This Is The International Flag Of Planet Earth

earth flag

Now that we’re planning missions to colonize other planets, Earth needs a flag, don’t you think? Oskar Pernefeldt, a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, has come up with this design for an International Flag of Planet Earth and it seems like it’s catching on if the positive media reaction is anything to go by. His website explains his rationale for the flag’s design:

THE DESIGN

The scientific study of flags is called vexillology, and the practice of designing flags is called vexillography. Both of these are an outcome of heraldry. In these practices there are different unofficial design rules/costums, about colors, placement, proportions, typography, and aestethics in general.

This proposal is accurate according to the regulations regarding flags.

SYMBOLIC EXPLANATION

Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. 

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The curse of Frankenstein: how archetypal myths shape the way people think about science

Original film poster.

Original film poster.

Alan Levinovitz, James Madison University

“One doesn’t expect Dr Frankenstein to show up in a wool sweater,” wrote political commentator Charles Krauthammer, ominously, in the March 1997 issue of Time magazine. He was referring to British scientist Dr Ian Wilmut, who eight months earlier had successfully created Dolly, the world’s most famous sheep, by cloning her from another adult sheep’s cell.

Krauthammer’s criticism was unsparing. “This was not supposed to happen,” he insisted. Dolly was “a cataclysmic” creature. But PPL Therapeutics, the company responsible for funding the science behind Dolly, was undeterred, and four years later produced five cloned female pigs. Again, the news provoked outrage. Lisa Lange, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, echoed Krauthammer when she dismissed justifications of cloning: “There’s always a reason given to validate these Frankenstein-like experiments.”

Frontispiece to Mary Shelley, Frankenstein published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831 By Theodor von Holst via Wikimedia Commons

Invoking Mary Shelley’s myth of Frankenstein is standard fare in arguments over controversial science.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

US Officials Leak Information About the ISIS Raid That’s More Sensitive than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

AK Rockefeller (CC BY-SA 2.0)

AK Rockefeller (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Trevor Timm writes at the Freedom of the Press Foundation:

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

Here’s how the New York Times described how the US conducted this “successful” raid:

The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

France Forces Big Supermarkets to Give Unsold Food to Charities

Now that’s some progressive legislation right there! Can you imagine Walmart giving away food in the US? The Guardian reports on the new French law requiring the likes of Carrefour to distribute unsold food to non-profits that presumably will give the food to the poor and hungry who previously had to forage in potentially poisoned garbage bins for that same food:

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.

Monoprix, après l'averse

A Monoprix supermarket in France. Photo: Damien Roué (CC)

 

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.

As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Average American Consumes Over 300 Gallons of California Water Per Week

CA Avocados at the grove

Photo: California Avocados (CC)

Note that it’s the average American who consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week, not the average Californian (whose usage is way higher). This is because this mythical average American is consuming a tremendous amount of food produced in California, everything from almonds to avocados explains the New York Times:

California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up.

The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week. We made an estimate of the amount of water it takes to grow each portion to give you a sense of your contribution to the California drought.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Students cheat for good grades. Why not make the classroom about learning and not testing?

Wonderlane (CC BY 2.0)

Wonderlane (CC BY 2.0)

Eric Anderman, The Ohio State University

We have been hearing stories about academic cheating: from students caught cheating on homework assignments as well as college entrance exams to teachers being caught in cheating scandals, such as the ones in Atlanta, Georgia, and Columbus, Ohio.

Today, between 75% and 98% of college students surveyed each year report having cheated in high school. So, if cheating is happening at that large a scale, is it just inevitable? And can we even blame our students?

In order to figure out how to answer these questions, it’s important to consider why students cheat in the first place. Although the obvious reason seems to be the desire of students to get ahead (eg, to get a good grade, or to avoid a punishment), the real reason is actually a bit more complicated.

Academic goals matter

When students do their schoolwork (which includes everything from daily homework assignments to major examinations), they usually have certain goals in mind.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Ancient Bacteria Produce Carbon-Neutral Ethanol Using Just Sun, Waste Carbon Dioxide and Non-Potable Water

Scientists at innovative energy company Joule have engineered ancient bacteria to produce carbon-neutral ethanol using just the sun, waste carbon dioxide and non-potable water. It’s amazingly efficient, beating other ethanol sources like corn and wood chips by a huge margin and could eventually be cheaper than oil. Bloomberg’s Ramy Inocencio reports from Hobbs, New Mexico:

There’s more detailed information in Joule’s press release.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Diablo III Players Stole Virtual Armor and Gold — Prosecuted IRL

Proving that the lines between your video game life and your real life are becoming increasingly fuzzy, two gamers who stole a load of loot in Diablo III have pled guilty in a real life case based on their virtual crimes, reports Fusion:

These days, we all have shadow selves that exist in virtual environments — be it on Facebook, Twitter, or in video games. And those digital avatars, it turns out, can get us in IRL trouble. Last year, in a first-of-its-kind legal case that has not previously been reported, two men pled guilty to misdemeanors in California and Maryland that stemmed from their robbing video game characters of gold, weapons and armor.

D3-inventory-smaller.jpg

Diablo III‍ ’​s inventory and HUD.

 

In the summer of 2012, Patrick Nepomuceno of California and Michael Stinger of Maryland, who had met each other through gaming chat platform TeamSpeak, committed a series of virtual “hold-ups” in the role-playing video game Diablo III.

Read the rest
Continue Reading