September 14, 2006
"Eyecheck" Drug Screening
According to officer.com, West Virginia will soon be using a new roadside drug screening device. See Here. The device is called the "Eyecheck Pupillometer." Seriously. It looks like a pair of binoculars and is designed to identify those who are impaired, either because of drug use or simply fatigue. According to the manufacturer's website, "The subject simply looks into the unit. A light flashes - the pupil reacts to this stimuli, first constricting and then re-dilating. EyeCheck™ measures and evaluates this response…." See Here. A quick Google search indicates that several police departments are considering using the device, and several, like West Virginia, are moving forward with its use. Most discussion on the web promotes its "reliability" for identifying impaired drivers, but none that I've found cite actual research reporting error rates for the device. Not surprisingly, despite this lack of detail regarding its scientific validity, law enforcement communities trumpet its potential value in screening drivers, since it is quick, easy, and non-invasive. However, since those who fail such tests might be arrested and be required to give a blood test, the false positive rate for such devices ought to be known before they are approved for general use -- or would be sufficient to support an arrest. See Article discussing uses of device here.
September 12, 2006
A Conversation with James Lovelock
Here's a conversation worth listening to.... Lovelock certainly does not have all of the answers, but he's asking most of the right questions. See Here.
September 10, 2006
E.O. Wilson's Newest
Something always worth celebrating is the publication of a new book by E.O. Wilson. His latest is "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth." Its theme is conservation, and Wilson attempts to bridge the divide between science and religion by finding common cause in our shared existence. Wilson writes, "Let us see, then, if we can, and you are willing, to meet on the near side of metaphysics in order to deal with the real world we share." Wilson is an extraordinarily graceful and elegant writer of science. From today's N.Y. Times: "'The Creation' is the wise and lovely work of a truly learned man, filled with a spirit that readers of every stripe will recognize as reverence." (See full review here.)