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A New Worry

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In 1984 University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Jordan Smoller called attention to an alarming syndrome that hadn’t received much clinical attention: childhood. Features:

  1. Congenital onset
  2. Dwarfism
  3. Emotional lability and immaturity
  4. Knowledge deficits
  5. Legume anorexia

Billy J., age 8, was brought to treatment by his parents. Billy’s affliction was painfully obvious. He stood only 4’3″ high and weighed a scant 70 pounds, despite the fact that he ate voraciously. Billy presented a variety of troubling symptoms. His voice was noticeably high for a man. He displayed legume anorexia and, according to his parents, often refused to bathe. His intellectual functioning was also below normal — he had little general knowledge and could barely write a structured sentence. Social skills were also deficient. He often spoke inappropriately and exhibited ‘whining behavior.’ His sexual experience was non-existent. Indeed, Billy considered women ‘icky.’

Most children are unemployed and poorly educated, and the condition appears to run in families. Public schools don’t seem to reduce the number of victims, but a longitudinal study suggests that it tends to abate with time. “Clearly, much more research is needed before we can give any real hope to the millions of victims wracked by this insidious disorder.”

(Jordan W. Smoller, “The Etiology and Treatment of Childhood,” Journal of Polymorphous Perversity, 1984, 3-7.)

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istoner
23 hours ago
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Legume anorexia
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Behold Our Dazzling Night Sky When the Milky Way Collides with Andromeda in 4 Billion Years

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This is what our night sky is going to look like in 3.9 billion years:

Milkdromeda

Wow! So what’s going on here? Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers at NASA have predicted that our own Milky Way galaxy and the nearby Andromeda galaxy (M31) will collide about 4 billion years from now. As part of the announcement from 2012, they produced a video of what the collision would look like and a series of illustrations of what our sky will look like during the collision process.1

In 2 billion years, Andromeda will be noticeably closer in the sky:

Milkdromeda

By 3.75 billion years, it will fill a significant chunk of the sky. And the Milky Way will begin to bend due to the pull of gravity from Andromeda:

Milkdromeda

In about 3.85 billion years, the first close approach will trigger the formation of new stars, “which is evident in a plethora of emission nebulae and open young star clusters”:

Milkdromeda

Star formation continues 3.9 billion years from now. Could you imagine actually going outside at night and seeing this? It’s like a nightly fireworks display:

Milkdromeda

After the galaxies pass by each other in 4 billion years, they are stretched and warped by gravity:

Milkdromeda

In 5.1 billion years, Andromeda and the Milky Way will come around for a second close pass, their galactic cores blazing bright in the night sky:

Milkdromeda

And finally, in 7 billion years, the two galaxies will have merged into a single elliptical galaxy nicknamed Milkdromeda:

Milkdromeda

Interestingly, despite the galactic collision and the dazzling view from Earth, it’s extremely unlikely that any individual stars will collide because of the sheer amount of empty space in galaxies.

  1. I mean, assuming there will still be someone or something standing on the Earth 4 billion years from now to witness it. Presumably whoever’s around will have solved light pollution by then? The bigger worry is that according to the timeline of the far future, Earth will be uninhabitable long before an collision occurs (average surface temp of 296 °F in 2.8 billion years). Toasty!

Tags: astronomy   Milky Way   NASA   science   space
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istoner
23 days ago
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I missed this in 2012. What a view!
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BREXIT!!!!!: Hugh Mannerings: " I'm not saying there wasn't a Democratic ma...

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BREXIT!!!!!: Hugh Mannerings:

12 Hugh Mannerings on Twitter Yep https t co tcc7LmqJp1 Twitter

" I'm not saying there wasn't a Democratic mandate for Brexit at the time. I'm just saying if I narrowly decided to order fish at a restaurant that was known for chicken, but said it was happy to offer fish, and so far I've been waiting three hours, and two chefs who promised to cook the fish had quit, and the third one is promising to deliver the fish in the next five minutes whether it's cooked or not, or indeed still alive, and all the waiting staff have spent the last few hours arguing amongst themselves about whether I wanted battered cod, grilled salmon, jellied deals, or dolphin kebabs, and if large parts of the restaurant appeared to be on fire, but no one was paying attention to it because they were all arguing about fish, I would like, just once, to be asked if I definitely still wanted the fish...


#2019-10-17 #noted
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istoner
27 days ago
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To φ Or Not To φ

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istoner
29 days ago
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This is PERHAPS the most philosophy-major joke I've seen on Daily Nous. SWP (Snort With Pleasure)
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A Raw Look at Harvard’s Affirmative Action For White Kids

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A few days ago a team of researchers published a paper about Harvard’s admission policies. In particular, they looked at affirmative action for four different categories of freshman admits: athletes, legacies, “dean’s interest,” and children of faculty. These are referred to as ALDC admits.

The question at hand is how many applicants who were otherwise unqualified were admitted because of their ALDC status. This is usually shown as a percentage or a distribution, but I think it’s useful to show it as a raw number too. For those who want to follow along, here’s an example for white applicants taken from Table 10 of the paper:

  • Total ALDC admits: 2,179
  • Percent who were otherwise qualified: 26%
  • Number of unqualified applicants who were admitted as ALDC: 1,612

Here are the numbers for all applicants:

It turns out that more than 40 percent of Harvard’s incoming white students from the classes of 2014-19 benefited from their ALDC status compared to about 15 percent for other ethnic groups. As a result, 1,612 otherwise unqualified whites were admitted, triple the number of every other group combined.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone complain about affirmative action for black or Hispanic students crowding out better qualified white students. Whatever sort of affirmative action Harvard may have for marginalized groups, the raw numbers come nowhere even close to the preferences they already give to white applicants. And needless to say, there’s no reason to think that Harvard is unique in this regard. This is standard stuff at elite universities across the country. If there’s anyone being screwed by affirmative action, it sure isn’t white kids.

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istoner
51 days ago
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Near Miss

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eupodotis_cristata_-_1820-1860_-_Print_-_Iconographia_Zoologica_-_Special_Collections_University_of_Amsterdam_-_UBA01_IZ17200037.tif

I just bumbled into this: In 1978 Isaac Asimov judged a limerick contest run by Mohegan Community College in Norwich, Conn. He chose this as the best of 12,000 entries:

The bustard’s an exquisite fowl,
With minimal reason to growl:
He escapes what would be
Illegitimacy
By grace of a fortunate vowel.

It was written by retired Yale official George D. Vaill. Asimov said, “The idea is very clever and made me laugh, and the one-word fourth line is delightful.”

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istoner
57 days ago
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