Tag Archives | Science

Stop Giving Airtime to Crackpots

Here in America, there’s whole political ideologies consisting of crackpots and media pundits whose bread and butter is wingnuttery.

via Slate

English: "The removal of the cracked melt...

“The removal of the cracked melting pot” (1884), painting by Constantin Meunier (1831-1905) Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (CC)

In very welcome news, BBC journalists have been told to stop inviting crackpots on news shows in the name of balance.

Oh, I do so love this. It’s precisely the right thing to do, sorely needed and sorely overdue. In this specific case, back in 2012 the BBC was criticized for news shows inviting on people with fringe views, especially when the science being discussed was solidly understood.

Obviously, the topic most abused in this way was the reality of global warming. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention at all.

But more broadly, most TV news shows do this, especially when they are done with a talk show format.

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Early Predator Brain Was Simpler Than the Brain of Its Prey

Laggania cambria, Anomalocarididae; Model in life size (about 60 cm) based on fossils from Burgess Shale (middle Cambrian), Canada; Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany.

Laggania cambria, Anomalocarididae; Model in life size (about 60 cm) based on fossils from Burgess Shale (middle Cambrian), Canada; Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany.

Methinks there are contemporary cases of this being true.

Via ScienceDaily:

An international team of paleontologists has identified the exquisitely preserved brain in the fossil of one of the world’s first known predators that lived in the Lower Cambrian, about 520 million years ago. The discovery revealed a brain that is surprisingly simple and less complex than those known from fossils of some of the animal’s prey.

The find for the first time identifies the fossilized brain of what are considered the top predators of their time, a group of animals known as anomalocaridids, which translates to “abnormal shrimp.” Long extinct, these fierce-looking arthropods were first discovered as fossils in the late 19th century but not properly identified until the early 1980s. They still have scientists arguing over where they belong in the tree of life.

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NASA Will Find Extraterrestrial Life Within the Next 20 Years

On Monday, a panel of NASA scientists gathered to talk about their search for extraterrestrial life. They claim that they will find evidence within the next 20 years–and that’s a conservative estimate.

via The Week:

NASA outlined its plan to search for alien life and said it would launch the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The agency predicts that as many as 100 million worlds in the Milky Way galaxy may be home to alien life.

“Just imagine the moment when we find potential signatures of life,” Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said at the announcement. “Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe.”

NASA astronomer Kevin Hand seconded Mountain’s opinion, saying that within the next 20 years, “we will find out we are not alone in the universe,” suggesting that extraterrestrial life may exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

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New Robotic Milkers Allow Cows to Choose When to Be Milked

Keith Weller/USDA

Keith Weller/USDA

New robotic milkers allow cows to choose when they want to be milked.

via The New York Times:

Something strange is happening at farms in upstate New York. The cows are milking themselves.

Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations across the state are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand.

The cows seem to like it, too.

Robots allow the cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day — turning the predawn and late-afternoon sessions around which dairy farmers long built their lives into a thing of the past.

With transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized service. Lasers scan and map their underbellies, and a computer charts each animal’s “milking speed,” a critical factor in a 24-hour-a-day operation.

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How Much Does a Cloud Weigh?

Photo by Michael Jastremski

Photo by Michael Jastremski

How much does a cloud weigh?

via Mental Floss:

First, figure out how dense the cloud is. Scientists have measured the water density of a typical cumulus cloud (the white, fluffy ones you see on a nice day) as 1/2 gram per cubic meter—about a small marble’s worth of water in a space you and a friend could comfortably sit in. The density will be greater for different types of clouds.

Next, figure out how big the cloud is. By measuring a cloud’s shadow when the sun is directly above it, you can get an idea of its width. LeMone does this by watching her odometer as she drives under a cloud. A typical cumulus, she says, is about a kilometer across, and usually roughly cubical—so a kilometer long and a kilometer tall, too. This gives you a cloud that’s one billion cubic meters in volume.

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The Mathematically Correct Way to Debate Climate Change

A recent Disinfo article about climate change denial by Camron Wiltshire has caused quite the controversy among many Disinfonauts. A lot of you have written to us to express your concern and outrage. To present somewhat of a light-hearted counter argument, I give to you John Oliver and the correct way to debate climate change:

As a general reminder, Disinfo doesn’t necessarily endorse all ideas presented by columnists on our blog. With films like Greedy Lying Bastards, we actually side with those 97% of scientists.

Carry on.

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Everything is Sound and Light, Plus Sigil Generation Technology

universalconstantsSome might recall that last year I wrote a piece about 3rd, 4th, and 5th dimensional timespace perception based on various visionary experiences I’ve had throughout the years. All consciousness is part of a continuum and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have had these sorts of experiences without the writings of people like Robert Monroe, Terrence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, and Grant Morrison forever stretching the parameters of my linguistic operating system. And that’s the main reason I put this sort of fringe weirdness on the internets – to directly influence the psychic hive mind grid of humanity and potentially create exotic experience in the reader. Anyway, apparently it works because I got a message on Facebook (friend me) from a dude named Andrew Cary linking me to this rather brilliant piece he wrote, partially inspired by my theories on dimensional perception. What I love about this is whereas what I do is essentially translating mystical concepts for a generation of kids raised on crap like VICE and stoner comedy, he takes a vastly more scientific approach.… Read the rest

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You Probably Think You Know What Organic Means

Because I'm the editor, that's why.

Because I’m the editor, that’s why.

Annalee Newitz has a run-down of ten scientific concepts that you’re probably misusing, including “organic”. I mean, rabies and rattlesnakes are organic…

10. Organic

Entomologist Gwen Pearson says that there’s a constellation of terms that “travel together” with the word “organic,” such as “chemical-free,” and “natural.” And she’s tired of seeing how profoundly people misunderstand them:

I’m less upset about the way that they are technically incorrect [though of course all] food is all organic, because it contains carbon,etc. [My concern is] the way they are used to dismiss and minimize real differences in food and product production.

Things can be natural and “organic”, but still quite dangerous.

Things can be “synthetic” and manufactured, but safe. And sometimes better choices. If you are taking insulin, odds are it’s from GMO bacteria. And it’s saving lives.

via 10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing.… Read the rest

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The 120-Year-Old Mind-Reading Machine

ce461324aFrom The Atlantic comes this tale of the unlikely “science” of yesteryear.

In the 1890s, when technologies like telephones and automobiles and lightbulbs were still strange and wonderful and new, inventors promised another remarkable device would soon be ubiquitous: the mind-reading machine.

Inspired by the phonoautograph—a new device that showed what sound waves looked like on paper—the scientist Julius Emmner invented a machine that he said could record thoughts. It was simple, really. If invisible sound vibrated in a ways that could be measured, Emmner figured, why wouldn’t unseen thoughts do the same?

“Sound is addressed to the ear,” he told The Times of Washington, D.C., in August 1895, “yet it may be made visible, a proof of which fact is found in the phono-autograph, in which the vibrations of sound are made distinctly visible.” Reporters took him at his word. From that same article: “Mr. Emmner is carefully guarding his secret, but he speaks so enthusiastically of his success that he must have obtained the most satisfactory results so far from his investigations.”

via The 120-Year-Old Mind-Reading Machine – Adrienne LaFrance – The Atlantic.… Read the rest

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Do Psychedelics Have a Place in the Future of Medicine? With Brad Burge of MAPS and Army Ranger Tim Amoroso.

Via Midwest Real

“There really has been an exponential increase of media interest in what’s happening. I think that’s the result of new research, (and) the result of some major international conferences that are really establishing the field of psychedelic science and medicine.” Brad Burge of MAPS.

image  image

It seems we’re finally at a turning point in The War on Drugs.  All it took was a few decades of indoctrination, mass-incarceration, astronomical price tags and straight-up horrific body counts. Yet, society’s transition into a deeper understanding of these substances has been far from smooth. Yes, the people have clearly spoken on the subject of marijuana, and nearly half of all U.S. states have taken notice, putting some sort of marijuana-friendly law on the books. However, when it comes to Mary Jane’s more potent psychedelic cousins, the conversation is quite a bit more nuanced and controversial. Thankfully, for the first time in decades, the dialogue surrounding psychedelics is evolving.… Read the rest

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