28 August 2012

A GPS in your DNA: could this new model help further enhance services such as 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry DNA?

A GPS in your DNA is a cool article in ScienceDaily.  I wonder, could this new model help further enhance services such as 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry DNA?

24 August 2012

Kuala Lumpur twin towers: the world's tallest twin towers

I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last week and had a chance to visit and photograph the Petronas Towers.  At 1,483 feet tall, they were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004, and they remain the world's tallest twin buildings ever built.

Photo taken from the front entrance area of the Petronas Towers
Taken from inside the "skybridge" on the 42nd floor.  It's a double-decker skybridge, with the 41st floor being for tourists while the  42nd floor is reserved for tenants and their guests.  At 558 feet, it is the highest 2-story bridge in the world.  Per wikipedia, the bridge is not attached to the main structures, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking, as the towers sway several feet in towards and away from each other during high winds!
The towers at night-time, taken from the rooftop bar at the Trader's Hotel.  A bit of trivia: Some may recognize  these towers from the 1999 film Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Helpful Warning? Or too much information? :)


This struck me as kind of funny.  By the way, it's at the St. Regis Hotel in Singapore, where I was last week.

02 August 2012

Slovenia and North Korea on top in 2012 Olympic Medal Count

While the US and China are vying for top honors in the 2012 Olympic Medal Count overall, I had been thinking that country-comparisons on total medal count is a bit unbalanced way to look at it since, well, they're both very populous countries!  What if we account for this by weighting the medal count by population...or what about wealth?

Huffington Post did just that here.

As of the morning of August 2nd, it turns out that Slovenia comes out on top in population-weighted medal count:

And North Korea comes out on top in GDP-weighted medal count:

It will be interesting to see how this evolves as the Olympics progress!


01 August 2012

“It’s just this sense that you got something to say,” and other things Bob Dylan didn't really say

The fall of science journalist and author Jason Lehrer was precipitated by his fabrication of one or more quotes by Bob Dylan, among other things.  See this New York Times story for details.

Outspoken author, intellectual, and neuroscientist Sam Harris commented on Lehrer's career cliff-dive in this blog post.  Says Harris, "I consistently meet smart, well-intentioned, and otherwise ethical people who do not seem to realize how quickly and needlessly lying can destroy their relationships and reputations. This is why I wrote a short ebook on the subject. Since it contains more or less everything I want to say in response to the Lehrer debacle, I’m offering the full text of LYING as a free download for the rest of the week."


Note the link to the FREE download (this week only) of Harris's long essay / short ebook, Lying, here.  I read it several months ago and found it to be insightful and compelling.  Here are a couple of endorsements of the book from Harris's website:
This essay is quite brilliant. (I was hoping it would be, so I wouldn’t have to lie.) I honestly loved it from beginning to end. LYING is the most thought-provoking read of the year.
Ricky Gervais

In this brief but illuminating work, Sam Harris applies his characteristically calm and sensible logic to a subject that affects us all—the human capacity to lie. And by the book’s end, Harris compels you to lead a better life because the benefits of telling the truth far outweigh the cost of lies—to yourself, to others, and to society.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History