consultants are sandburs

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The fascination of remote observation and indirect inference. And a bit of politics, perhaps.

By now all who read are aware that the Nobel Prize for physics went to Higgs for his theoretical work and to the researhers who by indirect evidence suitable to the skepticism of the scientific community confirmed the Higgs boson.

Knowing little of that worth stating beyond noting the prize award, readers are left to follow up the entire particle phsics story in as much detail as they care to pursue and can grasp. Math included, as absolutely essential and as the trip-up for most reader curiosity.

Remote observation being the topic, there was an excellent Nova two-hour PBS presentation, see this link.

Astronomy and NASA fly-by vehicles give us knowledge that serves mainly to aid asking the next set of questions. There is that much more than definitive answers closing lines of inquiry. Two intriguing things that way, presented in a popularized level of visualization and explanation for all of us who are not experts, here and here.

Genetic research at the cutting edge is largely now indirect observation and inference. Microscopsy gives way to spectroscopy and biochemistry as tools. And chromatography. That is relevant to the DNA "fingerprinting" now an established part of law enforcement and judicial determinations of guilt, innocence, or paternity. Gene chips and sequencing needs supercomputer work on the statistics of things so that sequence segmentation, by chemistry, and sample enhancement again by biochemical lab techniques, leads to a series of data that need number crunching to get whole genome information levels of insight from segment-based experiments and reporting.

As to politics, during the Bush presidency, and in terms of who he was beholden to, PBS broadcasting was of the "In the path of Moses" style, while more currently, there is this. No judgment made, just noting the curiosity of changing programming fashions and decision making.

Global warming deniers may see the earth-from-space presentation of evidence as political, so we must all think for ourselves in learning, being open minded but also being aware to always suspect bias in what is presented more even than in how it is presented. That most certainly is true for newspapers of the mainstream media size, and other media outlets with large circulation/viewership. If zippo coverage were accorded to "the shutdown" how many would even know it was happening? Details from Afghanistan and Pakistan, if not reported, are too easily publicly thought to be of lesser consequence than Madonna's latest exploits, Lady Gaga, Brad and Jon Voight's daughter, relative film popularity, Walter White and Jesse, or the latest XBox and attendant video game new releases. Or Josh starting next Monday.

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