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“We are what we are, and we’re doing the best we can. It is not for you to set the standards by which we should be judged!” -Capt. Picard, to Q When you think about Star Trek, a whole variety of things might come to mind. It might conjure images of space exploration, feelings of…

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM’s hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

“There are two problems for our species’ survival – nuclear war and environmental catastrophe – and we’re hurtling towards them. Knowingly.” ―Noam Chomsky Well, another week of science has gone by, here at Starts With A Bang! and everywhere else in the world, and while we’re down one space mission from the start of the week (Cassini),…

I love the The Mathematics Calendar 2018. It has an equation or other statement about math for every day, often linked to that day (like, the January 13th entry is “the sixth prime number”). Some entries are little mat quizzes for you to fugue out. Some are funny jokes, like the entry for Thanksgiving (any…

ATTP started it by posting on Well below 2 °C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes by Yangyang Xua and Veerabhadran Ramanathan. But as you can tell from ATTP’s post, the principal question – although he is far too polite to put it so bluntly – is “where’s the novelty?”1 All their…

“There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.” -Kami Garcia When we consider…

CheMystery is a graphic novel

CheMystery authored by C. Al Preece is a graphic superhero novel, drawn by Josh Reynolds, that teaches — wait for it — Chemistry! A radiation accident transforms two youngsters into superheros, and simultaneously creates an evil villain for them to fight. The graphic novel covers that story and is indurated with frequent cleverly placed molecule…

Through the course of evolution vertebrates have apparently lost their gene-encoded viral defense mechanisms. These ancient defenses allow plants and insects to silence the expression of certain genes by using what is known as RNA interference. This natural defense system can be manipulated to create genetically modified crops that resist certain infections. However, a new…

Friday Cephalopod: we all float down here

Pale, drifting quietly, long grasping arms, cold and anoxic…we all float down here. Yes, I’m going to go see It this evening. It won’t be half as creepy as the reality of the dark deep, though.

More deregulation by Trump: Ditching mine safety requirements

The Trump administration’s deregulatory zeal has infiltrated the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Trump’s appointee is insisting that a safety examination performed while miners are working is as protective as one performed before miners begin their work.

Or, “world is not as I like it shocker; villain must be found!”. Again; sigh. In this case the normally sensible Graham Readfearn in the Graun has picked up the unfortunately not very sensible Nancy MacLean‘s “Democracy in chains”2 and run with it. GR is sad about cynicism about the motives of public servants, including…

Earlier this week, members of the Senate Finance Committee announced an agreement to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The announcement had been anxiously awaited by families and advocates across the nation, as the program’s federal funding expires in about two weeks. The agreement is good news, but coverage for CHIP’s 8.9 million children isn’t safe just yet.

Hurricane Harvey visited a near-biblical deluge upon Houston, dropping over 40 inches of rain on parts of the city. The situation resulted from warmer ocean waters, more moisture in the atmosphere, and Houston’s geography along with its preparedness for the disaster. Greg Laden shows hotter sea surface temperatures in the Tropics and the Gulf of…

“The bedrock nature of space and time and the unification of cosmos and quantum are surely among science’s great ‘open frontiers.’ These are parts of the intellectual map where we’re still groping for the truth – where, in the fashion of ancient cartographers, we must still inscribe ‘here be dragons.’” –Martin Rees Inside the nuclear…