Showing posts from February, 2016

Human labor obsolete in 30 years?

Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi expects that within 30 years machines will be capable of doing almost any job that humans can. In anticipation of this development, he is asking his colleagues, "What will humans do?"

What will humans do?  Well, we'll. . . do something, I suppose.

Okay, so this isn't exactly a new question.  Many books, graphic novels and films attempt to answer this question - usually predicting a worst possible outcome.

From personal experience I can tell you the retirement I so looked forward to for so many years actually sucks.  Big time.  So I'm back to work and a lot happier.

Let's face it: retirement is an artificial construct.  Before the industrial revolution herded us into cities, separating us from extended family and traditional economic roles, there was no such thing as retirement per se.  People worked until they stopped working.  Not eight hour days, but as needed to keep the family fed and clothed - and to pay ta…

What is important to top scientists? Fame? Fortune? Honors?

What values are important to scientists?
While many people are marking today scrutinizing the virtues of their Valentines, researchers have revealed a first-of-its-kind study on the virtues and values of scientists. The study surveyed nearly 500 astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists and earth scientists to identify the core traits of exemplary scientists.

The study, presented at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., surveyed nearly 500 astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists and earth scientists to identify the core traits of exemplary scientists.

The subjects selected were scientists who had been honored by their respective national organization or society, and the results show that above all, these researchers hold honesty and curiosity in the highest regard, said Robert Pennock, a professor in MSU's Lyman Briggs College and leader of the study.

"If you're not curious, you're probably not a real sci…

Archaeologists unearth new evidence of Roman, medieval Leicester

Archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have unearthed new evidence of Roman and medieval Leicester after recently completing the excavation of two areas at the former Southgates Bus Depot, on the corner of Southgates and Peacock Lane in the centre of Leicester.
Archaeologists, led by John Thomas and Mathew Morris of ULAS, have been investigating a series of medieval and post-medieval backyards dating from the 12th century through to the 16th century. These are likely to be associated with densely packed houses and shops which would have once fronted onto the important medieval street of Southgates.

Evidence recorded includes stone-lined pits (possibly storage pits or cisterns), rubbish pits, latrines, wells, boundary walls and a possible late 15th or 16th century cellar. Such activity, and the evidence carefully collected and recorded from it, will give important new insights into the lifestyles and industry of the people living along one of Leicest…

How the lives of Georgian gaolbirds and highwaymen shaped modern Britain


Is suicide contagious? Looks like it.

One in 10 suicide-attempt risk among friends, relatives of people who die by suicide
People bereaved by the sudden death of a friend or family member are 65 percent more likely to attempt suicide if the deceased died by suicide than if they died by natural causes. This brings the absolute risk up to 1 in 10, reveals new research.
The researchers studied 3,432 UK university staff and students aged 18-40 who had been bereaved, to examine the specific impacts associated with bereavement by suicide. The results are published in BMJ Open.

As well as the increased risk of suicide attempt, those bereaved by suicide were also 80% more likely to drop out of education or work. In total, 8% of the people bereaved by suicide had dropped out of an educational course or a job since the death.

"Our results highlight the profound impact that suicide might have on friends and family members," says study author Dr Alexandra Pitman (UCL Psychiatry). "However, these outcomes are by no means i…