Forensic Science Is Not CSI, in Ferguson or Anywhere Else

The other day, I wrote about how unreliable eyewitness testimony is, despite the fact that the criminal justice system treats it as solid evidence. However, this is not the only type of evidence that is far less reliable than we perceive it: There are also major shortcomings to almost all forms of “scientific” evidence used in court cases, namely forensic evidence and expert witnesses. Yet the public has been conditioned, thanks in no small part to CSI and other crime shows, to think that forensic science is perfect.

Forensic evidence is important for criminal investigations and subsequent convictions. Americans are fortunate enough not to live in a police state, so there will not always be a cop or a camera around when every crime transpires. However, the depiction on television of forensic experts doing 100% accurate science is about as realistic as their delivering snappy one-liners. Scientific methods have the potential for error, both flawed science and human error (or humans just plain lying). Nevertheless, as in the case of eyewitness testimony, juries are not informed of the shortcomings.

Most folks would be quite surprised to learn just how misguided our trust in forensic evidence is. A 2009 —> Read More Here

11 Perfect Gifts For The Instagram Addict In Your Life

Instagram has already blessed us with five new filters and other updates this holiday season. But if you’ve got friends who just can’t get enough of the photo-sharing network (and we all do), you may need even more Instagram-themed gifts.

And wow, there are a lot of them. People have created all sorts of ways to not only improve your Instagram photos, but to bring them out of your smartphone and into your real life. Instagram calendar, anyone? Here’s a sampling.

—> Read More Here

City Life May Be To Blame For Rising Diabetes Rates

Aesop’s fable about the dangers of urban life goes something like this: A City Mouse visits his cousin in the country and is shocked at the humble meal they eat. The City Mouse invites the Country Mouse to his home in town, where he promises to serve a delicious feast. But when the Country Mouse comes calling, dangerous and stressful interruptions from dogs and cats prevent them from digging into their meal in peace. Returning to his simple home, the Country Mouse thinks, “Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.”

The results of new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism echo Aesop’s ancient truth. Researchers from Philipp’s University in Marburg, Germany and the University of Namibia demonstrate that the stress of moving from a rural setting to an urban one makes newly urban transplants more vulnerable to diabetes and other metabolic disorders — at least in the developing world.

“Our findings indicate that people who leave a rural lifestyle for an urban environment are exposed to high levels of stress and tend to have higher levels of the hormone cortisol,” said study co-author Dr. Peter Herbert Kann, M.D. Ph.D. —> Read More Here

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Could Be Just 10 Years Away

hyperloop

Hyperloop, the ultra-fast tube transport dreamed up by SpaceX founder and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, could be ready for passengers in as few as 10 years.

In a 76-page report released on Dropbox on Thursday, a new startup called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies laid out plans for building Musk’s futuristic transportation system, which could cut travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco down to 35 minutes. The trip takes between three and four hours by Amtrak train, and more than six hours by car.

The system would carry passengers in pods moving as fast as 800 miles per hour, according to the white paper. The plan laid out by Musk — who has no involvement in the project, and did not help with the paper — has broadened beyond the two California metropoles. Hyperloop Transportation has drawn up maps with lines connecting every major U.S. city.

Housed within a newly-launched crowd-funding company called JumpStartFund, the startup offered wildly varying estimates for the cost of the project — anywhere between $7 billion and $19 billion.

Hyperloop CEO Dirk Ahlborn told The Huffington Post that the wide potential price range is due to the unpredictability of prices for materials and other —> Read More Here

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