Articles to 2011-07-28

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Melhuish and Sammons confirm one of my preconceptions, that with all the good others can do, the main and largest influence on children’s attainment are the parents, though I am somewhat surprised at how little the father seems to matter. My other preconception is summarily disproved though. It seems to be the most advantaged and not the most disadvantaged children that benefit most from high quality pre- and primary schooling. But Reynolds seems to point to the opposite conclusion.

There is a wealth of yet-undiscovered archaeological resources in Russia, just think of the Denisova hominin, and reading Basilyan it seems a lot of that is in imminent danger.

Buchanan and Hamilton (and Steele 2010 and Buchanan 2008) engage in a heated discussion about the use of dating and specifically the merits or otherwise of the CalPal program. Apart from that and while not agreeing with Steele, Hamilton 2007 does not convince me at all. In his figure 2 humans seem to have simultaneously populated North America from the north and from the south, though with slightly better correlation for the first. Looking more closely (and guessing a bit, as the data are not given) the regressions from north, south, and west all solely depend on a single cluster of late dates from the far east. Disregarding these few points, that are disputed by Steele for a different reason, the first appearance seems to be simultaneous all over the study area with a seemingly infinite propagation speed – a phenomenon already observed in the European Bandkeramik. Hamilton’s reported speeds, while still far too high for any known process, are the result of a purely statistical artefact.

Finally and belatedly reading Robert Jungk’s Heller als tausend Sonnen made me look up some of the most important primary articles. Not only was Hahn and Straßmann’s discovery not as singular as is usually asserted – Curie and Savic had reported lanthanum-like properties in 1937 and according to Meitner it was this that made him look for lighter elements. And it seems that only a strong personal antagonism over the masurium/technetium controversy (and possibly over politics too – the Noddacks’ presumed Nazi leaning is still being disputed) made them all ignore Ida Noddack’s clear sighted discussion of the un-disproved possibility of fission. This in spite of the fact, that Meitner herself had had grave misgivings about transuranes with five or more successive beta emissions and about isomerism seemingly inherited over several generations for years.

And finally another short story by Jeff Hecht.

Here’s the link to this week’s complete list.

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