atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3205: Scientists: making up data since 1912! (Actually, before that.)

Piltdown man! Who did it and why? Was it because England didn't have any prehistoric finds while France and Germany did? Was it a jab at atheism? Was it an attempt at forging the "missing link" that would prove Darwinism?

This story, though, is instructive: Piltdown Man turned out to be a hoax even though--until 1953--"the science was settled" and he was a real fossil.
Only one scientist, anatomist David Waterson, voiced doubts. The cranium looked human while the jawbone resembled that of a chimpanzee, he noted. No one else appears to have agreed--for a very straightforward reason. Palaeontology in Britain was going through a lean time and its practitioners desperately wanted to believe that fossil gold had been struck. Digs in France, at Cro-Magnon, and in Germany, at Neanderthal and Heidelberg, had produced startling finds of early humans. Britain had nothing. One French palaeontologist had even dismissed his English counterparts as mere chasseurs de cailloux--pebble hunters.

The jibe hurt. Hence English researchers' willingness to accept the Piltdown finds. They may have been crudely made but the finds gave scientists what they wanted: evidence that England had been an important crucible in the forging of our species. "No one did any scientific tests," says Russell. "If they had, they would have noticed the chemical staining and filed-down teeth very quickly. This was clearly not a genuine artefact. The scientific establishment accepted it because they wanted it so much."

There was more to this uncritical acceptance than mere jingoism, however. Piltdown also seemed to support the theory, then firmly upheld by English palaeontologists, that growing brainpower had driven human evolution. Our intelligence, above all, separated us from the animal kingdom. Thus our brains would have expanded early in our evolution and evidence for that should be seen in fossil skulls--like the one at Piltdown.
These people were not skeptical of the evidence because they wanted it to be true.

...which is why the global warming community uncritically accepted Mann's "hockey stick" for so long, even to defending it after it was first discredited...and why they just swept it under the rug when it was proven to be wholly fabricated. Mann's work was a hoax like Piltdown Man, but if the general public were to be told this it would discredit climate science as a Michael Mann is still sitting in his comfy office and still taken seriously as a scientist--when he is anything but.

* * *

Like Clinton, JFK was also boning the interns. I'd wager a large number of Presidents have been boning the interns, in fact.

* * *


* * *

Karl Denninger:

Illinois state and local taxes. Where they go, and how angry you should be, because public employees are being paid a hell of a lot more than private employees with the same education and experience.

This actually ties into another piece of his that I'm linking: Housing market crack-smoking nonsense. His former home in Deerfield, IL, sees a property tax of $21,000 per year. The problem is thus, emphasis removed:
Housing bottom? Not a prayer in hell for areas like the Chicago suburbs, as there is no price at which these homes can change hands in an open market and yet pencil out due to the tax load. At roughly $2,000/month in property taxes alone these homes are worth nothing -- and we're not talking about mansions here either. Oh sure, it is a very nice (and pretty large) house, but it's not a mansion by any stretch of the imagination.

Until this problem is corrected, and there's no indication it will be, in major metropolitan markets there is no bottom because there is no capital value on these homes. They are carrying tax burdens that are outrageous compared to their alleged "value" -- in most cases two to three times the tax burden that would result in a deal that "pencils out."
It actually costs you less to rent such a house than it does for you to own it; as a tenant you're not responsible for mortgage, building maintenance, etc but merely rent.

Tenant: $2,600 per month in rent.

Owner: Mortgage, plus $2,000 per month in taxes, plus insurance, plus repairs and maintenance.

You see?

This is why, every evening around 5 PM, there is a huge line of cars passing through Crete coming from a compass arc running southwest through north, all heading east to Indiana: it costs too goddamned much to own a house in Illinois.

* * *

KD #3: The physics of high-bandwidth cellular devices does not favor long talk times.
The cost (in electrical power) of moving a byte of data has come down to some degree, but not nearly as much as you'd think. While various people point to the more-complex encodings that squeeze more bits into a given quantum of time what they aren't taking into account is the processing required to do that. You can either pay in RF transmission costs or you can pay in processing costs to recover the bits you moved from that nicely-complex encoding that you receive (or encode up to transmit) but you can't avoid paying -- one way or another it requires watt-hours to move the bits.
It's the Laws of Thermodynamics, folks.

...some time ago someone explained--in words of one syllable, so I could understand it--how the Laws of Thermodynamics rule data transmission and computation. (It was probably Steven Den Beste but back in the old USS Clueless days.)

Feynman discovered that there is no theoretical lower limit to the power required for computation; but of course that limit is still subject to the Laws of Thermodynamics. You need to be able to distinguish a 1 from a 0, and that means they can't get lost in random noise; "random noise" is essentially "waste heat" and you cannot avoid it, ever.

The fact is, if you want to dump data wirelessly at a high speed, it is going to take a lot more power than moving it at a lower speed, and there will never be a point at which you break even on the exchange. Higher speed will always require more power than lower speed for any given set of circumstances. You'll never be able to double your speed (say) for double the power; it'll be double the speed for double the power plus extra.

* * *

While commenting on one of Og's posts I discovered that Hime-chan's Ribbon is twenty years old.

Holy crap. I haven't been collecting it that long, but that's because I didn't become otaku until 1994. That means I've been into anime for eighteen years....

In fact I didn't discover Hime-chan's Ribbon until I got into fansubs because that series has never been in commercial release in the US. Still.

* * *

While looking up the title of a song, I came across a compilation of music--mostly that of Jim Lillquist and Ernie's Journey--which I put together in 1998 or 1999 as the "soundtrack" of a story I was working on at the time.

Most of the music was digitized by me from an old copy of a cassette. That is to say, a friend had bought the cassette at a ren faire, and I'd dubbed a copy of it--which is good because that friend subsequently lost the cassette in a move or something--and the tracks were never available on CD (most of them). So I went ahead and moved my cassette deck into the studio and digitized the songs.

("Studio": when I was living in Cedar Rapids, and before my ex-GF moved in, I had a spare bedroom that I used as a computer room and art studio. I even had an art table set up in there, along with some other stuff. I called it the "studio" because, well, why not?)

Of course, like the disclaimer on a lot of early CDs said, "defects in the source media may be audible." There's a shitton of flutter in these tracks because the signal to noise ratio of audio cassette is, shall we say, a bit lower than that of CD.

Back when analog still ruled the day, things like cassette decks and turntables had specifications that included the low- and high-frequency variation of playback speed--"wow" and "flutter". CD players always listed these as "below measurable limits" because their timing is digital; too much variation and the CD won't play at all.

CDs have, essentially, a flat response from 20 Hz through 20 kHz. Cassette rolls off somewhere around 14 kHz, so there are ways to enhance the higher frequencies to compensate, but of course enhancing those higher frenquencies also enhances "flutter". I could process the sound to get rid of the flutter, which is annoying, but doing so would (again) process out everything above about 14 kHz. The double-edged sword cuts both ways.

Anyway: so I'm listening to this music because it's been a good long time since I heard it. I probably ought to dig out the story again and re-read the original; I've got a rewrite that's stalled somewhere in the middle but the project could be resurrected without much difficulty.

* * *

Yawara! ep 80 hit the torrents today, so I'll be watching that this evening, once this CD is done.

* * *

Today's homebrewed Garfield Without/Minus Garfield:


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