Last 24 Hours

Over the years, my goals in doing this blog have evolved. Now, I want to do more than just blog about the issues of science and pseudoscience in medicine that are this blog’s primary raison d’être (along with the occasional post on more generalized areas of skepticism or the even more occasional political rant). I…

Uncertain Dots 22

After a long absence due to travel (some of which is discussed), Uncertain dots returns! Rhett and I talk about recent travels, how people going into internet-based physics outreach these days would probably do better to make videos than blog, physics in science fiction, celestial navigation, and as always, our current courses. Some links: –…

As I sat down to do my final post for this week, I perused my list of posts thus far and was amazed to discover that I hadn’t done a single post on vaccines. After all that nonsense the other week, where I spent more than a week blogging about nothing but the antivaccine movement,…

Deadly distrust

Gregg Mitman’s article in the September 17th New England Journal of Medicine, “Ebola in a Stew of Fear,” is unfortunately all too prescient. Dr. Mitman highlighted “the ecology of fear” in Western Africa. Fear is present on both the part of Westerners (scared of Africa’s yellow fever, malaria, Ebola, its mere “different-ness”), and by native Africans (of…

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” -Carl Sagan That might be true: all the heavy elements — in theory — were created after at least one generation…

Habicht

I packed some stuff (too much as it turned out) and headed off to the Stubai. First stop is the Innsbrucker Hutte (interior pic, including the lovely huge ceramic stove) and first mountain is the Habicht, which SummitPost doesn’t take too seriously, at least for the Voie Normale. Probably correctly; it isn’t hard in decent…

Not an “accident”: Ernesto Rodriguez, 41, suffers fatal work-related injuries at southern Oklahoma oil rig site

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on September 10 at a fracking site near Mannsville, Oklahoma.

This one will be much shorter than usual, mainly because I was out late last night for a dinner function at which I was on a panel of breast cancer experts. I must admit, even after having been an attending surgeon for 15 years, it never ceases to make me feel a bit weird to…

The Polar Vortex hurt. We who lived in it, through it, with it, are like farm animals that got zapped by the electric fence a couple of times … notice all that long grass growing by the fence. Stay away. It hurt! So we are worried that this will happen again. It is a reasonable…

Cash and Respect

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

September 2014 Open Thread

Past time for more thread.

The Physics of the Death Star (Synopsis)

“What’s that star? It’s the Death Star. What does it do? It does Death. It does Death, buddy. Get out of my way!” -Eddie Izzard It’s said — at least by Darth Vader — that the power to destroy a planet is nothing compared to the power of the force. But how much energy is that,…

Bad Graphics, STEM Diversity Edition

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the U.S. poverty rate declined slightly between 2012 and 2013, however the numbers of people living at or below the poverty level in 2013 didn’t represent a real statistical change.

Could artificial sweeteners be helping cause the very thing they are supposed to prevent? They may well do so, and you can probably blame your microbiota – those masses of mostly-friendly bacteria that live in your gut. According to a paper by Weizmann Institute scientists that appeared today in Nature, artificial sweeteners not only encourage…