May 23, 2006
From the horse's mouth
The BBC reports that The Times of London printed a letter today urging NHS trusts to stop using complementary therapies, signed by 13 representatives including a Nobel prize winner, the president of the Academy of Medical Science and, surprisingly, the first professor of complementary medicine in the UK.
Complementary medicine practitioners have, not surprisingly, responded in a hurt manner - and in doing so, have shown precisely why complementary medicine should not be used:
Terry Cullen, chairman of the British Complementary Medicine Association, said: "It's very frustrating that senior responsible people dismiss complementary medicine for the sole reason that it doesn't have the definitive scientific proof that other drugs have.
"There is so much anecdotal evidence that thousands of people gain benefit from using complementary medicines. We shouldn't dismiss that."
This is why medicines are tested in double-blind trials ; the placebo effect can be strong, and often patients report positive improvements even when they have received nothing other than sugar pills IF they believe they are receiving medicine.
Regarding anecdotal evidence: there are many people who have heard a story from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend which absolutely confirms, beyond any questionable doubt, the existence of UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and any number of religious miracles, but funnily enough we do not spend large sums of tax-payers' money in supporting these beliefs.
May 20, 2006
Odd little mathematical dreams
A few weeks ago, I had a dream in which the following equation featured:
I don't normally dream about mathematics. Scrub that. I've never dreamt about mathematics. But I remember this equation very clearly. The next day, I asked J (who is appropriately mathematically educated) if it's a well known equation. No, she said. The 'H' normally represents a Hamiltonian. She rewrote the equation in a more normal quadratic form, thus:
H2 - 2H + 2 = 0
and fairly quickly showed me that there are no real roots to this equation, the two imaginary roots being:
1+i and 1-i
This is fairly bizarre. It's probably the second simplest quadratic equation you could write with imaginary roots, after:
H2 + 1 = 0
(which has roots of i and -i).
Later on, after doing some googling, I found this post at the math forum at Drexel University. The author, Howard Engel, makes note of these two equations - and furthermore notes Hamilton's use of "ordered number pairs" to represent complex numbers.
I don't set much store by this, but obviously some part of my brain is more receptive than I thought when I encounter mathematics.
Thanks, by the way, to the very useful Stef's HTML equation generator for the math rendering!
Beer! Part 2
Well, I did my stint at the beer festival yesterday between 3:30pm and 11:30pm. The things you have to do when you're a regular at Charlie's Bar :-)
In this picture of the elegant Charlie's Bar stand (yes, those things in the foreground are taken from nearby roadworks) you can see Andy (the Copenhagen Charlie's Bar manager) and Tati (one of the bar staff there) getting ready for the influx of people. This was taken about 3:45pm - and by 4pm people were beginning to turn up in droves. At one point, apparently, there were over 30,000 people in Valbyhallen - and a long queue outside of patient beer enthusiasts waiting to get in!
The Charlie's Bar stand was one of only three stands outside (along with the Christiania beer stand and the grill). That meant the incredibly variable weather was always a factor (eg freezing the bar staff, blowing away the stand, having the stand filled by people avoiding the rain/eating sausages) but it was also the ideal temperature for keeping the casks conditioned - about 13C!
The beers on tap (no electric pumps here!) were (from left to right on the stands in the picture):
0. (Lower than the others) Brooklyn Brewery ale, brought over by plane by the Brooklyn Brewery guys, which wasn't ready to be served, unfortunately - and by now it will probably all have gone!
1. Mordue Geordie Pride
2. Mordue Radgie Gadgie (strong beer prizewinner)
3. Mordue Workie Ticket (championship Beer of Britain winner) (similar taste to Newcastle Brown)
4. Mordue IPA
5. Springhead Charlie's Angel (light hoppy ale)
6. Wickwar Mr Perretts (stout)
7. Youngs Special Ale
8. Youngs St George's Ale
9. Marston Pedigree
10. Marston Old Empire IPA (strong IPA)
Additionally, there was Westons Old Rosie cider and a perry whose brewery I have forgotten.
A great evening, but my feet hurt so much by the time I'd finished!
May 19, 2006
The Danish equivalent of CAMRA organises an annual beer festival which opens in about 1 1/2 hours.
I'm due to be helping out with the Charlie's Bar stand. If you fancy sampling more than 1,000 beers then you know where to be. And apparently, with the predicted 30 new microbreweries opening in Denmark this year, there is due to be a huge shortfall of educated brewers ...
Of the 1,000 beers about 150 have never been at the festival before. Furthermore, there are 65 breweries of which 15 are also new to the festival! Should be fun.
May 18, 2006
Crowdcatcher catches some venture capital
Congratulations to CrowdCatcher, an Aarhus-based mobile social software company, which has just got its first round of venture capital investment from VC firm Østjysk Innovation A/S. CrowdCatcher allows people with similar interests to stay in touch via SMS's sent via the CrowdCatcher central hub. If you're into, say, salsa dancing and you have a group of friends you might like to meet up with at 8pm on Thursday night at that new salsa joint in town, you can set up a CrowdCatcher salsa group, invite your salsaing friends to join, and when you feel the urge to go dancing, one SMS sent to CrowdCatcher will let your friends be there at the right place and time. It just struck me that CrowdCatcher is a more useful and structured form of flash mobbing (eg xFlashMobs).
May 04, 2006
Timelapse chestnut branch
Filmed between 14:00 on Sunday April 23 2006 and 02:00 on Saturday April 29 2006. One frame every 5 mins ...