May 16, 2004

The Strange Case of... Strangelets

I hadn't heard anything about strangelets (tiny, superdense, hypothetical objects) before, but according to this two-year-old article, Earth may occasionally be getting pummeled by them: Earth punctured by tiny cosmic missiles.

I like stories like this because they remind me how weird and unexpected reality frequently turns out to be. I mean, if I read this story on April 1, I'd be pretty sure it was a hoax. But it appears to be legit.

Thanks to Bravo for the link.

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April 13, 2004

Astrology Proven Valid (forcertainvaluesofthetermquotevalidunquote)

Nifty little item from Pharyngula, in which a group of scientists attempt to verify the claims of a prominent astrologer: Scientific bias and the Void-Of-Course Moon.

Posted by jbc at 07:12 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2004

Bush: Science? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Science!

One more item in a very long list: Bush ejects two from bioethics panel. What do you do when prominent scientists on your advisory panel tell you your policies are a bad idea from a scientific perspective? Fire them, and replace them with less-prominent scientists who agree with you. Problem solved!

Except, of course, for this: Science, by definition, is all about understanding reality as it is, not as you would have it be. Once you start intentionally stacking the deck to allow "your" side to "win," it's no longer science. It's make-believe.

Maybe if you're the kind of president who doesn't read much, and got a C average in school, and was more interested in partying than studying, you don't mind having a make-believe science panel. But see, it's a problem. Because the president needs science advisors, and he needs them to be honest scientists, not just puppets chosen to repeat back the positions he's already decided will work best for him politically. Because science, for all its imperfections, is the best tool we have for understanding the non-obvious aspects of the universe. And it's important to have that perspective when you're making decisions that will have a direct and lasting impact on a good chunk of the planet's population.

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February 14, 2004

Advances in Lie-Detector Technology

This economics prof named Tyler Cowen at George Mason University seems to have a thing about lying. Anyway, he has lots of interesting postings at the Marginal Revolution weblog on various aspects of the phenomenon. Like this one: No baby, you really ARE beautiful. It's about some nifty little goodies that will do real-time voice analysis to help you figure out, among other things, whether the special someone whispering sweet Valentine's Day nothings to you really means it.

Thanks to reader Rick for the link.

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January 05, 2004

Michael Crichton on Bad Science

Michael Crichton has always kind of struck me as a pompous dork, an example writ large of "I'm a trained medical doctor, therefore I am qualified to mock the opinions of anyone churlish enough to disagree with me on any subject whatsoever" egotism. But the lecture he recently gave at Caltech is still pretty interesting: Aliens cause global warming.

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September 05, 2003

Emergent Highway Organisms

From CheesburgerBrown of Kuro5hin comes this thought-provoking piece: Traffic zoology. I'd comment on what it means, except I'm so busy linking to things I don't have time to actually read them. So go read it for me, and tell me what I think about it, okay? Thanks.

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September 04, 2003

How To Survive (a little longer) in a Black Hole

The good folks at Science News have a little blurb about "two researchers who actually took the time to contemplate" whether or not there was anyway to delay death while falling into a blackhole. Their solution is a Blackhole LIfe Preserver -- which would look just like a life preserver you'd find on a boat, except it needs to be the mass of a large asteroid. Assuming you wear this thing arround your waist, and point your feet (or your head) straight at the blackhole while falling, the gravity the life preserve exerts on you will counteract teh forces of the blackhole and prolonging your life a little while (about 0.09 second) -- allowing you to fall a little closer to the hole before rips you to pieces. The whole process has the added bonus of making you get shredded faster once you are torn atom from atom, so you will suffer less. Thank goodness for that.

The article doesn't mention how exactly you are supposed to go about the process of putting on a life preserver that ways as much as an asteroid -- so your milage may very.

(Props to my buddy dave who showed me this article durring our commuting)

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August 18, 2003

Alexia Myronenko: World's (un)luckiest little girl

This story is just hard core weird: Little Alexia Myronenko was spending the night with her family in a tent outside her grandmothers house in Oregon, when a tree near the tent was struck by lightning. The juice went into the tree, and then through the tree's roots, which were close enough to the surface of the ground that she was electrocuted -- straight through her pillow, in her ear and out her thigh. She's alive, and appears to be doing ok. Aparently the rest of her family was unharmed because of the insulation provided by their air mattresses -- Alexia had rolled off of hers in her sleep.

more...

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July 24, 2003

It's a Fact: Chicks Lie About Sexual History

Ok, I admit -- that was a deliberately inflamatory headline ... but that doesn't make it false. A recent study from Ohio State University points out that... some reported gender differences [of sexual behavior] might show up because women donít always answer surveys honestly, but give answers they believe are expected of them. In this new study, some groups of men & women were surveyed about their sexual history, and others were asked the exact same questions durring a (fake) polygraph test. The average answers from the guys didn't vary much -- but the average answers from the women differed significantly: from 2.6 partners to 4.4.

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July 19, 2003

Explaining the Farmer's Market Tragedy

Another item from Kuro5hin, this one dealing with the root cause of the recent tragic event in the Santa Monica farmer's market: Pedal error: A brief refresher. Not really "science", exactly, but I thought it was interesting and didn't know how else to categorize it.

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June 20, 2003

Whitman's Not-So-Comprehensive Environmental Report

Much ruckus being kicked up regarding the New York Times' article, yesterday, that blew the whistle on the White House having so watered down the section on global warming in the EPA's upcoming big-ass report on the state of the environment that it was eventually decided to just remove that section altogether: Report by the EPA leaves out data on climate change. Editorial/opinion pages are pretty universally taking up the call against such politicization of scientific findings. From Derrick Z. Jackson in the Boston Globe: Bush fries climate change. SunSpot: More revisionist history. And the NYT itself: Censorship on global warming.

It's part of the same pattern that gave us sexed-up evidence of Iraqi WMDs. Bush & Co. have little use for expert opinion that doesn't square with their political agenda. Yeah, I realize all politicians do the same thing to some degree, but with Bush it's off the charts. And since simply pretending very, very hard that things are true that really aren't, or aren't true that really are, has a poor track-record in terms of actually changing reality, this becomes pretty scary for anyone who has to live with the consequences of the resulting decision-making.

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June 08, 2003

Building a Better Lie Detector

Actually a fairly boring article in the classic gee-whiz mode, but I can't resist linking to it. From CNN: New research aims to catch liars in the act.

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May 22, 2003

Water Flows Uphill in British Garden

British inventor and vacuum-cleaner magnate James Dyson has created a really cool illusion as part of the annual Chelsea Flower Show. The beeb has the story: How does Dyson make water go uphill?

If you read the story, it's actually not quite clear who should get credit for "inventing" the effect. Dyson gets most of the ink in the article, though "Dyson engineer" Derek Phillips seems to be the person who actually created it. I'm not sure where the actual design came from.

But I don't care. I so want one of these.

Posted by jbc at 06:07 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2003

12 SARS Patients Report Relapses

Hello. This is my 1st post, so if there are any errors, please forgive me.

Definitly a year in history that will be remembered for a long time: a President of the USA who promotes peace by causing war(?), recession (but finds millions and billions to fight a war), and now SARS (an illness which, with all our technology, is still a myserty to us). In my travels through the world wide web, I came across intresting infomation about SARS, and how people who seem to have defeated the illness are being "re-infected." Could this be the black plague of the 21st century? Only time will tell...

An article from New York Times: 12 SARS Patients Report Relapses. And here is an interesting article from Newsday: HIV/Aids Infected people resistent to SARS?

Here are a few more on other topics:

US Marine investigated for war crimes after newspaper interview

U.S. Tells Iraq Oil Ministers Not to Act Without Its O.K.

Coca-Cola promotes drink with 'swastika' robots

Lawyer: FBI agent's job in jeopardy because she blew the whistle

The Secrets of September 11: The White House is battling to keep a report on the terror attacks secret. Does the 2004 election have anything to do with it?
(I am just glad the terrorists are the only ones who hate our freedom.)

Only on the net you find an article like this one... I won't claim it as fact, but it still is an intresting article: Bush's "Christian" Blood Cult, Concerns Raised by the Vatican

Well I hope it's not too much infomation; if it is, please let me know and I will limit the amount of articles I post.

-- best way to lie, is by knowing the truth

How fortunate for leaders, that the masses do not think.

-- Adolph Hitler

Where the People fear the Government - you have tyranny; Where the Government fears the People - you have rights.

-- Thomas Jefferson

It must never be unpatriotic to support your country against your government. It must always be unpatriotic to support your government against your country.

-- Stephen T. Byingt

It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

-- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

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April 16, 2003

Good Politics, Bad Science

From the Guardian comes this lengthy, but really informative, piece about how the Bush administration in particular, and the US religious right in general, has been making headway against those evil scientists who want to do unChristian things like teach children the theory of evolution, promote condom-use to fight AIDS, and find ways to use cloned embryonic stem cells to cure disease: The battle for American science. The latest technique, apparently, is to use stealth campaigns like the "Intelligent Design" movement, in which fringe science is portrayed as a viable contender against the more-established (but less popular with fundamentalists) theories favored by actual scientists.

Posted by jbc at 09:31 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2003

To Clone, or not to Clone

You may have heard of a company named Clonaid, which claims to have cloned several babies (and that humans were orriginally created by Aliens ... but that's a seperate issue). Now a Florida judge in there has ordered the CEO of Clonaid to answer questions about the existence of the "Eve" (the first hypothetical cloned child) to determine if he should appoint a guardian to care for it -- which is ammusing since there's no evidence that Florida has any jurisdiction in the matter. Also amusing: the VP of Clonaid claims he is "unaware of how Clonaid is funded, whether it has a board of directors, if and where it holds any bank accounts, and where its cloning labs are located."

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August 09, 2002

Quantum Cryptography

from the super-science-from-2525 dept.

The ability to safeguard secret messages using the quirks of quantum physics has been thoroughly demonstrated in the laboratory. Now field tests of quantum cryptography are showing that the technology can withstand the rigors of real-world communications.

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July 29, 2002

Boeing Vs. Gravity

from the up-up-and-away dept.

Boeing is examining the work of controversial Russian scientist Yevgeny Podkletnov who claims to have developed an anti-gravity process. While his claims are not taken seriously by many in the scientific community if an aerospace giant like Boeing is looking into his claims, maybe there's something to it.

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