Last 24 Hours

The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker Dr. Jennifer Elisseef…

Trumpeter Swans At Risk

Please don’t shoot the swans. My new post at 10,000 birds is here.

November Pieces Of My Mind #1

No, Kim Stanley Robinson, when two groups of characters meet and tell each other what they’ve gone through recently under the reader’s watchful eye, you shouldn’t write that dialogue. Because the reader already knows. Back when my father-in-law the engineer had just come to Sweden from China and worked as a waiter, he used to…

A specular conundrum

Every year in my intro biology course, I try to do one discussion of bioethics. One lecture is not much, but this is a course where we try to introduce students to the history and philosophy of science, and I think it’s an important issue, so I try to squeeze in a little bit. So…

Sulfur: As You Like It

Speaking of sulfur: This common element turns out to be highly useful for understanding planetary processes – both on Earth and Mars. Two new papers by Dr. Itay Halevy use sulfur chemistry to understand the history of sulfur-loving microbes at the bottom of the ocean and the compounds spewed from Martian volcanoes that may have…

I figured that yesterday’s post about the First Nations girl in Ontario with lymphoblastic leukemia whose parents stopped her chemotherapy in favor of “traditional” medicine would stir up a bit of controversy, and so it did, albeit much more at my not-so-super-secret other blog, which featured an expanded version of this post. Don’t worry, you…

I just got this press release for the Texas Freedom Nettwork, passing the good news on to you: PUBLISHERS REMOVE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM FROM TEXAS TEXTBOOKS; PUT EDUCATION AHEAD OF POLITICS Texas State Board of Education must still vote on adopting the revised textbooks FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 17, 2014 Publishers have agreed to correct…

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.” -Henri Matisse But the surrounding fog might not come from our minds nor from our world, but rather from the plane of the galaxy itself. Nevertheless, the brightest clusters — the ones placed serendipitously — are clearly visible (and…

Oh, lordy!

Mostly misc. I start with this erg screenshot, which I hasten to add is not mine, though that will be obvious to the cognoscenti immeadiately, or indeed to anyone who has sweated out 2k and got not even close to 6:06.8 – I can’t even quite manage 7:10 for 2k, let alone for three times…

The term “Polar Vortex” was thrown around a lot last year, in reference to the persistent mass of very cold air that enveloped much of southern Canada and the US. As you will remember, Rush Limbaugh accused climate scientists and librul meteorologists of making up the polar vortex to scare everyone into thinking climate change…

Eureka: Bridge to Dark Matter

The first time you hear about dark matter, it sounds kind of crazy– asserting that we’re surrounded by tons of invisible stuff is usually a good way to get locked up. But the process of its discovery is surprisingly ordinary: it’s just what you do when you play cards. Here’s the second green-screen video I’ve…

Stockholm Film Festival 2014

Before this month I’d never attended a film festival in any concerted way. But I was inspired by Ken & Robin’s podcast to do so, and got myself a membership card for the Stockholm Film Festival, 5–16 November. The festival’s excellent web site made it easy for me to choose which viewings to attend. And…

As Healthcare.gov welcomes enrollees for 2015 health-insurance plans, we’re seeing far fewer technical problems, modest premium increases overall (but not everywhere), and a continued lack of affordable options for those in the “coverage gap.”

A few weeks ago, Steve Novella invited me on his podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, to discuss a cancer case that has been in the news for several months now. The case was about an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is a member of Canada’s largest aboriginal community. Steve wrote about this case…