Archives for April 7, 2008

Ever since 3,599 years ago humans have been asking the question “Why did our furry elephant go extinct?” What caused the woolly mammoth’s (not to be confused with the also-woolly mastodon) extinction? Climate warming in the Holocene might have driven the extinction of this cold-adapted species, yet the species had survived previous warming periods, suggesting…

Creationist Pop Up Book

Oh, no, wait, I read that wrong… …. “Creationist Book Pops Up …. In Scotland…” Remember Harun Yahya’s Atlas of Creation, the lavishly illustrated Islamic creationist book that first turned up in Turkey, then France and other European countries and prompted a disapproving resolution by the Council of Europe? It’s now being mailed to universities…

Fifth grader Kenton Stufflebeam is smarter than the Smithsonian Institution. Since 1981, the Tower of Time exhibit has indicated that the Precambrian is an “era” … when in fact it is not an actual era. The student informed the museum, and now the Smithsonian is working on plans to paint over the word “era.” [source]

Solar System Doppleganger Located

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own. They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun. Martin Dominik, from St Andrews University in the UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own…

In keeping with the theme of TED2008, professor Stephen Hawking asks some Big Questions about our universe — How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? — and discusses how we might go about answering them. Stephen Hawking’s scientific investigations have shed light on the origins of the cosmos, the nature…

Are You in a Book Club?

Our Overlord, Virginia Hughes, has just posted a new reader poll concerning book clubs. Web Poll Powered By MicroPoll More information on the book club concept here.

The Meaning of Life

I have a theory that cinema and other forms of fiction often arise not from pure creativity, but from prescience. It is not the case, when this happens, that “life imitates art” but rather, that art predicts life. It is only a matter of figuring out which so-called ‘creative’ manifestations are predictive of reality in…

Google Earth and Your Privacy

One of my students mentioned the other day that she was mortified when she found her house in Northeast Minneapolis on Google Earth. Just for fun, she was flying around on Google Earth and decided to stop in and see her own crib. It turns out that the local photograph of her home on Google…

Women in Science

Remember the Science Diversity Meme? We had fun coming up with the names of women in science. Well, the meme has now mutated into a summary of itself. Here.

Should you feed the birds?

It is a little ironic that all nature enthusiasts know that it is “bad” to feed the animals … they become dependent on the food, and in some cases will become a nuisance or dangerous, prying open cars or breaking into homes to get more food. Then the animal has to be put down or…