Last 24 Hours

Don’t forget to look up tonight!

Auroras are amazing sites because they are, of course, impossible. When Amanda and I got married a year or so ago in northern Minnesota, there was an amazing Aurora, surpassing what anyone at the wedding had ever seen in the state. Big colored curtains of light. Tonight, and over the weekend, the northern lights will…

I got a royalty statement yesterday for How to Teach [Quantum] Physics to Your Dog (it continues to sell steadily, which is very gratifying), which includes a breakdown of the sales in terms of different formats. That reminded me of a particular annoying quirk of many recent discussions of the state of modern publishing, which…

Fatherhood and Academia

Via a whole bunch of people on social media, there’s a new study of gender roles in academia, which the Washington Post headlines “Study: Male scientists want to be involved dads, but few are”. This is not inaccurate. Some quotes that jumped out at me: “Academic science doesn’t just have a gender problem, but a…

Music critics. Got to love them. Just the right mixture of disdain, hipster arrogance and snobbery to set the teeth on edge. Ooooh, love that band no one has ever heard of. Hate that band that “sold out” and became famous. They were so much more authentic when they were poor and no one heard…

Rare Birds of North America

Rare Birds of North America is the only extensive treatment I’ve see of the so called “vagrant birds” in the US and Canada. Most, or at least many, traditional bird books have a section in the back for rare birds, occasionals or accidentals, which one might see now and then. But when you think about…

Prepare yourself. The Te Papa Museum of New Zealand has a new specimen locked in a vault: a colossal squid that will be thawed and dissected (they think!) on streaming video. Here is the necromantic chamber. Wait! No protective runes, no array of emergency thuribles, no pentagram, no mysterious idols of jade and obsidian? This…

ORAC NOTE: I’ve added the links to the video segments, which are now up at the Dr. Oz website. I also did a screen grab of a certain really stupid thing that I noticed when I watched the segment but, because I was watching it on DVR, didn’t have the ability to show you. It’s…

I grew up in Calgary and a small bedroom community west of it called Bragg Creek.  This event is not on a par with the flooding of a couple years ago, but it still qualifies as “freaky”. Freak Summer Snowstorm in Calgary Leaves 30,000 Without Power.

Last known living rescue dog of 9/11

On this anniversary of 9/11 we remember not only the victims but also the heroes of that fateful day including countless first responders as well as their rescue animals that searched tirelessly for victims. The last known living rescue dog from 9/11 is Bretagne, a 15-year old golden retriever who returned to the memorial site…

Throwback Thursday: The Green Flash (Synopsis)

“It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” -Carl Sagan Although I often hear people utter sentiments that knowledge somehow undermines the beauty of the natural world — quoting some farcical poem about bad teachers like When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer — I never quite understood it. How…

Giant Semiaquatic Predatory Dinosaur

It is called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus but it sounds a bit more like Godzilla. Spinosaurus is a theropod dinosaur (that’s the groups birds evolved within) found in what is now NOrth Africa, between about 112 and 97 million years ago. It was first discovered about one century ago, though those bones were destroyed during WW II.…

Perdue Farms announces that it has slashed its use of antibiotics in poultry.

In the earlier days of the West African Ebola outbreak, it was not uncommon to hear people note that we should not panic about Ebola because, after all, far more people are killed from Malaria than Ebola. This is of course an irrelevant argument. That is like telling a person who has lost their family…

Ken Cuccinelli’s appalling behavior.

Ken Cuccinelli posted a highly offensive cartoon on his facebook page in which Hillary Clinton is depicted in a position where she is about to be beheaded by a caricature of a Middle Eastern terrorist. That was posted on the even of the anniversary of 9/11. You will know of Ken Cuccinelli as the anit-climate-science…

Chatbots are boring. They aren’t AI.

You know I’m a bit sour on the whole artificial intelligence thing. It’s not that I think natural intelligences are anything more than natural constructions, or that I think building a machine that thinks is impossible — it’s that most of the stories from AI researchers sound like jokes. Jon Ronson takes a tour of…