Skip to content

Geospace Events

A QUAKE IN EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD: When a CME from the sun struck Earth on April 22nd, our planet’s magnetic field reverberated from the impact. A day later, a stream of solar wind arrived, hit, and had the same effect. In Lancashire, England, a magnetometer operated by Stuart Green captured the quaking of Earth’s magnetic field:

“The data clearly show when the relative calm was shattered on April 21st at around 16:30 (UT) when the CME struck, being quickly followed by fast flowing solar wind from a large and persistent coronal hole,” says Green. “The rumblings have been continuing through the intervening days.”

Vibrations in the magnetic field allow particles normally trapped in our planet’s magnetosphere to rain down around the poles, igniting auroras. Thomas J. Spence was camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota on April 22nd when the sky suddenly lit up:

“I ventured into the BWCA less than 24 hours after the ice was gone from Kawihiwi Lake–and coincidentally not long after the CME impact,” says Spence. “The aurora began soon after sunset and continued until first light. It was an incredible first spring trip into this amazing wilderness.”

EXITING THE SOLAR WIND STREAM: Earth is beginning to exit a stream of solar wind that has sparked bright auroras around both poles in recent days.  We’re not out of the stream yet, though. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on April 25th and 26th as the solar wind pressure slowly subsides. Free: Aurora Alerts

Sunspot number: 36

Current Arctic Auroral Oval

Current Antarctic Auroral Oval

More Information:
Space Weather Conditions
USAF/NOAA  3-day Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast  – Updates
WSA-Enlil Solar Wind Prediction
Recently Reported Solar Events
SolarSoft’s “latest events”

Biological Hazard – Deadly Chytrid fungus: (pathogenesis) Experimental infection

Published Date: 2017-04-24 11:40:36
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Chytrid fungus, zebra fish: experimental infection
Archive Number: 20170424.4990724

Date: Thu 20 Apr 2017
Source: [edited]

The deadly chytrid fungus has for the 1st time been found to infect and kill species other than amphibians, giving clues on how it causes disease.

The fungus, _Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis_ (Bd), is a type of chytrid that has severely affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide, and has made more species extinct than any other infectious disease known to science — at least 200 so far. It causes chytridiomycosis, a disease that damages amphibian skin and rapidly kills its host.

Until now, chytrid was thought to only affect amphibians, a group that includes toads, newts, salamanders, and frogs. However, researchers from Imperial College London have now demonstrated in the laboratory that Bd can also infect zebrafish at the larval stage — the developmental phase just after they hatch from eggs.

Research into Bd currently relies on studying infected amphibians. However they are difficult to study and also need to be captured in nature, which is not sustainable in the longer term. Amphibians that are sourced from different natural populations also may respond very differently to the fungus.

Zebrafish are some of the most widely-used biological model species owing to their transparency at the larval stage, which allows scientists to use microscopy to easily track infections. Their immune systems also have many parallels with that of humans and other vertebrates such as frogs.

The team behind today’s discovery, which is published in Nature Communications [see reference below], say their work will lead to zebra fish as a new model for studying the disease. This could give scientists the opportunity to understand in more detail how the fungus harms its amphibian hosts.

Professor Mat Fisher, a co-author from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “The fact that chytrid is able to infect zebrafish larvae could mean that we now have a more effective animal model with which to study the fungus and continue our research in how to save these amphibians.”

The researchers found that Bd infection took hold in zebrafish larvae in a similar way to how it does in amphibians. Professor Fisher added: “The natural bacterial coating found in young zebrafish appeared to protect them from harm during infection, and meant they could fight off the chytrid. This is a far more humane way to study the fungus than our previous models, and means we now have a new laboratory model.”

Furthermore, because zebrafish breed quickly, the researchers can use many more than they can with frogs. This would help to make research go further and faster.

Co-author Dr Serge Mostowy from Imperial’s Department of Medicine said: “A zebrafish model represents a brand new opportunity to study the disease process of chytrids. Young zebrafish have fully developed innate immune systems, which means we can now easily study host-fungus interactions in real time using non-invasive techniques. We can also control their environment with antibiotics, allowing us to study the role of already-present bacteria in influencing chytrid infection.”

The findings may also offer clues into how the fungus spreads between hosts. The researchers suggest that zebrafish larvae and other fish species could act as environmental reservoirs in the wild, and may pass the infection onto amphibians.

Ms Nicole Liew, lead author of the paper from Imperial’s MRC Centre of Molecular Bacteriology and Infection said: “The more we know about how Bd can infect hosts and where it resides in the environment, the better we can prepare for it and prevent more deaths. Our findings today give us an exciting wealth of information to work with, opening a whole new avenue of research. From our experiments, we now know some of chytrid’s hiding places, and present a new lab model highly suited for fluorescent microscopy, enabling us to learn more about the disease process.”
The scientists also managed to infect another species of fish, the guppy, but these fish ended up clearing their infection eventually. The authors say that although their research shows that young zebrafish can be infected, further studies are needed to determine the extent that fish might act as reservoirs of infection in the environment.

Professor Fisher added: “Our knowledge of this devastating fungus is growing in leaps and bounds, and we are excited to see where this new information will take us in terms of saving our amphibian friends.”

[Byline: Caroline Brogan]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[The reference for the scientific article describing the finding is
Liew N, Mazon Moya MJ, Wierzbicki CJ, et al: Chytrid fungus infection in zebrafish demonstrates that the pathogen can parasitize non-amphibian vertebrate hosts. Nat Commun. 2017 Apr 20;8:15048. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15048;
available at

The abstract reads, “Aquatic chytrid fungi threaten amphibian biodiversity worldwide owing to their ability to rapidly expand their geographical distributions and to infect a wide range of hosts. Combating this risk requires an understanding of chytrid host range to identify potential reservoirs of infection and to safeguard uninfected regions through enhanced biosecurity. Here we extend our knowledge on the host range of the chytrid _Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis_ by demonstrating infection of a non-amphibian vertebrate host, the zebrafish. We observe dose-dependent mortality and show that chytrid can infect and proliferate on zebrafish tissue. We also show that infection phenotypes (fin erosion, cell apoptosis and muscle degeneration) are direct symptoms of infection. Successful infection is dependent on disrupting the zebrafish microbiome, highlighting that, as is widely found in amphibians, commensal bacteria confer protection against this pathogen. Collectively, our findings greatly expand the limited tool kit available to study pathogenesis and host response to chytrid infection.”

This discovery is significant in 2 ways: first, it allows the development of an interesting animal model for this disease, although inference should be made with caution given the taxonomic distance between fish and amphibians and the artificial settings. Second, it hints that the infection should be studied in fish, and perhaps in other animals too. In fact, a few years ago the chytrid fungus was found in crayfish.

_B. dendrobatidis_ is generally thought of as an amphibian specialist that consumes host keratin for sustenance, despite it commonly being maintained in the laboratory on nonkeratinized media, such as tryptone. Numerous vertebrate and invertebrate taxa possess keratin or keratin-like compounds in their gastrointestinal tracts. Hence, it is not surprising that previous researchers have hypothesized that there might be non amphibian hosts or vectors of _B. dendrobatidis_. – Mod.PMB]

See Also

Chytrid fungus, crayfish – USA: non-amphibian hosts 20130105.1483017
Chytrid fungus, frogs – worldwide: mechanism of spread
Chytrid fungus, frogs – Worldwide: possible recovery 20101212.4421
Chytrid fungus, frogs – worldwide: review article 20100130.0323
Chytrid fungus, frog – South Korea 20090920.3301
Chytrid fungus, frog – Philippines: (Luzon) 20090527.1976
Chytrid fungus, frogs – Panama 20081014.3246
Chytrid fungus, frogs – Spain (Majorca) 20080928.3065
Chytrid fungus, frogs – Japan (02): wild frogs 20070613.1924
Chytrid fungus, frogs – Japan 20070113.0176
Chytrid fungus, frogs – worldwide: possible source 20060524.1463
Chytrid fungus, frogs – South Africa 20060203.0344
Chytrid fungus, frogs – UK (England) 20050916.2741
Red leg disease, frogs, fatal – UK (02) 20040914.2560
Red leg disease, frogs, fatal – UK 20040912.2542
Frog deformities – USA (02) 20020425.4030
Frog deformities – USA 20020422.4012
Frog mortality, virus – UK 20020201.3458
Chytrid fungus, frogs: background 20001201.2096
Frog deformities – USA (Northeast) 20000420.0579

Destructive Liberalism …

New Orleans PD Posted Snipers to Protect Contractors as They Tore Down Confederate Monument in Secret

Ever since a racially motivated mass shooting of a church occurred in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago, there’s been a widespread campaign to remove statues and flags that have Confederate origins. That campaign continues to this day in New Orleans, where multiple monuments to Confederate icons and events were ordered to be taken down in 2015, despite the protests of many white southerners who felt that their history was being demolished.

Now the city is following through on its promise to tear down these monuments. On April 24th, which is often celebrated as Confederate memorial day in many Southern states, the New Orleans city government removed an obelisk that commemorates the Battle of Liberty Place. The battle took place several years after the Civil War ended, and was fought by a paramilitary group called the Crescent City White League against local police forces, in an attempt to overthrow the Reconstruction Louisiana state government.

The monument was taken down unannounced and in the middle of the night, by contractors who wore masks to protect their identities. Protesters arrived on the scene at midnight once they heard that monument was being taken down, but by 1:30 AM they had dispersed. Police then set up barricades to keep anyone else away, and posted snipers on a nearby building.

The next day, the president of a group called the Monumental Task Committee, spoke out against the decision to tear down the monument. “This secretive removal under the cloak of darkness, outside of the public bid, masked contractors, and using unidentified money wreaks of atrocious government.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu defended his decision to take down the monument under these conditions, and claimed that “intimidation and threats by people who don’t want the statues down” forced him to do it at night and without notice. He called the obelisk a monument to “White supremacists” and proclaimed that “We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal.”

The obelisk has since been placed in storage, where it will soon be joined by memorials to President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General P.G.T. Beauregard. Landrieu hasn’t said when the monuments will be removed, but said that they may be placed in a museum at a later date.

Contributed by Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple.

Cultural Genocide: New Orleans Erases Remnants of Southern History

As in Afghanistan under the Taliban, so in New Orleans under liberal rule:

New Orleans removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments under the cover of darkness early Monday, the latest Southern city to sever itself from symbols viewed by [liberals] as a representation of racism and white supremacy.

Truckers arrived at around 1:25 a.m. to begin removing the Liberty Monument, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans. …

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the Liberty Monument was the “most offensive” of the four set to be taken down. He added it was erected to “revere white supremacy.”

Landrieu stays in power by pandering to black voters.

Three other statues to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will be removed in later days now that legal challenges have been overcome.

If you have physical evidence that the South ever existed as a political or cultural entity, bury it so that it might be discovered by the archeologists of a future civilization. Otherwise, it will be lost forever before liberals are through frog-marching the South down the Memory Hole.

#NOPD presence outside of Liberty Monument. Police Captain says heavy equipment coming through. @FOX8NOLA

— Rob Krieger (@Rob_Krieger) April 24, 2017

Big Government removes Liberty Monument.

On tips from Dragon’s Lair, KirklesWorth, and Bodhisattva.

Byline Dave Blount

Reposted from Moonbattery

Communist infiltration

Communist infiltration. Image: westernrifleshooters

“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

Theodore Dalrymple

War is what you make of it

“The experiential emptiness of intensified neo-capitalist commodification of pseudo-reality and its necessary results of mass alienation, anxiety and Boredom.”

Or something.

Politicians hide themselves away. They only started the war. Why should they go out to fight? They leave that role to the poor.

Exploiting the mentally ill for ratings …

The Devil is in the mainstream media’s headlines, and social programming, on a daily basis.

Even Facebook is giving a platform to all kinds of lunatics now.

Biological Hazard – Mass Die-off (Waterfowl): Environmental Pollutants Suspected – Montana, USA

Published Date: 2017-04-21 14:28:34
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Waterfowl die-off – USA: (MT) heavy metal and sulfuric acid
Archive Number: 20170421.4985926

Date: Tue 18 Apr 2017
Source: Montana Standard [edited]

The estimated 3000 to 4000 snow geese that perished in December 2016 in the Berkeley Pit’s toxic water died of both heavy metals and sulfuric acid, according to US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Ryan Moehring.

The necropsy report does not make the findings clear, stating only that lesions in the stomach, intestines, and throats were severe and “suggestive of chemical tissue damage induced by a corrosive substance.”

Copper and zinc, both of which were found inside the birds’ stomachs, could have been the cause or a contributing factor in the lesions, according to the report. Other metals, including manganese, were found in the organs of the geese.

Montana Resources manager of environmental affairs Mark Thompson said the report’s findings that the metals and acid in the pit caused the bird mortalities came as no surprise.

“There was never any suspicion the birds died from some other cause besides pit water,” Thompson said.

The companies responsible for the pit, Montana Resources and Atlantic Richfield Co, could be fined as much as USD 5000 per bird. Helena-based U.S. Attorney spokesperson Melissa Hornbein said the US Attorney’s Montana office cannot comment yet on whether the companies will be fined.

The report says 18 birds were tested. Two of the birds were different species of duck. The other 16 were snow geese.

One bird the lab tested was shot in Dillon. That bird died of the gunshot wound. A captured and treated bird, which died after capture, was also sent to the necropsy lab. That bird showed inflammation and bacteria internally in addition to internal damage caused by metals and sulfuric acid. The infection may have contributed to that bird’s death, according to the report.

The report says the birds’ condition was similar to the 342 snow geese that died in November 1995 when a flock landed — almost 21 years to the day — on the pit during a snowstorm and perished. Those birds were found dead by a Bureau of Mines and Geology employee who returned to the pit’s toxic water within a few days to take water samples after the storm passed.

When a winter storm encouraged the birds to land in 2016, an estimated 10 000 birds found a resting spot on the Berkeley Pit, but thousands of birds flew off over the course of a week. A Bureau of Mines and Geology water sample report taken in December of last year [2016] found the pit’s water to be less acidic than it was in 1995.

Earlier this year [2017] the companies put together a bird advisory committee and hired Montana Tech professor Stella Capoccia to advice on new ways to prevent birds from landing and dying in the pit in the future. The companies are testing new technologies this spring. In addition to propane-powered canons already stationed around the pit, the companies are bringing in later this month [April 2017] a device that shoots out rings of compressed air that scare the birds, Thompson said. The companies hope to have a fully vetted plan in place by fall to prevent another die-off. The plan will have to get federal and state agency approval.

[Byline: Susan Dunlap]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine located in Butte, MT, United States. It is one mile long by half a mile wide with an approximate depth of 1780 feet (540 m). It is filled to a depth of about 900 feet (270 m) with water that is heavily acidic (2.5 pH level). This results in the presence of high concentrations of chemical compounds, including copper, arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid.

Copper toxicosis is rarely reported in wild birds. Birds seem to be less susceptible to copper toxicosis compared with fish and aquatic invertebrates. Hepatic focal necrosis and abundant granules containing copper pigment were observed in swans exposed to high concentrations of copper.

Zinc toxicosis has been reported in captive and free-flying waterfowl. Nonspecific clinical signs of zinc toxicosis include weakness, ataxia, paresis or paralysis of the legs, anemia, diarrhea, weight loss, and death. Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs, radiology, pathologic findings, and elevated serum or tissue (liver, pancreas, or kidneys) zinc concentrations. Histopathologic changes include necrotizing ventriculitis and pancreatic necrosis and degeneration. – Mod.PMB

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:]

See Also

Undiagnosed die-off, waterfowl – USA (CO) (03) 20070217.0599
Undiagnosed die-off, waterfowl – USA (CO) (02) 20070127.0357
Undiagnosed die-off, waterfowl – USA (CO) 20070124.0322

Heavy metal pollution – Spain (Andalusia): update 19990617.1027

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

Nuclear Event – Emergency Declared (High Hydrazine Level in Containment Atmosphere): Salem Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 2, New Jersey

North America – USA | State of New Jersey,  Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 2
Location: 39°27’46.0″N 75°32’08.0″W
Present Operational Age: ~32 years

Emergency Class: UNUSUAL EVENT
10 CFR Section: 50.72(a) (1) (i) – EMERGENCY DECLARED

Nuclear Event in USA on Thursday, 20 April, 2017 at 21:10 [EDT].


“At 2110 EDT, Salem control room received data that supported unacceptable levels of hydrazine concentration in the U2 Containment atmosphere based on Site Protection atmospheric sampling. The high hydrazine levels were caused due to Steam Generator venting into the Containment atmosphere in support of maintenance for the current Salem Unit 2 Refueling Outage (2R22). The NIOSH habitability limit for hydrazine is 0.03 ppm (2 hour limit). Area samples indicated concentrations as high as 0.25 ppm. Salem Unit 2 Containment has been evacuated while a mitigation plan is being developed. There were no personnel injuries as a result of this occurrence. Salem Unit 2 defueling activities were in progress during this event. All fuel assemblies have been placed in a safe condition. All Salem Unit 2 Containment activities are currently on hold. There has been no impact to the equipment in the Unit 2 Containment, no adverse impact to any equipment located in the vicinity of the high hydrazine concentration, and no operational impact to the plant including Shutdown Cooling which is currently on RHR.”

The Unusual Event was declared under EAL HU3.1, Toxic/Flammable Gas Release Affecting Plant Operations.

The licensee plans to issue a press release.

The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector, Lower Alloways Creek Township, State of New Jersey and State of Delaware.

Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, DHS NICC, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).


“Salem Unit 2 terminated the Unusual Event at 1258 EDT on 4/21/17. The basis for termination was no longer restricting access to the containment after getting two sets of satisfactory air sample results. With the access restored, normal plant operations can resume and EAL HU3.1 is no longer applicable.

“The details of the sample results are:
Fire Protection performed satisfactory results of no detectable Hydrazine (0.01 ppm with a NIOSH limit of 0.03 ppm) completed both at 1001 EDT and 1247 EDT at the following locations:
– (3) at 130 ft. elevation
– at 78 ft. in the bioshield
– at 78 ft. outside the bioshield.

“Additional mitigating actions taken following U2 Containment evacuation were as follows:
– FME screen installed on open manways for 21/23 S/G with additional plastic covering and tape to prevent further gas release into containment.
– Modified Containment Purge in service to maximize ventilation in Containment.
– 21/24 S/G draining to support filling and draining evolutions to reduce Hydrazine concentrations in the S/G’s.
– Releasing tags on the AFWST to commence filling and further support filling and draining evolutions on the U2 S/G’s.”

The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

Notified R1DO (Arner), NRR EO (King), and IRD (Stapleton). Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, DHS NICC, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).

Source: NRC Event Number: 52699

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant…” or something.

System that replaces human intuition with algorithms outperforms human teams

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be Master—that’s all.”  ~Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

“I think, therefore I am.”~René Descartes, Discourse on Method (1637)

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Impeachment of Bill Clinton – Wikipedia 

Subject and Object  In the Cartesian statement, the subject—I— declares itself in existence on the basis of its own thinking. As an antithesis of the subject, the object is seen and evaluated by the thinking subject.

“’What’s the difference?’ did not ask for difference but meant instead ‘I don’t give damn what the difference is.’ The same grammatical pattern engenders two different meanings that are mutually exclusive: the literal meaning asks for the concept difference whose existence is denied by the figurative meaning…. [G]rammar allows us to ask the question, but the sentence by means of which we ask it may deny the very possibility of asking. For what is the use of asking, I ask, when we cannot even authoritatively decide whether a question asks or doesn’t ask?… The point is as follows. A perfectly clear syntactical paradigm (the question) engenders a sentence that has at least two meanings, one which asserts and the other which denies its own illocutionary mode. It is not so that there are simply two meanings, one literal and the other figural, and that we have to decide which one of these meanings is the right one in this particular situation. The confusion can only be cleared up by the intervention of an extra-textual intervention, such as Archie Bunker putting his wife straight; but the very anger he displays is indicative of more than impatience; it reveals his despair when confronted with a structure of linguistic meaning that he cannot control and that holds the discouraging prospect of an infinity of similar future confusions.” Paul de Man “Semiology and Rhetoric” (1973)

The Deconstructive Position – The subject originates nothing, not even itself. Although one can bring together separate views to create a new view, the subject learns its views from someone or something else. Since knowledge belongs to the subject, it cannot be objective. 

Big-data analysis consists of searching for buried patterns that have some kind of predictive power. But choosing which “features” of the data to analyze usually requires some human intuition. In a database containing, say, the beginning and end dates of various sales promotions and weekly profits, the crucial data may not be the dates themselves but the spans between them, or not the total profits but the averages across those spans.

MIT researchers aim to take the human element out of big-data analysis, with a new system that not only searches for patterns but designs the feature set, too. To test the first prototype of their system, they enrolled it in three data science competitions, in which it competed against human teams to find predictive patterns in unfamiliar data sets. Of the 906 teams participating in the three competitions, the researchers’ “Data Science Machine” finished ahead of 615.

In two of the three competitions, the predictions made by the Data Science Machine were 94 percent and 96 percent as accurate as the winning submissions. In the third, the figure was a more modest 87 percent. But where the teams of humans typically labored over their prediction algorithms for months, the Data Science Machine took somewhere between two and 12 hours to produce each of its entries.

“We view the Data Science Machine as a natural complement to human intelligence,” says Max Kanter, whose MIT master’s thesis in computer science is the basis of the Data Science Machine. “There’s so much data out there to be analyzed. And right now it’s just sitting there not doing anything. So maybe we can come up with a solution that will at least get us started on it, at least get us moving.”

Between the lines

Kanter and his thesis advisor, Kalyan Veeramachaneni, a research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), describe the Data Science Machine in a paper that Kanter will present next week at the IEEE International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics.

Veeramachaneni co-leads the Anyscale Learning for All group at CSAIL, which applies machine-learning techniques to practical problems in big-data analysis, such as determining the power-generation capacity of wind-farm sites or predicting which students are at risk for dropping out of online courses.

“What we observed from our experience solving a number of data science problems for industry is that one of the very critical steps is called feature engineering,” Veeramachaneni says. “The first thing you have to do is identify what variables to extract from the database or compose, and for that, you have to come up with a lot of ideas.”

In predicting dropout, for instance, two crucial indicators proved to be how long before a deadline a student begins working on a problem set and how much time the student spends on the course website relative to his or her classmates. MIT’s online-learning platform MITx doesn’t record either of those statistics, but it does collect data from which they can be inferred.

Featured composition

Kanter and Veeramachaneni use a couple of tricks to manufacture candidate features for data analyses. One is to exploit structural relationships inherent in database design. Databases typically store different types of data in different tables, indicating the correlations between them using numerical identifiers. The Data Science Machine tracks these correlations, using them as a cue to feature construction.

For instance, one table might list retail items and their costs; another might list items included in individual customers’ purchases. The Data Science Machine would begin by importing costs from the first table into the second. Then, taking its cue from the association of several different items in the second table with the same purchase number, it would execute a suite of operations to generate candidate features: total cost per order, average cost per order, minimum cost per order, and so on. As numerical identifiers proliferate across tables, the Data Science Machine layers operations on top of each other, finding minima of averages, averages of sums, and so on.

It also looks for so-called categorical data, which appear to be restricted to a limited range of values, such as days of the week or brand names. It then generates further feature candidates by dividing up existing features across categories.

Once it’s produced an array of candidates, it reduces their number by identifying those whose values seem to be correlated. Then it starts testing its reduced set of features on sample data, recombining them in different ways to optimize the accuracy of the predictions they yield.

“The Data Science Machine is one of those unbelievable projects where applying cutting-edge research to solve practical problems opens an entirely new way of looking at the problem,” says Margo Seltzer, a professor of at Harvard University who was not involved in the work. “I think what they’ve done is going to become the standard quickly—very quickly.”

Explore further: New techniques could help identify students at risk for dropping out of online courses

More information: “Deep Feature Synthesis: Towards Automating Data Science Endeavors.”

Provided by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This story is republished courtesy of MIT News (, a popular site that covers news about MIT research, innovation and teaching.

[Byline Larry Hardest]

15 October 2015

The finite mind cannot therefore attain to the full truth about things through similarity. For the truth is neither more or less, but rather indivisible. What of itself is not true can no more measure the truth than what is not a circle can measure a circle, whose being is indivisible. Hence reason, which is not the truth, can never grasp the truth so exactly that it could not be grasped infinitely more accurately. Reason stands in the same relation to truth as the polygon to the circle; the more vertices a polygon has, the more it resembles a circle, yet even when that number of vertices grows infinite, the polygon never becomes equal to a circle, unless it becomes a circle in its true nature. The real nature of what exists, which constitutes its truth, is therefore never attainable. It has been sought by all the philosophers, but never found, The further we penetrate into informed ignorance, the closer we come to the truth itself.

Nicholas of Kues, De Docta Ignorantia (Of Informed Ignorance) Book I

Deconstruction points out the places where discourse (or data), such as a speech or a text, (or algorithms) fails to sustain a point it has taken for granted. Thus, deconstruction expands observation into interstitial places. These methods replace simple binary oppositions with complex discussion of issues.

“In addition to breaking down barriers that separate literature and history, history and the social sciences, new historians have reminded us that it is treacherously difficult to reconstruct the past as it really was, rather than as we have been conditioned by our own place and time to believe that it was. And they know the job is utterly impossible for those who are unaware of that difficulty and insensitive to the bent or bias of their own historical vantage point.” Ross C. Murfin, “The New Historicism” (224)

Time for your deconstruction.

(Excerpts retrieved 2017/04/21 from, ppt “University of Alberta. Meaning …” ) Published by Caitlin Riley