Science Magazine goes all Piketty this week….

In what may have been challenging timing given the FT’s recent revealing of problems with Thomas Piketty’s data on inequality, Science Magazine’s current special issue focusses on the subject, here.

For more detail on Gile’s problems with the Piketty data see here.

For loyal readers who haven’t been paying much attention to economics, here is the Amazon site of the actual tome.

I’m still slogging through Chapter 2….

N.B. (added later): Piketty himself has a review in the Science Magazine issue and it’s here.

Solar Power close to economic feasability?

At today’s Financial Times here. My colleague Tyler Cowen isn’t convinced and brings up a mismatch with another of today’s headlines at Marginal Revolution.

My sense is that over the long haul, solar power is the big Kahuna of renewables. But the key technological advance may be some ways in the future–if we can capture solar flux directly in space and the packetize it for delivery here on Earth.

In the meantime, the existing solar capture technologies are all intriguing, from artificial photosynthesis to better photovoltaics.

Is the FT the last serious paper?

From Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. I’m not sure. I still really enjoy the Old Gray Lady and am partial enough to the WSJ to purchase a subscription for family members. But the Financial Times is really indispensable to me. I find it to be extremely well written. More importantly the firewall between the editorial page and the news seems to be rock solid.


C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures–FT vs NPR

Somehow both the Financial Times and NPR’s Science Friday have both decided that it’s time to return to pondering C.P. Snow’s famous “Two Cultures” lecture in which he postulates a problematical divide between scientists and scholars in the humanities. Actually the occasion is the 50th anniversary of that seminal lecture. It’s never lost its relevance.


Swine flu–maybe not so bad

From Clive Cookson’s science blog over at Financial Times….

Money quote:

The Mexican strain currently lacks some of the molecular characteristics associated with the most virulent viruses – adding to the emerging epidemiological evidence that it causes mainly mild illness. Experts believe the apparently high mortality rate in Mexico is due to the result of vast under-reporting of less severe cases.

Off to Munich

There’s a Financial Times columnist named Tyler Brûlé–yes, I know the name is a bit far fetched–who writes a regular Saturday piece called “Fast Lane“. Perhaps his favorite topic (other than men’s handbags) are airports. When he’s not penning yet another indictment about Heathrow, he often puts out endless column inches about the world’s best terminals–I recall that he’s fond of Tokyo. Well as far as I’m concerned, Munich is probably the best European airport these days–well laid out, clean (what a concept) and fully integrated with rail rapid transit. I bet even Tyler agrees that it’s not a bad place to transit through. In any case, that’s where I intend to be early tomorrow morning. I have a couple of scientific meetings over the weekend–one related to the European Decade of the Mind initiative.

I hope to be blogging from the road tomorrow.


Social neuroscience

Many loyal readers know that I’m an avid fan of the Saturday Financial Times–in many ways superior to the Old Gray Lady’s (NY Times) Sunday edition–just my opinion. 

Here’s a really interesting article about Ohio State University’s John Cacioppo and his research on the neurobiology of loneliness. My sister, a psychiatrist, has written about the subject in her book (written with her husband, also a psychiatrist) Overcoming Loneliness in Everyday Life. But Cacioppo’s approach is different–his research appears to reveal a gene network that is triggered by loneliness with potentially lethal affects. And perhaps more importantly the notion of a new subfield: social neuroscience.