Vitamin D: A test of its importance

If White people in the northern hemisphere are Vitamin-D deprived in ways that matter, then isn’t sun bed use a nice test? Sun beds should activate Vitamin D production, and thus sun bed users should have healthier children (if maternal levels are important as hypothesised) and be healthier themselves, as hypothesised.


Pascal’s wager… would have us all be bad, not good

Blaise Pascal suggested in his famous ‘wager‘, that, while the existense of God could not be proven, a rational person would nevertheless live as if God exists, based on the hypothesis that the believer has everything to gain (Heaven), and nothing to lose. There is a terrible flaw in this argument that I have not seen made elsewhere so…

Pascal’s God was of course the Christian God, who, it is claimed, rewards faith with otherwise unavailable eternal life.

The wager must, however, estimate not the net  cost/benefit under just one God existing, but of all possible Gods

It must include Gods who have been deposed by evil off-spring such as Satan. Gods, such as the Greek and Roman Gods, who do not provide a Heaven, but only varieties of hell across the River Styx, and many dozens of others including a high weight for the “probable God of our world if one existed”.

Our likely God is certainly one who chose to exercise creation through mass extinction. Who allows mutations which create abhorrent abnormalities, exactly as if he were not here. What Heaven would he create  for his mind-children?

I imagine this to be a sort of store house of minds, where our complex if limited free-will is used as as a massive parallel simulator for puzzles such as predicting the weather.

So… what does “The Wager” lead us to conclude? Whom should we believe in order to get what? As the wager must include a God who punishes people taking Pascal’s wager as a game with eternal painful hell, I think we can ignore Pascal’s wager as faulty reasoning.

PS: Pascal’s triangle still seems fine to me 🙂


Imagine an iScreen: Just an iPad screen, with screen driver chip, multitouch and wifi chips. No need for processors, RAM etc… All the work done on the user’s laptop or iMac, with this device just acting as a touch interface and screen.

If that got the machine down to £99-£150 I think it would be an enormous hit.

Idea for a play: Gödel

Kurt Gödel is a fascinating figure to me, ranking above Einstein, in many ways: more philosophical, and with a tragic life story. And many deep, misunderstood, and often little-known insights into reality that I think would appeal to people, much as Copenhagen or Life Story did.

I think he’d make a great subject for a play…

Perhaps “Against Time” as a working title.

Do we age mentally because our sensory and motor systems decline?

You can predict cognitive ageing about as well from an eye test as from a cognitive test. What links these two? One possibility is that all systems age at a similar rate: This is supported by the finding that you can also predict cognitive ageing from muscle strength, or bone density. The implications are slimmer than you might think – evolution should get select for parts to age at the same rate just to avoid one rate-limiting component failing the whole organism, and to avoid over investing in parts that never fail by death.

However, here I am wondering if the association of aging eyes, ears, and muscles plays a causal role in ageing the brain.

I wonder whether (propose as a hypothesis that) when input and output hardware like the lens of the eye, hair cells in the ear, or muscle cell decays, the neurons listening/talking too them get less input/response, with more noise. And this flows back into the brain, making circuits less reliably related to the state of the world. That might then trigger apoptosis and pruning of circuits that have become bad – not because the neurons decayed, but because they no-longer have an input worth processing.


Efficiency matters: Research funds divided by three

Research improves our lives: There’s even a Nobel prize demonstrating that it is good for governments to sponsor research, so long as it has no immediate commercial pay off.

I just looked at a grant for a Post-doctoral fellow – the people responsible for most of the hard laboratory work, paper writing, and many if not all the bright ideas in science. Salary: £28,000… OK but hardly a wonderful reward as a first job for over 8 years of education. Not much security either – this is a one year contract.

But how much does the university want to host this person for one year? Perhaps nothing – anticipating the research credit. Think again: the “full economic cost” – the Bill to the tax payer for paying the Post-doc their 28k salary over the year… £104,500.
Yes: 300% overheads. Some of it is fair: about 5k in software licenses, heating, superannuation. The other £71,000… Well, all we know is it is not going to this post-doc to do their research.

Viewed positively, this means that the country could triple its research output at no cost.Realistically…. well, you tell me.