Sunday, May 19, 2019




To what extent is the autopilot of an airplane automatic?

According to Jorge Henrique Bidinotto, professor of aeronautical engineering at USP in São Carlos, autopilot does not decide anything - just follow instructions. If the human pilot orders the plane to go up to 30,000 feet, for example, the computer takes care of changing the altitude, keeping the other variables constant.
When there is turbulence, the autopilot turns off on its own. If the commander does not consider it prudent to deal with poor weather in manual mode, he can give the airplane instructions to deviate from the clouds. Again: the plane until it stops resuming the command, but will only obey, without deciding.
Take-off and landing are also delicate: the first is entirely the responsibility of the human pilot. Already in the landing, the automatic takes the airplane very close to the lane, but the control returns to the manual immediately before the airplane touches the ground.
It's good to remember that autopilot is just one of many systems that help guide the plane. It is part of the automatic control , which also includes stabilizing software or a system that "filters" the actions of the pilot, making them softer.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

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Dementia, an evil that scares everyone

Dementia is a real and increasingly alarming risk. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) released in May this year more than 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, and each year are registered almost ten million new cases. These are alarming numbers but can be reduced with due care.
To prevent and prevent this disease, WHO recommends regular aerobic exercise and adoption of the Mediterranean diet - based on high intakes of whole grains, fruits, fish, vegetables and olive oil, among other measures,"   says the geriatrician and nutrologist Yara Dantas.
There are over 100 forms of dementia and the most common and Alzheimer's, accounting for 60% to 70% of cases. Women are most often affected. "Several studies point out that people with a more active life have less risk. According to WHO, adults 65 and older should practice at least 150 minutes of aerobic activities of moderate intensity per week, "says Yara Dantas.
In Brazil, according to data from the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology, 55,000 new cases of dementias are registered each year. Currently, 1.4 million Brazilians live with the disease - and, if not taken, this number is expected to reach more than six million by 2050.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Trump impeachment support grows among North Americans, research shows

The number of Americans who believe that President Donald Trump should suffer impeachment has grown 5 percentage points to 45 percent since mid-April, while more than half of those interviewed said that multiple congressional investigations of Trump interfered with matters important figures from the government, a Reuters / Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.
The poll, conducted on Monday, did not make it clear whether Americans weary of the investigations wanted Democrats in the House of Representatives to withdraw their investigations or push forward aggressively and be able to approve the impeachment request.
The question is urgent for the House's top Democratic leaders, who are still considering whether they enter into impeachment proceedings, despite the likely and insurmountable opposition the bill would face in the Republican-controlled Senate.
On Thursday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the leaders of the house's investigative committees were addressing the issue step by step.
"This is very methodical, well based on the Constitution," Pelosi said. "We will not proceed faster or slower than the facts."
In addition to the 45 percent favorable to Trump's impeachment, the survey found that 42 percent of Americans believe that Trump should not be stopped. The rest said they did not have an opinion on the subject.
By comparison, a survey conducted between April 18 and 19 found that 40 percent of Americans wanted the impeachment of the current president.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Does Cellphone Promotes Child Development? Fact or fake?

TV Globo's Fantástico has started a series on the use of mobile phones and tablets by children. Can we rely on surveys done with only 6 children?

The use of mobile phones and tablets by children. First of a series of programs produced by the BBC, this episode features results from an ongoing research comparing six children up to one year old - three users of electronic gadgets and three who apparently do not use them.
The program shows children performing different tests of broad and fine motor skills and underscores the superior performance of tablet and mobile users. At the end of the program, the researcher responsible for the study says that this is one of the areas that have been studied - in the others the use of these stimuli also seems to contribute to the development of different abilities. He says they are preliminary results and that although the sample is only six children, this study corroborates another larger study he is carrying out.
The program draws attention to three aspects: it was produced by the BBC of London, presents highly controversial results and is based on a research with only six children. Fact or fake? How to know?
First, it should be noted: the program received severe criticism in newspapers such as The Guardian, not because it is "controversial", how we like to use the term in Brazil, but to be mistaken.
Second, it presents controversial results, and, even more, in the area of ​​motor development, which is of secondary relevance in the case.
Thirdly, there is not enough methodological rigor to merit disclosure - even more so at this level.
What we see in the program does not even become a "fact". To be considered a scientific fact, the proof must be rigorous. In the case, we know nothing about the past of the three children who have never used tablets, nor about the others who use them intensely.
To avoid such doubts, scientific research needs to use random samples of participants, a number of cases that allow for safe inferences and rigorous experimental controls.
Without this, they are just case studies - they serve to raise hypotheses or alert for limitations of other studies, but they have no evidentiary value.
In fact, there is much more robust evidence that says the exact opposite regarding the relationship between intensive use of tablets and motor skills.
In addition, in the world of science, a swallow does not make summer: the evidence needs to be cumulative. It takes several studies, done in places, time, conditions and by different researchers, so that the validity is established.
They should also use different methodologies and instruments - in developmental studies, the impact analyzes of these continuous stimuli on the brain are essential. Also long-term impact is an essential part of the task of establishing and substantiating scientific facts.
There are thousands of published studies on the subject. The most important of these - known as the ABCD study - has been conducted under the direction of Dimitri Christakis of the United States National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD) and one of the authors of the approved "screen time" recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The conclusions of this study, consistent with the scientific knowledge accumulated so far, show the devastating effects of cellular use, especially on attention, memory and language - pillars of cognitive development and learning.
Cell phones fascinate children - just as chocolate, sugar, sex, money, power, speak evil of others - as well as pseudo-facts and fake news fascinate adults.
Apps for children are designed to be addictive - they use stimuli that act directly on brain areas that excite the sensation of pleasure, and do so unexpectedly, contributing to the formation of addiction. They are a vice like any other, but they are an addiction.
From the NICHD study the famous phrase "children need laps, not apps" has already come out: one of the most serious negative effects of this new addiction is the withdrawal of children from their parents. There is much more rigorous and interesting evidence that the media can show, to the best of society.
How about turning off the tablet - or the TV - and reading a book with your baby?

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