Cool Links

The United Nation's geographically chosen panel of climate experts, the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC), is moving fast to correct errors in its first of four sections of its new report, heading off the public relations disaster of the last report, where it was only revealed by critics that the document contained 'grey literature', including an off-hand claim in a magazine, and was in part written by environmental activists.
The 104th Carnival of Math (1101000 in binary - see how clever they are??) is in full swing, with 40 entries. 

The friendship paradox, a flaw in RSA encryption, how combinatronics and Pampers are related, it's all here.

If you, like me, like math and enjoy reading about math, even if you don't always 'get' what they are getting at in some of this, it's worth taking a look. Bonus: 104 is the sum of 8 consecutive even numbers: 6 + 8 + 10 + 12 + 14 + 16 + 18 + 20.

Come Frolic at The 104th Carnival of Math! - Math Frolic
If you are not a celiac, there are numerous reasons not to jump on the gluten-free fad. Gluten-free products are nutrient poor, they're high in sugar, contain preservatives and are made with refined oils. That's not healthier and it's why Lady Gaga got fatter going gluten-free, even though she claimed it was a diet plan.

And if you are celiac, buying gluten-free labels in a store can be dangerous, because they can still have trace amounts of gluten. Like 'organic' food and its dozens of synthetic ingredients and processes allowed, 'gluten-free' does not mean "100%" gluten-free.

5 Reasons To Avoid The Gluten-Free Aisle by Dr. Amy Myers, Mind Body Green
Ask a sociologist, an epidemiologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist or a health guru what causes weight gain and you are going to get answers varying from heteronormative oppression by men to the diet choices of your grandparents and resulting epigenetics to blaming your parents because you swallow a lot of aggression.

Oh. And marketing. That is always to blame. First Lady Michelle Obama did for obesity what Nancy Reagan did for drugs; she basically handed a government subsidy to a bunch of marketing and advertising agencies to solve a problem that she thinks is easily solved if we demonize one segment of culture. But, wait, isn't marketing the problem? Fight fire with fire, people.
In the United States, we have abandoned the experiment of returning to old, successful way of teaching math - No Child Left Behind led to parity for girls and boys for the first time in history but was unpopular with teachers and unions who said we shouldn't be 'teaching to the test'. 

Canada thinks just the opposite; like America in the 1990s, they are watching test scores plummet, and are thinking about abandoning the "concept-based learning" from the early 1900s that America has returned to - but they want to see if there can be a science reason to do so. 
Here's a fun number theory idea for you. 

Say you have a 3x3x3 matrix filled with numbers, including in the very center. So you have 27 numbers in a special 3-dimension configuration. Since there are three axis for such a cube, there are three ways of dividing such a cube into three 3×3 matrices A, B, and C. Once you do that you can get a cubic form by computing

 Datasets are changing the way we approach the world around us. 

10 years ago, you could get by doing terrible numerical models and make rookie statistical errors in understanding data and only 400 people would read it, while even fewer would understand it. Not any more, everyone can now parse data on the Internet so your clever analysis of fMRI images or convenient massaging of results to match your end-oriented beliefs are going to get tripped up pretty quickly.
What do the motion of spinning of a top, computer architecture, and the sugar in your coffee all have in common?

They highlight the beauty of mathematics.

Yann Pineill and Nicolas Lefaucheux created a video where they put equations on the left, the technical diagram in the middle, and then real-life footage of the phenomenon is on the right.

Result: Math makes some incredibly complicated stuff look easy.



H/T Gizmodo
Halloween is just around the corner, but if you live in California, like me, they aren't doing anything fun. They can't even call it Halloween.

So though when you were a kid you might have learned things that excited you about science, like how to make 'slime' using cornstarch and water or, for a little more cost, fog using dry ice and water, that isn't going to happen in 2013.
93 scientists have declared GMO safety a misinformation campaign and deplore the lack of empirical and scientific evidence on which the false claims of “consensus” on safety are being made.

Bring your tinfoil hat.

They say that there is no consensus at all, there are no studies on the health effects of genetically modified food, the ones that exist are terrible, that government and scientific bodies don't really mean it when they endorse the safety of GM foods, that Europe is also lying to the world, and a bunch of other stuff with dozens of footnotes.
'Priming' studies, which suggest that decisions can be influenced by apparently irrelevant actions or events that took place just before the cusp of choice, have been a boom area in psychology over the past decade, though what isn't? fMRI, surveys of college students, claims about epigenetics and just about everything have been used by psychologists fame-whoring mass media for publicity.

Sure, but that is psychology, easily marginalized as soft and wayward, right? 

Not so. Irreproducibility is much more widespread, finds The Economist. It happens in all science and the usual ability of science to self-correct is losing ground.
Fake volcanoes, giant space mirrors, oceans of iron filings - one of these ideas might save our planet from the worst effects of global warming – or destroy it. Memphis Barker reports on the rise of geoengineering – and the rift it has opened in the scientific community.
Few people love evolutionary biology outreach as much as the University of Chicago's Professor Jerry Coyne. His book, "Why Evolution Is True", is one of three that gets a personal endorsement on my profile page and he posted a terrific article here, A Letter To Darwin - Here's What Has Happened In The Last 150 Years, for our 30 Days of Evolution Blogging event during the 150th anniversary of 'Origin of Species'. His Why Evolution Is True site has become a go-to venue for smart writing about science and society.
Do you rush to buy a particular brand of chicken because it is anti-biotic free? Are you more likely to buy beef that uses "ethical, sustainable" practices like no added steroids or hormones.

I don't blame you, that stuff sounds scary, I don't want antibiotics in my sandwich. There's just one problem: chicken has to be antibiotic-free by law. One brand is trying to look like they are somehow superior to another company even though the chicken is the same.

And 'added' hormones make someone less ethical? Well, that qualifier is necessary because, as you know, we have lots of natural hormones - so do cows and the plants they eat. 
Florida, second only to the entire country of Brazil in global orange juice production and which accounts for over 90 percent of orange juice consumed in the United States, has lost billions of dollars in revenues from a disease that is killing orange trees faster than they can be replaced.

Citrus greening has cost Florida's economy an estimated $4.5 billion in lost revenues since 2006, according to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences. In an already terrible economy, having a state industry that employs 76,000 full- and part-time workers at further risk is a very bad thing.
UK environment secretary Owen Paterson believes that Golden Rice could prevent blindness and death among children in poor countries.

Anti-science progressives insist most science is dangerous and that biologists are just immoral tinkerers who don't think about safety. 
Pamela Ronald, researcher at the University of California, Davis (and blogger at Scientific American) has outlined why a paper she contributed to in Science was retracted.
TED Talks have always been a little light on the science and heavy on the cultural etherealism. That's cool, they are obviously successful and you can't charge anyone outside government-grant funded academics or corporate-funded scientists a lot of money to attend a conference on just science but people will pay a lot more if you also throw in speculation about the future, a human rights activist and a dobro player.

TEDx took that to a whole new level - these franchised events just grabbed whoever they could grab and it was open season for woo, pseudoscience and mysticism to be ensconced under a technology and science umbrella. 
There once was a time when biologists wished more people embraced biology - now they mat be wishing people loved their field a little less.

Almost every crackpot notion can be linked to a brain scan, or a survey of college students, or a general behavior linked to results from twins, and declared biology. And if biologists object, those psychologists, economists and sociologists will say it doesn't have to be a genetic link, it can be epigenetic. It's the go-to safety net for runaway speculation and end-oriented belief that seeks science legitimacy.

A neuroeconomist writing in the New York Times discusses an 'experiment', hooking a dog up to an "MRI stimulator" and the conclusion that followed:
It's popular to lament the politicization of important ideas like health care but it didn't start during the term of President Obama; let's keep in mind that war protests conveniently stopped after November of 2008, for no other reason than that the people behind the protests got their candidate elected - troops are still everywhere, the president launched two more military strikes against 'sovereign nations no threat to anyone outside their own borders' last week. And President Lyndon Johnson handily beat Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, thanks in part to producing a video showing a little girl being vaporized by a nuclear bomb.