The value of basic research
"The value of basic research"
How can we measure the worth of scientific knowledge? Economic analysts give it a shot.
Before building any large piece of infrastructure, potential investors or representatives from funding agencies or governments have to decide whether it’s worth it. Teams of economists perform a cost-benefit analysis to help them determine how a project will affect a region and whether it makes sense to back and build it.
But when it comes to building infrastructure for basic science, the process gets a little more complicated. It’s not so easy to pin an exact value on the benefits of something like the Large Hadron Collider.
“The main goal is priceless and therefore has no price attached,” says Stefano Forte, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Milan and part of a team that developed a new method of economic analysis for fundamental science. “We give no value to discovering the Higgs boson in the past or supersymmetry or extra dimensions in the future, because we wouldn’t be able to say what the value of the discovery of extra dimensions is.”
Forte’s team was co-led by two economists, academic Massimo Florio, also of the University of Milan, and private business consultant Silvia Vignetti. They answered a 2012 call by the European Investment Bank’s University Sponsorship Program, which provides grants to university research centers, for assistance with this issue. The bank funded their research into a new way to evaluate proposed investments in science.
Before anyone can start evaluating any sort of impact, they have to define what they’re measuring. Generally, economic impact analyses are highly local, measuring exclusively money flowing in and out of a particular area.
Because of the complicated nature of financing any project, the biggest difficulty for economists performing an analysis is usually coming up with an appropriate counterfactual: If the project isn’t built, what will happen? As Forte asks, “If you hadn’t spent the money there, where else would you have spent it, and are you sure that by spending it there rather than somewhere else you actually gain something?”
Based on detailed information about where a scientific collaboration intends to spend their money, economists can take the first step in painting a picture of how that funding will affect the region. The next step is accounting for the secondary spending that this brings.
Companies are paid to do construction work for a scientific project, “and then it sort of cascades throughout the region,” says Jason Horwitz of Anderson Economic Group, which regularly performs economic analyses for universities and physics collaborations. “As they hire more people, the employees themselves are probably going to local grocery stores, going to local restaurants, they might go to a movie now and then—there’s just more local spending.”
These first parts of the analysis account only for the tangible, concrete-and-steel process of building and maintaining an experiment, though.
“If you build a bridge, the main benefit is from people who use the build—transportation of goods over the bridge and whatnot,” Forte says. But the benefit of constructing a telescope array or a huge laser interferometer is knowledge-formation, “which is measured in papers and publications, references and so on,” he says.
One way researchers like Horwitz and Forte have begun to assign value to such projects is by measuring the effect of the project on the people who run it. Like attending university, working on a scientific collaboration gives you an education—and an education changes your earning capabilities.
“Fundamental research has a huge added value in terms of human capital formation, even if you work there for two years and then you go and work in a company on Wall Street,” Forte says. Using the same methods used by universities, they found doing research at the LHC would raise students’ earning potential by about 11 percent over a 40-year career.
This method of measuring the value of scientific projects still has limitations. In it, the immeasurable, grander purpose of a fundamental science experiment is still assigned no value at all. When it comes down to it, Forte says, if all we cared about were a big construction project, technology spinoffs and the earning potential of students, we wouldn’t have fundamental physics research.
“The actual purpose of this is not a big construction project,” Horwitz says. “It’s to do this great research which obviously has other benefits of its own, and we really don’t capture any of that.” Instead, his group appends qualitative explanations of the knowledge to be gained to their economic reports.
Forte explains, “The fact that this kind of enterprise exists is comparable and evaluated in the same way as, say, the value of the panda not being extinct. If the panda is extinct, there is no one who’s actually going to lose money or make money—but many taxpayers would be willing to pay money for the panda not to be extinct.”
Forte and his colleagues found a 90 percent chance of the LHC’s benefits exceeding its costs (by 2.9 billion euros, they estimate). But even in the 10 percent chance that its economics aren’t quite so Earth-shaking, its discoveries could change the way we understand our universe.
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Twinkle, twinkle, little supernova
"Twinkle, twinkle, little supernova"
Using Twinkles, the new simulation of images of our night sky, scientists get ready for a gigantic cosmological survey unlike any before.
Almost every worthwhile performance is preceded by a rehearsal, and scientific performances are no exception. Engineers test a car’s airbag deployment using crash test dummies before incorporating them into the newest model. Space scientists fire a rocket booster in a test environment before attaching it to a spacecraft in flight.
One of the newest “training grounds” for astrophysicists is called Twinkles. The Twinkles dataset, which has not yet been released, consists of thousands of simulated, highly realistic images of the night sky, full of supernovae and quasars. The simulated-image database will help scientists rehearse a future giant cosmological survey called LSST.
LSST, short for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, is under construction in Chile and will conduct a 10-year survey of our universe, covering the entire southern sky once a year. Scientists will use LSST images to explore our galaxy to learn more about supernovae and to shine a light on the mysterious dark energy that is responsible for the expansion of our universe.
It’s a tall order, and it needs a well prepared team. Scientists designed LSST using simulations and predictions for its scientific capabilities. But Twinkles’ thousands of images will give them an even better chance to see how accurately their LSST analysis tools can measure the changing brightness of supernovae and quasars. That’s the advantage of using simulated data. Scientists don’t know about all the objects in the sky above our heads, but they do know their simulated sky— there, they already know the answers. If the analysis tools make a calculation error, they’ll see it.
The findings will be a critical addition to LSST’s measurements of certain cosmological parameters, where a small deviation can have a huge impact on the outcome.
“We want to understand the whole path of the light: From other galaxies through space to our solar system and our planet, then through our atmosphere to the telescope – and from there through our data-taking system and image processing,” says Phil Marshall, a scientist at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory who leads the Twinkles project. “Twinkles is our way to go all the way back and study the whole picture instead of one single aspect.”
Scientists simulate the images as realistically as possible to figure out if some systematic errors add up or intertwine with each other. If they do, it could create unforeseen problems, and scientists of course want to deal with them before LSST starts.
Twinkles also lets scientists practice sorting out a different kind of problem: A large collaboration spread across the whole globe that will perform numerous scientific searches simultaneously on the same massive amounts of data.
Richard Dubois, senior scientist at SLAC and co-leader of the software infrastructure team, works with his team of computing experts to create methods and plans to deal with the data coherently across the whole collaboration and advise the scientists to choose specific tools to make their life easier.
“Chaos is a real danger; so we need to keep it in check,” Dubois says. “So with Twinkles, we test software solutions and databases that help us to keep our heads above water.”
The first test analysis using Twinkles images will start toward the end of the year. During the first go, scientists extract type 1a supernovae and quasars and learn how to interpret the automated LSST measurements.
“We hid both types of objects in the Twinkles data,” Marshall says. “Now we can see whether they look the way they’re supposed to.”
LSST will start up in 2022, and the first LSST data will be released at the end of 2023.
“High accuracy cosmology will be hard,” Marshall says. “So we want to be ready to start learning more about our universe right away!”
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Our home, as seen from Mars. /feature/jpl/earth-and-its-moon-as-seen-from-mars/
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So thoughtful of the Solos. That kid's a winner. He's gonna grow up to be something someday. Definitely not gonna câ¦ https://twitter.com/i/web/status/807404520963719168
>> Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠):
“What did NS do there with the "cling" -> "câ¦"? I would have understood what went on if a byte of a UTF-8 message got truncated, but your text was all ASCII.”
I think Twitter made a change in their API breaking many things. The URL returned is in quite a new style too.
Mageia 5 Support Extension and General Update
“[...] Since Mageia 6 is being delayed, Mageia 5’s support is automatically extended in order to give users 3 months to upgrade before Mageia 5 stops receiving security updates. ”
“We will also be releasing the Mageia 5.1 ISOs very soon [...] This will allow for new systems to be installed with all the updates that Mageia 5 has received ”
“[...] Mageia 6 has not been forgotten. We had issues with the ISO building server but now that these have been resolved and progress on 5.1 is good, the next milestone release towards Mageia 6 will shortly follow the release of Mageia 5.1. [...] and Cauldron is in a very good shape with many updates and fixes, so we hope that the next milestones (stabilisation snapshot 2, release candidate(s), final) will arrive soon and close to each other. ”
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This is what I send to anybody who asks me about veganism
This is an English version of this note that I made in Spanish so a few links here are not there and vice-versa.
Going vegan was not a problem excepting for the social pressure. In fact, I think that this is the only difficulty that veganism has is confronting yourself and throw away all the excuses and myths about it. That’s why I’m writing this and offer my help.
There’s lots of people that don’t know how to inform about this topic and that’s leading veganism to be what it is: the best or the worst depending on how we discover it. It’s not the same hearing about veganism because a few people in a supermarket or a restaurant to complain or a friend tells you or oneself research on the Internet.
In general, the people who decided to do not support these industries anymore took this decision because we saw how harmful it is: for the animals, for our health and the environment. Based on this, We think that it’s a change we must take since the current system is absolutely unsustainable. In addiction, it’s growing very fast and there’s a lot of great content either informative content like recipes, like otherwise. Reddit has been the very best to me so I leave some info about it too ;)
Nowadays I consider myself an Animal Rights defender since I consider myself antispeciesist; that means that I’m against the arbitrary discrimination by species. This discrimination is very common in our daily life, since the basic idea resides in that we human beings are superior to other species for having or not some kind of capacity, like if such thing existed at all and gave is any right to harm them or finishing their interest in living their lives peacefully as we do.
For more information, please read this.
For any doubt or suggestion, here I am (be always critic, I can be mistaken too, I’m a human as well, if you see anything to be corrected or added, please, let me know ☺)
Videos and interesting websites that I totally recommend even when I do not agree at 100% with everything they say (specially for Gary Yourofsky):
Leyend: «★» shows what I recommend the most and «✔» if there’s no hard images About theme: «♥» means ethics, «☕» health and «♻» environmentalism. If it has no icon, it probably treats several topics.
- ★ I made my own vegan wiki with all the topics about it.
- ★ The r/vegan Wiki is incredibly helpful.
- ★ Your vegan fallacy is is a good website to quickly check some fallacies about veganism.
- ★ Vegan Health and NutritionFacts for health related doubts.
- ★ Animal Rights for ethics.
- ★ ✔ 10 min: Animals should be off the menu (a resume of how affect eating animals to the rest of world)
- ★ ✔ ♻ 15 min: SEASPIRACY: What You Should Know About Fish, The Ocean, and More! (some kind of < 15 min mini documentary, brilliant. In fact, he’s preparing a longer and more compleete version with the Cowspiracy creator) [ Documentary ]
- ★ ♥ 1:28 h: Earthlings (as raw as necessary, it said that it makes you vegetarian once you see it) [ Documentary ]
- ★ ✔ ♻ 1:50 h: Cowspiracy trailer torrent (about the environmental impact) [ Documentary ]
- ★ ♥ 1:47 h: Lucent the first 15 minutes are enough to know how’s a pig life. It’s a 2 hours documentary. Imagine living this way your entire life. [ Documentary ]
- ★ ♥ 5 min: Is eating animals a personal choice?
- ★ 1:08 h: 101 Reasons to Go Vegan [ Speech ]
- ★ ♥ 1:10 h: Best Speech You Will Ever Hear - Gary Yourofsky [ Speech ]
- ✔ 15 min: Gary Yourofsky talks with a reporter
- ♥ 19 min: Beyond carnism and toward rational, authentic food choices | Melanie Joy | TEDxMünchen (the most watched TEDx ever) [ Speech ]
- ✔ ♻ 5 min: You CANNOT Be a Non-Vegan Environmentalist! (Updated: Everything Wrong With Environmentalism In 11 Minutes Or Less!!)
- ✔ 31:30 min: Making the connection (also on Youtube) [ Documentary ]
- ✔ ♥ 8 min: What Vegans See | A Video For Non Vegans [NOT Graphic]
- ✔ ☕ 56 min: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death [ Speech ]
Here there’s some wonderful videos of happy animals xD:
- Laying down with a cow
- Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Visit
- A post I made and loved it.
- Here you’ll find more, I personally love this one I shared on Reddit ☺
- Oops I let the cow in… (a 5 yo girl talking with her mom and a cow)
- Bull saved from bullfight becomes a docile pet
- My Pet Ducks (the most adorable ever ♥)
- Cow tries prosthetic leg for the first time (one of the very best things you can see in your life)
- Friends furever (the cutest video in the world)
- En Santuario Gaia hemos rescatado 106 vidas en 2015 (The greatest video I’ve ever seen of a sancturay. Also in MediaGoblin)
- Rescued calf from the slaughterhouse knows freedom
1. Adbasting - Anti-Smoking Ad (shocking!)
2. Humane Meat: Taste the Happy!
3. Thug Kitchen Cookbook Trailer (explicit)
4. La mirada circular - Cortometraje (the Spanish dialog is avoidable)
5. Blackfish [ Documentary ]
6. The Story of a 78-Year-Old Vegan Bodybuilder - Jim Morris: Lifelong Fitness - Short Film
7. My story
8. Santa fiesta
9. The Cove
10. iAnimal: what's living as a pig | 360º interactive tour in first person
11. PHILOSOPHY - Ethics: Killing Animals for Food
Interesting articles, books and magazines and others:
- Article: If the Ocean Dies, We All Die! - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society | See also: The Oceans Could Be Dead by the Year 2048 (related with Seaspiracy, the video above and with this other video by BSV)
PLEASE, REPORT ME ANY CORRECTION
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I must admit...
I really like Pump.io, in concept and in execution. The client pool is rather immature, but there's a lot of potential there.
Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) shared this.
"have you no ambition"
My whole life I was taught –through a combination of parentage, teachers, and media– to follow one profitable ambition or another and “go places”. Is it just not fashionable to stay in your home-town, get a job in your community, and learn to love the place you live?
Tiny troll <3
My whole life I misunderstood the expression“Explain to me like I'm four”. I thought it meant “Explain to me like I have very limited vocabulary, experience and reasoning faculties”.
Now I have a four-year-old (almost). The expression actually means “Explain to me like I'm hiding how bright I am, because I'm a tiny attention troll who likes to test your reasoning faculties”.
This is a very helpful excercise. I love my tiny “why why why” troll.
- Voice Recognition Software Finally Beats Humans At Typing, Study Finds #ai http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/08/24/491156218/voice-recognition-software-finall...
Through a rogue lens, all texts are adventures.
My reasoning on living forever has long been that there are exactly two possibilities:
- At some point your mind stops changing at all, or are stuck in some form of loop forever.
- Your mind keeps changing forever, and so must eventually completely diverge from the person you started out as.
Both are existentally terrifying, so I'm glad it's only a thought experient. Apparenlty this is called Apeirophobia and afflicts the reliigous more viscerally.
I'd happily take a thousand years to think it over some more. ;)Show all 6 replies
Egan has a great discussion of this toward the end of Schild's Ladder:
“How do you carry something from here to there, and keep it the same? You move it step by step, keeping it parallel in the only way that makes sense. You climb Schild's ladder.”
Tchicaya didn't ask if the prescription could be extended beyond physics; as an answer to his fears, it was only a metaphor. But it was a metaphor filled with hope. Even as he changed, he could watch himself closely, and judge whether he was skewing the arrow of his self.
Maybe. Small errors add up. But also, I never said it wasn't a phobia. ;)
Christopher Allan Webber likes this.@firstname.lastname@example.org there's also the possibility that your core self remains somewhat static while your experiential memories change
Michael Pollan’s 64 Food Rules
Somos lo que comemos
1. Eat food
2. Don’t eat anything your great‐grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
4. Avoid food products that contain high‐fructose corn syrup
5. Avoid food products that have some form of sugar (or sweetener listed among) the top three ingredients
6. Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third‐grader cannot pronounce
8. Avoid food products that make health claims
9. Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low fat” or “nonfat” in their names
10. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not
11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television
12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot
14. Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
15. Get out of the supermarket whenever you can
16. Buy your snacks at the farmers market
17. Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
18. Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
20. It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
21. It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles)
22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
23. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
24. Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals].
25. Eat your colors
26. Drink the spinach water
27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
28. If you have space, buy a freezer
29. Eat like an omnivore
30. Eat well‐grown food from healthy soil
31. Eat wild foods when you can
32. Don’t overlook the oily little fishes
33. Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacterial or fungi
34. Sweeten and salt your food yourself
35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature
36. Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
37. The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead
38. Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone‐ground
39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
40. Be the kind of person who takes supplements – then skip the supplements
41. Eat more lie the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
42. Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism
43. Have a glass of wine with dinner
44. Pay more, eat less
45. Eat less
46. Stop eating before you’re full
47. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
48. Consult your gut
49. Eat slowly
50. The banquet is in the first bite
51. Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
52. Buy smaller plates and glasses
53. Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds
54. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like pauper
55. Eat meals
56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
57. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does
58. Do all your eating at a table
59. Try not to eat alone
60. Treat treats as treats
61. Leave something on your plate
62. Plant a vegetable garden if you have space, a window box if you don’t
64. Break the rules once in a while
Read more about his work at www.michaelpollan.com
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