Mar. 10, 2015 8:40 am
Giordano Bruno is a 22 km lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon. It was named after the monk of the same name who fell foul of the Inquisition, and was burned at the stake in 1600. One of the mad ideas that caused such offence was his claim that the stars were distant suns, with their own exoplanets, some potentially capable of supporting their own life forms. The Giordano Bruno...  Read More
Feb. 26, 2015 5:58 am
It is almost 50 years since Martin Luther King visited Newcastle University. Here he is on racism, poverty and war - Newcastle University You can read a transcript or listen to the speech here:  Read More
Feb. 12, 2015 12:20 pm
In the 1990s the pharmaceutical industry decided to increase research and development (R&D) productivity by minimizing cycle time. Cycle time became our key metric. It was an astounding success. What gets measured gets done. Peter Drucker By shoving tasks into parallel we halved the cycle time for successful drugs. Unfortunately most drugs are not successful. 90%...  Read More
Feb. 7, 2015 8:29 am
This week, the ground breaking paper 'Progression Bias and Rational Optimism in Research and Development' was published by the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. It accounts for late-stage attrition in pharmaceutical development, explaining the current pharmaceutical innovation crisis, the rising costs of drug development, capturing the opportunity costs of false positives and false...  Read More
Feb. 2, 2015 11:54 am
Metrics are great. What gets measured gets done. Peter Drucker But you better be sure you’re measuring the right things. Data-driven decisions are only as good as the data driving the decisions. Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein  Read More
Jan. 19, 2015 5:41 am
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell Sometimes a succinct quotation captures complex ideas quite simply. In this case, The Dunning-Kruger effect meets Impostor Syndrome .  Read More
Jan. 14, 2015 10:23 am
Next year the International Maths Festival comes to Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. The theme? Numbers. Anyway, I stumbled upon Alex Bellos' poll on the World's Favourite Number. Number 7 polled highest in a poll of 30,000 internet nerds. The interesting section is on the reasons people give for their favourites. I was especially taken by this one. 7: Nice shape,...  Read More
Jan. 5, 2015 11:14 am
Torture the data long enough and it will confess to anything. Ronald Harry Coase (1910-2013) It is widely known that if you interrogate data hard enough it will confess to virtually anything. Widely known and even more widely ignored. Why jelly beans? The jelly bean problem was coined when scientists established a link between green jelly beans and acne in the satirical...  Read More
Dec. 31, 2014 8:08 am
In drug development there are massive commercial pressures to advance drugs only for them to fail in subsequent development. This progression imperative, or progression-seeking bias, gives rise to massive late stage attrition. This inflates R&D costs and denies patients access to effective medicines. Project terminations are often viewed as losses, and project teams tend to be loss...  Read More
Dec. 22, 2014 11:51 am
Some time ago, I was grumbling about the terrible state of medical journalism and the misreporting of trials and scientific research. I received an email from a journalist saying that it was very difficult for reporters of health news. Most such news is written in a hurry, to a deadline, and journalists rely heavily on the Press Release. Often, those press releases contained exaggerated claims...  Read More
Dec. 11, 2014 11:28 pm
Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. Males are more likely to be admitted to an emergency department after accidential injuries, more likely to be admitted with a sporting injury, and more likely to be involved in a fatal road traffic collision. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour....  Read More
Dec. 2, 2014 2:04 am
Null hypothesis (noun) (Statistics) the hypothesis that there is no significant difference between specified populations, any observed difference being due to sampling or experimental error. No matter how hard we twist the data, sometimes we are forced to accept the dull hypothesis. But we don't go down without a fight. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals I've...  Read More
Nov. 28, 2014 9:28 am
I collect stories of scientific discovery. I stumbled upon the story of Hedy Lamarr. This story is probably better known in the US? But for those who have not come across the name before, Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood actress. She starred in leading roles opposite Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and James Stewart. But she was also the co-inventor and patent holder, with composer George Antheil, of...  Read More
Nov. 18, 2014 12:26 pm
People have mixed views about benchmarking. "I hate Benchmarking! Benchmarking is Stupid! Why is it stupid? Because we pick the current industry leader and then we launch a five year program, the goal of which is to be as good as whoever was best five years ago, five years from now." Tom Peters Others are happy to steal the best ideas of others. We have always...  Read More
Nov. 9, 2014 4:12 am
Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. Sometimes I hate being human. We are like so fallible. I got my own insight into cryptomnesia when a funny thing happened to me a few years ago. I submitted a paper and it came back with the...  Read More
Oct. 29, 2014 5:05 am
Inflation adjusted pharmaceutical R&D costs have risen ten-fold in the period 1990-2013. Rising R&D costs forced pharmaceutical companies to seek higher risk areas to ensure a return on R&D costs. R&D costs are higher in these areas and the risks are higher driving up late-stage attrition. Late stage attrition drives up R&D costs forcing pharmaceutical companies to seek higher risk areas where...  Read More
Oct. 27, 2014 9:18 am
My son's school was founded in the late 1200s and the school roll lists all the headmasters since 1301. It was refounded under royal charter by Henry VIII 's son and successor becoming The King Edward VI School in 1552. To cut a long story short, this school has been around for a while. But the other day I was reading Jung Chang's biographical story Wild Swans charting the lives of...  Read More
Oct. 26, 2014 5:03 am
There is a story... While visiting the court of Catherine II of Russia, the great Swiss mathematician Euler got into an argument about the existence of God. Eventually he called for a board on which he wrote: Unable to dispute the relevance of the maths, and unwilling to confess their ignorance, the Voltairians gathered at the court were forced to cede the argument. I'm grateful to Professor...  Read More
Oct. 10, 2014 12:55 am
Never tell someone you'll have a report to them by Friday. Even if they get it, they won't want it. They're not going to read it over the weekend. And in the pressure to get it out on a Friday, errors creep in to the report. Mondays are good. Reports can always wait until Monday. And if push comes to shove I'd be finishing the report on Monday submitting late in the day. This freed up...  Read More
Oct. 8, 2014 3:23 pm
On a hot afternoon in Coleman, Texas, a family is playing dominoes on the porch, until the father-in-law suggests that they take a trip to Abilene (53 miles north) for dinner. "Sounds like a great idea," says the wife. The husband has reservations but says, "Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go." The mother-in-law then says, "Of course I want to go. I haven't been to Abilene...  Read More
Sep. 30, 2014 5:08 am
If you want to believe that the pharmaceutical industry has closed the innovation gap, turned the corner, and is on the comeback trail then don't read this paper. Lendrem DW, Senn SJ, Lendrem BC, Isaacs JDI 2014 R&D Productivity Rides Again? Pharmaceutical Statistics, In press. A recent analysis of R&D productivity suggests there are grounds for cautious optimism. We believe this...  Read More
Sep. 23, 2014 2:41 pm
Late stage attrition drives up R&D costs. To recover these escalating costs, pharmaceutical companies focus on disease areas with high returns. The risks are higher in these areas. This drives up late stage attrition. Late stage attrition drives up R&D costs. To recover these costs.... [Repeat]  Read More
Sep. 14, 2014 3:39 am
When the going gets tough, people start measuring how bad it is. But measuring it won't always make it any better. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals Another Forbes article on R&D Productivity. The League Table asks which pharmaceutical company is the best at R&D? The real answer is "None of them." Bernard Munos is the only one who has got it right. The analysis...  Read More
Aug. 6, 2014 9:41 am
The pharmaceutical industry has been dogged by late-stage attrition, rising R&D costs and lower R&D productivity. The solution - building opportunities to terminate projects earlier in the development process - has been around for a while. But the industry has been slow to grasp the nettle. There has been a raft of recent articles purporting to demonstrate that the pharmaceutical industry has...  Read More
Jul. 31, 2014 5:07 am
Failure is an unfortunate word; it has such negative connotations. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals Check this link if you can't see the embedded video in your browser.  Read More
Jul. 26, 2014 3:09 am
You can spend a small fortune on fishing tackle and not catch fish. You pay good money to access the best Scottish rivers. More money to buy a Hardy rod and reel, the finest Cortland lines, and beautiful Donegal Fishing Flies. But none of that will catch you fish unless you get your knots right. You may have fabulous stories to tell about the one that got away. But if you don't get your...  Read More
Jul. 11, 2014 3:06 am
At TEDxNewcastle 2014 Steve Mould gave a brilliant account of the science leading to the discovery of "The Mould Effect". In doing so, he blends science, entertainment and performance to create a science communication masterclass. Check out The Mould Effect  Read More
Jul. 9, 2014 8:04 am
In 2013 Professor Sugata Mitra outlined his plan for a "School In The Cloud". Ever since his "Hole In The Wall" experiment - introducing computers to children in the slums and villages of India - he had been thinking about a sustainable solution to education in remote and disadvantaged locations. In the interview Sugata Goes To School he told the untold story about what happened after the...  Read More
Jul. 3, 2014 3:01 am
In 1968 Mr Fletcher took me aside and told me that if I was really serious about a career in physics then I really needed a slide rule. (Or slipstick in the US). He was wrong. Mr Fletcher hadn't anticipated the rise of the calculator. And the personal computer was the stuff of science fiction.  Read More
Jun. 27, 2014 12:20 pm
When Professor Sugata Mitra, winner of the $1m TED Prize for his "School In The Cloud" idea, learned that he would not be able to attend TEDxNewcastle, he set up a self organized learning environment at one of the local schools. The students came together to research, interview, film, record and then edit the interview with the help of Gareth Hudson and Kids for Kids UK in the studios at...  Read More
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