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Lights, Problems, Inventions - Action!

Lights and sirens are associated with help on the way, but could they actually be putting everyone in danger? Then, what’s the difference between strong and weak link problems? Why are they important to how we address situations in the world? Revisit Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions in a new totally new, accessible form.

Explore Animated Models, Digitized Sketches and More


Science is a strong-link problem

Experimental History

Emergency lights and sirens on ambulances may do more harm than good


Welcome to the July 9 edition of The Digest.

The bright lights and screams of sirens call out like modern-day knights in shining armor, rushing to help in our most dire moments.

Recent evidence is showing that these typical associations that help is on the way may actually put us in more danger. In fact, crash rates nearly double during runs to the hospital when lights and sirens are on; and with 4 out of 5 runs being non-life-threatening, that’s a high risk for low benefit. So why are lights and sirens still used so frequently? Archaic requirements, claim many experts. Despite associations representing ambulance agencies, emergency dispatchers, patient safety advocates, and medical professionals, as well as cities like Mecklenburg, NC, are calling for new strategies to keep everyone safe. But when most people equate lights and sirens with help on the way, how do we shift our mindsets going forward? Link.

Philosophically speaking, life can be boiled down to two kinds of problems: strong-link and weak-link problems.

When it comes to science, acting like the field is a weak-link problem limits progress.

From the article: “These policies, like all forms of gatekeeping, are potentially terrific solutions for weak-link problems because they can stamp out the worst research. But they’re terrible solutions for strong-link problems because they can stamp out the best research, too. Reviewers are less likely to greenlight papers and grants if they’re novel, risky, or interdisciplinary. When you’re trying to solve a strong-link problem, this is like swallowing a big lump of kryptonite.”So why is science  consistently treated as a weak-link problem instead of the strong-link it is? Fear and status, the author claims. “Purge all the terrible at the cost of terrific, and all you’re left with is the mediocre”. If we sacrifice good science to dispel the bad, where does that leave us, and what do we do about it? Link.

Leonardo Da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man.

While he is most famous for his artworks like the Mona Lisa, he also produced sketches and writings that varied from blueprints to inventions to anatomical studies. I remember exploring an exhibit dedicated to his sketches at the Metropolitan Museum of Art years ago with a friend. It was awe inspiring to observe up-close the detail, imagination, and pure artistry Leonardo put into his works.

Now, his inventions and sketches are even more accessible through Google Arts & Culture’s new virtual hub “ Inside a Genius Mind.” Check out 3D renderings of Leonardo's inventions here or explore more of the exhibit here.