Tag Archives: Science

This is why I suck at learning lyrics – study on computers and memory

Read an interesting study on Wired on memory. A small scale study has shown that if you know you have access to data, you’re far less likely to remember it:

If you think a fact is conveniently available online, then, you may be less apt to learn it.

This is amazingly true. I frequently note that people referencing articles they’ve read to me can’t remember the article title, author or where it was published, or the detail of what it said or why it was interesting or funny. But they can remember the search sequence that got them there and find it via Google. Which is a fascinating insight into human psychology, right there – the journey is more memorable than the destination.

This is one of the reasons why I’m uncertain on social search. People like the solidity of search; the only way to make sure that social search improves on regular search is to somehow confound this pattern – making sure that social search is only a marginal improvement on general, unfiltered search – otherwise people will get frustrated by not being able to find the same things when on different machines.

Scientific testing to improve running technique

In a past life, I was pretty heavily into the science of things. I’m still fascinated by science and all that jazz as a general principle, but the specifics are lost to me.

Which is one of the reasons why I’m so horrible at improving my running process/technique. Instead of changing one thing – new shoes, summer running gear, running in the morning or one of the other half-dozen variables under my control, I change them all in one go so have no idea what it was that helped me break a certain time or that caused me a particular issue.

As I’ve commented before, running is like golf – the number of uncontrollable variables is legion. I may need to introduce some scientific rigour to my process as I aim to improve my half marathon time this year…

Gambling for alien research

Having just received an emarketing blast from SETI requesting funding for their research efforts, and also been playing too much on-line poker, and also reading some Phillip K Dick novels, and also been waking up too early due to jetlag, the following, slightly loopy idea occurred to me…

SETI should set up an online poker system in which people wager either computer cycles or money against the possibility of winning space related freebies. The ‘money’ bit could be done in partnership with a major online poker company (PokerStars, PartyPoker), and wouldn’t cost them anything as they could offer to transfer winnings (minus buy-in) to SETI instead of the user. The space-freebies could consiste of some kind of alien cred league table or information, for example essays by Carl Sagan, appropriate Sci-Fi… all distributed digitally. The computer cycle bit could tie into their @home software and it could tell you how much ‘time’ you owe to SETI each time you log in to either the poker application or SETI@home.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, SETI is all about discovering intelligent life on planets other than Earth…

Anyway, brain clearly addled. Toodles.