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One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
01-26-2017, 12:04 PM
Post: #1
One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/26/..._caffeine/

Researcher calculates on a mobile phone, misses out a decimal point and nearly kills two volunteers by giving them a dose of caffeine two orders of magnitude too large.
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01-26-2017, 01:21 PM
Post: #2
Or you should double check your work
Seems like someone doing a dosage calculation should have performed a second calculation to ensure they entered things correctly, but the lack of tactile response is indeed a problem with touch screens, not to mention accidental entry by fat fingers.
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01-26-2017, 03:44 PM
Post: #3
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
(01-26-2017 12:04 PM)BruceH Wrote:  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/26/..._caffeine/

Researcher calculates on a mobile phone, misses out a decimal point and nearly kills two volunteers by giving them a dose of caffeine two orders of magnitude too large.

The problem is not as simple and that - and there are two important reasons to use mobile phones.
Using mobile phones rather than calculators allows the results to be checked at places where more specialised equipment is unavailable - and allows checking the dosages online against poisons databases, rather than simply by calculating.

Of course, mobile phones may not be as reliable as calculators - Use both, not one or the other.

From the brief details given, it appears that a calculation may have been done, rather than a program executed. Had an algorithm or procedure been followed, one might hope the algorithm would have been professionally written by a CEng so as never to deliver a beyond-lethal dose, and administered and reviewed by appropriately trained medical professionals.

I have worked as a CEng in safety-critical work (though subs are unaffordable).

Stephen Lewkowicz (G1CMZ)
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01-26-2017, 04:04 PM
Post: #4
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
Of course, you can miss a decimal point on real calculators by a missed keystroke (cough, HP 49g+, cough) or even in a spreadsheet by typing wrong.

That can happen any place on most any device.
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01-26-2017, 04:50 PM
Post: #5
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
(01-26-2017 12:04 PM)BruceH Wrote:  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/26/..._caffeine/

Researcher calculates on a mobile phone, misses out a decimal point and nearly kills two volunteers by giving them a dose of caffeine two orders of magnitude too large.

The researchers should have had a general idea of the amount of caffeine they would administer. No one should just plug numbers into any calculating device without knowing what a reasonable answer might be. A dosage that high should have raised a red flag in their minds!

Tom L

Tom L
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01-27-2017, 12:54 AM
Post: #6
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
(01-26-2017 04:50 PM)toml_12953 Wrote:  The researchers should have had a general idea of the amount of caffeine they would administer. No one should just plug numbers into any calculating device without knowing what a reasonable answer might be. A dosage that high should have raised a red flag in their minds!

Tom L

Exactly!

Unfortunately, many people do not have any idea of what correct ranges for their calculations should be. I've run into this many times.

Back in the Slide Rule days, the first thing we did was do a quick, back of the envelope, calculation to see what the overall magnitude of the result should be. This ability to do back of envelope estimates is largely gone today.

I would think that most researchers would have parameters established for the min/max levels to be administrated. Sounds to me like research protocols were either not established or not followed.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
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01-27-2017, 05:11 AM
Post: #7
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
+1 for the slide-rule days. While in the process of getting the detailed result on the slide rule, you had to get a rough idea in your head so you at least got the decimal point in the right place. No room for GIGO. Not being able to do that is a common problem with kids trained on calculators before they can do the calculation by hand or be able to get a close approximation in their heads. One of my beefs with using a phone as a calculator though is that the phone only lasts a couple of years, whereas I've had a few of my most-often-used programs in my HP-41 for 25+ years, continuously, without ever re-loading. And since programming is an important part of my calculator usage, it is important to have the same programming language and environment for many years to really get good at it and not have to spend time over and over to learn new ones.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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01-27-2017, 10:30 AM
Post: #8
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
An interesting article about zero before the decimal point
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52352.html
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01-29-2017, 11:58 PM
Post: #9
RE: One reason why you shouldn't use a calculator on a mobile phone
Sounds like this was a case of students reading the results without critical thinking.
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