This page on the NHS England website claims that eating fish oils (long chain Omega-3 I assume rather than any Omega-3) help prevent depression. It…
Month: January 2010
It is customary for scientists to cite the author of a scientific name whenever that name is used. Indeed it is considered grossly amateurish in some circles to omit such details. This causes problems because, although there are standards for abbreviation of author names (notably Brummitt in botany), these are not always followed and often embellished. This means that the entire string of name characters is never guaranteed to be unique. To a machine every variation of authority string would results in a new combination of characters and implies the existence of a new taxon
What if we just stopped using author strings (other than in monographs) and ignore them when other people use them?
In the last weekend of the Christmas break I was sat in Starbucks in Waterstones in Edinburgh considering which of a stack of potential books I was going to spend my Christmas book tokens on. I had just been playing with a Sony eBook reader and so was thinking maybe I should take the plunge and go digital with books as well as the rest of my life.
I wondered what I would do with my existing books. It would be nice to be able search through these and have them all with me when I travel. There would be issues with copyright if I were to copy them but there would also be technical problems. How would I get them in EPUB or PDF format? I did some Googling and came across a great site diybookscanner.org. There are some really innovative designs on this site and it got my obsessive thoughts going. There were two problems.
- I only had 48 hours to play before going back to work and my wife and kids wanted some of that time.
- I didn’t have a workshop. Just a desk and some simple tools.
Could I produce a scanner in that time? Would it work?
Just doing some SQL against the Catalogue of Life ’09 database and came up with some figures unrelated to what I set out to do.…
Amazon are selling an ebook of Siddhartha by Herman Hess for the Kindle for $3.51 and it appears in different versions for even more. Siddhartha is out of copyright so it costs them nothing for the rights on this book. The $3.51 is all for them.
Does this mean that $3.51 is the cost of distributing an eBook through the Amazon system? That would imply that the publisher (nee the author) would get the value of any ebook that retailed for over this sum. With Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (which retails for $9.58 on Kindle) for example the authors would get $6.07? Somehow I doubt it!
That price tag of $9.58 doesn’t compare very well with $10.19 for the paperback version of Pirsig’s book. The Kindle version can be yours in 60 seconds or less but it is controlled by Digital Rights Management (DRM) so really all you are buying is the right to have a permanent relationship with Amazon who will supply you with a copy to read on an authorised device. For 61c more you could have one made out of real paper that you could hand on to a friend or loved one, sell, donate to charity or even burn to keep warm. Sure it won’t last forever but it still has a residual value. My paper copy is yellowing but perfectly readable. It was printed in 1978 (that is 32 years ago!). It has a price tag of £1 and I bought it from a second hand shop for £1.50 ($2 ish) about 10 years ago.
It is just past Christmas and the turning of the decade so I thought it would be worth capturing a train of thought on time and space.
- The future doesn’t exist yet.
- The past no longer exists.
- The present moment is vanishingly small.
Consider the sounds you hear in a piece of music. Sound is the changing in air pressure that moves our ear drums backwards and forwards. To hear Middle C we need to listen to a sound for a long enough period to judge that the air pressure is changing around 261 times per second. At any one moment our ear drums are stationary. There is no sound in the now.