight sediment cores tied to the PETM's start—spheres that are often associated with extraterrestrial strikes.

The critical evidence was hardly the result of a targeted campaign, according to Morgan Schaller, a geochemist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, who presented the team's work. The spheres were hiding in plain sight—in sediments off the coast of New Jersey.


"Deep-learning tech" allows industrial robots to teach each other and learn new skills

© The Stack
Fanuc, maker of the industrial robots used to assemble Apple's iPhone and cars for Volkswagen and Tesla, is now partnering with Nvidia to add the company's graphics processing units to its massive machines.

Fanuc launched an initiative to bring artificial intelligence to its robots after investing $7.3 million in Preferred Networks, a machine learning company, in 2015.

Nvidia's graphics processing units and deep-learning technology will be used to help Fanuc robots recognize, process and respond to the environment around them. It's especially important for reinforcement learning, which is how machines use artificial intelligence to adopt new skills through practice.

A robot may capture video of itself to review how it well it did, then analyze and build on that information as it keeps improving over time. Fanuc's machines will feed what they learn into a neural network that other robots can learn from and contribute to as well, reported MIT Technology Review.

Comment: Meanwhile, in Japan, researchers have created the world's first sweating robot: its porous aluminum skeleton retains water which seeps out and evaporates, cooling itself more effectively than air cooling or water circulation, thus allowing it to do more work. Here's the sweaty robot doing pushups to demonstrate:

The time will come when robots steal the bulk of our jobs, at which point an angry Trump might be the least of our worries: Automation, economic collapse, basic income slavery: Our dystopic future?


Voyager 2 finds two unknown dark moons lurking behind Uranus

A view of Uranus captured by Voyager 2 in 1986 as it made its way towards Neptune.
Astronomers have discovered two moons located behind Uranus after re-examining old data collected by NASA's space probe Voyager 2.

During a 1986 flyby, the space probe took a closer look at the planet and its satellites increasing the then-known number of moons around Uranus threefold. Since then, scientists believed there were 27 moons in orbit around the ice giant.

However, two planetary scientists from the University of Idaho's Moscow campus, Rob Chancia and Matthew Hedman, have re-examined Voyager 2's old data and found what they say are two exciting discoveries.