2.19.2018

What's the biggest quantum physics myth? What does VR do to your brain? Find out in ScienceSeeker's picks of the best posts for the week of February 12-18 2018 #sciseekpicks #scicomm

There were lots of exciting space data this week, while physics posed some fascinating puzzles. But these are just some of the many topics tackled by ScienceSeeker editors' favourite posts within their respective areas of interest and expertise for the past seven days. Here is the full round-up of the ScienceSeeker Editors’ Selections:
Check back next week for more great picks - and if you're a science writer or communicator, don't forget to enter ScienceSeeker's 2018 awards!

2.12.2018

How future-thinking are Americans? Why are relationships important? Find out in ScienceSeeker's picks of the best posts for the week of February 5-11 2018 #sciseekpicks #scicomm

SpaceX's exploits last week were exciting, which says a lot about humanity, and there's also a lot of science involved in the Winter Olympics. These are among the topics tackled by ScienceSeeker editors' favourite posts within their respective areas of interest and expertise for the past week. Here is the full round-up of the ScienceSeeker Editors’ Selections:
A car flew into space this week - but what does that say about
us? Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX
Check back next week for more great picks - and if you're a science writer or communicator, don't forget to enter ScienceSeeker's 2018 awards!

2.07.2018

A snowball’s chance in hell? How understanding probability can change your life

Even though there have been many lottery winners, the
chances of any one of us winning are hard to think about.
Credit: adrigu, used via Flickr Creative Commons licence. 
by Gaia Cantelli, PhD

What are your chances of winning the lottery? How about of making it big in Hollywood, transmitting a genetic disease to your child or dying of cancer? Some would say it’s 50:50, you either do or you don’t. But they’d be wrong.

Many decisions in life, big and small, are based on understanding probability. But how well do you really know how probability works? Taking the time to understand it could change your life.

Probability 101
We are all familiar with the idea of probability as the likelihood that any given event is going to happen. In mathematical terms, however, it is defined as the ratio of “favourable” cases, or the scenario whose probability you are measuring to the whole number of possible cases. This sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Say that you have a drawer full of pens and you know that ten of them are blue and three of them are red. You want a red pen – this is your favourable case. What’s the chance of getting a red pen?

The probability of you putting your hand in the drawer blind-folded and pick up a red pen is the number of red pens – three – divided by the overall number of pens – the three red pens plus the ten blue pens, which makes thirteen pens. Three divided by thirteen is 0.23, or 23%. So you have a 23% chance of picking up a red pen if you stick your hand in the drawer.

A simple calculation of probability is very useful for some events where everybody’s chances are the same, like buying a lottery ticket. For example, the US Lotto sells about 30 million tickets every draw. Therefore, if you only buy one ticket your probability of winning is one over 30 million, which computes at about 0.000003%. That’s much, much less than 50:50. But what does such an extreme number actually mean? Hold on, we’re getting to that.

2.05.2018

Do Buddhists fear death? Did Harry Potter create a demand for pet owls? Find out in ScienceSeeker's picks of the best posts for the week of January 30-February 4 2018 #sciseekpicks #scicomm

If the prospect of dentists regenerating teeth rather than just filling cavities makes you swear it's OK - it's good for you. Swearing and tooth regeneration are just two topics tackled by ScienceSeeker editors' favourite posts within their respective areas of interest and expertise for the past week. Here is the full round-up of the Science Seeker Editors’ Selections:
Did people want owls as pets because of Harry Potter?
Public domain via Wallscover.com
Check back next week for more great picks - and if you're a science writer or communicator, don't forget to enter ScienceSeeker's 2018 awards!