Waves of pain ratcheting up through the fading numbness of ebbing anaesthesia, pain strong enough to trigger my synaesthetic response, becoming a camera flare of magnesium light radiating out of my jawbone. Suddenly, it occurs to me that the odd array of mechanical noises I’d heard emanating from inside my mouth whilst I reclined in the endodontist’s chair really did denote the removal of matter from my head.
But, one filled prescription later. . . Mmmm, delicious hydrocodone.
While I indulge in painkillers and a modest dinner of very soft foods, here are links to some interesting things happening in my local cluster of Network nodes:
First, Brian Switek is growing old! Everyone should congratulate him on making it this far, and warn him that he’d better retain his youthful enthusiasm.
Russell Blackford has a couple thought-provoking posts, the first on transhumanism and atheism, and the second on Francisco Ayala’s book Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion (2007), an entry in the Templeton genre which Blackford has reviewed for Cosmos magazine. Meanwhile, Ben Allen reports about computer science ideas spreading into other areas of science, such as an interesting result on the computational difficulty of finding equilibrium points in exchange markets.
Next stop on this random walk: both Abbie Smith (1, 2) and TR Gregory have weighed in on some recent remarks by microbiologist Carl Woese, who seems to have looked at the poor state of high-school biology education and given up hope that evolution could ever be taught at the high-school level. I can only guess at the frustration which could drive a man to the philosophy that the cure for bad education is no education; in the end, I agree with Prof. Gregory:
Evolution is undoubtedly a special case in light of the (non-scientific) controversy surrounding its accuracy as an explanation for the diversity of life, but it is not entirely alone. Physicists have also noted that basic concepts in their field are often poorly understood among incoming students. For example, it has been shown that many students maintain the more intuitive views of motion proposed by Aristotle rather than the accurate interpretation provided by Newton, sometimes even after an attempt has been made to correct these misconceptions. This would not be an argument for removing basic physics education from high school, it would indicate that additional effort should be spent on clarifying such misunderstandings as early as possible. So it goes for evolutionary biology.
And speaking of Newtonian physics, Skulls in the Stars has a good primer on “Newtonian relativity.”
Finally, Boston-area fans of the evilutionary superscientist P-Zed are gathering at the Cambridge Brewing Company this Friday evening at 19 o’clock, for merriment and conviviality. MAJeff is the master of revels, so let him know if you’re dropping by.