This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them:
- Double standards— World Standards Day 2023 will arrive soon, two days after it arrives. As Feedback noted last year (17 September 2022), having double Standards Days is standard behaviour. This year, most of the world will officially celebrate World Standards Day on 14 October. The date is specified by a consortium of three organisations: the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The United States of America (which these days are less united than they used to be – except in celebrating World Standards Day) officially celebrates World Standards Day on 12 October….
- Don’t count on AI — Anna Butcher – whose name looks like, but may not be, an example of nominative determinism – tells Feedback that attempts to use artificial intelligence to count sheep (Feedback, 29 July) are based on ignorance. Anna explains: “We farmers can only shake our heads at what is to us a ludicrous idea of counting sheep with AI. Counting sheep accurately is quite a skill, a skill that many Australian livestock producers and stock agents have….
- Laws of all kinds — … Feedback savours one particular difference between scientific laws and judicial laws: what happens when a law gets broken. When a behaviour – any behaviour at all – undeniably conflicts with a scientific law, scientists conclude that that law is wrong and needs correction. But when a behaviour undeniably conflicts with a judicial law, the judicial system concludes that that behaviour was wrong and needs correction. Public discussions, especially in courtrooms and political arenas, don’t always make that distinction.
- Inner (ear) harmony — … “After reading about Rob Holmes’ trivial superpower of flexing his middle ear muscle (stapedius, the smallest muscle in the human body) [Feedback, 15 July], I realised that I have the same superpower. Further, by voluntary contractions, I can play a bass line in a tune….”