What we're talking about Monday, February 20, 2017

Pro-Science Gets Organized

Inevitably, with the announcement of The March for Science on Earth Day, April 22nd of this year, come the inevitable naysayers decrying the politicization of science. Astroturf groups such as ACSH (diversity excludes white dudes and scientists from industry!), have of course decried the effort as a liberal conspiracy, but I was sad to see…

I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last week or so, with media appearances already out there and more to come. The list of links I’ve amassed is quite impressive, a significant number to add to the post highlighting Sarah Boon’s advice. But that was a week or so ago, which seems like an…

Rosa Parks wasn’t just some kid who decided to defy white authority and relinquish her seat on the bus. For one thing, she was a bit older than a kid. For another, she carried out this defiant act as part of a larger strategy to cause necessary and urgent change in the rules of society.…

The March for Science is scheduled to take place April 22, 2017 in DC . Hashtag #ScienceMarch Twitter account here. Web site here, though not much there yet, this was JUST announced seconds ago. Please note that they are accepting donations. Click through to the donations page to give a donation! Alternate logo here: To…

Outrage at Donald Trump has coalesced around several political loci, including women's rights, immigration, environmentalism, and scientific endeavor at large. As Trump threatens to roll back regulations and de-fund universities, Mark Hoofnagle points out that science has always been political, increasingly so in an age when politicians control huge sums of money devoted to basic research. Despite major discoveries funded by taxpayer dollars, Mark says scientists have failed "to explain the benefits of basic science to the public and to our representatives in government, and failed to defend our colleagues from misrepresentation of their work for cheap political gain."

Meanwhile, as a veteran of the Canadian "war on science," John Dupuis suggests how pro-science Americans can join the fray: "Don’t bring a test tube to a Bunsen burner fight. Mobilize, protest, form partnerships, wrote op-eds and blog posts and books and articles, speak about science at every public event you get a chance, run for office." Greg Laden demands that we do our homework, writing "organized activism produces results, having a plan matters." One plan worth making is to join the March for Science on April 22nd in Washington D.C.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

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I love fish. The diversity of these aquatic creatures is so vast, I find them fascinating. Take the eel for example: In a study published this month in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted to link information they learned from sequencing the RNA of eels with understanding how…

I get a lot of “infographics” and many are quite good. But this medium has become a vehicle for commercial advertising. So, some company comes up with an info graphics, maybe makes a good one, sends it around to the bloggers and such, and thier name, somewhere down there near the bottom, gets around. I…

Physical Science

“We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, is all ancient history. Then, before you can blink an eye, suddenly, it threatens to start all over again.” -Captain Picard It’s been another remarkable week here at Starts With A Bang! Of course there’s been news, science, physics and astronomy galore, but the biggest…

“I really didn’t have to work, shall we say, with Star Trek. It was a natural. When I opened my mouth, there was Scotty. It’s like I tell people what you see in Scotty is 99% James Doohan and 1% accent.” -James Doohan So, your friend on the USS Enterprise beamed you aboard, took you…

“It is the function of science to discover the existence of a general reign of order in nature and to find the causes governing this order. And this refers in equal measure to the relations of man – social and political – and to the entire universe as a whole.” -Dmitri Mendeleev When the Universe…

Environment

A while back I reviewed “Climate Change: What Everyone Needs To Know” by Joe Romm (see my review here). In that book Romm provides useful advice to help people understand the impact of climate change on them, on various aspects of their lives. For example, many people choose to retire to a specific habitat and…

By the Climate “Leadership” Council: a who’s who of conservative elder statesmen, this statement is the first time leading Republicans put forth a concrete, market-based climate solution. The idea is essentially Hansen’s fee-and-dividend, though naturally they don’t mention H; and thankfully they’re prepared to say “tax” instead of H’s weaselly “fee”. Although they do lead…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Inotocin is the insect form of the so-called “love” hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, as you may know, is responsible for inducing labor in pregnant women. A recent study published in Scientific Reports describes the work of a team of researchers that created a synthetic version of inotocin which could bind to both oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in human tissues.…

Humanities

Why music ownership matters Forgetting What I’ve Heard: Why I Miss Buying Music Henry Rollins: Will I Be Able to Finish Listening to All My Records Before I Die? Beyond Jazz’s Boys Club The Forgotten Architects of Jazz — And the New York Women Bringing Them Back Beyond the boys club: Striving for diversity and…

The anti-vaxxers were out again this week, spreading misinformation and debunked science about an intervention that’s saved millions of lives and prevented immeasurable human suffering. It’s unconscionable.

Recent pieces address why public-health issues get polarized, how New Orleans schools are tackling trauma, home-health workers defending the ACA, and more.

Education

This is not the April 22 March for Science, but something more local and timed to occur with the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings in Boston. From the press release: Scientists Take to the Streets to “Stand up for Science” Scientists and impacted communities respond to attacks by anti-science forces and climate…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Inotocin is the insect form of the so-called “love” hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, as you may know, is responsible for inducing labor in pregnant women. A recent study published in Scientific Reports describes the work of a team of researchers that created a synthetic version of inotocin which could bind to both oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in human tissues.…

The stomach and small intestine of many species moves rhythmically during fasting, something called the rhythmic ‘migrating motor complex’, or MMC. The MMC has 3 phases: no contraction, intermittent small contractions followed by regular large contractions. These contractions are thought to help clean the GI tract by moving along debris and bacteria as well as preparing our guts for the…

Politics

Animal farm: A Fairy Story “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most…

The anti-vaxxers were out again this week, spreading misinformation and debunked science about an intervention that’s saved millions of lives and prevented immeasurable human suffering. It’s unconscionable.

1984 “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own…

Medicine

With the election of one of their own to the White House, antivaxers feel emboldened. They think that Donald Trump is sympathetic to their cause, and they have reasons to belief that. Will 2017 be the “tipping point,” the year the antivaccine movement clearly becomes ascendant?

The anti-vaxxers were out again this week, spreading misinformation and debunked science about an intervention that’s saved millions of lives and prevented immeasurable human suffering. It’s unconscionable.

Longtime vaccine advocates will likely remember Jock Doubleday’s “vaccine challenge,” in which he offered up to $150,000 to anyone who would drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the vaccine additives in the childhood vaccine schedule. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro have teamed up to issue a challenge every bit as nonsensical from a scientific standpoint, with the added bonus of its being a scam as well.

Brain & Behavior

Happy Valentine’s Day! Inotocin is the insect form of the so-called “love” hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, as you may know, is responsible for inducing labor in pregnant women. A recent study published in Scientific Reports describes the work of a team of researchers that created a synthetic version of inotocin which could bind to both oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in human tissues.…

The story begins in 1999 when Leonie, a zebra shark (aka a leopard shark in Australia), was captured from the wild. In 2006 she was transferred to Reef HQ Aquarium in Queensland, Australia where she met her mate. By 2008, she had started laying eggs and the pair had multiple litters of offspring through sexual reproduction. After her…

Liver failure or congenital defects can lead to a build-up of ammonia in the brain of mammals resulting in life-threatening swelling, convulsions and comas. For goldfish (Carassius auratus), environmental exposure to ammonia causes reversible swelling of the brain. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted…

Technology

Drones are so early 20th century: That doesn’t actually look too hard to make. The only tricky part is how to attach it to the monkey.

Your objective is to learn Python programming. Everybody has to learn Python. You are looking for a book that will make that easier for you. One possibility, one that I’ll recommend for most people in this situation, is Python Crash Course: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming. To cut to the chase, there are two…

Last October I reviewed Scratch Programming Playground, by Al Sweigart. You will recall that Scratch is a programming language that uses drag and drop elements to construct a program. Individual objecgts, including “sprites” that can move around on the screen, as well as static graphic elements, sounds, etc. get their own code, and this code…

Information Science

Why music ownership matters Forgetting What I’ve Heard: Why I Miss Buying Music Henry Rollins: Will I Be Able to Finish Listening to All My Records Before I Die? Beyond Jazz’s Boys Club The Forgotten Architects of Jazz — And the New York Women Bringing Them Back Beyond the boys club: Striving for diversity and…

Paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. So does civilization. Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put…

Is the March for Science (and all it’s satellite marches) too political or not political enough? The text on their website gives a sense of where the organizers are coming from: SCIENCE, NOT SILENCE The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific…

Jobs

Fewer economic opportunities may be exposing black and Hispanic workers to an increased risk of workplace injury, according to a new study.

Obama-era labor veterans worry about the future of worker protections; a draft Trump executive order would allow employers to discriminate based on their religious beliefs; coal miner rulings offer a look at the legal philosophy of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee; and Iowa Republicans move to gut union rights.

Not violating federal labor law seems like a commonsense precursor for being awarded lucrative federal contracts. House Republicans, however, disagree.