Tag Archives: study

Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will soon embark on a project to realize an “autopilot system” for automatic driving, a system for guiding motor vehicles on expressways without human assistance.

The system is expected to contribute significantly to such goals as alleviating drivers’ fatigue, preventing road accidents and easing traffic congestion. It would be for vehicles referred to as self-driving cars capable of sensing their environment and navigating by themselves, with people not required to perform any mechanical operation besides choosing their destinations.

With a view to making an autopilot system a reality in the early 2020s, the ministry will launch a study panel of experts this year, to start full-scale discussions about a self-steering vehicle control project.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, motorists would enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating their cars.

When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, the driving mode would change to “automatic driving” and input your destination into the system. Motorists would take their hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.

 

Via‘Driverless driving’ envisioned for Japan in early 2020s

 

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Sea levels to rise 3 feet on the West Coast, according to new report

Sea levels off most of California are expected to rise by about three feet over the next century, according to projections released Friday by the National Research Council.

The study is arguably the most comprehensive report of its kind for the West Coast, and its conclusions fall into the range offered by other estimates in recent years. They reinforce predictions that coastal areas will face increased damage from storms and big waves — what the research council called one of the most visible effects of large-scale climatic changes.

“Following a few thousand years of relative stability, global sea level has been rising since the late 19th or early 20th century, when global temperatures began to increase,” said the peer-reviewed report, co-authored by Daniel Cayan, a research meteorologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

“Sea-level rise will send reverberations throughout local and state economies.”

 

Keep readingReport: sea level rise will be about three feet

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California creates a science-based series of underwater parks

You normally think of parks as being places to walk or ride around.  But on January 1, 2012, Southern California celebrated the grand opening of a series of underwater parks, or “marine protected areas,” that includes wildlife hot spots such as the La Jolla kelp forest, Laguna tidepools, and Catalina Island coral gardens. These parks will join a growing system that currently dots the shore from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, and will soon stretch the length of California’s coast.

California will be the first state in the nation to develop a science-based statewide network of marine protected areas, protecting productive reefs, kelp forests and tide pools while leaving about 90% of state waters open to fishing. The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), enacted in 1999 with bipartisan support, called for this network of protections to improve the health of California’s ocean wildlife and habitats.

“After decades of treating the ocean as inexhaustible, California has turned the tide towards restoring its legacy of abundant sea life,” said Kaitilin Gaffney, Pacific Program Director of Ocean Conservancy. “California’s new protected areas are a smart investment in a healthier ocean and a more sustainable coastal economy.”

Coastal tourism and recreation are a major economic engine for California. A recent study showed over 90 percent of coastal recreation in southern California involves beach-going, diving, wildlife watching, surfing and other activities that will benefit from healthier oceans.  According to the National Ocean Economics Program, California’s coast and ocean generate $22 billion in revenue and drive over 350,000 jobs each year.

via Designing Healthy Communities

 

The Story of California’s MLPA’s

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Why do people make choices against their best interests

“Freakonomics” was the book that made the public believe the dismal science has something interesting to say about how people act in the real world. But “Nudge” was the one that got policy wonks excited. The book, first published in 2008, is about the potential for behavioural economics to improve the effectiveness of government.

Behavioural economists have found that all sorts of psychological or neurological biases cause people to make choices that seem contrary to their best interests. The idea of nudging is based on research that shows it is possible to steer people towards better decisions…

Very interesting, especially with the results of these trials:

In one trial, a letter sent to non-payers of vehicle taxes was changed to use plainer English, along the line of “pay your tax or lose your car”. In some cases the letter was further personalised by including a photo of the car in question. The rewritten letter alone doubled the number of people paying the tax; the rewrite with the photo tripled it.

A study into the teaching of technical drawing in French schools found that if the subject was called “geometry” boys did better, but if it was called “drawing” girls did equally well or better.

Research into why people did not take up financial incentives to reduce energy consumption by insulating their homes found one possibility was the hassle of clearing out the attic. A nudge was designed whereby insulation firms would offer to clear the loft, dispose of unwanted items and return the rest after insulating it. This example of what behavioural economists call “goal substitution”—replacing lower energy use with cleaning out the attic—led to a threefold increase in take-up of an insulation grant.

In one trial, green arrows pointing to stairs were put next to railway-station escalators, in the hope of encouraging people to take the healthier option. This had almost no effect. The other experiment had a series of green footprints leading to rubbish bins. These signs reduced littering by 46% during a controlled experiment in which wrapped sweets were handed out.

via Free Exchange, The Economist

 

Maybe they can stop using the term “taxes” and call it “paying for the military so we don’t get bombed.”

 

Check out the book – Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, happiness

Most of us would probably survive a nuclear blast in Washington D.C.

It’s the most nightmarish scenario—a nuclear device being detonated in downtown Washington.

Whammo and good night, right?

For most of us, actually, that wouldn’t be the case, according to a recent study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The 120-page report, “Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism,” was released last November.

The FEMA report posits a detonation a few blocks from the White House. Everything within a half-mile radius would be reduced to rubble and be so irradiated as to make any rescue operations unfeasible. Between half a mile and one mile out, there would still be significant damage and heavy injuries, but the area would be approachable by emergency responders.

And further out, there would just be a lot of broken glass from windows shattered by the force of the explosion, but few, if any, injuries that would require medical attention. (Aside from those sustained by people running face first into their bursting windows when they try to look outside to see what is happening.)

So, good chance of injury, temporary blindness, destroyed hospitals and a massive fallout cloud—but more likely than not, you’d live. At least until the radiation settles in.

 

via DCist - **click for the full report and much more gruesome details**

 

Thx to Shevonne Polastre

 

// Photo – James Nash

What’s a major worth?

Despite PayPal co-founder, Facebook funder, and venture capitalist Peter Thiel telling us we’re in an education bubble, a recent study and report by Georgetown University may suggest otherwise, with the bubble existing for only certain majors.

The Center on Education and the Workforce What’s It Worth report analyzes 171 majors in 15 categories. It tracks earnings by majors and provides key break-outs on questions of race and gender.

One key finding shows a 50% median salary difference for those obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree (Engineering, Computer Science, etc) versus a Bachelor of Arts degree (Humanities, Fine Arts, Psychology), with the former providing the highest median earnings.

The top 3 majors with the highest median earnings are: Petroleum Engineer ($120,000), Pharmacy/pharmaceutical Sciences ($105,000); Mathematics and Computer Sciences ($98,000). Lowest median salary majors include:  Counseling/Psychology ($29,000); Early Childhood Education ($36,000); Human Services and Community Organizations ($38,000); Social Work ($39,000).

Select findings can be found at: http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/whatsitworth-select.pdf

 

What's a major worth?

Despite PayPal co-founder, Facebook funder, and venture capitalist Peter Thiel telling us we’re in an education bubble, a recent study and report by Georgetown University may suggest otherwise, with the bubble existing for only certain majors.

The Center on Education and the Workforce What’s It Worth report analyzes 171 majors in 15 categories. It tracks earnings by majors and provides key break-outs on questions of race and gender.

One key finding shows a 50% median salary difference for those obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree (Engineering, Computer Science, etc) versus a Bachelor of Arts degree (Humanities, Fine Arts, Psychology), with the former providing the highest median earnings.

The top 3 majors with the highest median earnings are: Petroleum Engineer ($120,000), Pharmacy/pharmaceutical Sciences ($105,000); Mathematics and Computer Sciences ($98,000). Lowest median salary majors include:  Counseling/Psychology ($29,000); Early Childhood Education ($36,000); Human Services and Community Organizations ($38,000); Social Work ($39,000).

Select findings can be found at: http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/whatsitworth-select.pdf

 

I Too Was Raised On Processed Foods…

The following is a response to an email asking me about food, health, and nutrition.  The initial email is included at bottom and the person’s name has been excised.

—-

Hey #### – thanks for reaching out to me.

I too was raised on processed foods and so a lot of this was new to me as well. The best piece of advice I can give you is to give it some time. I have helped a lot of people make the change and they are always shocked and surprised by where this path takes them.

For instance, the food sold in supermarkets is the worst kind you can buy. The only thing worse than them is something like hot dogs from 7-Eleven, but in terms of nutritional value they’re not much worse. This includes the produce as well.

There are a whole lot of reasons why this is true like they have a monopoly on the food supply and a need to make profits, so quality is forgotten in favor of quantity. Thankfully the folks behind our food system are rallying together. There is a resurgence in quality seeds, quality farming, and improving distribution systems to get us this food.

The difference between a quality food product and a supermarket one is dramatic. This study which delves deeply into the details found a 1:3 difference. Meaning that a high-quality seed can be 3x more nutritional than a low-quality seed.

Personally, I find it greater than that. The food that I buy is so high quality that I eat very little and have so much more energy. I would say it’s more like a 1:6 or something. I often joke that I buy so little food nowadays that I often splurge on things just because.

This quality food has yet to break into the supermarkets, not even Whole Foods is carrying it yet. We are still stuck in the race to offer the cheapest food we can, though some stores are focusing on improving quality. Which means the only “safe” place to find quality is at farmers markets or food co-operatives.

I can say that I shop twice a week at a farmers market and never shop at supermarkets (tho I do occasionally buy beans/rice from the open bulk bins at Whole Foods). It does take some time to learn a whole new set of routines but that is the ideal if you want to really improve your health, here is why.

The food industry spends a lot of money trying to include nutritional information about food. The trouble is that no two apples are alike. One picked when ripe will be much different than one picked weeks after that. To account for this they just make it up (i.e. educated guesses). More and more studies are coming out showing just how wrong these nutrition labels are. Here is one that shows how vitamins are more marketing than science.

The truth about nutrition is different than what most people think. Every food item has a ton of vitamins/minerals/carbs/fat/etc. For example, Broccoli contains varying amounts of the following:

Protein, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.

The question is how much of each does it have. Well, for plant based foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts) that depends on the starting seed (high, low quality stock) how it is grown (to produce maximum nutrition or to be picked quickly) and when/how it is harvested (at peak times or a few days/weeks early).

With all this variability in farming a single item of broccoli could either contain all you need or nothing at all. This holds true for every single food item out there.

So back to the beginning. Supermarkets sell the lowest quality food they can find (to offer the lowest prices). Farmers markets offer the highest quality they can find (often at higher prices).

The question then for most people is what happens if they switch from low quality to high quality food? Will they spend more or eat less? Are supermarkets just too convenient or is my health worth the trip to a farmers markets?

Steve

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Hi Steve,
You commented on a post here back in April

The 10 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods Money Can Buy

I’m new to healthy eating and haven’t really got a clue what I’m doing, I’ve been pretty much raised on processed foods but have recently decided to learn to cook and educate myself about nutrition. Though I’m in the early stages of transforming my diet and way of life I’ve noticed that a lot of foods that are purportedly healthy, turn out to be not so great. I want to gather as much info on nutrition as possible in order to make the right dietary choices so any info you could send my way would be greatly, greatly appreciated. You also mentioned studies into supermarket food quality which I would be very interested in reading. Thanks for your time Steve, hope you can help.

Kindest regards,
#####

[photo: denn]