Weisheit bei 3sat neues

Ich musste kurzfristig als Experte für die “Weisheit der Vielen” in der 3sat-Sendung “neues” dienen. Es sind zwar nur zwei Statements von mir, aber die sind wenigstens richtig und verständlich, also eigentlich schon ein großer Erfolg für “Public understanding of science”! Den Bericht gab es in der 3sat.Mediathek, jetzt gibt es hier noch die ganze Sendung zum Runterladen als mp4. Ich komm bei Minute 8:30.

Meine Erkenntnisse ziehe ich übrigens zum Teil aus diesem Experiment.

Body connected socket to charge cell phone

The cell phone gets more and more important for life, including critical issues such as long and short term memory, orientation in space, and payment information. Loss of battery power can thus result not only in loss of remote communication ability but also more critical things such as no access to memorized information, getting lost in space or being short on cash. Probably, dependence on mobile devices will get even more serious in the future. Thus, it can be as important to get battery power than for example to get food, shelter or sleep. A body power point (e.g. a socket) which extracts electricity out of body energy would be a necessary invention. At best it would be something biochemical such that energy is accessible also when the physical ability is already very limited.

A possible nice side effect:
Imagine you burn some calories to recharge your mobile.
I appreciate any technical information how to implement such a charge power point on human skin.

PS: The issue was also touched at xkcd.com but with an emphasis on software issues not electricity.

Scientific Citation Markup

Citations in scientific papers are the basic ingredient to compute impact factors and eigenfactors of scientific journals. The number of citations a publications receives in the course of time is the most neutral and accepted criteria for its relevance. Thus, the number of citations a paper receives is very important for the careers of its author.

Everybody who reads or writes scientific papers knows that a citation may have very different meanings which do not always coincide with the interpretation of “pointing to relevance”, as implied by the above uses. Further on, every scientist knows that the motivations of citing a paper are not always driven by pure scientific reasons.

Ideally, all these differences in citations could be incorporated in a scientific citation markup like \cite[markup]{RefKeyForPaper} (in LaTeX citation style) or the like.
Some ideas:

\cite[negative]{PaperWithSevereErrors}
\cite[community feeling]{PopularPaperWithNoSpecificRelation}
\cite[please journal editor]{AnyPaperOfEditor}
\cite[enforced by a referee]{SuggestedPaper}
\cite[proof or evidence elsewhere]{TechnicalPaper}
(The latter can be used to (i) avoid redundancy in the literature, (ii) save space, or (iii) to obfuscate that there is none. (iii) is prominent in physics as a citation with a reference to an own paper which is “to appear”)

Imagine, what more sophisticated profiles of papers, journals and scientists one could create with it …

Credit Ratings as Unwanted Aggregation

Just a quick thought: Shouldn’t credit rating agencies be prohibited, just for the same reason why price-fixing agreements are prohibited in a free market?
The credit rating agencies correlate investment decisions and thus diminish the power of markets, when we see a market as a mechanism to aggregate knowledge about economic performance.

The agencies need not do worse than the market itself would do, but still there is a negative effect in the correlation. The job of the credit rating agency is to assign the credit risk of firms (or states). This can also be done by the market, where creditors would than have to decide on the offers (e.g. of interest rates) on their own. Than the market would also find some quantification of the credit risk. If we believe in markets than the information about the credit risk should not be pre-aggregated.