Last 24 Hours

This flower, over many generations, has warped the poor buff-tail sicklebilled hummingbird’s beak into that bizarre curve.

“We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.” -Blaise Pascal By now, you’ve probably learned that Messier objects — and galaxies in particular — come in a huge, rich variety of types, structures and compositions. But sometimes, the simplest structure of all is the rarest. Think about it: most…

Do you know the real price of a piece of beef? Here is a nice, round number to chew on: The environmental cost of beef is ten times that of dairy, eggs or poultry. This means that if you chose to eat a steak over an omelet, (assuming they have equal amounts of protein) the…

Some of you might remember the waves made earlier this year about ‘The Immunity Project’. They were crowdsourcing an HIV vaccine that was magical and amazing and they were totally going to give it away for free!! YAY! … Except ‘The Immunity Project’ basically had nothing to back their claims up. No publications, the investigators had…

June 2014 was the hottest June on record, and records go back to 1880, by which time Global Warming may have started already but wasn’t nearly as intense as the last half of the 20th century, according to data NOAA has released and highlighted. The previous month, May, was the hottest May on record. NOAA…

Piketty & Public Health

Thomas Piketty’s prediction that wealth inequality will grow in the future has been everywhere in the media. Piketty’s methods would help public health efforts to reduce health inequality.

The Crowning of the Lion

Deep in a single square metre of trench D at Landsjö castle, on the inner edge of the dry moat, we found five identical coins. Boy are they ugly. They’re thin, brittle, made of a heavily debased silver alloy and struck only from one side; they bear no legend and the image at the centre…

Sins of Our Fathers by Shawn Otto

JW, protagonist, is a flawed hero. He is not exactly an anti-hero because he is not a bad guy, though one does become annoyed at where he places his values. As his character unfolds in the first several chapters of Shawn Otto’s novel, Sins of Our Fathers, we like him, we are worried about him,…

Ever since I started paying attention to quackery, in particular quackery used on autistic children, I’ve come across some bizarre articles. Of course, the vast majority of autism quackery is related to antivaccine beliefs and the need to “detoxify” autistic children from whatever toxins or mercury antivaccinationists think caused their children’s autism. If only it…

Last month, listening to NPR, I learned that Sacramento, California is struggling with the installation of water meters on homes. There were two things I learned, both ungood: 1) Sacramento was installing water meters on homes, meaning, that they hadn’t been there all along. I found that astounding because water meters are the first line…

“Which is more likely? That the universe was designed just for us, or that we see the universe as having been designed just for us?” -Michael Shermer After the end of another fun-filled week, it’s time again to take a look at (and respond to) what you’ve had to say! Over on the main Starts With A Bang blog,…

Sunday Chess Problem

My renewed interest in chess has not just extended to tournament play. I am composing chess problems again as well. Here’s one I came up with recently, and which will eventually be published in The Problemist magazine. In the position below, white is looking for selfmate in thirteen moves: Recall that white is always moving…

“I’m not playing a role. I’m being myself, whatever the hell that is.” -Bea Arthur It isn’t often that someone becomes both a legend and an inspiration simply by being themselves, and it’s even rarer in the world of entertainment if that person doesn’t just happen to be stunningly beautiful-or-handsome as well. But a certain…

In the past few weeks, I have had been asked the same question by reporters, friends, strangers, and even a colleague who posts regularly on this very ScienceBlogs site (the prolific and thoughtful Greg Laden): why, if the California drought is so bad, has the response been so tepid? There is no single answer to…

In the event of a Moon disaster …

We are celebrating an anniversary of Apollo 11′s landing on the moon. Here, I simply post a memo from William Safire, speech writer, to H. R. Halderman, felon, providing text to be read by Richard Nixon, World’s Worst President (of the 20th century), related to that Moon Landing: