Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bee on the Scientific Method

Bee (Sabine Hossenfelder) has an essay worth your time: Does the Scientific Method need Revision?

IBM's predictions from December 2009

IBM's predictions for today from five years ago:

ARMONK, N.Y.     - 17 Dec 2009: Today, IBM (NYSE: IBM) unveiled a list of innovations that have the potential to change how people live, work and play in cities around the globe over the next five to ten years:
·         Cities will have healthier immune systems
·         City buildings will sense and respond like living organisms
·         Cars and city buses will run on empty
·         Smarter systems will quench cities’ thirst for water and save energy
·         Cities will respond to a crisis -- even before receiving an emergency phone call

Lessons from a school shooting

Both houses of the Indian Parliament observed a moment of silence and passed resolutions condemning the killing of school children in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Beyond the natural empathy one feels at the cruel loss of young lives, there are some sharp lessons to be learned.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Invasion That Never Was

Anand Rangarajan, here:

But it was the publication in 2011 of a path-breaking study that ultimately sealed the fate of the Aryan Invasion or Migration theory. Analysing 600,000 SNPs from as many as 30 ethnic groups – thereby extending the 2009 Nature ANI study through the inclusion of more European samples – Toomas Kivisild and co-workers discovered that both components of Indian ancestry, ANI and ASI, predate the Aryan Migration event by at least 9000 years. This was because the so-called k5 component, that bestows ancestry to South Asians, was found to contain no regional diversity differences; its spread across the Indian subcontinent must have happened well before 12,500 years ago (the detection limit) and not through a recent gene-flow event.

 In 2013 Singh and co-workers extended the Kivisild study with some acute observations, namely that the ANI and ASI populations mixed robustly between 1900 to 4200 years ago and that these two groups didn’t mix either before or after this window. The authors, by analysing genomes of 571 individuals representing 73 ethno-linguistic groups, also ruled out Eurasian gene flow during this time period, concurring with the finding of another study that such an event could not have happened before 12,500 years. Moreover, argued the scientists, 3500 years ago India was a already a densely populated region with well-established agricultural practices and therefore the Eurasian migration would have had to be immense in order to explain the fact that half the Indian population is derived from ANI.

The Aryan Migration event of 1500 BCE has also been questioned based on an authoritative haplogroup U linkage study wherein scientists found an extensive and deep late-Pleistocene link between Indians and Europeans, suggesting a coalescence near the time when Asia was initially being peopled. The migration that led to the Indo-Eurasian stock, according to these scientists, happened not 3,500 years ago but rather 12,500 years or earlier.

Another study, this time involving Y-DNA haplotyping, rules out substantial gene-flow from Europe to Asia at least since the mid-Holocene period, i.e. the last 6,500 years. It has also been shown that the gateway to the subcontinent, the Hindu Kush – where the earliest archaeological evidence of human remains dates back to 26,500 years before the Rig Veda – was a confluence of gene-flows in the early Neolithic period as opposed to an indigenous population.

There is one other way to corroborate that Eurasian migration happened much before the time-point vouched for by AMT proponents – skin colour. It has long been known that a single mutation, rs1426654, in the human pigmentation gene SLC24A5 accounts for the lighter skin tone of Europeans. A year ago, scientists discovered that an allele of the rs1426654 mutation was shared among many South Asian and Western Eurasian populations. The coalescence was calculated to be 22000-28000 years ago, with the frequency of occurrence of this mutation – called the allele frequency – found to be significantly higher in the ANI compared to the ASI.

The verdict of population genetics is clear, and profound, as pointed out subsequently by the lead author of the Nature study Dr Lalji Singh himself: “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India. It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Morning Moon

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Fear

The transcript of the proceedings of the grand jury that examined the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson, on August 9, on the streets of Ferguson, MO, is interesting on many counts.  

Here is one excerpt that caught my eye.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Another Aatish Taseer Essay

Must-read: A Historical Sense: What Sanskrit has meant to me
http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/a-historical-sense

Excerpt beneath the fold.

A telling Twitter exchange

FYI:

On twitter, I followed Sonia Faleiro, who is an author, and writes commentary on India for the New York Times and such.

I was blocked after this exchange:

Sonia Faleiro:
"Lakhs of years ago Sage Kanad conducted a nuclear test" says BJP MP determined to take India back lakhs of years: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ancient-india-conducted-nuke-tests-claims-former-uttarakhand-chief-minister-ramesh-pokhriyal-nishank/article1-1293029.aspx

Me:
@soniafaleiro LOL, back to the Sat-Yuga, I suppose!
@soniafaleiro Tho ancients having technology lost till modern times is a bit more rational than parting of Red Sea or man rising from dead

I wouldn't have mentioned it except that I noticed this morning that this "liberal" has blocked me.

That is, if the BJP MP said that "lakhs of years ago Sage Kanad conducted a nuclear test" is how he reads and interprets his "religious scriptures", and so is a part of his "religious belief", it is still irrational and inadmissible and wrong;  but God's parting of the Red Sea for Moses or the resurrection of Jesus, that is a legitimate matter of Christian belief and my saying it is less rational than the (non-supernatural) idea that the ancients had technology that was lost and that we again have only in modern times is bad manners.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prof. Shivaramakrishnan discusses Dharampal

One must absolutely listen to these.

Part 1/3:


Sunday, November 09, 2014

The k-th digit of Pi