Sunday, February 10, 2013

Back from US, protons and ctenophores

Back from a very productive time in the US, giving a talk in NY and visiting clients and collaborators and family in Boston/Cambridge.

Sadly all the discussions are un-bloggable in any detail but I think I can record that: An enormously distinguished bio-scientist greeted the news of Dawkins' defeat at the Cambridge Union with "I don't know why anyone is even interested in Dawkins' opinions"  What non-scientists don't seem to appreciate is that Dawkins is not really a scientist, and the last supposed "contribution" he  made to science was in 1982.Of course the Dawkins Defenders are trying to hide his defeat from the eyes of the "faithful" - I suppose atheism is fundamentally about hiding information but it is a bit depressing. If they really had confidence in their arguments the wouldn't need to suppress facts.

From Helen S. Margolis commentary on
Antognini et al.
Very interesting paper in Science (Antognini et al., see commentary here) about measuring the size of the proton, which looks as if it is very significantly smaller than previously thought (7 standard deviations away from the results of other measurements). A difference of 0.04 femtometers may not seem much, but it strongly suggests that there is something going on here we don't understand.  I wonder if it could eventually be related to my conjecture that the mass of the Higgs is a fundamental constant, which therefore doesn't need super-symmetric particles to prevent it from drifting to infinity due to quantum measurement effects?

There is also an interesting report that the nervous system may have evolved independently in ctenophores from the rest of the animal kingdom. Given how fundamental a nervous system is, and what survival advantages it brings, this isn't really very surprising. But most people are still stuck with the idea that evolution is "random" and find convergent evolution a bit counter-cultural.

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