A better way to wait in line?

Waiting in line, whether to buy tickets or to talk to a customer representative on your phone, wastes time.  The way it works now, it’s first-come, first served.   Those who camp out 24 hours before the ticket window opens will get their tickets, but they will have wasted 24 hours.  Researchers using game theory have found a more efficient–that is, less time-wasting–way of doing this.

Which do you think would be more efficient:  Serving people randomly, regardless of their place in line?  Or reversing the current practice and having last-come, first served?  Find out and find out why after the jump. [Read more…]

Quantum teleportation

Scientists have teleported photons to a distance of 63 miles, a new record.  This “quantum teleportation” is not quite what happens on Star Trek, but it is another example of the strangeness of the universe as disclosed by quantum physics.  [Read more…]

“Editing” embryos

Researchers are crossing the line into direct “editing” of human embryos, amounting to genetically modifying human beings.

Some of those who don’t approve of genetically modifying vegetables may not mind doing the same thing to babies.  But the new research is stirring up controversy in the scientific community. [Read more…]

The more prey, the fewer predators

One would think that the more prey animals–zebras, antelopes, rabbits, etc.–there are, the more predators there would be, since a larger food supply should support a larger population of animals that eat them.  But it doesn’t work that way.  According to a new study, predator populations decrease when the prey increases.  In fact, this seems to be the case with all animal populations, including herbivores whose “prey” is particular kinds of plants.  And the ratios can be described with a specific mathematical formula, suggesting that this discovery constitutes a new law of nature.

Now the obvious layman’s question is whether the causes might be reversed, that a decline in the number of predators allows for a greater population of prey, but apparently this is considered to be a different effect having to do with the fact that predators breed more slowly in more crowded environments. [Read more…]

More and more experiments aren’t reproducible

Scientists are worried because more and more experiments are not reproducible.  A principle of the scientific method is that for an experiment to be valid, another scientist who performs it must get the same results.  In many cases today, that is not happening.  This is especially true in the social “sciences.” [Read more…]

“The next Darwin” says life is inevitable

A 33-year-old physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, is being hailed as “the new Darwin,” for his mathematical models that suggest life is inevitable.  Though some are saying this will pose a problem for creationists and religious people, it looks to me like more evidence for Design.  (The doctrine of creation teaches not just that God created life, but that He created the universe and its laws.)  What many people are missing is that Prof. England, as a devout Jew, believes in God.  An account of this new Darwin and a summary of his theories after the jump. [Read more…]