Ben Stein is Bonkers

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

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Published in: on May 3, 2008 at 3:16 am  Comments (1)  

Gene switch altered sex orientation of worms

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Altering a gene in the brain of female worms changed their sexual orientation, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, making female worms attracted to other females.

The study reinforces the notion that sexual orientation is hard-wired in the brain, said Erik Jorgensen, scientific director of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah.

Published in: on October 28, 2007 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Review of Sweetener Over Cancer Fears

Another European study raises doubts about the safety of aspartame, but many don’t realize it was Donald Rumsfeld who got “fast track” approval of the artificial sweetener as then-CEO of Searle (now part of Monsanto). The approval was one of Reagan’s first acts in office, thanks to a FDA commissioner who rewrote the rules for approval and would later do PR work for Monsanto/Searle! Not so sweet?

[thx RK]

Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

First artificial life ‘within months’

Scientists could create the first new form of artificial life within months after a landmark breakthrough in which they turned one bacterium into another.

From reading DNA to writing it

Audio: Roger Highfield on the significance of the breakthrough

Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Study on I.Q. Prompts Debate on Family Dynamics

The new evidence that eldest children develop higher I.Q.’s than their siblings has intensified the debate over two of the most stubborn questions in social science: What are the family dynamics that enhance intelligence? And can they — and should they — be changed?

Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Greening of the Urban Animal

June 11, 2007, 5:44 pm
Basic Instincts
Behavior on Two, Four, Six and Eight Legs

A few days ago, for the first time in our history as a species, the human population of the planet Earth became predominantly urban, not rural.

by Richard Conniff

What does it mean to become a city-dwelling species?
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How to access the article

Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

More Useless Knowledge

Basic Instincts
Behavior on Two, Four, Six and Eight Legs

When army ants are sweeping across the forest on one of their massive predatory raids, potholes tend to slow them down. And just the other day, British researchers revealed how these hard-charging creatures deal with the impediment: Individual ants fling themselves down and bridge the potholes with their bodies. In fact, the volunteers seem to size-match themselves to the holes they choose to plug. And when the army has tramped across their backs, they get up, dust themselves off, and head home to join the communal feast.

Richard Conniff
————


How to access the article
Wondering why you can’t just read it here?

Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

America Comes Up Short

PAUL KRUGMAN
So what is America’s modern height lag telling us?

————–

How to access the article
Wondering why you can’t just read it here?

Published in: on June 14, 2007 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

House Passes Stem Cell Bill Despite Veto Threat

On a vote of 247 to 176, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill, with Republicans and Democrats forging a coalition to authorize federal support for research using stem cells derived from spare embryos that fertility clinics would otherwise discard. The Senate approved the legislation in April.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Biologists Make Skin Cells Work Like Stem Cells

In a surprising advance that could sidestep the ethical debates surrounding stem cell biology, researchers have come much closer to a major goal of regenerative medicine, the conversion of a patient’s cells into specialized tissues that might replace those lost to disease.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

House Passes Stem Cell Bill Despite Veto Threat

On a vote of 247 to 176, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill, with Republicans and Democrats forging a coalition to authorize federal support for research using stem cells derived from spare embryos that fertility clinics would otherwise discard. The Senate approved the legislation in April.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Natural history, Bible-style

Kentucky’s Creation Museum, opening May 28, puts dinosaurs in the garden with Adam and Eve.

Published in: on May 26, 2007 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Prosecutor’s Fallacy

Our Lives as Atoms
Mark Buchanan on the nature of altruism.
May 16, 2007, 5:42 pm

Later this month – or it could be next month – a group of three judicial “wise men” in the Netherlands should finally settle the fate of a very unlucky woman named Lucia de Berk. A 45-year-old nurse, de Berk is currently in a Dutch prison, serving a life sentence for murder and attempted murder. The “wise men” – an advisory judicial committee known formally as the Posthumus II Commission – are reconsidering the legitimacy of her conviction four years ago.
(more…)

Published in: on May 21, 2007 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Golden Rule in the Human Jungle

Our Lives as Atoms
Mark Buchanan on the nature of altruism.

May 21, 2007, 6:06 pm

News of the past few days and weeks suggests a rather dismal view of humanity.  Israel is once again bombing the Palestinians, who are already locked in their own violent internal power struggle. On the streets of Karachi, just over a week ago, Pakistani security forces killed 41 people and injured many more, while preventing a rally for Iftikhar Chaud, deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and opponent of President Pervez Musharraf. In the United States, a company compiling data on consumers is making money by helping criminals steal the savings of thousands of retired Americans. (more…)

Published in: on May 21, 2007 at 11:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

You Can’t Trust Science!

tmw022807.jpg
Show the brilliant Tom Tomorrow some Love!

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 2:47 pm  Comments (1)  

On the Recentness of What We Know

August 9, 2006
Talking Points
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG

The other night I took the dogs for a walk in the pasture. It was a cloudless evening with low humidity, a rare event in this damp, northeastern summer. I always look up at the stars when I’m outside in the dark, but all too often, even here in the country, they’re obscured by haze. (more…)

Published in: on May 14, 2007 at 3:27 pm  Comments (1)  

Not Evolved

wc1.jpg

Published in: on May 13, 2007 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

When Order Creates Itself

Our Lives As Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World
May 7, 2007, 5:44 pm

By Mark Buchanan

An anonymous commenter, responding to my previous column, suggested that my title “Our Lives as Atoms” is “more than a little puzzling*,” and wondered “Where will all this lead us?” I’ve written about the amplified polarization of opinion in the political blogs, and about the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, which had a disturbingly eerie resemblance to famous experiments at Stanford University 36 years ago. What does any of this have to do with atoms? Fair question. I’d like to start my answer by telling you about a strange phenomenon in Spitsbergen. (more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Illusion of a Nation Divided

Our Lives As Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World
April 30, 2007, 6:22 pm

By Mark Buchanan

We seem to be a rather polarized country. According to views often expressed in the media, especially online, Republicans revel in the idea of torture and detest our Constitution, while Democrats want to bring the troops home from Iraq only to accomplish the dastardly double-trick of surrendering our country to the terrorists and kicking off a genocide in the Middle East.
(more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Planet of the Apes

April 28, 2007
Guest Columnist
By ROBERT WRIGHT

This week the mystery deepened: Why no space aliens?

On Tuesday, scientists reported finding the most “Earthlike” planet ever, Gliese 581c. Its sun is cooler than ours, but also closer, so Gliese is in that climatic comfort zone conducive to water — hence to life, hence to evolution, hence to intelligent beings with advanced technology. Yet they never phone. (more…)

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 11:32 pm  Comments (5)  

Why Darwinism Isn’t Depressing

April 21, 2007
Guest Columnist
By ROBERT WRIGHT

Scientists have discovered that love is truth.

Granted, no scientist has put it quite like that. In fact, when scientists talk about love — the neurochemistry, the evolutionary origins — they make it sound unlovely. (more…)

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

Pas de Deux of Sexuality Is Written in the Genes

When it comes to the matter of desire, evolution leaves little to chance.

Published in: on April 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Why We Haven’t We Won The War On Cancer?

Good Question

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Life Is Evolution

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 28, 2007, 6:28 pm

By Brian May

Some of you out there who know me better as a rock guitarist (of Queen, et al.) may also know that I have elected to go back to Imperial College London, after an absence of 30 years or so (I was busy!), as a post-graduate student, re-registering for the Ph.D. in astrophysics that I began around 1970. Laying my cards on the table, I am very aware of my essentially amateur status, but eager to catch up on the last 30 years of astronomical research. I get to go to some pretty high-powered seminars, plus enjoy the privilege of being around scientists who are in touch with the most distant surface of the bubble of knowledge that we are pushing out into the observable universe. And this gives me wonderful opportunities for insight. (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2007 at 1:05 am  Comments (1)  

How Many Scientists?

March 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Sometimes you read something about this administration that is just so shameful it takes your breath away. For me, that was the March 20 article in this paper detailing how a House committee had just released documents showing “hundreds of instances in which a White House official who was previously an oil industry lobbyist edited government climate reports to play up uncertainty of a human role in global warming or play down evidence of such a role.” (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2007 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

Extrasolar Planets in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 26, 2007, 8:52 pm

By Chris Lintott

Patrick has done his usual excellent job of outlining the importance of the discovery of life on Mars (or elsewhere in the solar system – Jupiter’s moon Europa looks like an interesting outside bet), but it won’t be long before we’re able to look far beyond our own neighborhood. A month or two ago, the Spitzer Space Telescope obtained the first spectra of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. These results were for large planets close to their parent stars, and relied on the planets happening to pass behind the star, but nonetheless a start has been made. (more…)

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Is Life Elsewhere?

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 25, 2007, 9:02 pm

By Patrick Moore

Of all the questions facing mankind, perhaps the most fascinating is concerned with life beyond the Earth. Does it exist – if so, where? – and what will it be like? So far we do not have the answers, and some people still maintain that we are alone in the universe. Since there are around a hundred thousand million stars in our galaxy, many of which are attended by planets, this seems unlikely, but we cannot be sure because we have no positive proof of life anywhere except on Earth. However, I have the feeling that at least one of these fundamental points may soon be cleared up. (more…)

Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior

Chimpanzees have a sense of social structure and rules of behavior, most of which involve the hierarchy of a group, in which some animals rank higher than others. Social living demands a number of qualities that may be precursors of morality.

Published in: on March 21, 2007 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scientist accuses White House of ‘Nazi’ tactics

A government scientist, under sharp questioning by a federal panel for his outspoken views on global warming, stood by his view today that the Bush administration’s information policies smacked of Nazi Germany.

“This is the United States,” Hansen told the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. “We do have freedom of speech here.”

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hawking is out of this world

Thousands gather to hear universe’s biggest star discuss cosmos

Published in: on March 14, 2007 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sun as You’ve Never Seen It Before

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 14, 2007, 9:48 pm

By Brian May

On the Internet right now, just one click away, you can find a wonderful movie made by NASA of a recent transit of the Moon past the Sun, but it is something very special. This version is viewed not from the Earth but from one of NASA’s twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories, satellites that recently were launched to study the Sun from space. (more…)

Published in: on March 14, 2007 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

To the end of the earth

This is our future – famous cities are submerged, a third of the world is desert, the rest struggling for food and fresh water. Richard Girling investigates the reality behind the science of climate change

Published in: on March 12, 2007 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Searching for the Dark Side

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 11, 2007, 9:16 pm

By Chris Lintott

It is possible to write the history of our increasing knowledge about the universe and our place in it as a series of blows to human pride. We discovered that the Earth and then the Sun are not the center of the universe, that we do not reside at the center of the galaxy and that there is nothing particularly special about our own Milky Way system. The latest such shock is that the kind of matter we – and everything we can see directly – are made of accounts for only a sixth of the total mass in the universe. In the absence of knowledge, we label the rest as “dark matter” and look to detect it via its effects on what we can see. (more…)

Published in: on March 11, 2007 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Don’t mention the polar bears, Bush tells US scientists

The Bush Administration has been accused once again of gagging US government scientists by getting them to agree not to talk about polar bears, sea ice and climate change during official overseas trips.

Published in: on March 10, 2007 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

English, Irish, Scots: They’re All One, Genes Suggest

Britain and Ireland are so thoroughly divided in their histories that there is no single word to refer to the inhabitants of both islands. Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts, and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country’s western and northern fringes.

Published in: on March 8, 2007 at 11:49 am  Comments (2)  

Darwin’s God

Heavenbound
A scientific exploration of how we have come to believe in God.

Published in: on March 8, 2007 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sun’s Mysterious Family

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 8, 2007, 9:47 pm

By Patrick Moore

I began regular television broadcasting half a century ago, when we knew much less about the universe than we do now. One of my early programs was devoted to Venus, which I described as the “planet of mystery.” We knew that there was a dense atmosphere, rich in carbon dioxide, but our ignorance of the surface conditions was to all intents and purposes complete. Opinions differed wildly: Venus might be a raging, scorching-hot dust desert; it might be mainly oceanic; the great Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle even believed that it had oil wells far richer than those of Iraq or anywhere else on Earth. It was thought that as a potential colony Venus might be much more promising than Mars, a planet that for many years was thought to have canals. (more…)

Published in: on March 8, 2007 at 12:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Go Ahead, Cling a Little

Dependency, often seen as neediness, can be healthy, research says.

Published in: on March 6, 2007 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

A Story of Astronomical Importance

Across the Universe
A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the Cosmos
March 5, 2007, 3:35 pm

By Chris Lintott, Brian May, Sir Patrick Moore

This is an incredible time to be an astronomer. Actually, it’s an incredible time for anybodywho is interested in our place in the universe. The last few decades have seen the advent of technologies that have allowed us to see further into space than ever before.
(more…)

Published in: on March 5, 2007 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Eclipse set to be ‘best in years’

Skywatchers eagerly awaiting Saturday’s total lunar eclipse say that the spectacle could be the “best in years”.

During “totality”, only light that has been filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere reaches the Moon’s surface, making it appear a reddish colour.

Published in: on March 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scientifically Illiterate (Part I)

The good news: America’s science literacy rate is up from a pathetic 10 percent in 1988. The bad news: it’s still only 28 percent.

Published in: on February 23, 2007 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning deadly spears from sticks and using the tools to hunt small mammals — the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans.

Published in: on February 23, 2007 at 3:05 pm  Comments (1)  

GOP, Global Warming & Dinosaur Farts

After the Nov. 7 elections, many observers thought Republicans would moderate some controversial positions, from the Iraq War to their resistance to the science on global warming. Instead many Republicans have stuck to their guns and dug in their heels.

Published in: on February 22, 2007 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Suppressed report shows cancer link to genetically-modified potatoes

It showed that the potatoes did considerable damage to the rats’ organs. Those in the “control groups” that were fed non-GM potatoes suffered ill-effects, but those fed GM potatoes suffered more serious organ and tissue damage.

Published in: on February 19, 2007 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Extremist Bush supporter calls for murder of scientists

Glenn Greenwald

Whenever you think that Bush followers cannot get any more depraved in what they advocate, they always prove you wrong.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beer goggles’ effect explained

Scientists believe they have worked out a formula to calculate how “beer goggles” affect a drinker’s vision.

Published in: on February 9, 2007 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

For women, nothing’s like the smell of men’s sweat

Hm. Interesting.

Can this be far behind?

Published in: on February 8, 2007 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reclaiming a Black Research Scientist’s Forgotten Legacy

This gave me chills!

On the day that Percy L. Julian graduated at the top of his class at DePauw University, his great-grandmother bared her shoulders and, for the first time, showed him the deep scars that remained from a beating she had received as a slave during the last days of the Civil War. She then clutched his Phi Beta Kappa key in her hand and said, “This is worth all the scars.”

Published in: on February 7, 2007 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Small Part of the Brain, and Its Profound Effects

The recent news about smoking was sensational: some people with damage to a prune-size slab of brain tissue called the insula were able to give up cigarettes instantly.

Published in: on February 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Locked in an eternal embrace

5000-year-old skeletons found hugging

An initial examination of the couple – dubbed the Lovers of Valdaro – revealed that the man (on the left in the picture) has an arrow in his spinal column while the woman has an arrow head in her side.

Published in: on February 7, 2007 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment