Harry Potter and children’s injury prevention

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The launch of the last Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – can be seen as both good and bad news for children’s health. In December 2005 researchers from John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK, reported in British Medical Journal that they

observed a significant fall in the numbers of attendees to the emergency department on the weekends that of the two most recent Harry Potter books were released. Both these weekends were in mid-summer with good weather. It may therefore be hypothesised that there is a place for a committee of safety conscious, talented writers who could produce high quality books for the purpose of injury prevention.

So now, when there has been a new book lauch, we can expect a drop in children’s traumatic injuries – but on the other hand it was the final book.

We seem to have an urgent need for another J. K. Rowling.

🙂

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Number of known extrasolar planets rising

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This is a record year for exoplanet research. So far, the statistics of exoplanet.eu show that there has been already 36 new exoplanet candidates either announced in refereed papers and scientific conferences or included in papers submitted to scientific journals (see figure below).

exoplanets_july_2007.png

The figure shows only the exoplanet candidates detected by the radial velocity method. By the end of the year or early next year the COROT space telescope mission is expected to start to report new candidates based on the transit method. The mission has already reported its first gas giant (but only in a press release, hence it is not included in the statistics above).


Do we live in a computer simulation?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In 2003 Nick Bostrom from Oxford University published an interesting article in Philosophical Quarterly. He argued

that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to become extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we shall one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation.

Since then he has set up a dedicated website for his ‘simulation argument’. Wikipedia has a related entry. Interesting thought, but don’t loose your sleep over it 🙂