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The Demise Of The New Republic

While it’s hardly the most important thing going on in the world right now, we should take a moment to note the effective demise of The New Republic. There was a time when TNR was one of the best liberal journals of opinion to be found. In the late seventies and eighties, when the magazine…

Quantum Immortality (Synopsis)

They say that a cat has nine lives, mostly because of their uncanny ability to find themselves in — and escape from — frequently perilous situations. Perhaps, of all the animals that he could have chosen, that’s why Schrödinger made his famous thought experiment about the most diminutive of felines. But there’s an incredible outcome that…

One More Post For the Endless Discussion

Well, it seems the big discussion is still going strong, even after six weeks. Incredibly, the comments still seem to be substantive and interesting. So here’s another post to continue the discussion. Plus with my own ongoing blog lethargy, it’s nice that there’s any activity going on around here at all! So feel free to…

“In the 602 days since the West, Texas tragedy there have been 355 chemical accidents resulting in 79 deaths and 1500 hospitalizations,” said Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opening the hearing. “Essentially,” said Boxer, since the West, Texas accident, there’s been a U.S. incident involving hazardous chemicals every other day. “This,” she said, “is absolutely outrageous.”

A new study has recently been published that looks at the ecology of bristlecone pine growth at Sheep Mountain, and the tree ring signal those trees produce, at high altitudes in the Southwestern US. This is important because tree rings are an often used proxyindicator for reconstructing past climates. Those who keep track of the…

Life under Arctic ice

Ever wonder what lies beneath the polar ice? Turns out several researchers did as well. This past July a team of scientists led an expedition designed to image life under sea ice. The video below was captured with the Nereid Under Ice (NUI) vehicle and shows brown algae living on the bottom of sea ice…

Best Science Books 2014: The Guardian

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And here we are in 2014! As in previous years,…

There’s no way I could possibly go through a long history-of-science blog series without mentioning the great Marie Skłodowska Curie, one of the very few people in history to win not one but two Nobel Prizes for her scientific work– if nothing else, Polish pride would demand it. She made a monumental contribution to physics…

OSHA ignores poultry workers’ petition, sixteen months and counting

Poultry and meatpacking workers submitted a petition to OSHA in September 2013 asking the agency to issue a regulation to address line speed and other hazards that lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Sixteen months later, they’re still waiting for a response.

When compared with gasoline-powered cars, vehicles fueled with electricity from renewable sources could cut air pollution-related deaths by 70 percent, according to a new study, which noted that air pollution is the country’s greatest environmental health threat.

Egnor babbles some more

Michael Egnor has replied to my dismissal of his claims that memories can’t be stored in the brain with a curiously titled post, Understanding Memories: Lovely Metaphors Belong in Songs, Not Science. I was a bit confused, at first…I don’t recall using any song lyrics or poetic metaphors in my post on the subject, but…

Kids Love Breaking Stuff

I visited SteelyKid’s first-grade class yesterday with several liters of liquid nitrogen. Earlier in the fall, they did a science unit on states of matter– solid, liquid, gas– and talked about it in terms of molecules being more spread out, etc. Looking at her homeworks, I said “Oh, damn, if it wasn’t the middle of…

December Pieces Of My Mind #1

Anglophones, why do you say “might” instead of “may” when expressing uncertainty? If you’re certain, you say “I’ll eat some bread”. If uncertain, you sometimes just say “I may eat some bread”. But usually you form a needless subjunctive, “I might eat some bread”. Sometimes you even use this mode to express certainty! I sometimes…

I’ve written quite a few times, both here and elsewhere, about the sham that is known as “traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM). Basically, there is no such thing as TCM per se. There were in the distant past many “traditional Chinese medicines,” various folk medicine traditions that, contrary to what is taught now, did not form…

2014 may be the warmest year on record

In early December I wrote a post called “2014 will not be the warmest year on record, but global warming is still real.” The very first thing I said in that post is that I was going out on a limb. I also discussed whether or not one year mattered, and I discussed the nature…