Paula Johnson: His and hers … healthcare

Speaker: Paula Johnson

Length: 14:43

Summary

Women are 70% more likely to be diagnosed with depression, and misdiagnosed 30-50% of the time. Women and men are fundamentally different at a cellular level, and need different treatment. However, this is not always recognised, despite data showing sex differences in clinical treatments.

Paula described Linda, a female heart patient with a blockage in her artery. Doctors conducted the standard test, and could find no evidence. Paula’s institute analysed Linda’s arteries again and found that her blockage was a different shape to the standard blockage – more of a constant reduction in artery size, as opposed to a single point of blockage.

She gave another example, where women appeared more resistant to lung cancer. Paula has found estrogen can suppress lung cancer, which could have important results for treatment of both male and female patients.

Despite these examples, analysis of trials does not differentiate between sex, which ignores the potential to discover more differences. Paula suggests that when women go to the doctor they should ask the doctor if their illness should be treated differently – to get them to start researching the differences. “Women’s health is too important to be left to chance” – which is what is happening if research does not investigate the differences correctly.

Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world

Speaker: Peter Doolittle

Length: 9:30

Rating 2 / 5

Summary

Your ability to solve problems is limited to your ‘working memory’ capacity – to remember and think at the same time. The example was memorising 5 words and then doing maths problems, which most people failed. He gives some (very brief) hints on how to process things more accurately, and remember more – including visualising more, and practising the things we’re learning.

Critique

Interesting viewpoint, but missing the ‘killer’ ending telling us how to improve. Actually, he seemed to give quite a few hints, but perhaps my limited processing power wasn’t picking up on all of it 🙂

By this I mean he ran through the advice and hints too quickly, and without any elaboration. It made things difficult. The irony is not lost, but I missed most of it.

Still, the story of working memory itself is interesting, so I can at least take away knowledge of what it is.

Arthur Benjamin: The Magic of Fibonacci Numbers

Speaker: Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin

Length: 6:25

Rating 4 / 5

Summary

Math should be taught for 3 reasons:

  •  Calculation: to work out an answer
  • Application: to apply the method
  • Inspiration: for the fun, beautiful patterns and logical thinking behind it.

Arthur argues Inspiration is underappreciated. He shows the beauty of Fibonacci numbers and how it ties to nature

  • number of petals on a flower tends to be Fibonacci number
  • patterns in numbers: sum of squares of a Fibonacci number equals another Fibonacci, and cumulative sum of all squares equals product of 2 consecutive Fibonacci numbers.

Maths isn’t just solving for ‘x’, it’s also about figuring out ‘y’ (why?).

Critique

Arthur is excited by the numbers, and gets bonus points for being called a ‘Mathemagician’. The idea of the talk was to refocus maths on finding patterns then investigating how they come about – making it more fun and feel relevant to the world around it.

A fun talk, and especially to fit so many interesting points in 6mins.

James Randi: Homeopathy, Psychics and fraud

Speaker: James Randi

Length: 17:51

Rating 1 / 5

Summary

James issued a 1 million dollar challenge to psychics to prove themselves, and has had a single response which was never followed through. He also took a ‘lethal’ dose of homeopathic sleeping pills on stage (no effect), and said he was reassured by the fact the dosage of active ingredient was equivalent to dumping a pill of aspirin in lake Tahoe and drinking the water.

He considers homeopathics and people who speak to the dead to be emotionally and financially draining, and they should be cracked down upon.

Critique

I was entertained, and I’m sure anyone with a friend into psychic readings or homeopathy could have a good time showing this video to them. Reaction videos would be appreciated.

However for me it was missing an idea or suggestion to improve myself, or teach me anything. It was basically a long rant against psychics and homeopathics. Not that I disagree with anything he said, I just don’t think many people would get anything out of it.

Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Speaker: Steven Johnson

Length: 18:17

Rating 2 / 5

Summary

Steven discusses how ideas are formed. He argues against “lone scientists”, and eureka moments where a single person sitting along is the whole source of an idea. Instead he favours the coffee houses and team meeting environments where a number of different people can discuss and improve each other’s ideas. In this way, innovation is more organic, happening over a long time period.

He goes into detail about the discovery of GPS from a few curious researchers listening to sputnik, then one of them using Doppler to work out speed, then someone using the signal to work out its location, then their boss asking them to ‘reverse’ their calculations and develop a system to find ground locations from a satellite.

Critique

Chaos is the mother of invention! I like that idea, and the arguments for open source ideas instead of intellectual property protection.

It was an interesting summary of the history of good ideas. However, I think where this talk fell short is discussing how we can apply this in the modern environment. I’m particularly curious how the internet fits in – is this modern ultra-chaotic information sharing network more conducive to innovation? Or are we overloading ourselves and getting too much stimulus?

So I enjoyed the talk greatly. In rating I may be harsh because it stops short of passing on any ideas of its own. Still recommended though.