The omnibus spending and tax legislation passed in the U.S. Congress this week includes an obscure provision that makes it illegal for the Treasury Department to redesign the $1 bill, according to Politico. The provision was included at the behest of the vending-machine industry, which didn’t want to have to redesign its machines to recognize a new $1 bill. Proponents of the provision said the dollar bill is rarely counterfeited, so redesign is unnecessary.
Sri Krishna, a PhD candidate in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, and Diego Chowell, a PhD student in applied mathematics at Arizona State, explain in The Conversation that we have rushed into the “omics” era of biological research (as in genomics). “Machine learning has revolutionized biological research since we can now utilize big data sets and ask computers to help understand the underlying biology,” they write. They describe their work with artificial neural networks (ANNs) to develop new therapies for cancer.
You may have seen recent polling results showing that not insignificant percentages of Americans support the bombing of Agrabah—a fictional country in the Disney movie Aladdin. Such results suggest to me that many respondents are just having fun with the pollsters, but Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University writing in the Volokh Conspiracy blog, says pollsters have long known it’s easy to elicit opinions on nonexistent legislation (the 1947 Metallic Metals Act) or that express scientific ignorance. For example, one poll found that 80% of Americans support mandatory labeling of foods containing DNA. Somin writes, “For most people, ignorance about science and public policy is perfectly rational behavior, because there is so little chance that their vote will decisively affect electoral outcomes.”