Science

bigdataThis easy-to-read book features:

  • history of data usage by man
  • positive possibilities of big data analysis
  • dangers

E.g. in the 18th century, an injured marine officer started to extract data from rotten log books. He captured currents and winds on various sea routes depending on the season, and compiled the information into new route suggestions that saved enormous sailing time for trading vessels.

Today, Google utilizes search pattern analysis and geodata to forecast epidemics. UPS uses motor data of their vehicle fleet to predict optimal service intervals per vehicle and thereby successfully reduces vehicle down times and maintenance costs.

The core principles of nowadays big data analysis are described and illustrated by many more astonishing examples.

Chocolate is great to prevent Cancer!

When he was in the middle of his 30ies, Schreiber himself received the brutal diagnosis of having developed a brain tumor. At the time (and even nowadays in many rural areas) such diagnosis was considered a sentence of death.  Schreiber took his chances as a doctor, tuned into Cancer research and survived. In his book, he explains the mechanisms of cancer and the state-of-art findings of reasearch in terms of cancer supporting and preventing issues in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way, yet with the required portion of scientific correctness. For the reader, he gives new hope and lots of hints how to handle such devastating diagnosis, and how to stay or become healthy.

Basically, as stated in many other scientific books, it is made clear that stress turns off the human immune system, the ability to develop fever and therefore hinders the self healing abilities of the human body. Further, stress rises blood pressure and thereby increases the risk of cardiovaluar diseases (heart attacks and the likes). One more important statement was the strong correlation between untreated depression and cancer. Depressions cause stress, and therefore support the development of heart diseases and cancer. Psychotherapeutical treatment usually eliminates both depression and physical impact on the body.

So to say - eat more chocolate, drink green tea and don't bother for the deadlines your boss tells you :-)

"Tit for Tat" is the most successful strategy not only in Computer Science and Game Theory. Back in the days of the Cold War, Axelrodt and his group were asked to develop mathematical models on cooperation strategies for the US government. He decided to start an open tournament and invited other researchers and programmers to send him their strategies for testing. And surprisingly, one of the most simple programs won - Tit for Tat!

In the tournament, two parties had to decide for each draw, whether to cooperate or to defect the opponent. Each of the combination received a certain "gain" for each of the parties. After a number of draws, the winner is the one with the highest gain.

Basically, Tit for Tat means to start with cooperation, and depending on the outcome of the oponents last reaction, return the same. It outperformed the more sophisticated programs, such as "leak exploring" ones as well as other greedy mechanisms. With ONE core assumption: The number of subsequent cooperations was not known before, hence suggesting a "long shadow of the future".

Not only is such cooperation strategy fun to play with in computers, but has its impact in real life.

In the trench warfare of World War 1, soldiers on each side of the frontier did often develop such "Tit for Tat" strategies - they would not shut during certain periods of the day, or would not really aim. They knew - if they killed an Enemy soldier, the enemy would respond alike. Only when the commanders became aware of that, the strategy had to be abandoned.

In nowadays big business and politics, legislation periods for politicians and scheduled turnovers for economy mamangers cast only short shadows of future, and therefore barely animate to think long ahead. The resulting short-sighted strategies might be successfull for today, but who thinks seriously about possible impacts in the long run?

The Author of "Collaps" gives a thrilling lesson in history and evolution of humans, with very logical reasoning. He starts to explain our close genetical relationship (98%!) to Chimpanzees and Gorillas, whereas our common anchestors are still to be found. Going back way in time, the change in a few hunderd thousand years of world, climate and human history is explained - which other branches of Homo existed, and why they disappeared - and what made the Homo Sapiens the most successful species of todays world. Diamond sheds light one of our most distinguishing feature, the speech, as well our "need" for drugs and sexual habits.

Further on, the starting points and further development of agriculture and domestication are explained. The book explains why it evolved only in certain areas, and what kind of diseases came with it, that would, beside some other factors like horses and writing skills, further change the balance of power between tribes in our recent history, therefore enabling the Europeans to conquer America, Africa, Australia in the last few centuries.

Diamond does not spare a some sentences on the great risks man runs into, be it by the ability to "end it all" with a few button clicks or the slow process of polution and exploitation of our natural environment.

A Stunning book!

Stunning new popular sience - book (2003). A young psychatrist writing about todays common diseases - high blood pressure, heart attacks, depressions and their root causes - often stress, social isolation, lack of physical activity. As well, he describes a number of easy non-pharmaceutical methods to cure the diseases and to become more healty and more happy. Most of the methods are easily accessible or can be learned and used individually, and all of them aim to increase the bodies self-healing ability. Even the book is about a highly complex topic, it is rather easy to understand and easy to read. Actually, it turned out being a page turner for me. many case studies  

Servan-Schreiber starts with an easy to understand decription about functionality and the cooperation of the cortex (the kognitive, logical, and outer part of the brain) and the limbic system that maintains reflexes, controls all body functions etc. After this important basic knowledge, a method to increase the heart rate variablity to reduce stress and increase the power of the immune system (which is highly effected by stress). The next method aims to resolve traumata with a very simple eye moving technique based on dreams (respectively REM sleep) and its capability to "digest" the experiences of the preceeding day.  Further chapters of the book describe scientific findings on the effects of light, accupuncture and Chi, and the importance of food control and physical exercises for healthy (and happy) life. The book ends with studies on emotional communication and social intercation and its impact on health. And an interesting historic episode: with the invention and the triumphal procession of Antibiotics against various deadly diseases in the 1940, pharmaceutical medicine started to gain power over the will of the patient, and doctors became more and more prescribers of pills rather than patient listeners to their clients. From Servan-Schreibers point of view, there are more effective ways to deal with many nowadays diseases...

Even though this review sounds rather odd and dull, I was fascinated by this book. A modern mediciner who is obviously not caged by the Western medicine but provides a great bunch of scientifically proven methods to maintain a prosper life. Without a dozen of pills every day...

German title: "Die neue Medizin der Emotionen"