What we're talking about Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter

These are two of my sons, Judah and Zion. Adorable, no? Yeah, I think so too. And they are so sweet. Zion loves animals, he wants to know everything about them. And anything that begins with the letter Z ‘My yetter!” Judah is one of the sweetest natured kids on the earth – if someone…

Police had cornered a murder suspect. There were negotiations and there was exchange of gunfire. Normally this stand off would have been maintained as long as possible. The way these things end, usually, is that the suspect gives up, the suspect kills themselves, there is what the police would call a “fair” exchange of gunfire*…

Addressing violence requires looking upstream at social determinants of health, including racism and economic inequality. It’s the uncomfortable task we continue to avoid.

Gun violence takes many forms in the United States, stemming from hot tempers as well as cold ideologies. But some gun violence comes from the very people sworn to protect American citizens, as the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile demonstrated (yet again) this month. In the aftermath of these killings of black men, a black man at a protest against police brutality in Dallas killed five white police officers in a self-styled act of vengeance. The Dallas police, instead of trying to arrest the suspect, sent a robot with a armful of plastic explosive to blow the alleged sniper to smithereens. Not one of these killings was justified under the law; and all were influenced by race. On Casaubon's Book, Sharon Astyk worries how her adopted children will be perceived in ten years, when they become teenagers "and move from beautiful to frightening to many white people." Greg Laden wonders "how many different police departments have bombs designed to kill suspects ready to go" and says violence against police tends to make police more violent themselves. And on The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton argues that gun violence should be considered a public health problem, noting that 7,100 gun-related deaths have occurred so far in the U.S. in 2016.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Watching carefully, I noticed that two other activities added to the commotion: sloughing of skin and defecation. Like other whales, sperm whales shed skin on a regular basis. This may be a mechanism to reduce the risk of infection and to rid the animals of external parasites. As the whales rubbed against one another, the…

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Back around the 11th of July, I saw a few comments by a guy named Myles Power, a science youtuber, who was quite irate that Rebecca Watson criticized evolutionary psychology five years ago. There were the usual vaguely horrified reactions implying how annoying it was that some mere communications major would criticize an established, credible,…

Physical Science

“He who would search for pearls must dive below.” -John Dryden If you want to know what types of stars are found all throughout a galaxy, looking at our own simply won’t do: too much of it is obscured by the plane and our position within it. But there’s an even more impressive galaxy —…

“Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.” -Mattie Stepanek After another tremendous week here at Starts With A Bang, including one where I recorded a new podcast (look for it later this week on SoundCloud), it’s time to take a look back and review all that we’ve been through. From last…

“We detect motion along this axis, but right now our data cannot state as strongly as we’d like whether the clusters are coming or going.” -Alexander Kashlinsky When dark energy was discovered, and the expansion of the Universe was shown to be accelerating, there was concurrently another puzzle that received much less attention: the problem…

Environment

It has been rather quiet around here recently. That’s due to a combinations of Summer, Work and Rowing. The latter has culminated in the annual festival called “Cambridge town bumps” and the answer is up three, which is a decent result in the first division. Not quite blades, because we stuffed up Thursday, but who…

Dallas and Houston have city ordinances in place to reduce the risk of violence perpetrated against convenience store clerks. NIOSH researchers found that few establishments comply with the law.

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Humanities

Recent pieces address racism, stress, and mortality; an interview with CDC Director Tom Frieden on Zika; why mocking environmental justice in Cleveland is especially inappropriate; and more.

An in-depth look at the troubling experiences of women in the trucking industry; a group of Teamsters are stopped by police for leafleting in Georgia; new National Labor Relations Board ruling a win for temp workers; and researchers reveal a big gender wage gap among physicians in academic medicine.

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Education

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Ducklings are rather well-known for their ability to imprint on someone (usually their mother) or something shortly after hatching. Researchers at the University of Oxford were interested in understanding more about learning and memory in ducklings. Specifically, they wanted to know if a duckling simply remembered what they saw or if they were capable of more complex cognition…

Manga is the Japanese sounding but not used so much in Japan term for a form of cartooning art that has its roots from before World War II but that emerged in its common form during the post war Occupation period. Early used in political cartooning, Manga style drawing is now used for a wide…

Politics

An in-depth look at the troubling experiences of women in the trucking industry; a group of Teamsters are stopped by police for leafleting in Georgia; new National Labor Relations Board ruling a win for temp workers; and researchers reveal a big gender wage gap among physicians in academic medicine.

In a Special Communication published in JAMA, President Obama assesses the Affordable Care Act’s progress and recommends additional steps for elected officials to take to improve US healthcare.

I have no idea if this will be of interest to this community of science oriented and smart readers, but a group called The Republicans is having a big convention this week. Here’s the basic schedule: Mon 18 July 1:00 PM EST: Convention Opens Tue 19 July 5:30 PM EST: Resume convention Wed 20 July…

Medicine

I was originally going to write this post for the 4th of July, given the subject matter. However, as regular readers know, I am not unlike Dug the Dog in the movie Up, with new topics that float past me in my social media and blog reading rounds serving as the squirrel. But never let…

I’ve discovered an antivaccine loon I’ve never encountered before. At least, if I have encountered him, I don’t remember it. Basically, it happened this way. Not having found anything that fired me up to blog yet, I was perusing my usual collection of sites, both crank sites (as in antivaccine, quack, and pseudoscience) and medical/scientific…

I’ve frequently said that a tendency towards pseudoscience knows no political boundary. For example, antivaccine views, contrary to common belief, are not detectably more prevalent on the left than on the right, as I’ve discussed on more than one occasion. It’s just that for so many years, antivaccine beliefs were associated in the media with…

Brain & Behavior

“In order to save the dying heliocentric theory from the conclusive geocentric experiments performed by Michelson, Morley, Gale, Sagnac, Kantor and others, establishment master-mind Albert Einstein created his Special Theory of Relativity which in one philosophical swoop banished the absolute aether/firmament from scientific study and replaced it with a form of relativism which allowed for…

Ducklings are rather well-known for their ability to imprint on someone (usually their mother) or something shortly after hatching. Researchers at the University of Oxford were interested in understanding more about learning and memory in ducklings. Specifically, they wanted to know if a duckling simply remembered what they saw or if they were capable of more complex cognition…

Researchers at Stanford University have accomplished what was once considered impossible. They have partially restored vision in blind. Check out this Youtube video to see how they did it

Technology

Huxley and I like to make Arduino projects. If you know what that means, your geek cred is good. If not, I’ll explain briefly. Arduino is an Italian based project that produces circuit boards that are controllers. A controller is a small highly specialized computer thingie that can be programmed to have various inputs and…

Not yet. As you know, JK Rowling is the author of the famous Harry Potter series of books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, etc.), and more recently, of a series of really excellent crime novels (if you’ve not read them, you need to: The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil, with a…

Manga is the Japanese sounding but not used so much in Japan term for a form of cartooning art that has its roots from before World War II but that emerged in its common form during the post war Occupation period. Early used in political cartooning, Manga style drawing is now used for a wide…

Information Science

How climate change may be fueling Canada’s fire season Environmentalists, automakers applaud Ontario’s $8.3B climate change plan Views from people on the frontlines of climate change How B.C.’s Climate Plan is Being Co-opted by Big Oil Once a climate doubter, Tory leadership contender Maxime Bernier now plans to consult scientists Climate change initiatives a $7-trillion…

Our democracy is much stronger when watchdogs have access to agency records to expose mismanagement, ineptitude, and abuse of power. Kudos to advocates and lawmakers who persisted in making improvements to FOIA.

Television and movie producers currently have a good deal in Great Britain, not in small part due to stability in various markets and some funding. For example, Game of Thrones, an HBO production, is filmed in Norther Ireland with funding from the European Regional Development fund. Both the stability and some of the funding for…

Jobs

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on Friday, July 16, in Fernandina Beach, FL.

Dallas and Houston have city ordinances in place to reduce the risk of violence perpetrated against convenience store clerks. NIOSH researchers found that few establishments comply with the law.

An in-depth look at the troubling experiences of women in the trucking industry; a group of Teamsters are stopped by police for leafleting in Georgia; new National Labor Relations Board ruling a win for temp workers; and researchers reveal a big gender wage gap among physicians in academic medicine.