Big data from cheap phones – only slightly creepy.

Read and see how you can track malaria in Africa, or:

A powerful demonstration of how useful data from cheap phones can be came after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which killed more than 200,000 people. Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute obtained data from Digicel, Haiti’s largest mobile carrier. They mined the daily movement data from two million phones—from 42 days before the earthquake to 158 days after—and concluded that 630,000 people who had been in Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake had left the city within three weeks. They also demonstrated that they could do such calculations in close to real time. They showed—within 12 hours of receiving the data—how many people had fled an area affected by a cholera outbreak, and where they went.

via Professor Reynolds.

Me at the Real Alcazar

Me at the Real Alcazar by Michael Tinkler
Me at the Real Alcazar, a photo by Michael Tinkler on Flickr.

The Alcazar Palace is really something – I think it would be very comfortable in the summer time, for Seville!
I remember the tilework from an old PBS show, “Connections.” I can’t think of the presenter’s name, but it was a history of science across time kind of thing – made an impression on me!

Rewilding Europe

This is an odd article about the introduction of large herbivores to Germany to try to achieve a different balance of plant life. Or I found its optimism odd.

With its tiny houses nestled along the main road and its red-brick church, Töpchin — just 25 miles outside of Berlin — is a traditional-looking Brandenburg village. But heading east through the marshland that borders the village, a visitor encounters the unexpected: five huge Asian water buffaloes.

The species was native to Europe until 10,000 years ago, when hunting shrunk its range to the continent’s far southeast. So Germans know these beasts only from pictures of them in fields and rice paddies in Asia. “Some people are really confused when they see the water buffaloes,” says Holger Rössling, the man who set the animals free in Töpchin in the summer of 2011. But the black creatures with massive horns and an impressively muscular build appear to be very much at ease in their new home. And they are meant to stay.

Rössling is a project manager with the Brandenburg Nature Conservation Fund, a government agency in the federal state surrounding Berlin. The group brought in the water buffaloes from a special breeder in France so they would graze threatened tracts of fens and remnant inland salt marshes, as German cows have long since lost their affinity for grazing in such wet or nutrient-poor environments.

I guess that water buffalo are hardly white tail deer – they won’t soon proliferate in such numbers to become a nuisance to Brandenburgers – but the experiment seems like one big unintended consequence. The article also discusses the introduction of Przhevalsky horses (Mongolian, originally) and various other large herbivores.

Weather.com is totally insane

I’ve checked off and on since 7:30 – since which time the temperature on MY thermometer has risen from 34 to 37 – and weather.com is continuing to claim that Geneva, NY 14456 is experiencing light snow showers that will increase all day.

From where I sit it’s overcast. Nothing has fallen all morning.

I think naming winter storms has gone to their heads.

Further: 11:30 a.m. 38 degrees. Still nothing. Weather.com? “Periods of snow. A brief lull in the precipitation is possible by 1pm.” Well, if precipitation hasn’t started, having none doesn’t constitute a “lull.” I look at the radar and wonder if it’s accurate.

2:30 p.m. – it started snowing around 1. It’s snowing hard now – but it’s still 36.

The UK begins cheerfully euthanising the old

60,000 last year – one third of their families seem not to have been consulted. Some number of the dead were conscious – and did not give their consent – when the decision was made for them. The Health secretary thinks it’s a “fantastic step forward” that the typical time-to-death is 29 hours.

Can you say “death panels”? I knew you could – you just didn’t believe it because it was Sarah Palin saying it.

I am happy to see Vanderbilt in the forefront of such important research!

“What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can,” says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. He’s even developed a metric for monitoring your dosage: If you are having trouble sleeping, cut back on your last cup of the day. From there, he says, “If you drink that much, it’s not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot.”

 

Officially, the American Medical Association recommends conservatively that “moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.” That is a lackluster endorsement in light of so much recent glowing research. [my emphasis]

via Prof. Reynolds.