Tag Archives | Science

Bill Nye, Brian Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lawrence Krauss on the Limitations of Mathematics

MATHEMATICS-INVENTED-OR-DISCOVERED-facebookvia chycho
Math lovers and aficionados will find the following discourse both entertaining and informative.

Below you will find the video and partial transcript of Arizona State University’s Origins Project’s Q&A segment from their ‘The Storytelling of Science’ panel discussion, featuring “well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss.”

The first question asked of the panel was:

Q: “If you could give us all a one word piece of advice for our own science storytelling, what would it be?”

Bill Nye was the first to reply with, “Algebra, learn algebra.” Neil deGrasse Tyson follows with, ‘Ambition’. Lawrence Krauss with, ‘Passion’. Neal Stephenson with, ‘Empathize’. Richard Dawkins states that since empathize has already been taken, he will choose ‘Poetry’.

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Do We Live in the Matrix?

The.Matrix.glmatrix.2Zeeya Merali says that “tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know,” writing for Discover:

In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines.

The action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space.

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The Future of Booze May Be Here

The future of boozeMan, I have been saying this since I was a teenager and it’s become even more glaring as technology advances. So, you can make it so I can access the internet on my goddamn phone but you can’t make something that mimics the socially liberating effects of alcohol without making me hungover or fat? Well, apparently this potentiality I’ve been talking about since I was roughly 14 is now right around the corner. Particularly pertinent in my world, as I’ve had to abandon my hard drinking lifestyle in the last few years because it became obvious my body couldn’t handle it any more. I’ve been bored ever since. What’s also fascinating about this is that it’s being championed by the dude who got fired by the British government for pointing out that alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous than most illegal drugs:

“I’ve done the prototype experiments myself,” he said. “I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist.… Read the rest

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Expert Says We Should Shame the Obese Into Losing Weight

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Hastings Center Professor Emeritus Daniel Callahan thinks that shaming obese people might be a good strategy for conquering America’s weight problem.

Via Addicting Info:

Daniel Callahan thinks that we ought to fat shame overweight people so that they will lose weight faster. He’s not at all happy with the lack of progress in the effort to slow America’s obesity epidemic. With 69.2% of adults overweight and obese and 12.1% of children 2-5 who are, it’s something we need to work on, for sure. But those kids who are 6-19 and overweight/obese do not need to have schools condone fat shaming. It’s hard enough to lose weight as a teen — ask me how I know — we do not need to add further stigmatization.

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King Tut’s Body Spontaneously Combusted

mummyfireHoly Flaming Mummies, Batman! If “Burning Mummy” doesn’t become a stoner rock band name by next week I’m going to be very disappointed.

Via Raw Story:

Egyptologist Chris Nauton, the director of the Egypt Exploration Society, and a team of car crash investigators ran computer simulations that lend credence to the increasingly accepted theory that Tutankhamun was killed in a chariot accident. The simulations showed that the injuries scaling down one side of his body are consistent with a high-speed collision.

But it is the possibility of a botched mummification and its consequences that really interest Nauton.

“Despite all the attention Tut’s mummy has received over the years the full extent of its strange condition has largely been overlooked,” he said. “The charring and possibility that a botched mummification led the body spontaneously combusting shortly after burial was entirely unexpected, something of a revelation in fact.”

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On the Slow Kill of the World’s Oceans

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

It is probable that every major ecological pillar however tenuously stabilizing the structure of the oceans is crumbling.  Although some endangered fish populations and coral reef systems are being protected and restored, the seas overall are in deep shit.  Overfishing and pollution are reducing biodiversity by killing-off larges swaths of ocean life.  The destruction of vast marine habitats will have catastrophic repercussions for humanity.  [According to some earth scientists, oceanic ecocide poses a greater threat to the existence of humanity than climate change.  Higher global temperature averages which melt icecaps and glaciers will lead to higher sea levels and the inundation of a plethora of coastal industries, cities, and urban centers that are responsible for contributing to environmental destruction and the mass production of excessive, heat-trapping, carbon-dioxide emissions. As in times of major economic depressions or financial stagnation, the inundation of coastal megalopolises will result in a decrease of industrial activity which may subsequently benefit nature as a whole (until industrial activity is resumed), but would have horrible consequences for humanity, especially for those hundreds of millions of impoverished coastal inhabitants who already live in deprivation, and who would become environmental refugees in the event of a significant increase in sea levels.  (Click here to view an interactive map from National Geographic which depicts how coastlines would change if all glaciers and icecaps on Earth were to melt.)]

Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but human beings have caused a lot of trouble for life in the world’s oceans.  The process in which the destruction of sea life occurs is largely two-fold.  Large-scale destructive events like oil spills (Deepwater Horizon) and nuclear power plant disasters (Fukushima) can cause serious damage to the affected aquatic areas.  Damage from such disasters is often immediately evident, such as the deformed and eyeless fish and shrimp that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or the dying sea lions pups and seals with bleeding lesions that have washed up on beaches in California and Alaska the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown.  Yet as grave and harmful as they are, explosive, headline-making disasters are less deleterious to life in the seas than the cumulative, synergistic effects of routine human activities such as oceanic commerce, commercial fishing, and pollution.  For example, a 2002 study by the National Academy of the Sciences found that the 85 percent of the 29 million gallons of marine oil pollution originating from North America derives from runoff from cars and oil-based machines and accessories (like lawnmowers and household robots) – and the sum of these tiny releases of oil, carried into the ocean by streams and storm drains, is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez oil spill every eight months.  [As additional food for thought: there are apparently 90,000 cargo ships in the world.

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Naomi Klein: How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt

Naomi Klein Warsaw Nov. 19 2008 Fot Mariusz Kubik 02Ms. Klein asks “Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet?” Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions. From the New Statesman:

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question.

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Snacking Makes Movie-Goers Resistant to Advertising

Let's_All_Go_to_the_LobbyHeard you don’t want to be affected by ads that want you to eat junk food, so we got you a bag of junk food to eat while you watch commercials that want you to junk food. They’ve got you coming and going. You’ll want a soft drink with that popcorn, right?

Via Discover Magazine:

Popcorn and movies are inextricably linked—like cotton candy and county fairs, or coffee and the morning commute. Equally ubiquitous in theaters is the reel of advertisements that show before the film.

New research suggests the two are at odds: popcorn actually makes advertisements ineffective.

Researchers in Germany sent 96 people to the cinema. Some of the movie-goers got free popcorn (score!) while the others were given a sugar cube (for real?!). Before the film, participants watched advertisements for unfamiliar products—things like Scandinavian butter.

When the researchers brought participants back into the lab a week later and asked them to rate various products (those advertised at the theater among them), the sugar-cubers showed a preference for the advertised products whereas popcorners did not.

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Are Cyborg Cockroach Kits Ethical?

news-roboroachI can’t say this seems any less or more ethical than smacking the bejeezus out of the things with shoes or spraying them with chemicals…

Via Wired:

RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old.

That news, however, hasn’t been greeted warmly by everyone. Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message.

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Why American Conservatives Don’t Trust Science

Tea Party vs RealityGiven the mess that the farthest right wing of the American Republican party is causing in Washington right now, this study might not come as too much of a surprise, but researchers Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles E. Gignac and Klaus Oberauer find that American conservatives have become increasingly skeptical of science since the 1970s, publishing their study, “The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science,” in PLOSone. This is the abstract:

Background

Among American Conservatives, but not Liberals, trust in science has been declining since the 1970′s. Climate science has become particularly polarized, with Conservatives being more likely than Liberals to reject the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the globe. Conversely, opposition to genetically-modified (GM) foods and vaccinations is often ascribed to the political Left although reliable data are lacking. There are also growing indications that rejection of science is suffused by conspiracist ideation, that is the general tendency to endorse conspiracy theories including the specific beliefs that inconvenient scientific findings constitute a “hoax.”

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a propensity weighted internet-panel survey of the U.S.

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