Harry Potter science

Eva Amsen, on her Nature Network blog, reviews past science and medical extrapolations of Harry Potter novels and asks: "Are there science (or medical) lessons to be extracted from Harry Potter? I think so! For example, I have a very clear idea of which of the characters would make good scientists and why, and will discuss this later this week. Meanwhile, tell me: which of the HP characters do you think would make the best scientist(s)? And who would be terrible?"

Here is my answer: what’s yours?

Well, obviously Dumbledore would make a good scientist as he has an enquiring mind, is wise and non-judgemental, and he has a sense of the “joy of discovery”.
I have to say that Snape is also a good scientist, look at the depth of his potions knowledge.
Hermione, naturally (she’d be good at whatever she decided to do).
In an eccentric way, Fred and George Weasley, as their joke shop depends for its commercial success on innovation and targeted R&D.
Quirrell, well, maybe a bit of a failed scientist but he tries (tried).
I suppose one would have to say Voldemort, that recipe at the end of book 4. Very precise, and his life depended on it.
Minerva McGonnegal would have been one of those solid but uninspired scientists.

Now, terrible scientists. Harry and Ron, obviously. Technically incompetent and not the brightest bulb in the box. Sirius, far to impatient and rebellious. Lupin, too mystical. Moody, too impatient and ready to chase after crazy hypotheses. Luna Lovegood, also, is too ready to believe in cranky theories. Rita Skeeter would make a pretty bad scientist as she makes up her conclusions.
Barty Crouch Sr (too blinkered) and Jr (too erratic) would not have made good scientists.
OK, I’m stopping now before this gets out of hand. As you can see, I am suffering from “waiting for book 7 syndrome”, rather badly.

Economist screensaver and blogs

No doubt on the "don’t be first, be best" philosophy, The Economist Screensaver is a treasure trove of fascinating data on 66 of the world’s major economies. Drawing on the 2007 edition of the bestselling “Pocket World in Figures”, it presents facts and figures on population, demographics, the economy, society, health and education around the world. The screensaver also features a ticker displaying the headlines of new articles published on Economist.com, as well as some of the witty one-liners used in The Economist‘s renowned advertising campaigns. You can read technical details and download the screensaver via this link.

And even more revolutionary (?), The Economist now offers four (or, as it puts it, three) "lightly moderated" blogs for opinions, observations and to share your views with other readers and journalists from The Economist, Economist.com and the Economist Intelligence Unit. You can choose some or all of: Free Exchange (a general debate on economic issues), Certain ideas of Europe (the project, the people, and the gap in between them), Democracy in America (a potluck discussion on society, politics and culture) and The inbox (letters to the Editor).

Late breaking news: they now have an audio edition as well.