Richard Feynman is one of the greatest scientific minds, and what I love about him, aside from his brilliance, is his perspective on why we perform science. I’ve been reading the compilation of short works of Feynman titled The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, and I recently came across a section that really hit home with me.
The first was a small article by Brian Dumaine about the work being done at Applied Proteomics to identify cancer before it develops. At Applied Proteomics, they use mass spectroscopy to capture and catalog 360,000 different pieces of protein found in blood plasma, and then let supercomputers crunch on the data to identify anomalies associated with cancer. The company has raised $57 million in venture capital and is backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. You can read the first bit of the article here.
The second is from the Word Check callout, showing how access to information is making the word a better place:
wasa: Pronounced [wah-SUH]
(noun) Arabic slang: A display of partiality toward a favored person or group without regard for their qualifications. A system that drives much of life in the Middle East — from getting into a good school to landing a good job.
But on the Internet, there is no wasa.
- Adapted from Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East by Christopher M. Schroeder
Imagine a guy with glasses who used to model baseball stats and play online poker nailing the outcome of the 2012 elections. And when I say “nailing”, I mean that he correctly predicted the U.S. Presidential contest in every one of the 50 states (and nearly every U.S. Senate race, too). He even performed better than some of the most widely-used polling firms. Now imagine that he gives his thoughts on making these types of predictions. That’s exactly what Nate Silver does in his new book The Signal and the Noise.