Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Narrow-Minded Researchers Waste Tax Money!

I thoroughly enjoyed the article on Peter Dobbins' dental echolocation research -

Like the others who posted comments in Nature's Blog, I am also very enthusiastic about this kind of potentially ground-breaking research and I can see that Peter Dobbins is the kind of researcher who is not scared to think 'outside the box'. It's just a pity, however, that there always seems to be people like Whitlow Au who would dismiss the theory out of hand. As a member of the general public – whom scientists ultimately serve – I would rather have my tax money back open-minded researchers like Peter Dobbins than doubtful researchers like Whitlow Au.

It’s my opinion that if Au had come up with such a hypothesis first he wouldn’t have thought it ‘wild’ at all. In any case, I think the basis of Au’s argument against Dobbins’ hypothesis is rather weak. Has he never heard of the simple concept of ‘adaptation’? In order to survive ‘life’ always makes a plan. What Au’s argument boils down to is this (and I will give an analogy to illustrate my point): A man with no arms who learns to write, paint, fish, eat and even brush his teeth with his feet would not have used his arms to perform the same tasks while he still had them. Why? Because clearly, he can do the same things with his feet!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The intelligent but ignorant Larry Page

While giving a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) last Friday (16 February), Larry Page presented a couple of stupid ideas that he said would help solve some worldwide problems:

Firstly, to reduce the number of road-deaths he suggested letting computers guide cars. "I am pretty sure if computers guided cars, a lot fewer people would die." Come on, Larry, do you honestly think people are going to relinquish control of their cars to some dumb computer? Maybe in a 'Police State' they would. As far as reliability of computer guidance goes, take a look at the results of the latest 'Grand Challenge' sponsored by DARPA. How many of those vehicles crashed, for no apparent reason? Larry, the day a computer guided car can win the 'Baja 1000' is the day I'll let it take over my car.

Secondly, (and more stupidly) Larry reckons us Africans should all start flying around in ultra-light aircraft because he doesn't think we need roads in under-developed parts of the continent. Sure Larry, I'll just keep on sending my 9 year-old sister on a daily 10 mile walk through the bush to school. We'll just leave the bus under the tree - who needs roads!?

Where are all the certified 'flight schools' where we'll be getting our commercial pilot's licenses? How are we even going to pay for the license, let alone the airplanes? The majority of Africans cannot even afford to feed their children.

Who is going to maintain the planes and keep them airworthy? Who is going to verify the planes' airworthiness? The FAA? How? Who is going to control these fleets of 'air taxi's'? Corrupt governments? Rebel fighters? Who is going to build and maintain the infrastructure required to safely fly these planes in remote rural areas?

Hey Larry! Wake up! You fell asleep behind your computer screen!