lunes, mayo 07, 2018

El video del día

Un sumario de las teorías científicas más locas  (y desgraciadamente falsas) de la era moderna.


viernes, mayo 04, 2018

Por eso no hay que ser infiel

Entre el cambio climático, los escépticos de las vacunas, el uso inadecuado de medicamentos, y la facilidad para viajar, un escenario como de película de Contagion no es descabellado.


jueves, mayo 03, 2018

Y hablando de malas decisiones...

La IAAF decidió establecer un límite arbitrario al nivel de testosterona permitido en las competidoras, incluso si es de origen natural.
La ciencia detrás de la decisión es, por lo menos, dudosa.


miércoles, mayo 02, 2018

Son tiempos peligrosos

Desde los clásicos revisionistas de la historia, hasta los SJWs, todos tienen una voz. Y se espera que todos tomemos partido. Nada es verdad, nada es mentira...


sábado, octubre 20, 2012

Nova episode about Intelligent Design:


sábado, agosto 20, 2011

Preparing my glorious return!!!


domingo, diciembre 05, 2010

You know it's a myth.


domingo, julio 18, 2010

Profile: Martin Gardner, the Mathematical Gamester (1914-2010)

The clerk at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in downtown Manhattan is not all that helpful. Having had limited success with smaller retailers, I am hoping that the computer can tell me which of Martin Gardner's 50 or so books are available in the store's massive inventory. Most of his books, of course, deal with recreational mathematics, the topic for which he is best known. But he has also penned works in literature, philosophy and fiction. I am looking specifically for The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, Gardner's essays that detail his approach to life. The clerk tells me to try the religion section, under "Christian friction." Is he kidding?

A scowl breaks across Gardner's otherwise amicable face after I relate the story. He is puzzled, too, but for a different reason. The book has nothing to do with that, Gardner insists. He makes it a point to describe himself as philosophical theist—in the tradition, he says, of Plato and Kant, among others. "I decided I couldn't call myself a Christian in any legitimate sense of the word, but I have retained a belief in a personal God," Gardner clarifies. "I admire the teachings of Jesus, but to me it's a little bit dishonest if you don't think Jesus was divine in some special way"—which Gardner does not.

Theology and philosophy weigh heavily in our conversation, something I did not expect from a man who spent 25 years writing Scientific American' s "Mathematical Games" column and who, in the process, influenced untold numbers of minds. "I think my whole generation of mathematicians grew up reading Martin Gardner," comments Rudy Rucker, a writer and mathematician at San Jose State University. It is not uncommon to run into people who subscribed solely because of the mathematical gamester, a realization not lost on the magazine's caretakers when he resigned in 1981. "Here is the letter I have been dreading to receive from Martin Gardner," memoed then editor Dennis Flanagan to then publisher Gerard Piel. "I had a lot of books I wanted to write," Gardner explains of his decision. "I just didn't have time to do the column. I miss doing it because I met a lot of famous mathematicians through it."

In his living room in Hendersonville, N.C., near the Great Smoky Mountains at the Tennessee border, he rattles off several of these notables. Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, now a best-selling author about consciousness and the brain, first became famous after Gardner reported Penrose's finding of tiles that can coat a plane without ever repeating the same pattern. John H. Conway of Princeton University saw his game-of-life computer program, a metaphor for evolution, flourish after appearing in the column. Most surprising to me, though, is Gardner's mention of the Dutch artist M. C. Escher, whose work he helped to publicize in 1961. He points to an original Escher print over my head, between the shelves of his wife's collection of antique metal doorstops. If he had known Escher would become famous, Gardner says, he would have bought more. "It's one of the rare pictures with color in it," he remarks. "It's based on Poincaré's model of the hyperbolic plane."
The 81-year-old Gardner seems more comfortable talking about others than about himself. Perhaps part of the reason is that he has no formal training in mathematics. In discussing his youth, he muses on religion and philosophy, topics to which we keep veering back. "When I grew up in Tulsa, it was called the oil capital of the word," he says. "Now it's known as the home of Oral Roberts. That's how far Tulsa has gone down the hill." He describes his father, a petroleum geologist, as a tolerant fellow who put up with his mother's Methodist devotion and Gardner's own early fanaticism. Influenced by a Sunday school teacher and a Seventh-Day Adventist, the young Gardner became convinced the second coming was near and that 666 was the number of the pope. "I grew up believing that the Bible was a revelation straight from God," he recounts. "It lasted about halfway through my years at the University of Chicago."

University life, however, slowly eroded his fundamentalist beliefs. "Certain authors have been a big influence on me," Gardner says and enumerates them. Besides Plato and Kant, there are G. K. Chesterton, William James, Charles S. Peirce, Miguel de Unamuno, Rudolf Carnap and H. G. Wells. From each, Gardner has culled a bit of wisdom. "From Chesterton I got a sense of mystery in the universe, why anything exists, " he expounds. "From Wells I took his tremendous interest in and respect for science." That's why he does not accept the virgin birth of Christ or a blood atonement for the sin of Adam and Eve, as he writes in the afterword of his semiautobiographical novel, The Flight of Peter Fromm. "I don't believe God interrupts natural laws or tinkers with the universe," he remarks. From James he derived his notion that belief in God is a matter of faith only. "I don't think there's any way to prove the existence of God logically."

Pondering existence for a living, however, was not his calling. "If you're a professional philosopher, there's no way to make any money except to teach. It has no use anywhere," Gardner offers. Instead he turned to writing, becoming assistant oil editor for the Tulsa Tribune and then returning to Chicago to assume a post in the university's press office. In 1941 he began a four-year stint on a destroyer escort (fittingly, the U.S.S. Pope ). After World War II, Gardner returned to Chicago, selling short stories to Esquire and taking more courses in philosophy under the GI bill.

Freelance writing is unstable, and Gardner found himself in New York City in the early 1950s, where he landed a regular job with the children's periodical Humpty Dumpty's Magazine, writing features and designing activities. "I did all the cutouts," he beams. But it was his lifelong interest in magic, still his main hobby, that led him to mathematical games. Every Saturday a group of conjurers would gather in a restaurant in lower Manhattan. "There would be 50 magicians or so, all doing magic tricks," Gardner reminisces. One of them intrigued him with a so-called hexaflexagon—a strip of paper folded into a hexagon, which turns inside out when two sides are pinched. Fascinated, Gardner drove to Princeton, where graduate students invented it. (A magician also played a pivotal role in another major step in Gardner's life: he introduced Gardner to his future wife, Charlotte.)

Having sold a piece on logic machines to Scientific American a few years prior (which, incidentally, included a cardboard cutout), he approached the magazine with an article on flexagons. "Gerry Piel called me in and asked, 'Is there enough material similar to this to make a regular column?' I said I thought there was, and he said to turn one in," Gardner recalls. It was a bit of a snow job: Gardner did not even own a mathematics book at the time. "I rushed around New York and bought as many books on recreational math as I could," he states. Gardner officially began his new career in the January 1957 issue; the rubric "Mathematical Games" was chosen by the magazine. "By coincidence, they're my initials," Gardner observes. "I always had a private interest in math without any formal training. I just sort of became a self-taught mathematician. If you look at those columns in chronological order, you will see they started out on a much more elementary level than the later columns."
Gardner's timing was perfect. Only a few outlets for recreational mathematicians existed at the time. "A lot of creative mathematicians were making discoveries, but the work was considered too trivial by professional math journals to publish. So I had the pleasure of picking up this stuff." Perhaps more important to the success of the column was his nonmathematical background. "His references were so wonderfully cross-cultural and broad," Rucker states. "He talked about experimental literature, about cranks, about philosophers—relating mathematics to the most exciting things around." He was also able to form a network of associates who passed on ideas. "Martin was very good at giving attribution," says mathematician Ronald L. Graham of AT&T Bell Laboratories. "That inspired people to work on problems."

Gardner has a natural penchant for fun and games. In an April Fools' piece, he claimed Einstein's theory of relativity was disproved and that Leonardo da Vinci invented the flush toilet. At the suggestion of a friend, he harshly panned his own Whys book in a review written under the pseudonym George Groth. "I heard that people read the review and didn't buy the book on my recommendation," Gardner comments.

Although his home seems to display order and formality, Gardner's playfulness is everywhere. Optical illusions abound, including an inside-out face mask illuminated from below that appears holographic, eerily seeming to track a viewer's motions. He demonstrates several magic tricks with rubber bands, at one point rummaging through a closet to extract a fake, blood-dripping severed arm through which he wiggles his own fingers. This Wonderland feeling is appropriate, for Gardner is an expert on Lewis Carroll. His best-seller is The Annotated Alice, in which he shows that Carroll encoded messages, chess moves and caricatures of people he knew. In Los Angeles recently, wealthy electronics store owner John Fry inaugurated a new outlet containing 15- foot statues of the Alice characters—and Gardner was the honored guest.

After nearly 40 years of presenting math, Gardner says the biggest transformation in the field has been the entrance of the computer. "It's changed the character of all mathematics, especially combinatorial math, where problems are impossible to solve by hand. A good example is the four-color map problem, which was finally solved by a computer." The theorem states that at least four hues are needed to paint all planar maps so that no adjacent regions are the same color. Chaos theory, fractals and factoring of prime numbers are a few other examples.

Gardner himself does not own a computer (or, for that matter, a fax or answering machine). He once did—and got hooked playing chess on it. "Then one day I was doing the dishes with my wife, and I looked down and saw the pattern of the chessboard on the surface of the water," he recalls. The retinal retention lasted about a week, during which he gave his computer to one of his two sons. "I'm a scissors-and-rubber-cement man," Gardner says, although he feels he ought to get another computer despite the lasting impression his first one left.

Retirement does not find Gardner at rest. He writes for the Skeptical Inquirer, although he is planning to switch to topics that are not outright shams, such as Freud's dream theory and false memories evoked by therapists. And there is time for games. During my visit, an editor called to say that his firm wants to publish Gardner's manuscript on Lewis Carroll's mathematical puzzles. Gardner describes a recent problem he received from Japan, which dealt with an ant crawling on an extended cube. A mathematician phones to inquire whether Gardner heard anything about a rumor of a new result in Penrose tiling. And every afternoon at 4:30, he and Charlotte investigate fluid dynamics by mixing vodka martinis. For Gardner, the game is the life.


sábado, septiembre 26, 2009

Calcula tu huella ecológica

La huella ecológica es un indicador agregado definido como «el área de territorio ecológicamente productivo (cultivos, pastos, bosques o ecosistemas acuáticos) necesaria para producir los recursos utilizados y para asimilar los residuos producidos por una población dada con un modo de vida específico de forma indefinida».
Su objetivo fundamental consiste en evaluar el impacto sobre el planeta de un determinado modo o forma de vida y, comparado con la biocapacidad del planeta. Consecuentemente es un indicador clave para la sostenibilidad.
La ventaja de la huella ecológica para entender la apropiación humana está en aprovechar la habilidad para hacer comparaciones. Es posible comparar desde las emisiones de transportar un bien en particular con la energía requerida para el producto sobre la misma escala (hectáreas).

En resumen, la huella ecológica nos dice que muchas cosas mueren para que podamos vivir como vivimos.

Puedes calcular tu huella ecológica en el siguiente link:

La mia fue: 455
Los planetas necesarios si todos fueran como yo: 3


lunes, agosto 31, 2009

La SEP contra la teoría de la evolución

Julio Muñoz Rubio

En estos tiempos de oscurantismo y emergencia de viejos fanatismos, la Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP) nos ofrece una nueva y muy desagradable sorpresa en sus nuevos libros de texto para la materia de ciencias naturales de primaria: se trata de la mutilación de la teoría de la evolución. Una aberración más del gobierno panista, la cual ya no resulta sorprendente luego de constatar la obsesión de este gobierno por atacar día con día la cultura y la inteligencia e intentar imponer su concepción confesional y religiosa a toda la población de México.

Pues bien, en esta tesitura, un conjunto de personas carentes de la menor preparación en ciencia, ha mal redactado un texto dirigido a los alumnos de sexto de primaria en el que la teoría de la evolución queda reducida en mucho más de la mitad con respecto de la atención que merecía el texto anterior, aprobado en 1993 y elaborado por personas conocedoras, profesionales del tema. Se trata de un texto en el que el evolucionismo merece un tratamiento confuso, erróneo e incompleto, por decir lo menos. He aquí algunos de los imperdonables errores que contiene:

1. El creacionismo es tratado al nivel de las distintas teorías científicas sobre el origen de la vida: La generación espontánea, la panspermia y la teoría evolucionista de Oparin-Haldane son puestas todas al mismo nivel que las charlatanerías creacionistas. El creacionismo no es ninguna teoría; es sólo una especulación fantasiosa imposible de corroborar, no está basada en un hecho real que se pretenda explicar.

2. No existe la menor mención de la variabilidad al azar y de su herencia, los cuales son procesos (y conceptos) centrales en la teoría de Darwin. La selección natural es imposible de explicar si antes no se hace mención de esos dos procesos, porque solamente cuando las especies varían pueden seleccionarse las mejor adaptadas al medio de las que no lo están.

3. No se menciona ningún concepto de genética ni la relación de los hallazgos en esta rama de la biología con la teoría de la evolución. Hay que mencionar al respecto que en las primeras décadas del siglo XX tuvieron lugar entre los científicos interesantes debates sobre el carácter de la herencia y de la selección natural, que concluyeron con la emisión de la llamada teoría sintética, que unificó los conocimientos en genética provenientes de las investigaciones de Gregor Mendel con el modelo darwinista de evolución por selección natural.

4. En el texto se pone atención a los fósiles y a las extinciones como evidencia de las formas de vida pasadas. Pero eso no es necesariamente evolucionismo. Los fósiles son conocidos desde hace milenios sin que se diera una explicación evolucionista a su existencia. El científico francés Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) emitió la teoría llamada "catastrofismo", en la que explicaba que los fósiles eran evidencia de catástrofes y creaciones sucesivas que habían tenido lugar en la Tierra, negando toda implicación evolutiva. Fue Darwin quien encontró una evidencia de la evolución en el registro fósil relacionando las edades de fósiles semejantes entre sí y los sedimentos geológicos en los que se encuentran. Esta explicación está ausente en el texto de sexto de primaria.

5. No hay mención alguna sobre evolución humana. Eso abre las puertas a la interpretación del diseño inteligente, que plantea que el ser humano es demasiado complejo para ser explicado por procesos naturales y que por tanto (¡vaya falacia!) tiene que ser producto de la decisión de un ser supremo inteligente.

6. De la vida de Darwin no se explica casi nada, ni el viaje del Beagle ni las evidencias biogeográficas embriológicas y paleontológicas sobre la evolución, ni el principio del ancestro común y, desde luego, nada sobre su triunfo sobre las fuerzas oscurantistas y reaccionarias de su tiempo.

Debemos dar la señal de alarma: esta reducción de la teoría evolucionista es, en manos del panismo, el primer paso para, en un futuro no lejano, eliminarla de los planes de estudio o ponerla en el mismo nivel de las charlatanerías creacionistas, como se ha intentado en muchas partes de Estados Unidos o Italia. Omitir o deformar la enseñanza del evolucionismo en las escuelas primarias es sumir en la ignorancia y la mentira a la niñez de este país; es condenarla a ignorar una de las más certeras y trascendentales aportaciones a la ciencia y la cultura. Nadie, absolutamente nadie tiene derecho a hacer eso.

El panismo es insaciable en su ataque a la inteligencia. Encendamos los focos rojos. La defensa de la cultura, de la historia y de la ciencia es, hoy día, una de las tareas más importantes en México.