Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monkey's sacrifice their juice to watch "porn"

It is no news that porn cosumption on the internet is huge. When researchers in Montreal wanted to compare students who did cosume porn on the internet with students who did not consume the same, they were unable to find and male heterosexual students who had not looked at porn on the internet at all. The average age at which these students first saw porn was ten(!). Recent, unconfirmed estimates in Sweden suggests that more around 80-90% of male students consume porn over the internet.

There are also some interesting "cultural differences" this article (in Swedish) claims that the mormon dense state of Utah, consumes much more porn than for instance Montana. Perhaps most amazingly, when a county in Sweden investigated how their employees used their work computers they found that to a large extent they were used for activities such as file sharing and pornography. One employee actually spent 75% of his working hours looking at porn...

Now, it turns out that getting excited by 2D depictions of the other sex is not one of the uniqly human traits. Monkey apparently like porn too. In fact this scientific article shows that monkeys are willing to give up some juice (which they like alot) if they then get to watch pictures of the perineal area of female monkeys (perineal area is scientific name for the anus and vagina area.

Friday, November 27, 2009


To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. At least in Sweden, an intense debate has been going on recently due to the new influenza H1N1. Here I will not discuss whether or not it is a good idea to take the vaccination, rather I would like drive home another message - Thiomersal, which can be found in the H1N1 vaccine is not dangerous.

Thiomersal is an ingredient in the new swine flu vaccine. Thiomersal contains 50% mercury - a substance that is indeed very toxic. Drink a 10 grams of mercury and you will die from mercury poisoning. Unless you have a deathwish it is not normal for people to drink 10 grams of mercury, however, some traditional chinese medicines contains a few grams of mercury and taking these regularly might give you mercury poisoning. Indeed, a recent study found that for 64% of a sample of different traditional chinese medicines, taking the recommended weekly dose would result in mercury or arsenic intake significantly above the safety limit. What is the safety limit for mercury? It is around 1700 micrograms weekly.

Ironically this means that taking these so called "natural" chinese medicines can give you mercury poisoning. How much mercury is there in a shot of swine flu vaccine? Judging from the number of articles this issue has produced it has to be alot right? Five micrograms is the answer! In other words, take the natural medicine and you will get more than 1700 micrograms of mercury, take the highly controversial vaccine and you get 5 micrograms... By the way, fish is allowed to have as much as 500 micrograms of mercury per kilogram. So eating a fish will give you much more mercury than taking a shot of the vaccine.

I talk to a lot of people who are extremely skeptical towards the medical industry, WHO, and doctors in general. Fair enough, the medical industry wants to make money, and the WHO propably have some sort of agenda and perhaps they do not want to put focus on potential side effects on a vaccine that can potentially save a lot of lives. Doctors, well maybe they are to some extent indoctrinated by the medical industry and WHO. My advice is don't trust the expert, but trust the evidence and take the numbers I have just presented into account. Everything is toxic if you get too much of it, but small amounts of something (even mercury), is rarely dangerous...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What should you believe in? Shermers Baloney detection kit

When someone makes a claim, how do you decide whether to believe in that or not? If you believe everything anyone has told you, then you will soon have many many contradictory beliefs. Even if you only listen to people around you, you will still get contradictory information - all claims cannot be true. So how do you decide who to believe in?

Micheal Shermer, a famous sceptic suggests that we ask ourselves the following questions when we decide whether to believe in something. Why should you trust Shermer? Don't! You should question him just like everyone else, he is certainly a man with an agenda, so listen to someone who does not agree with Shermer and decide for yourself. Anyway here is what Shermer suggests you ask yourself when you hear a claim.

  1. How reliable is the source?
  2. Does the source often make similar claims?
  3. Has the claim been confirmed elsewhere?
  4. Does the claim fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to falsify the claim?
  6. What does the majority of the evidence point to?
  7. Is the source basing their claim on science?
  8. Is there positive evidence in favour of the theory (or is it only negative evidence)?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomenon as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs or ideologies drive the claim?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Carcinogens in natural foods - the Ames test

I have previously written about the difference between natural foods and "unnatural foods" in terms of how much carcinogens they contain. I did one post on "Irrational fear of pesticides", and another post that I called "natural foods contain more carcinogens than unnatural foods".

Just now I found a video clip from Physics for Future Presidents, a UC Berkeley lecture series that you can watch for free online, in which Richard Muller, an entertaining physicist explains what this is all about. Watch and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cognitive dissonace, therapy, UFO's wine and how to get loyality

Imagine you are a college student who has agreed to participate in a psychology experiment. When you come to the lab you are asked to perform the most boring task you have ever tried, you are extremely bored but you still complete the experiment so that you do not have to come back another time to do another experiment.

After you are done the experimenter tells you that there is another participant waiting outside and that it would be terrific if you could try to convince him or her that the task is fun and interesting and thereby increase motivation a little bit. Since you are a nice person and don't want to block psychological research you agree to this.

Alternatively, after the experiment you are asked whether you would like to convince the next participant that the experiment is fun and interesting and (crucially), you are offered 20 dollars for agreeing to this...

Now how do you think the average person would think and act in the two situations described above? Would you put in more effort if you were paid than if you were not paid? Interestingly, most participants put in a lot more effort in convincing the next participant that the experiment was fun and interesting if they had been given no money! Why? The reason is "cognitive dissonance" (a term first coined be Leon Festinger forces the participants to actually believe that the experiment was fun and interesting. After all, why would I stand here and convince a stranger that an extremely boring task is actually fun and interesting...? Do I get paid...? No! Well, I guess it is because I did in fact enjoy the tasks a little bit... hmmm... yeah, it was indeed great fun... and very interesting as well... that must be it.

Cognitive dissonance refers to the unpleasant state in which your behavior is in dissonance (does not agree) with your beliefs or thoughts. "This experiment was extremely boring (belief)" and "convincing someone that it is fun and interesting (behavior)" does not go well together. Either you have to change your behavior (which is sometimes impossible if you have already done it), or you change your beliefs (which is what most people does). The third alternative is to live knowing that you acted in a way that contradicted your beliefs - hypocrisy.

Indeed when participants were later asked whether they enjoyed the experiment or not, the ones who did not get paid claimed that it was much more fun that the participants who received payment. After all, the paid participants only tried to convince the next participant because they were paid - no dissonance there...

What does this have to do with loyalty? Here is a lesson. If you are going to start an organization or a political party or whatever, and if you need some people who are loyal and energetic about the business, do not pay them... If you pay them, then in their head they can say to themselves that I am doing it because of the money. If they do not get any money, they can only say to themselves that I am doing this because I like it - and that is the best type of employee or member.

Another example: Say that you are a therapist or some sort of advisor. If you want people to value your service, take high fees! If you do this your patient or client will think to themselves "why am I paying so much money for this", well I guess that it is because it is so damn good, after all, who pays a lot of money for therapy that isn't really working or an advisor who does not give good advice? Some people do of course, but it will be very difficult to admit that to yourself, it is easier to think that the service you got was worth the money, that way you avoid cognitive dissonance.

Leon Festinger, the inventor of the term "cognitive dissonance" in his book "When prophecy fails" used the example of a doomsday cult who was expecting the end of the world. Festinger infiltrated this group lead by Mrs.Keech. The group believed that the earth would end in a great flood before 21st of December, 1954. Everyone on earth was going to die except this little cult of true believer who was going to be picked up by a flying saucer on the 20th of December 1954. Before midnight the group gathered outside, waiting for the flying saucer. When the clock turned 12AM, nothing happened... but wait, there was another clock which was only 11.55. So they wait another 5min, but still nothing happened... Mrs.Keech cries... The groups’ waits outside until 4AM when suddenly Keech receives a message saying that this little group of true believers managed to change God's mind - and that therefore he (or she) would not flood the earth after all... A nice solution to the dissonance that would otherwise make them feel very very stupid. Rather than admitting that they were simply wrong, the group decided to believe in an ad hoc story that would make sense of things

One last example (apparently this is true only for trained wine tasters and not for lay persons):Experiments show that expensive wines taste better than cheap wines, even if the different bottle contains exactly the same wine... Why? Because no one wants to be the person that goes out and buys an expensive bottle of wine that is no better than a cheap bottle, that would be stupid and no one wants to be stupid...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When is butter no longer butter?

In Steven Pollock's TTC course on "particle physics for non-physicists" he asks: how many times can I cut a piece of putter and still have butter?

If I take a package of Bregott (the typical swedish brand of butter) and cut it once I think that most people would agree that I will get two pieces of butter. But what happens if I cut it again and again and again - after a certain number of division I may have a piece that is a couple of nanometers in width - is that butter? I can make it even smaller and I will end up with a piece that is one angstrom across - the size of an atom and as far as I know butter is not in the periodic table...

The point I guess is that everything around us that we can touch is made up of protons, neurtrons and electrons - or if we go further down the reductionist tree - quarks and leptons. Butter is simply quarks and leptons arranged in a certain pattern with certain forces acting on it, and the same is true for us - we are also just quarks and leptons arranged in a particular pattern. In other words we are made out of the same building blocks as butter. Since our quarks and leptons respond to the forces of nature the same way leptons and quarks in butter does - we should have as much free will as my package of Bregott in the fridge...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2,5 Billion(!) dollars spent on search for alternative therapies...

Often when I debate alternative therapies or remedies with people they claim that there is no evidence in favor of alternative methods and therapies because no one bothers to investigate (and find the amazing effects), or that no money is given to investigators who want to test these remedies i.e. that the grant managers are against alternative therapies. These excuses are now no longer valid since the American government has spent 2,5 Billion dollars testing alternative therapies.

As was known and not unexpected from my point of view is that some alternative therapies do show minor benefits. Acupuncture works for certain things, yoga helps you relax which also results in other spin off effects. However a large majority of the therapies tested proved to be no better than placebo (if you think that placebo is "good enough" read my post here).

Also remarkable is how easy it seems to be to get a grant if you wan't to study alternative therapies (which by definition do not have a solid scientific theory behind them). In one instance 2 million dollars were given to study whether accupressure could help people loose weight. Now this large sum of money was given despite the fact that a pilot study on 60 participants had failed. The grant was given even though no scientist have ever found any evidence of meridians (in accupressure you are supposed to press on these meridians). I could go on, but the essence of the matter is that these 2 million dollars were given to a study that, judging from the evidence, had extremely low plausibility - I would even go as far as to say that if accupressure would prove to have an effect (beyond placebo) we would face a paradigm shift in biology.

There are of course some positive aspects of this endeavour. I suppose that it is normally good to test whether a really popular type of therapy works. However, the question is whether the people using a particular therapy cares about the outcome of a scientific study - my guess is that they will only care if it gives them a positive results, otherwise it is just biased scientists. I also have trouble seeing where to put the line, there are some really crazy ideas out there and if we would start to research everything that is getting popular we would end up spending huge amounts of money on evaluating pure nonsense.

I would personally prefer that grants are given to those who have good reasons for studying whatever it is they want to study, today that is not the case...

See also orsakverkan (swe)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Norwegians going to hell...

A few stats about Norway from this cartoon...

1. They are the most peaceful nation in the world
2. They have the highest standard of living
3. Unemployment is below 2%
4. They are the best educated people in the world
5. They have the highest literacy, and...
6. 70% of Norwegians are atheist

See also my post on religiosity and welbeing of a nation here, or read the post where I found this picuture here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Truth about the Atkins diet...

Would you like to be able to eat dishes such as the one above, and get thin at the same time? According to Robert Atkins, the man behind the infamous "Atkins diet", you can. I have quite a few acquaintances who have tried the Atkins diet and quite a few of those say that it has worked rather well for them. I also know of people on whom the diet did not have a huge effect, but perhaps they have not been very disciplined?

By nature I am skeptical of anything that sounds extraordinary, and when someone comes and claims that you can eat as much meat,fat sauce, cream, chicken etc etc as you like, AND lose weight, that, to me, is an extraordinary claim! Sometimes such radical claims turn out to be right, however most of the time they are wrong...

The bottom line of the Atkins diet is quite simple: avoid carbohydrates, especially fast carbohydrates, anything else is pretty much alright. To be a bit more precise you are supposed to avoid foods that have a high "glycemic index" or GI. Products that increase your blood sugar fast have high GI (examples would be sugar, white rice, pasta, beer, etc).

According to Atkins (see picture below), his diet works because the body requires carbojydrates to store fat, in other words, if there are no carbohydrates the fat will go right through the body. This is also why, according to Atkins and his followers, you can eat as much as you like, be it the ordinary 2000 calories or even 4000 calories in one day, and you will still loose weight.

So what is the truth here? I am of course no expert on these matters, but it seems to me that accumulating evidence clearly suggests that although the Atkins diet may work, it doesn`t do it the way Robert Atkins thought it did. Rather, the Atkins diet works because you eat less when you are on it. It turns out that when the brain decides whether we are hungry or not, and in extension whether we should crawl over to the fridge and get a slice of pizza, one factor that is taken into account is peptide YY. If there is a lot of peptide YY in the body then you are full, if there is little you should eat. What causes the release of peptide YY? You guessed it, proteins does, but not carbohydrates. This means that if you eat say 1500 calories of protein then you get a lot of peptide YY and therefore you feel full and stop eating. However, if on the other hand you eat 1500 calories worth of potatoes, little peptide YY is released and therefore will still feel hungry and unless you are one of those people with amazing self control, you will keep eating... Read more about this in this article from the economist.

The conclusion that the Atkins diet works because you eat less and not because you stop storing fat has been further confirmed by a recent large Harvard study. In this study they had their subjects eat the same amount of calories, but varied the source of those calories. Some subjects were given mostly carbohydrates, some were given mostly fats, and some were given mostly protein - but all got the same number of calories. Who lost most weight? According to Atkins theory, the fewer carbohydrates you eat, the more you should loose in weight, but this was not the case. The results showed that all the different groups lost equal amounts of weight.

So the bottom line of all this is that if you want to loose weight, eat less calories. One way to achieve this is to eat a lot of protein and little carbohydrates, because you will not be as hungry...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lecture with Philip Zimbardo - How good people become evil

I just came home from a brilliant lecture by Philip Zimbardo, a professor in social psychology at Stanford University, US (see picture). Rarely do I attend lectures that are as informative and above all inspirational as his, if you ever get the chance to listen to him, don't hesitate.

The lecture today which was held in Lund, where he is going to receive an honorary doctorate, had three parts in it. The first, and the most shocking was about evil and the psychology of evil. Zimbardo's hypothesis is that evil act are often a result of situational factors (rather than say the personality of the individual). He provided a detailed account of the Stanford prison experiment (SPE) that he conducted back in the 70s. In this experiment ordinary healthy youngsters were assigned to be either guards or prisoners in a fake but realistic prison setting. The original plan was that the prisoners would be incarcerated for two weeks, however, after six days the guards abusive behavior had completely broken down the prisoners and the experiment had to be halted (see video). 

In todays lecture more focus was put on another episode which lends support to Zimbardo's hypothesis, namely the horrendeous abuse that took place in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The night shift which was never supervised by superior officers abused prisoners in a truly creative and sadistic fashion. Furhtermore, as is evident when you look at pictures from this episode (you can simply google "Abu Ghraib" if you want to see them) the guards appeared to take joy in these acts. Some pictures shows smiling guards giving thumbs up over a pile of naked and tormented prisoners...

What are the situational factors that contribute to this type of evil? Well accoring to Philip Zimbardo one factor is deindividuation - making peope anonymous. In the stanford prison experiment guards were dressed in uniform and were asked to wear reflective sunglasses, and prisoners were referred to by number - never name. Also important was the absence of checks, which was especially evident in Iraq. No superior officers ever came to check on the night shift -  had someone done so it is likely that the abuse would have been reported. To further drive this message home, Zimbardo points out that anthropological studies show that cultures were it is custom to change the appearence of soldiers (normally assimilating them into some sort of standard), are much more aggressive and lethal than cultures were you are the same person when you are home with your familiy and when you are a warrior - such cultures show less aggression in conflict.  

Despite these insights into the darkness of humanity - Zimbardo wants to give us an optimistic message - namely that it does not take alot to become a hero. Forget about Batman, Superman and also forget about Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa (who may not have been a very nice woman after all). Sure, these persons and superheros are great, but according to Zimbardo most heroes are ordinary folks who find themselves in an extreme situation and then decide to act the way they ougth to. In Abu Graib the heroic act occured when Joe Darby saw the pictures and decided that he had to stop the abuse.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Consciousness is a byproduct

Intuitively most people think that what we do is mediated by our consciousness. In other words, when I decide to raise my arm it is because I made some sort of conscious choice in my brain which then resulted in signals going down my corticospinal motor pathway and out to the muscles in my arm. 

I think that this is wrong. What is going on rahter, is that after the signal telling my muscles to contract have left my brain, then we become aware that this is the case. In other words being aware of what you do is merely a sort of byproduct, or epiphenomenon if you want to use a more academic language.

What is the evidence for this you might ask and I may answer what evidence do you have to support that our conscience can move an arm? However, I can do better than that because it turns out that there is indeed experimental evidence, produced by Benjamin Libet, suggesting that our consciousness is a byproduct. Benjamin Libet's subject were asked to do a very simple motor task, namely flex their index finger, they could to this whenever they wanted to. Libet wanted to measure the timing of three things, first when the muscle activity in the finger started, he did this using EMG electrodes which has high precision. The second variable he wanted to measure was when the brain activity leading to the action started, this was done using EEG scalp electrodes which like EMG has high temporal precision in the millisecond range. The third and perhaps most crucial variable Libet wanted to measure was when the conscious intention to flex the finger came. To do this he had a type of clock in which one arm would go a full revolution in 2,5 seconds. His subjects were told to report where the arm on this clock was when they first intended flex their finger. 

One would expect that if indeed we first intend to do something and then do it (which is a very intuitive scenario I will admit), if this is so then the flexing of the finger should occur subsequent to when the subject reported their intention. However, this was not the case, rather the flexing of the finger occured quite a while (approximately 500 milliseconds) before the conscious intention. The conclusion from this is that the brain knows that it is going to do something before the person does, or to be more precise, the part of the brain that handles motor initiation first do its thing, then after that the information is given to the part of the brain that mediates conscious awareness.

Many people when they hear this draw very radical conclusions, such as, why should we punish people if they do not have free will, or why should I care about anything, or do anything, what prevents me from becoming a nihilist. I one thinks about it, these conclusions are (at least in my opinion), unwarrented, but nevertheless interesting. I have touched upon these subjects before Perhaps they will be the topic of a later post...

Friday, March 20, 2009

The pope: condoms don't help against HIV

It is perhaps old news that the Catholic Church is not a fan of condoms; however, they are rarely as blunt about it as the other day. Pope Benedictines, a man who seems to be dreaming of past times (medieval times), has now publicly announced that condoms is not the way to go if you want to stop HIV. Indeed, the pope is even claiming that condoms make the problem worse because people have more sex.

What evidence does he have for this claim? None, of course, the Catholic Church does not seem to know what evidence means. Their method for finding the truth is asking the pope and whatever he says is the truth, never mind that there are numerous studies showing that the pope is simply wrong in his statement.

Rarely does the distinction between the scientific method and the catholic (or religious) way become so clear. Do you want to trust what the pope says just because he is the pope, or do you want to trust people who have actually gone out and looked at the effects of condom use? Know that choosing the latter will make you a heretic in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Religion or Science? Irrationality or Rationality? Your choice...

Monday, March 16, 2009

States in bad shape = religiosity

A recent Gallup poll has shown an impressive positive correlation between how religious the inhabitants are and how bad they are of. In other words, this means that if you have a nation that is in a poor state, then your people are likely to turn to religion for guidance, or meaning or whatever you would like to call it. There is of course another possibility namely that first a people become religious, and then the state starts to tear apart. I personally don't believe in the latter possibility, rather, as I have argued here, I think that religion is where people who have lost meaning try to find their answers.

This gallup poll should also be seen as an important piece of information in the debate on whether religion makes people happier. There are indeed a few studies that have looked at this, and they tend to show that people who have religion, everything else being equal, are happier than people who are not religous. 

This gallup poll shows, however, that on a global scale, religious people are not happier than non-religious people (assuming that the average citizen in Bangladesh or Congo kinshasa are not as happy as the average American or Swede). 

Good, free, applications for Nokia N95, symbian & java

Here is another post which may not exactly fit the profile of my blog however I know that many people are looking for good programs to their mobile and I have tried many different programs.

Below I have listed my favorites (some I have mentioned previously).

From Beta labs (free programs from Nokia)
1. Sports Tracker (application can be found at beta labs). This program I have written about before here. Basically it lets you record all of your training activity and it works very nicely with the GPS - allowing you to see exactly where you are. The most neat features you will detect when you run the same track more than once. When you do this you can compete with yourself, see how far ahead (or behind) you are compared to last time (or another time if you prefer). For me this is a great motivator...

2. Audiobook player. I have briefly mentioned this application before as well. It allows you to reduce the size of an audiobook to about one fifth, and the audiobook player that you install on the phone can keep track of where you are in many different books simultaneously. I use this application to listen to all my teaching company courses in the car or in the kitchen. Well done beta labs!

3. Wellness Diary. Yet another application from beta labs. This little program will keep track of and plot graphs on any health related variable including but not limited to, hours of sleep, steps per day, calori intake, waist circumference, weight, hours of exercise, stress etc etc. This app also works great with both sports tracker (see above) and step counter (see below). When you start wellness diary it will automatically import data from step counter and sports tracker.

4. Step counter. This is a very simple app which consumes very little energy. It simply counts every step you take and keep track of the records. This will alow you to see when you are getting lazy which, I have to admit, I have been the last couple of weeks.

From m-google.com
1. Gmaps mobile (can be found a m.google.com). This application is absolutely amazing. It works like google maps and you can easily search for a company on the selected region and then get the number and adress. It also provides a navigation function (without speech), however, you have to pay for traffic fees. The program also is fast and convenient in every way imaginable.

2. Gmail mobile (also at m.google.com). Good applicaiton which will make it easy to check your email if you are using gmail.

From other sites (see for instance getjar or freeware symbian)
1. Fring. This program is a bit slow and seem to have a few bugs however, it has allowed me to do skype calls directly from my mobile phone (an internet connection is required). This makes it affordable to call to my family in Denmark. Also integrated is msn messenger but I cannot write very fast on my mobile phone.

2. Energy profiler. This program lets you see, in real time, how much energy the phone is consuming. It also shows the total capacity of the battery and an estimation of how long the battery will last if the average energy consumption remain the same.

Stop watch. Good to have since it is not on the phone when it comes from the store.

Smarshopper. This is another very simple but very useful piece of software for people like me who like to use their memory resources on philosophical speculation rather than remembering to buy toilet paper. When you have entered something you want to buy it will remember that item. You can then make a mark next to all the items that you want to buy which then results in a list. Click on the items in the list and they will dissapear again.

Skyfire. This is my favorite mobile internet explorer. It is superior in that the experience is much more similar to surfing the net on a PC, and you are able to watch pretty much any video on the net.

Getjar apps. Good application for finding other applications.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chaos Theory - Not a problem for a deterministic world view

I believe that our universe is deterministic, everything that happens has a preceeding cause, including our thoughts and behavior. Now many people object to this view on the basis of pure intuition i.e. it certainly feels as if I have free will therefore it must be so, but for reasons I will not write about now this is really a poor argument...

There are other less non-sensical arguments against the idea that the universe is determined and that there hence is no such thing as "free will" (depending on how you define that of course). One argument that I would not be able to meet completely is that at the quatum level there is the uncertainty principle according to which we cannot know the speed and the position of an electron simultaneously. All I can say is that I don't think this uncertainty translates into free will for human beings...

Another argument against free will is based on chaos theory. Chaos theory states that there are systems in the world which are unpredictable. At least that is what many people think chaos theory states, but this is not entirely true, rather chaos theory states that in some systems, more information about different variables will only make your predictions a tiny winy bit better... Let me explain.

The last couple of decades computers have become alot better and a lot faster. In spite of this fantastic development we have not seen a marked increase in weather predictions even though weather predictions are made by some quite powerful computers. This is because weather is a chaotic system. Very subtle differences in certain variables (humidity, winds and what not), can have huge effects in how the weather turns out. The old way of predicting the weather, "the weather tomorrow will be like the weather today", still comes close to the predictions of the best supercomputers.

Nevertheless, if Laplace's demon did exist i.e. if we knew the exact position of all particles in the universe and their velocity, if we did know that we would be able to predict the weather for as long as we wanted to and thus there is really no contradiction with a deterministic world view. All that chaos thery really means is that some systems are very sensitive to initial conditions and we are not well enough equipped to see these differences...

I have as some of you may have noticed not written for quite some time, the reason is that I have become a father. My daughter Lola was born on january 13th and me and my wife have been very busy taking care of her. We will see how much I write the coming months but my blog is not dead...