Monday, March 31, 2008

Science briefs – when Stonehenge and why our blind eyes but not baseball managers?

When was Stonehenge built and why?

The latest research team that plans to tackle details of the when believe it has an answer on the why: a health spa.
“This was a place of healing, for the soul and the body,” said Tim Darvill, (archaeology professor at Bournemouth University). “The Presili Hills is a magical place. The stones from there are regarded as having healing properties.”

I’m a bit leery of how Darvill uses the word “magical”; it halfway sounds like he believes in it and is ready to consecrate the beliefs of neo-Druids, other neo-pagans and various other, undifferentiated, New Agers.

Miss three changes in the “six changes” puzzle?

Maybe you’re not alone, whether it’s something like that, or more commonly, not a quiz, but an altered photo where you’re not told of any specific type or number of changes. Our brainpower may just not have the resources to keep up with modern demands on our eyes. Beyond that, such “top-down” viewings aren’t qualia, percepts or whatever other philosophical terms you prefer — they’ve been extensively massaged en route through the brain until the point “we” view “them,” whoever “we” and “they” are.

Can you measure a baseball manager?

Going beyond Billy Beane’s “Moneyball,” Sabermetrics or anything else, mathematician Steve Wang says you can, by doing an analysis of human faces. But Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta has a caveat:
Managers’ tendencies were often a reflection more of the players on the roster than of the manager’s personal inclinations. While the Mets speedster José Reyes cannot decide to hit 50 home runs and the Red Sox slugger David Ortiz cannot will himself to 50 stolen bases, managers can and will shape their decisions around the tools at their disposal.

Good point. As a St. Louis Cardinals’ fan, I expect to see a different Tony La Russa face this year, at least until Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter are back on the roster.

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