Tag Archives: SicBlogs

Rio Olympics – what are those gold medals worth?

Medals

Well, that’s a surprise.

Those gold medals athletes are working hard for at the Rio Olympics are not pure gold – just gold-plated silver. In fact, the of the Rio Olympics gold medals is 98.8% silver and only 1.2 % gold.

According to Compound Interest (The Composition of the Rio Olympics Medals):

“Giving out pure gold medals would be financially crippling for the International Olympic Committee, so unsurprisingly some compromises are involved.”

Olympic gold medals haven’t been 100% gold since the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

“Since then, they’ve actually been mainly made of silver, with a gold plating on top to give them the expected appearance.”

“Compositions are variable at different Olympics; for example, at the London 2012 Olympics the gold medals consisted of gold (1%), silver (92%) and copper (7%). The value of the Rio Olympics gold medal, based on its metal composition, is approximately $565. Contrast this with their value if they were composed of pure gold: their current market value would be $21,200!”

Seems like a lot of work is involved in moving from second to first place just for a thin plating of Gold.

Still, it’s the thought that counts.

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What makes something right or wrong?

Here is another of the  4 animated videos produced by the British Humanist Association. They are all narrated by Stephen Fry.

This one deals with aspects of morality – an important subject where the voice of non-theists is often ignored.

“What makes something right or wrong?” Narrated by Stephen Fry 

See: That’s Humanism: Four animated videos about Humanism narrated by Stephen Fry

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Can science shape human values?

There’s been a bit of discussion lately about the relationship between science and human values. Partly because of the recent Edge Seminar (see The new science of morality, Is and ought and A scientific consensus on human morality). But also because of recent talks by Sam Harris arguing that science can determine human values. He expresses his ideas more clearly in his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

It’s an excellent book – I have just finished reading it and will express my thoughts on the ideas in a separate post shortly.

But for others interested in this subject NPR has produced a podcast with an interesting set of interviews (see Can Science Shape Human Values? And Should It?).

In this Ira Flatow talks with scientists and philosophers about the origins of human values, and the influence of modern scientific thought on human values. Even if science can shape human morals, should it? Or does science bring its own set of preconceptions and prejudices to moral questions?

Those appearing on the podcast include:

Lawrence Krauss: foundation professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, director, Origins Project
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Simon Blackburn: research professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Bertrand Russell professor of philosophy, University of Cambridge
Cambridge, England

Sam Harris: Author, “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values“; Author, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason; co-founder and CEO, Project Reason

Steven Pinker: Johnstone Family professor, department of psychology
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There’s even a discussion of “How can science and religion inform each other?” And they take some call-in questions.

Thanks to Jerry Coyne (See Science and morality: a Science Friday discussion).

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