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“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” –Bruce Lee One of the greatest tricks that filmmakers use to enhance what can be shown in apparent real-time…

“We are a singularity that makes music out of noise because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.” -Jack Gilbert This past week at Starts With A Bang saw five new stories about the Universe, from our own home planet to topics about the birth of…

I’ve been pretty quiet about educational matters of late, for the simple reason that I was too busy teaching to say much. The dust having settled a bit, though, I thought I would put some notes here about what I did this past term, and what worked. I had two sections of the introductory Newtonian…

A common hurdle in the field of occupational health and safety is delivering what can sometimes be life-saving information to the people who need it most. After all, not all employers are amenable to workplace health and safety education. But what if safety advocates could find and connect with the most at-risk workers out in the community? Perhaps even reach vulnerable workers with safety education before they experience an injury at work?

Especially if you’re a cuttlefish.

There’s lots of discussion out there right now in the twitter and blog world concerning Bjorn Brembs’ call to librarians to jumpstart the mass migration to Open Access by essentially unilaterally cancelling all the journals they subscribe to. This act would force the hands of all the various players in the ecosystem to immediately figure…

“I soon became convinced… that all the theorizing would be empty brain exercise and therefore a waste of time unless one first ascertained what the population of the universe really consists of.” –Fritz Zwicky When we look out at the galaxies in the Universe, watching how they rotate, we find that the starlight we see…

Orac note: Congratulations on California and everyone who reads this blog who helped pass SB 277 to protect California’s children. Here’s hoping Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill! I had a big talk to give this morning that required a massive rewrite of my slide set last night; so there wasn’t time for the usual…

“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor. I told him he was grounded.” –Tim Allen Static electricity is often the first exposure to physics beyond gravity that we encounter in our lives. Simply rub…

Analyzing online searches and social media activity has often been suggested as a way to track and maybe even predict the spread of diseases. And it’s a great idea — if it’s done right, it could offer public health workers real-time surveillance and a jumpstart at containing dangerous outbreaks. But there’s a hitch. How can we attempt to decipher between online activity triggered by the possibility of actual disease symptoms and online activity triggered by simple curiosity?

This post was originally about Laudato Si. But it took ages to write, and then James wrote something incomprehensible [Update: CIP explains] which expressed some of the snark I was going to use; so I don’t need to do that bit. And then ATTP wrote yet another post about the Ecomodernists. The bit where I…

My Week in Waterloo

I spent the last few days in Ontario, attending the Convergence meeting at the Perimeter Institute. This brought a bunch of Perimeter alumni and other big names together for a series of talks and discussions about the current state and future course of physics. My role at this was basically to impersonate a journalist, and…

A transitional turtle, Pappochelys

Turtles are nifty animals, with a remarkable adaptation: they’ve taken their ribs and shifted them outside their appendicular skeleton, flattened and expanded them, and turned them into a shell. It’s a clever twist, and it doesn’t require any magic — just a shift in timing during development, with a little extra signaling. The molecular biology…

Best headline on SCOTUS ACA decision: “Six million sighs of relief”

A few of my favorite quotes from health groups in response to the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

About a year and a half ago, I began an intermittent series that I called How “They” View “Us.” There are several posts in the series now. Basically, given the amount of nastiness directed at those of us who refute pseudoscience, in particular quackery and antivaccine pseudoscience, by those who believe in it, I tried…