Adam Hoffman

Sunnyvale, CA, United States

About Adam

Areas of Expertise

Electrical Engineering, cognitive psychology, behavioral ecology

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

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Adam Hoffman
Posted over 2 years ago
Seth Shostak: ET is (probably) out there -- get ready
I would just like to bring to light a point that the speaker failed to observe: should we actually observe a signal from another civilization, even if they are far more advanced than we are, that signal will have traveled thousands or millions of years before it reaches us. This means that any civilization we might find will probably be long gone before we "make contact." The communication is inherently one-way; we're not going to find our alien buddies out in Alpha Centauri or L'Asteroid B612. There's also the distinct but pessimistic possibility that the Atlantis scenario is inevitable; that is, that once a society becomes sufficiently advanced, it inevitably collapses upon itself, thereby leaving no radio waves that happen to be observable by some planet many light-years away. Maybe the speaker is counting on not living another 24 years, so he won't have to buy a couple billion cups of coffee. To be fair, I do agree that there is value in inspiring the next generation of scientists and alien hunters. And if our pale blue dot houses the only life in a universe as big as ours, it does seem like an awful waste of space.
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Adam Hoffman
Posted over 2 years ago
Bill Doyle: Treating cancer with electric fields
Arsen, I believe the electric fields WILL prevent cell division in healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Preventing the cells from dividing effectively kills the cells that do attempt to divide during the treatment (either by killing them as they attempt to divide, or by causing them to produce unhealthy daughter cells that do not survive). The important distinction is that during treatment, most of the cells being subjected to the field do not need to divide, and are thus not killed by the treatment. The cancer cells must divide much more often, and as a result, they die off much more readily under the treatment. Second, yes, the tumor shrank was due in part to the immune system. That is, the cancer cells tried to divide and died. Then the immune system reabsorbed the dead cells, causing the tumor to shrink. Third, presumably, you would wear the electrodes until you exhibit no detectable signs of cancer, and then for some time afterwards, to be 100% sure. Once all the cancer cells have been completely eliminated, I would guess you could cease treatment. Overall, I believe this to be an impressive step towards a universal cure. There may be application areas where this is not as side-effect free. For example, in an area of the body where rapid cell division is necessary (e.g. kidneys, prostrate), the treatment might be more likely to have some negative side effects. Still, good work. I'm excited to see where this will go!
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Adam Hoffman
Posted over 2 years ago
Roger Doiron: My subversive (garden) plot
Given your implicit assumptions, I have to grudgingly agree with you here. If you place a monetary value on your time and dislike hard physical labor, the local grocery store ends up looking very appealing. Except... - You're not likely to be paid for every hour of every day. Gardening can be done successfully on weekends or other non-working hours. - The back-breaking, sweaty misery could be calorie-burning, health-inducing exercise. - The savings from gardening appears not only in money, but also in the form of time saved in not going out to the store to buy that food, and fuel saved in not having to have that food shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to get to you. As for saving the world, well, if your neighbors also produced their own eggs, they wouldn't have to beg for yours, would they?
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Adam Hoffman
Posted almost 3 years ago
Yoav Medan: Ultrasound surgery -- healing without cuts
Short answer: yes. Ultra-sound used for imagery is MUCH MUCH lower intensity, and not very focused. Even the harmless burst of ultra-sonic energy used by this system for targeting (e.g. raising the temperature of tissue a few degrees), is probably several orders of magnitude higher than the energy emitted during an ultra-sound procedure given to a pregnant woman. The amount of energy needed to ablate tissue is probably a few orders of magnitude higher than that.
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Adam Hoffman
Posted almost 3 years ago
Luis von Ahn: Massive-scale online collaboration
...and the TED community instantly doubles Duolingo's waiting list for open beta, and triples its growth rate! I hope they're prepared to reach their one million users right away, because we're out there and ready to start translating! Incidentally, can someone explain the business model here? Are there websites out there that are paying Duolingo for the translation service they provide? Certainly a lot of value in the service, but someone has to pay for the processing power and bandwidth.
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Adam Hoffman
Posted almost 3 years ago
Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life
Why do people think this talk has anything to do with religion? Or with consciousness? Or ethics? Or anything other than a scientific investigation of a philosophical concept: "What is life?" Hanczyc suggests nothing of the kind. This research is not presented as "a nail in the coffin of creationism." It is not meant to imply that having life-like properties implies consciousness, or intelligence, or free will, or any other emergent properties. The research suggests a possible early mechanism for the formation of living systems, and it provides an alternative viewpoint on what life might look like. That is all. Please stop trying to attach your own emotional viewpoints to this purely rational talk.