Category Archives: Science

Why we have been mistaken about our theories…

Recently I came across this term ‘Confirmation Bias’ in the book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli. In this book, the author describes the confirmation bias as ‘the mother of all misconceptions. It is the tendency to interpret new information so that it becomes compatible with our existing theories, beliefs and convictions.’

The author gives an example of how an executive team enthusiastically agree that their new-found strategy is definitely a success and simply dismiss any other indications as ‘special cases’ or just exceptions.

Similarly, a new video by Veritasium shows our tendency to utilize this confirmation bias.

In this video, he explores how people get to the simple rule that connects the number pattern 2,4,8… He also makes his point using the term ‘Black Swan’. Since we usually associate swans with the color, White, every instance of a white swan makes you think the theory is proven. But, in fact, there are really black swans!

And I really feel strongly when he says that “If you think something is true, you should try really hard to disprove it.” Only then, we can think that the theory is really getting at something. We should really follow this in our life to avoid the confirmation bias.

Thanks for reading.

Hmmm….Ram vs Hard Disk?

random-access-memory-dt

Well I just thought of an analogy for the difference between Random-Access-Memory (RAM) and hard-disk that has confused me during my younger years.

When your computer often slows down or lags, you’ve probably blamed it on your lousy RAM (like me)…

Well, think of you going into an exam. Consider RAM as the rough paper you use to do your working. For example, if you’re only given 1 sheet, then you are limited by the paper’s size and therefore the working space. The more sums you do, the more cluttered the workspace on your rough paper and the sooner you’ll run out of space. Similarly, the more programs you open and use concurrently, the faster and greater your RAM gets used up.

Hard disk on the other hand can be compared to the textbooks and notes you have. You can have many textbooks full of content, but the moment you apply a particular concept or work on a math problem, you don’t use the textbook. Instead, the rough paper becomes the working ground.

Well, that may not be drastically insightful, but at least that how I relate it to my computer terms.

::Redesigning the World::Wireless Data Transmission With Light Bulbs!

With the advancement of technology in many areas, anything seems possible in today’s world. What we only dreamt of yesterday, has been pushed to the past. Our dreamspace has no limits in today’s era.

In this intriguing video, Harald Haas explores the usage of light bulbs for the transmission of data. Well, that is comparable to using a light bulb as an USB storage device that is capable of wireless transmission and simultaneously, serving the purpose of providing light to the user. This idea can save millions in today’s technology-equipped world, where light bulbs are ubiquitous. From your table desk lamp, to large building everything houses thousands of light bulbs that the very thought of this project coming into reality makes me stunned. This light bulb, requires a small micro-chip to be placed to inititate the transmission.

However, the only catch is that the light bulb has to be an Light-Emitting Diode(LED). This is simply because only semiconductors are capable of such data transmission. But, this does not limit us. In fact, this so-called limitation empowers us more, since LED bulbs are much more energy-conserving and long-lasting.

The key limitations brought up were addressed as follows:

Capacity: With 10000 times more EM spectrum and LED in the infrastructure, capacity is no longer a problem.

Efficiency: Firstly, the light-bulbs are given an extra function of data transmission which does not affect its primary role of the provision of light. Hence, this means transmission of data actually comes for free!

Availability: With light bulbs being so ubiquitous and still growing in demand with the development and expansion of infrastructure around the world, availability is rarely the cause of worry or limitation.

Security: With light being unable to penetrate through walls, the data being transmitted, such as, a video on to a large screen can simply be contained within the constraints of the 4 walls and the audience. Hence, the issue of security has also been addressed.

I personally believe this idea can be revolutionary in the way that data can be transmitted on such a large-scale. However, I believe such ease of access to light bulbs and transmission, though it may be contained, can lead to unwanted penetration of transmission too. The control of the transmission will also become important in that case.

Reengineering Mosquitoes to Fight Diseases

Recently, I came across this interesting video. Usually when people ask you of the most dangerous animal you could think of, you would usually say a lion, a tiger or a cobra. But, have we ever thought about the puny little mosquito?

It seems that the mosquito is the most lethal animal the human race has ever seen, killing so many people such that the numbers are even greater than when we put together the number of people dead from plague or war! It does not usually cross our minds that the mosquito will ever pose such a fast growing threat, that people a century or just 50 years back would have never heard of: Dengue fever.

However, the advancement of bio-technology, has broken all barriers giving us a powerful weapon known as genetic engineering. This is video researchers from Oxford have researched for a decade to produce sterile male mosquitoes. They have used the 2 following facts to help them: 1) Male mosquitoes do not  and cannot bite, 2) Male mosquitoes are extremely fast in finding female mosquitoes which then leads to reproduction. Since female mosquitoes lay their eggs almost everywhere where there is clear and stagnant water, they can range being under your flowerpot at your house or even a small tray on a vehicle. This fact causes them to be easily transported which is exactly what we are witnessing now. The mosquito has spread from North Africa to almost 100+ countries around the world.

The option of genetically engineering male mosquitoes causing them to become sterile is simply powerful because, when the rapidly mate, their offsprings are unable to survive.

The pilot test regions have shown very good results. In areas with a population around 2000-3000, the population of mosquitoes has fallen by a whopping 85%. This promising result has allowed this technique to be utilized on a larger scale.

It is rather interesting how genetic engineering has provided us with so much power. However, any form of intervention with the forces of nature has to be cautiously dealt with. The same genetic engineering is a double-edged sword that will reward us only when used carefully and for rightful purposes.

Hope Dengue is eradicated soon.