Lethal Distractions Of New technology

Following comment by a reader in NYT on Texting and Driving ( or other distractions while driving) is worth reading.f.sheikh

“I was right behind a car that flipped over and bounced around on the highway. I had to pull over with two to three other people and approach the upside-down, smashed car.

I never felt such dread in my life, and then we all saw a baby car seat. It took guts to peek inside that car — not sure I would have been brave enough to do it in the first place. Luckily there was no baby, and the driver was alive, and bloody but largely unharmed.

She had just grabbed her phone for a sec to text her mom that she would be there soon. I got back in my car and cried my eyes out.

Please, people, you’re driving several tons of metal at high speed. Don’t text and drive.”

How To Explain Quantum Computing-Canadian Prime Minister Mr. Trudeau Vs Seven Experts

We challenged seven physics experts to explain quantum computing to the rest of us, in the time it took Justin Trudeau to do so-35 seconds.

( Mr. Trudeau explained it correctly in 35 seconds)

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont. last week and offered his explanation for how a quantum computer works,  it sparked intense media coverage from around the world.  It also led to a backlash over whether Trudeau really knew anything about the cutting-edge technology, or was just pretending.

But what happens when experts in quantum computing themselves are asked to explain the technology to a lay audience in 35 seconds, the time Trudeau took to give his explanation? “This is something that cannot be explained well in 35 seconds,” says Aephraim Steinberg, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto and member of the Centre for Quantum Information and Quantum Control. But Steinberg—and a half-dozen other experts from across North America—were willing to step up to our challenge and give it a try.

Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada, and hardly an expert

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

“Normal computers work, either there’s power going through a wire or not. It’s 1 or a 0. They’re binary systems. What quantum states allow for is much more complex information to be encoded into a single bit. A regular computer bit is either a 1 or 0—on or off. A quantum state can be much more complex than that because as we know, things can be both particle and wave at the same time and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller computer. That’s what exciting about quantum computing.”

Barry Sanders

Director of the Institute for Quantum Information Science at the University of Calgary

Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders

“A quantum computer is essentially just a computer, but it exploits the quantum capability of parallelism in order to solve certain problems much much faster than could be done without exploiting this capability. This quantum capability of parallelism is about running all possible cases of the problem at the same time. This advantage is particularly noticeable for the factorization problem, which has enormous ramification for secure communication.”

Krysta Svore

Senior researcher and research manager of the Quantum Architectures and Computation Group at Microsoft Research

3Krysta Svore

Krysta Svore

“Quantum computers go beyond the most powerful supercomputer by harnessing quantum effects in order to speed up calculations. They will take us far beyond what is possible today by accelerating computations that take longer than the lifetime of the universe on a supercomputer into quantum computations that take mere hours or days. With a quantum computer, we hope to find a more efficient way to produce artificial fertilizer, having direct impact on food production around the world, and we hope to combat global warming by learning how to efficiently extract carbon dioxide from the environment. Quantum computers promise to truly transform our world.”

Scott Aaronson

Associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Scott Aaronson

Scott Aaronson

A quantum computer is a proposed device that exploits quantum mechanics to solve certain specific problems like factoring huge numbers much faster than we know how to solve them with any existing computer. Quantum mechanics has been the basic framework of physics since the 1920s. It’s a generalization of the rules of probability themselves. From day to day life, you’d never talk about a minus-20 per cent chance of something happening, but quantum mechanics is based on numbers called amplitudes, which can be positive or negative or even complex numbers. The goal in quantum computing is to choreograph things so that some paths leading to a wrong answer have positive amplitudes and others have negative amplitudes, so on the whole they cancel out and the wrong answer is not observed.

Davide Venturelli

Research scientist at NASA Ames Research Centre

Davide Venturelli

Davide Venturelli

“When you look at how nature behaves at the nanoscale, a lot of things that happen are very weird: atoms can be in two positions at once, they can have entanglement. The idea of quantum computing is to use physics to do math, so use all these properties of the nanoscale to do information processing, faster than digital computers. We are trying to create a quantum computer, which is a programmable device where we can use all these effects on-demand to tailor physics experiments, with atoms, lasers or solid state circuits, that perform algorithms for the solutions of mathematical problems.”

Click here to read further

posted by f.sheikh

Rhetoric, Plato, Aristotle & Trump By Kathleen Parker

(Interesting read that invokes Greek masters of rhetoric , its value in human affairs and current political affairs. F. Sheikh)

When it comes to rhetoric, Plato was right and Aristotle — not so much.

Distilled, Aristotle thought rhetoric good for democracy, though his definition of “by the people” was closer to our Founding Fathers’ intent of only certain people than to today’s more-the-merrier model. Given this assumption of a narrow, educated, self-governing populace, Aristotle likely envisioned that those practicing rhetoric would be guided by accepted rules of argument and engagement, emphasizing ethos (trust and credibility), pathos (appropriate use of emotion) and logos (logical argument and facts).

Plato, who was Aristotle’s mentor, thought otherwise — that rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, in the wrong hands was dangerous and likely to be abused to appeal to people’s base motives. He foresaw the unethical, dishonest uses that a skilled but immoral speaker could put his persuasive powers to, with credulous people eager to believe or buy whatever he was selling.

Which brings us unavoidably to Donald Trump, as if you hadn’t guessed.

We at least owe Trump thanks for bringing these two ancient philosophers out of history’s woodwork and back into the conversation. Trump also has inspired reconsideration of rhetoric’s rightful place in the classroom, where it was once considered an essential component of “a gentleman’s” education.

One such classroom can be found at the University of Virginia School of Law, where I was recently a guest lecturer. What better time to be reviewing rhetoric’s ancient rules and modern applications than during a presidential election that features one of the most blazing examples of unsavory rhetoric since Clark Stanley boiled a live rattlesnake at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago?

Click link for article;


Is Swearing a Sign of a Limited Vocabulary?

Shared by Mirza Iqbal Ashraf!

Is Swearing a Sign of a Limited Vocabulary?

By Piercarlo Valdesolo on April 5, 2016

New research challenges the idea that vulgar words are a sign of failure

Taboo words hold a particular purpose in our lexicon that other words cannot as effectively accomplish: to deliver intense, succinct and directed emotional expression.
Credit: Future Publishing/Getty Images

When words fail us, we curse. At least this is what the “poverty-of-vocabulary” (POV) hypothesis would have us believe. On this account, swearing is the “sign of a weak vocabulary”, a result of a lack of education, laziness or impulsiveness. In line with this idea, we tend to judge vulgarians quite harshly, rating them as lower on socio-intellectual status, less effective at their jobs and less friendly. But this view of the crass does not square with recent research in linguistics. For example, the POV hypothesis would predict that when people struggle to come up with the right words, they are more likely to spew swears left and right. But research shows that people tend to fill the awkward gaps in their language with “ers” and “ums” not “sh*ts” and “godd*mnits.” This research has led to a competing explanation for swearing: fluency with taboo words might be a sign of general verbal fluency. Those who are exceptionally vulgar might also be exceptionally eloquent and intelligent.  Indeed, taboo words hold a particular purpose in our lexicon that other words cannot as effectively accomplish: to deliver intense, succinct and directed emotional expression. So, those who swear frequently might just be more sophisticated in the linguistic resources they can draw from in order to make their point.

New research by cognitive scientists at Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts attempts to test this possibility, and further debunk the POV hypothesis, by measuring how taboo word fluency relates to general verbal fluency. The POV hypothesis suggests that there should be a negative correlation: the more you swear, the lower your verbal prowess. But the researchers hypothesized just the opposite: the more you swear the more comprehensive your vocabulary would be.

Across three studies, they gave participants a well-known measure of verbal fluency called the Controlled Word Association Test (COWAT). The COWAT asks participants to say as many words as they can that start with a given letter (e.g. F, A or S) during a specified time window. The amount of words that they generate is summed into a fluency score. Then, in what has to be one of the most awkward and hilarious experimental situations in the history of cognitive science, participants had to say, out loud to the experimenter, as many swear words as they could think of in one minute. This was the measure of taboo word fluency.

Results from Study 1 showed that participants generated 400 unique taboo words (see the Results for some of the more colorful entries) and, as the researchers predicted, fluency in generating these words correlated positively with performance on the COWAT. This finding was replicated in Studies 2 and 3, using a written version of the tests as well. The more taboo words participants could generate, the more verbally fluent they were in general.

This finding can serve as a nice empirical middle-finger from vulgarians everywhere, directed at those who had, until now, been unfairly judging them for their linguistic abilities. Swearing, it seems, can be creative, smart, and even downright lyrical. This should also open our eyes to the unique subfield of research that spends its time deconstructing the many and varied ways in which, and reasons why, we swear. For example, did you know that some linguists and philosophers of language draw meaningful distinctions between taboo words that express heightened emotional states (e.g., f*ck), general pejoratives (e.g., f*cker) whose meaning is connotative but person-directed, and slurs (e.g., sl*t), which have both expressive and derogatory descriptive elements? I did not know this.

That said, these results need to be taken with a grain of salt. Knowledge of taboo words and the regular use of those words are two very different things. I might very well have an encyclopedic knowledge of vulgarity, but I might also have the tact necessary to regulate my language in social situations. In other words, just because verbally fluent people have the ability to cuss with the best of them, does not mean that they will do so. This presents a bit of a problem with the current research since the authors do seem to want to make the claim that their results inform what kinds of people actually curse in the real world. This conclusion cannot be drawn from these data.  The studies tell us nothing about how speakers use taboo words, just what they would be capable of saying if they chose to use them. Swearing regularly and being able to generate a long list of curse words when prompted are very different. Indeed, the POV hypothesis could still survive this criticism. It still might be true that those with greater verbal fluency, even though they also have greater taboo fluency, swear less because they have the lexical database required to actually express themselves in other ways.

In 1977 Norman Mailer confronted Gore Vidal at a party after Vidal poorly reviewed one of Mailer’s books. Mailer’s anger boiled over and he sent Vidal to the ground with a punch. From the floor, Gore Vidal looked up and famously quipped: “Once again, words have failed Norman Mailer.” No doubt, Vidal could have unleashed a string of profanities at his aggressor. He surely had a mastery of taboo language comparable to his mastery of language in general. But his verbal fluency allowed him to craft an even wittier response. And had words not failed Mailer, perhaps he too would have reacted less crassly.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at

garethideas@gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.