Interview with Biologist Jim McNamara - Comments

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  • #2
DrClaude
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Nice @jim mcnamara!

I don't know if I should blame you or @Greg Bernhardt, but the interview includes one of my pet peeves: the precise conversion of an approximate value:
It was about 65 miles (104km) one-way.
 
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  • #3
jim mcnamara
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And I agree - imprecise conversions aren't necessarily valid or helpful.

What would you suggest? ~65 miles (~104km)? Since you cannot know, part of the commute was over unimproved dirt roads. Sections were sometimes impassable requiring making the distance quite variable. Sometimes in Winter, only the "long way" through Santa Fe was open, exactly 86.4 miles of paved roads.

FWIW - the commute went from Santo Domingo, up over the Dome road to La Cueva NM. This is pointless detail, except that it is my experience sometimes it is difficult for non-locals to perceive how very undeveloped vast areas of New Mexico are. After the May 2000 Cerro Grande forest fire (that destroyed part of Los Alamos), the dome road was closed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerro_Grande_Fire

FWIW: New Mexico is notoriously hard to deal with for a lot of people. Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur, and territorial governor of NM) quote:
All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.
This is in large part quite true. Example see above - a simple commute? No. :smile:
 
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  • #4
berkeman
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What would you suggest? ~65 miles (~104km)?
65.0 miles (103km). :smile:

Great interview -- thanks Jim!
 
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  • #5
DrClaude
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And I agree - imprecise conversions aren't necessarily valid or helpful.

What would you suggest? ~65 miles (~104km)? Since you cannot know, part of the commute was over unimproved dirt roads. Sections were sometimes impassable requiring making the distance quite variable. Sometimes in Winter, only the "long way" through Santa Fe was open, exactly 86.4 miles of paved roads.
I would have rounded it the same way as if it would have been originally in km: "it was about 100 km one way."
 
  • #6
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I don't know if I should blame you or @Greg Bernhardt, but the interview includes one of my pet peeves: the precise conversion of an approximate value:
Maybe if he wrote it like "It was about (65 miles, 104 Km)?" Then it would kind of be like the distributive rule applied to approximation?
 
  • #7
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"Give us some predictions for the next 100 years of biology science breakthroughs.

I think the integration of human neural input/output with embedded nanotechnology will come to the forefront. There are now “smart” very small hearing aids that improve hearing greatly over past much larger models. I expect many kinds of smaller neurally integrated devices to become de rigueur, much in the way cell phone technology has done."


I'd suggest checking out the latest issue of IEEE spectrum. It's a special issue on the brain and AI and discusses the latest progress on these topics. The department/lab I'm in at my university just got a hardcopy recently and I stole it today :-p. I think you can access part or all of the content online, though:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/magazine
 
  • #8
DrClaude
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Maybe if he wrote it like "It was about (65 miles, 104 Km)?" Then it would kind of be like the distributive rule applied to approximation?
My point is that nobody talking in km would say "about 104 km."
 
  • #9
StatGuy2000
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Hi @jim mcnamara ! I saw your interview with Greg on Insights. I was curious about your experience on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. You state that the Navajo language is in serious decline now, but I've read elsewhere that there are major revitalization efforts to try to preserve and grow the language in the Reservation.

Given your knowledge, do you have any idea of how successful the efforts are? And doyou personally feel that the Navajo language will survive as a viable language of the community?

(To moderators: I realize that my post has nothing to do with biology or medicine, but it is a follow-up to his experiences living on a native reservation.)
 
  • #10
jim mcnamara
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[opinion]
See: http://www.roughrock.k12.az.us/Welcome.htm

This does work rather well. However, there are few jobs on the reservation. Many young people leave, often because of non-Navajo spouses, and the kids never learn Navajo. They are on the tribal roles, but they are not active members. Plus, a Navajo who is not fluent in English has limited job prospects off the Rez. RR Demonstration recognizes that challenge pretty well. It is one school. There are many others: BIA, or Apache, Navajo, or Coconino county schools. Results are not heartening, IMO.

So, yes, people are trying. Are they all succeeding? IMO, probably not.
[/opinion]
 
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  • #11
StatGuy2000
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[opinion]
See: http://www.roughrock.k12.az.us/Welcome.htm

This does work rather well. However, there are few jobs on the reservation. Many young people leave, often because of non-Navajo spouses, and the kids never learn Navajo. They are on the tribal roles, but they are not active members. Plus, a Navajo who is not fluent in English has limited job prospects off the Rez. RR Demonstration recognizes that challenge pretty well. It is one school. There are many others: BIA, or Apache, Navajo, or Coconino county schools. Results are not heartening, IMO.

So, yes, people are trying. Are they all succeeding? IMO, probably not.
[/opinion]
If that is the case, in your opinion, are there any prospects for the survival of minority languages (Native American languages in particular) in the United States? Or will all minority languages (beyond those spoken by recent immigrants) die out and everyone in the US will become monolingual in English only?
 
  • #12
jim mcnamara
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Well, Spanish (and English) is an official language for all transactions in New Mexico. The state constitution dictates this.
So, the English-only movement, like you see in Arizona, doesn't get much traction here. How social media and TV/radio will affect this in years to come, I do not know.

But the status quo is codified, so to speak. Language is inherently dynamic, so changes will occur, regardless of the state laws.
 
  • #14
john baez
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This interview has some really wretched line breaks. I believe the technology underlying PhysicsForums requires that you not include carriage returns within a paragraph, if you want to prevent that.
 
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  • #15
Drakkith
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Lastly, what are some of your all time favorite books, movies, musicians etc.? This one is easy – ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ by Jared Diamond, ‘The Stars My Destination’ by Alfred Bester.
'Guns, Germs, and Steel' is an excellent book and I have a copy of it.

While I really enjoyed all the "sciency" stuff in the book, my favorite passage was where Jarad Diamond was explaining that the Aztecs had never seen horses (or any other large land animal) before and must have been absolutely terrified when men mounted on these huge beasts charged them during their fights with the spaniards. I don't know why, but it really stuck with me. I guess because it made me think of something I'd never thought about before. I mean, who nowadays hasn't seen a horse before? Even if only in pictures. I'd be terrified if someone on a horse charged me too, but at least I already know what a horse is!
 
  • #16
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This interview has some really wretched line breaks. I believe the technology underlying PhysicsForums requires that you not include carriage returns within a paragraph, if you want to prevent that.
Fixed, thanks!
 
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  • #18
SciencewithDrJ
Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of my most favorite also. I share your enthusiasm.
 
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