Monthly Archives: August 2016

Is Gymnastics’ Scoring System Injuring Athletes? – Facts So Romantic

 

It happened in an instant: a resounding crack and the bottom half of French gymnast Samir Ait Said’s leg was dangling like a marionette’s, his face contorted in pain. At the Rio Olympics, Said had just performed a thrilling triple backflip on the vault. When he landed, his leg snapped on impact. Said’s shot at grace, his relentless pursuit of perfection, had ended in horror.

The injury came just minutes after German gymnast Andreas Toba landed awkwardly after a twisting somersault during a floor exercise, wrenching his knee. His teammate, Gabian Ham, spoke out. “It’s a pity that gymnastics has developed the way it has. Everyone is chasing more and more difficulty, more risk. Everyone wants new records so it’s getting dangerous.” Ham called out the culprit: the open-ended scoring system.

In the past, gymnastics’ scoring system was based on a single variable: execution. Gymnasts began with a start value, determined by judges, based on the level of skills to be performed. The top start value was 10. Gymnasts were penalized for their mistakes. Or not. In 1976, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci famously earned the first perfect 10 in the Olympics. Numerous gymnasts earned 10s in the…

 

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7 Ways Humans Have Tried to Predict Earthquakes – Facts So Romantic

 

Humans have been trying to predict earthquakes at least since first-century China, when the device of choice was a vessel fitted with metal dragons facing each compass direction. If the ground shook somewhere in the region, the metal ball in the dragon’s mouth would drop out, roughly indicating the direction of the earthquake. Our methods have gotten a bit more sophisticated since, but predicting earthquakes ahead of time remains shaky business.

“Why are earthquakes the last of the natural hazards to be predictable? For one thing,” Paul Silver, the late American seismologist, once said, “the short propagation time means that prediction must be based on the existence of a preparation phase. It is clear that we have yet to detect, on a reliable basis, such a preparation phase.” Terry Tullis, a seismologist with the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, told Nautilus in July that, “over time, with enough measurements and careful analysis, maybe at some point, someone will stumble across something that has definitive predictive value.”

Here are some (supposed) earthquake prediction methods-some strange, some useful, and some that even a metal dragon could beat.

 

Animal Behavior

When an earthquake struck the ancient Greek…

 

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Politicians Need to Understand This Computer Science Concept Better – Facts So Romantic

 

I have an idea that would keep 100 percent of foreign-born terrorists out of the United States. Not only that, it’s far simpler than any presidential candidate’s proposals. All we have to do is this: Never let anybody in. Most of us find this idea ludicrous, of course, and rightly so. Keeping out terrorists is not the only goal of border policy; it’s essential that the vast majority of people can come and go freely, whether for pleasure, business, or survival. Yet many of our decisions are based on similarly shoddy reasoning: We often fail to consider that there are two sides to the accuracy seesaw.

For example, we celebrate mammograms for detecting 84 percent of breast cancers and bemoan when law enforcement can’t access a phone, but we overlook how often mammograms detect fictitious cancers, or how many hackers were foiled by encryption. Even with this realization, you might still be tempted to trust a test when you know how often it’s correct overall-like an athletic doping test that’s right 85 percent of the time. This “percentage accuracy” metric does reflect how the test does on both clean and dirty athletes. Unfortunately, that’s still not enough: If the…

 

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