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Goji Berries---fun science and math resources plus my take on The Checklist Manifesto

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Goji Berries is back! In this issue, I share some fun science and math resources. And my take on The
 
June 1 · Issue #20 · View online
Goji Berries
Goji Berries is back! In this issue, I share some fun science and math resources. And my take on The Checklist Manifesto.

Why We Fail? And What to do About it?
I recently read Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. The coolest things in Atul Gawande’s book are facts about the volume of surgery. Sample one. Nearly 50 M surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. (You can confirm this scarcely believable fact here.) Here’s another: Americans on average will go through nearly 9 surgeries (the book has an estimate of 7) over their lifetime.
The second coolest thing is is a fact from Pronovost’s study. Line infections are the commonest reason why ICU patients opt for heaven. And the astounding thing is that getting doctors to:
“(1) wash their hands with soap, (2) clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic, (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient, (4) wear a mask, hat, sterile gown, and gloves, and (5) put a sterile dressing over the insertion site once the line is in.”
reduces the “ten-day line-infection rate went from 11 percent to zero.”
The book itself is badly organized, a consequence of incomplete conceptualization. I don’t recommend it. (You can read my notes on the book here.) But the book made me think harder about failure and how to prevent it. Here’s a short article that gives you a quick conceptual overview of how I see the issue:
We fail because we don’t know or because we don’t execute on what we know (Gorovitz and MacIntyre). Of the things that we don’t know are things that no else knows either—they are beyond humanity’s reach for now. And then there are things that “we” know but the practitioner doesn’t.
Fun Science and Math Resources:
  • “Textbook of the future”: https://mathigon.org/ is producing interactive, personalized math content.
  • Online Graphing Calculator: Have fun plotting whatever function suits your fancy with this cool online graphing calculator.
  • Math Education: Keith Devlin is a well-known voice on math education. Here’s a fun lecture on how professionals currently do math and how best to do it.
  • The Kid Should See This: The website hosts fun videos about science, nature, music, art, and more. Check out this fun video about a pendulum making Lissajous patterns. (For those interested in physics behind the patterns, here’s a good Quora piece on harmonographs.)
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