Wednesday, January 28, 2015

how much do you know?

 calvin willis and his family

check out the innocence project:

• A witness made an identification in a “show-up” procedure from the back of a police car hundreds of feet away from the suspect in a poorly lit parking lot in the middle of the night. • A witness in a rape case was shown a photo array where only one photo of the person police suspected was the perpetrator was marked with an “R.”

• Witnesses substantially changed their description of a perpetrator (including key information such as height, weight and presence of facial hair) after they learned more about a particular suspect.

• Witnesses only made an identification after multiple photo arrays or lineups — and then made hesitant identifications (saying they “thought” the person “might be” the perpetrator, for example), but at trial the jury was told the witnesses did not waver in identifying the suspect.
One night in 1982, three young girls were sleeping alone in a Shreveport, Louisiana home when a man in cowboy boots came into the house and raped the oldest girl, who was 10 years old. When police started to investigate the rape, the three girls all remembered the attack differently. One police report said the 10-year-old victim didn’t see her attacker’s face. Another report — which wasn’t introduced at trial — said she identified Calvin Willis, who lived in the neighborhood. The girl’s mother testified at trial that neighbors had mentioned Willis’s name when discussing who might have committed the crime. The victim testified that she was shown photos and told to pick the man without a full beard. She testified that she didn’t pick anyone, police said she picked Willis. Willis was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison. In 2003, DNA testing proved Willis’ innocence and he was released. He had served nearly 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

are you really sure?

following our discussion of section 7.3 and the idea of "defeaters" here is the podcast of the NPR broadcast i told you about. get ready for a bizarre twist. 
On July 29th, 1985, a 36-year-old woman named Penny Beerntsen went for a jog on the beach near her home. About a mile into her run, she passed a man in a leather jacket, said hello and kept running. On her way back, he re-appeared. What happened next would cause Penny to question everything she thought she knew about judging people — and, in the end, her ability to be certain of anything.

Monday, January 26, 2015

can machines think?

why not?

Some people argue that we will one day reach a point when our machines, which will have become smarter than us, will be able themselves to make machines that are smarter than them. Superintelligence — an intelligence far-outreaching what we are in a position even to imagine — will come on the scene. We will have attained what is known, in futurist circles, as the "singularity." The singularity is coming. So some people say.

the gettier problems in wikipedia

right here. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

thinking wayyyyyy out of the box

my last evaluation from
If you are able to think wayyyyyyyyy out of the box, then this class is for you. If not, don't expect to pass this class with more than a C. He'll offer to help but he's also very demanding. Be prepared to be frustrated with the final paper.
(she got a C)

this is an honest evaluation, if not a bit obscure. so, by her own admission, she not able to think wayyyyyy out of the box.

but i think she did!

the box is there & the space outside it too (as we know space is relative to viewpoint). if you acknowledge you are wayyyyyy out, you are better off than way, since you still have the box as reference and way as a past-point. isn't that cool?

finally, i love her advice: "be prepared to be frustrated". in life, this is a precious tip.

whoever you are: thank you. 

what is in your food?

for you foodies, fresh from the NYTIMES:

did you know that at a remote research center on the nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry? some of the results are revolting:
Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed. Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.
don't tell me you don't care. i won't believe it. not caring amounts to not wanting to care.  

slowing the speed of light?

wired news: 
The speed of light travelling through air has been slowed down for the first time, breaking what was thought to be a constant physical measurement.
recall, the speed of light is more or less 186,000 miles per second. how does it happen?
To explain how the experiment worked the researchers compared the behaviour of a beam of light to that of a team of cyclists. While the team of cyclists travels at a constant speed, the individual cyclists will all be travelling at their own speeds as they swap positions.
 so? the experiment counters the idea of k.

the looming question now is can they make it go FTL? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the art of forensics (inference to the best explanation)

10 famous cases solved by the science of forensics.
Although serial killer Ted Bundy was responsible for an estimated 30-plus murders, there was little physical evidence to connect him to the crimes when he was arrested in 1975. Two years later, having been convicted only of kidnapping, Bundy was preparing to stand trial for murder in Colorado when he escaped and headed to Florida. There, he killed three more people early in 1978, and when he was finally captured in February of that year, the physical evidence in those cases led to his conviction. Most crucial was the matching of a bite mark on the buttock of victim Lisa Levy to the Bundy’s distinctive, crooked and chipped teeth. He was convicted also of the murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach based on fibers found in his van that matched the girl’s clothing. Bundy was put to death in 1989.
IBE works!

what does the warmest year on record tells global warming deniers?

i understand skeptics. they don't hurry to judgements preferring instead the slow ebb & flow of evidence to mount. so, isn't this enough? the consensus of scientists:
The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
this is not appealing to authority. there's an interesting connection here.

don't we have a "trend" here? & if so, doesn't it it show probable causation?

the skeptic would say, what if it happened before? well, one can entertain the possibility of a non-human caused warming period in our prehistory. for instance the warming period in the mesozoic era. so what? why would that event be a counter to this one?

plus this:
Since 1880, Earth's average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet's atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.
if you don't take this information into account you already passed the skeptic, you're a denier.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

triff's office hours!

MWF 8-9:50am
TR 8-9:40 am
T, 3:30-5:30 pm
F 12:30-1:30pm

but you can also approach me before and/or after class, walking on hallways, taking the stairs to my office, etc, or via email, my favourite communication signature.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

4 u math phobics!

the reason you hate math is that you hate it, and you hate it because you don't have math-brain-circuits.

the brain needs the right ingredients to do what it does. according to this source for the brain to work at a new challenge it needs to recombine familiar activity patterns in new ways relative to creating entirely novel patterns.

this is interesting:
The harder-to-learn patterns were different from any of the pre-existing patterns, whereas the easier-to-learn patterns were combinations of pre-existing brain patterns. Because the existing brain patterns likely reflect how the neurons are interconnected, the results suggest that the connectivity among neurons shapes learning.
calculus anyone?

you can't just pretend to ignore X (particularly if you don't know X)

this is an accessible discussion of evolution.  

recipe for a small planet (from nytimes)

two new earth-like planets have been discovered, adding more to a distinguished list (see above).


1 cup magnesium 1 cup silicon 2 cups iron 2 cups oxygen ½ teaspoon aluminum ½ teaspoon nickel ½ teaspoon calcium ¼ teaspoon sulfur 1 dash of water, delivered by asteroids


Blend well in a large bowl. Do not over mix.
With your hands, shape the mixture into a round ball and place it neatly into the habitable zone around a young star.
Heat until the mixture becomes a white hot glowing ball. Bake for a few million years.
Cool until color changes from white to yellow to red and a golden-brown crust forms.
The ball should not give off light anymore.
Season with a dash of water and organic compounds.
It will shrink a bit as steam escapes and clouds and oceans form.
Stand back and wait a few more million years to see what happens.
 If you are lucky, a thin frosting of life may appear on the surface of your new world.