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Skip Huffman
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Attended Metropolitan State College of Denver
Lives in Mountain View, Ca
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Skip Huffman

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This is why there isn't a White History month.
"only seen the part of the game in which these groups have scored the last five touchdowns, but is missing the fact that the score was 64-0 when that streak started."

Hat tip to +Natalie Mootz for the link.
What I am finding as time goes on is that we are all secretly Billy Joel.
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Seriously?  A bike light that you can't recharge and that you can't even use rechargable batteries in?  Did anyone think this through? (in my Bike To Work Day swag)
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The answer is no.
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"Don't be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it." -- Stephen Colbert, whose birthday it is today, speaking as himself in a commencement address to graduates of Knox College.
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Drove a Nissan Leaf today.  Pretty painless.  Snappy amount of power for what seems to basically be an economy car.  Very quiet and smooth.
 
Wonderful perspective here from the Tesla Club in Sweeden!
How quickly our views change.
Swedish original text Having heard so much good about petrol cars, we decided to test drive one. They are said to combine cheap price with long range and fast charging. A winning formula on
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5 COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SCIENCE

We are lucky to live at a time when so many fascinating things are happening in science. Yet when I partake in any discussion, I'm often amazed at how many people carry misconceptions about what science is and how it works. 

This is tolerable given that we all have varied backgrounds and have studied different things - but I feel compelled to offer clarity in five areas that seem to endlessly provide confusion.


NUMBER  1: Science does NOT deal with Certainty

The purpose of science is to get a better grasp of reality. It is a process that attempts to produce the best explanations for what we observe. 

It is akin to charting new territory. You begin with a lot of guess work, mix in some trial and error, and ultimately you can produce a fairly reliable map of your surroundings. 

The only real difference is that science is a never-ending cycle of observation and refinement - and this is a very important distinction.

If you're in the city, you can be extremely certain the next thing you see coming down the road won't be a wagon pulled by a pack of wild dogs - even though its possible. You don't have to be absolutely certain for it to be a reliable statement.

Scientific knowledge works on the same basis. The aim of science is only to produce statements of varying degrees of certainty.


NUMBER 2: Possible and Probable are NOT the Same

Failure to recognize the disparity between what is possible and what is probable is one of the most fallacious slants against science.

Science by nature is very opened minded. The scientific method has discovered the structure of atoms and the essence of black holes - things that would otherwise seem completely implausible.

But thinking scientifically is not about weighing every idea equally.

Discussing the likelihood of a wagon pulled by dogs passing through city streets is so improbable it shouldn't even merit moment of your time. That's not because you're closed minded, it's because there isn't a single credible reason to consider the idea.

For the same reason, the application of science is not focused on what is possible. Anything is possible.

Science is concerned only with ideas that offer demonstrable reasons to be considered probable.


NUMBER 3: "Observe" does NOT mean "See"

It takes Neptune 165 years to orbit the sun.  No one alive has witnessed a full completion of its orbit. Yet we know with a very high degree of certainty the path that Neptune will take. Why?

You don't need to witness events to know with extreme levels of certainty that they occurred or that they will likely occur.

If actually "seeing" an event was the only reason to believe something, then blind people would have no reason to believe anything.

What is important here is to not mix up what is literally observable with what we can surmise

If you should find a small hole near the bottom of your kitchen wall, some mouse droppings in your cupboards, and tiny mouse footprints spread across your floor, you don't need to ever see a mouse to infer that you likely have one.

Like any crime scene investigation, you "observe" the evidence, interpret the facts, and if enough evidence exists, you arrive at an explanation of events. Your level of certainty varies directly with the amount of confirming evidence.

This is the essence of science.


NUMBER 4: Not all Science is "Accepted" Science

There are a lot of "scientific" ideas (those open to scientific study). The good ones are called hypotheses.

With enough confirming evidence and successful testing by the scientific community, a good hypothesis can transition to scientific theory.

As Einstein demonstrated when he overhauled Newtonian Physics, even the best scientific theories are not immune from revision or improvement.

A scientific theory is merely the best current explanation for the phenomena we observe that is accepted by the scientific community - in this sense, it is "accepted" science. 

But ideas have to begin somewhere, and a lot of them will often turn out to be bad ideas. This isn't a detriment, its merely part of the process of ultimately arriving at good ideas. As long as there are good reasons to consider a new idea, its worthy of some discussion. 

Many ideas currently being considered in the scientific community will prove to be wrong, but this in no way discredits science.
 
There is a huge difference between an idea that has some potential and one that is considered a scientific theory - they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum of certainty.


NUMBER 5: Trust and Faith are NOT Required in Science

When you arrive at an airport, it is not necessary for you to inspect the plane or speak with the pilot. You don't even need to understand aerodynamics. You trust that your plane will arrive at its destination because the airline has a history of reliable flight. 

In this sense, many people "trust" the scientific community, but it is unnecessary. The beauty of scientific knowledge is that it is demonstrable.

Every bit of scientific knowledge contains an explanation of how each conclusion was reached. If it did not, it would not be scientific. 

Pretending to have answers gets you nowhere in the scientific community. Claims to superior knowledge are inconsequential. Personal charisma and good looks play no part. What is relevant a willingness to have your ideas be scrutinized, thrashed, and proven false

The result is that no other process is as efficient at rooting out nonsense as the scientific method.

That isn't to say that science is infallible (no credible scientist would ever suggest that), nor that its void of corruption, motives,  or bias. But any accepted idea has stood up to the scrutiny and rigorous testing of scientists from all over the world.

That's worth something, but you don't have to trust any of it.

There is nothing about the scientific method that is based on any aspect of trust or faith - it is only concerned with what is demonstrable.


A HANDFUL OF GREAT QUOTES ON SCIENCE

"What makes a belief scientific isn't whether it turns out to be true or not, but the process by which it is arrived at." 
~ James Hogan

"There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance has always been premature, and it remains premature today."
 ~ Isaac Asimov

"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers which can't be questioned." 
~ Richard Feynman

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” 
~ Galileo Galilei

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense." 
~ Carl Sagan

‘In searching for the truth and often questioning it, scholars, thinkers, philosophers, and scientists have immeasurably influenced our world.  Their medical breakthroughs, scientific discoveries, physical laws, and mathematical principles have imposed order, coherence, and clarity on what once seemed a random, indiscriminate, and lawless world.” 
~ Dennis Kimbro 


www.todd-william.com
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Do You Like Green Eggs And Ham?

Yes, I like them, Sam-I-Am
White eggs, Brown eggs,  Pink ones too
But Tell me, how Do they turn Blue?
(With apologies to Dr. Seuss) 

Egg color in birds evolved for obvious reasons of camouflage and recognition, and for less obvious reasons such as thermal regulation, protection against UV light, and even antimicrobial defense. Chicken eggs are commonly white (no pigment), or brown (protoporphyrin). Rare breeds from China and Chile lay blue eggs, colored by the bile pigment biliverdin, a breakdown product of the hemoglobin in red blood cells.  Biliverdin is normally excreted by liver cells into the bile. So how does it end up in the egg shell? 

Organic anion transporters are proteins that move a large number of compounds- drugs, toxins, hormones and bile pigments, across cell membranes, as part of the liver's detoxifying day job. Genetic sleuthing mapped the blue color trait to a region of a chicken chromosome. Here was a gene for a transporter protein, SLCO1B3, that could provide blue-green biliverdin to color the shell. But why was the gene inexplicably turned on only in the shell gland of the blue egg laying chicken?

Endogenous retroviruses (ERV) are ancient viruses that inserted randomly into the genomes of prehistoric birds. One such viral fragment inserted right next to the SLCO1B3 gene in blue egg laying chickens, where it behaved like an accidental transcription enhancer, or "on switch". Because of its sequence, scientists speculate that it mediates estrogen specific regulation, accounting for the high levels of the biliverdin transport protein in the shell gland. Although this story nicely explains our Seussian curiosity about green eggs and ham, it also shows how viruses shape diversity in the living world. For example, an insertion of the avian leukosis virus inside a gene for the enzyme tyrosinase results in white plumage in chickens. Viral insertions can also be incredibly harmful, triggering cancer when they accidentally turn on oncogenes.

REFS (open access papers): http://goo.gl/3yJ1FS and http://goo.gl/ypZyCF

Fun Fact: Green Eggs and Ham, published in 1960, is one of the best selling and most beloved children's books of all time. It has just 50 words, and was written by Dr. Seuss in response to a bet by his publisher. 

Photo: Tammy Riojas, Elgin, TX;

H/T to +Lorna Salgado for posting the news story that led to this   #ScienceSunday  post. 
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Dear Inner DJ, 
What have I done to offend you?
The farmersonly.com jingle on repeat?   Really?
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Oh?  Seriously?  Braiding it with "One Step Beyond" by Madness and "Welcome To The Machine" by Pink Floyd is NOT helping.
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Bike to Work Day 2015.  Today I celebrate a year of biking to work on most days. I've lost weight and feel healthier.  
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Thanks to +vint cerf for pointing this out.
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NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a photo on April 8 that shows the car-size Curiosity rover cruising through a valley called Artist's Drive in the foothills of Mount Sharp.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a photo on April 8 that shows the car-size Curiosity rover cruising through a valley called Artist's Drive in the foothills of Mount Sharp.
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Ok, this is awesome. 
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Liquid matter falling from the sky?  Is this the end of the world?
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I digitally depress polymer shells over electrically conductive membranes in highly ordered patterns.
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    Test engineer, 2015 - present
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Introduction
This I believe:  That the growth of human knowledge and awareness is Good.  Every discovery, creation, work of art and honest exchange of ideas is a Blessing.  Every lie, con, cheat, suppression and destruction of knowledge is Sin.
  
From the discovery of the Higgs boson, down to a dirty limerick are all acts that make the human noosphere larger, richer, and just better. Anything that destroys or distorts any portion of the sum of all human knowledge is tearing down the work of ages. That includes the burning of the Library of Alexandria, deceptive beer advertising, and climate change denial.

Science is one of our best tools for growing our noosphere.  Properly applied science separates the wheat from the chaff, concentrating and preserving knowledge.

Literature may be an even stronger tool.  It allows communication, not just to one person or a small group, but to people remote in space and time.  

Art is most human of the tools we have.  Art is what turns raw data into beauty, and beauty is what truly attracts us.  Beauty gives us something to Love, not just something to admire.  Beauty lasts the ages and only Art can give us that.

Technology gives us the tools we need to build everything else.  Technology lets more of us do more a richer things.  Without technology we are no more than talking animals.

Mathematics is the most powerful, most basic, and most essential technology that we have.  It underlays everything else, from the plane angles of a flint hand axe to the Mars Science laboratory that is bringing us knowledge from another world.  Mathematics gives us the golden mean, it gives our poetry meter, it lets our statues stand tall and broad.  

This I Believe.
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  • Metropolitan State College of Denver
    Aviation Management, 1987 - 2015
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