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What we're talking about Thursday, May 25, 2017

Exoplanet Extravaganza

“It isn’t only the beauty of the night sky that thrills me. It’s the sense I have that some of those points of light are the home stars of beings not so different from us, daily cares and all. who look across space with wonder, just as we do.” -Frank Drake What is it that…

As more and more exoplanets (at first) and earth-like exoplanets (eventually) have been discovered, the way thy are described to us has become increasingly sophisticated. Below are embeds of diverse video descriptions that have been very quickly developed and distributed given the freshness of this latest scientific discovery. Note that the practice of very clearly…

Exoplanet hunters have discovered a cache of rocky planets orbiting a star called TRAPPIST-1 only forty light-years away. Compared to our sun, TRAPPIST-1 is tiny, and all its planets orbit closer than Mercury orbits Sol. But three of them are still in the Goldilocks zone that could be just right for life, and all seven planets could theoretically hold liquid water. While Ethan Siegel introduces the neighboring star system with spectacular illustrations from NASA and ESO, Greg Laden says that the practice of saying these images are artistic interpretations "has largely fallen by the wayside." Instead, scientific outreach now relies more heavily on imagination and storytelling in order to capture public interest.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Scientists think they have discovered the reason why flamingos (Phoenicopteridae) stand on one leg. In a new study published in Biology Letters scientists studied both live flamingos and carcasses. What they found was that standing on leg requires less energy or effort than standing on both legs. In fact, the researchers found carcasses could be made to stand on…

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Last week, researchers officially opened enrollment in the nation’s first decades-long study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health — an effort they hope will transform our understanding of the health challenges LGBTQ people face and begin narrowing a giant data gap on their physical, mental and social well-being.

Physical Science

Did you ever hear the expression, “You’re a real card!” Well, if you are a notable woman in the physical sciences, you just might be a card! My sister has a project, and Amanda and my niece Koren and some others are involved, that puts notable women in the physical sciences on cards, with a…

“At least six lamp posts were snapped off while I watched. A few minutes later, I saw a side girder bulge out. But, though the bridge was bucking up at an angle of 45 degrees, I thought she would be able to fight it out. But, that wasn’t to be.” -Bert Farquharson If you’ve only ever…

“I don’t always bet the same way I talk. Good advice is one thing, but smart gambling is quite another.” -Hunter S. Thompson Did you know the world’s first wearable computer was built all the way back in the 1960s, was worn on your feet… and was used to help gamblers cheat at roulette? Physicists…

Environment

A little while back I posted this: Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace. Some of you complained because you don’t like Greenpeace. But that is hardly the point. Greenpeace has a history of working towards important goals and sometimes even attaining them, and there are a lot of whales that want…

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Environmental justice and labor groups in California were relentless in their demand to make refineries safer. Their years of effort paid off with an announcement last week by the state of new refinery safety regulations.

Humanities

In The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction, Charles Lane describes the events — several years of events including the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, though only briefly — that led up to the Colfax Massacre. What happened was incredibly complex and only a…

Last week, researchers officially opened enrollment in the nation’s first decades-long study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health — an effort they hope will transform our understanding of the health challenges LGBTQ people face and begin narrowing a giant data gap on their physical, mental and social well-being.

The original roleplaying game, 1974’s Dungeons & Dragons, set the template for a hugely popular genre that persists to this day as RPGs, boardgames (such as Descent) and video games (such as World of Warcraft). The core activity in these games is to enter underground complexes of rooms and tunnels (dungeons), defeat their various inhabitants…

Education

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in Britain recently studied ‘willpower’ in pet Labrador retrievers. After allowing each dog to smell a hot dog, the researchers placed the hot dog in a hamster cage and sealed it shut with duct tape. While some dogs showed only mild interest in the sealed-up hot dog, others were fixated on…

Have you ever heard of ‘Goodpasture Syndrome’? I’ll admit I haven’t. Check out the award-winning video below for the 2017 American Physiological Society’s video contest to learn about this syndrome. The video was created by Melissa Traver, Samantha Lyons, and Andrianna Walsh from Centenary College of Louisiana. Congratulations!!

Politics

Here’s why: All the available data strongly indicates that Otto will beat all the other contenders across state in the upcoming Governor’s race. Democrats have two major problems to face in 2018 and beyond. First, how do we win elections? Second, how do we remain true to our progressive and liberal roots? For Democrats, 2018…

A Zika attack rate of just 1 percent across the six states most at risk for the mosquito-borne disease could result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity, a new study finds. That’s more than the $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funding that Congress approved last year after months of delay and which is expected to run out this summer.

A historical look at the ‘radium girls’ and their legacy of worker justice; OSHA’s website for receiving injury and illness logs not accepting submissions; California farmworkers sickened by pesticide after Trump’s EPA reverses course on a probable ban; and former Walmart employees file class-action lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination.

Medicine

The Congressional Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released their scoring of the Republitrump Health Insurance reform bill, passed recently by the House but not yet taken up by the Senate. The OMB says the bill will leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026, compared to sticking with Obamacare.

A story in The Washington Free Beacon claims that Tipper Gore will be appearing at a fundraiser for Kathleen Murphy, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates running for reelection to be held by Claire and Albert Dwoskin, two rich antivaxers and donors to the Democratic Party. If the story is true and not fake news that’s bad, but even if it turns out not to be true I just had to discuss the Dwoskins, who have been funding antivaccine “studies” for several years now.

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Brain & Behavior

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in Britain recently studied ‘willpower’ in pet Labrador retrievers. After allowing each dog to smell a hot dog, the researchers placed the hot dog in a hamster cage and sealed it shut with duct tape. While some dogs showed only mild interest in the sealed-up hot dog, others were fixated on…

Dr. Kenneth Catania from Vanderbilt University presented his work with star-nosed moles at the Experimental Biology meeting last month in Chicago. These animals are really cool. Here are some facts from Dr. Catania about these crazy-looking creatures you may not know: If participating in a bug-eating contest, they would win hands down every time because they are the…

Technology

This is very simple, and it has more to do with the philosophy and marketing of operating systems than the technology of the operating systems themselves, though the technology does matter a great deal as well. First, lets have a look at how this ransomware attack was allowed to happen to begin with. The vast…

The merging of Alexa and your Internet experience appears to be happening as we speak. You know about the “Echo” by Amazon, similar to Google Home (which apparently you can buy at Target, which presumably does not have a similar device). This is the machine that listens for you to say its name then does…

We begin with the usual list of things you pretty much always do after installing every Linux OS. Why these things are not automatically done for you on installation is a bit mysterious, but down deep there are generally reasons (legal reasons) for some of these things. In fact, pretty much everything here, with some…

Information Science

Roger Moore just died, and you will hear that he was the third, or second, or fourth, “James Bond.” He wasn’t. Here is the list of James Bond actors: Barry Nelson, who played in “Casino Royale” in 1954. This was an episode in the “Climax!” TV anthology series, like they used to do a lot.…

Evil Speaks: Warriors and Watchers Saga by S. Woffington is a new scifi/fantasy novel with an interesting twist. If there is a Bechdel Test for ableism, it would pass. This is an interesting story written for youthful readers (see publisher’s summary below) that is well written and mostly devoid of the usual plot holes we…

Andrew Jackson was born in March, 1767. Jackson was about 9 years old when the Revolutionary War started. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War were two different wars. There was another war in between called the War of 1812. It was approximately in 1812. Andrew Jackson was a lawyer, a judge, and a congressional…

Jobs

Former coal executive Don Blankenship is appealing to President Trump to get to “the truth” about the Upper Big Branch disaster. He’s holding tight to his alternative facts in lieu of bearing responsibility for the death of 29 coal miners.

A historical look at the ‘radium girls’ and their legacy of worker justice; OSHA’s website for receiving injury and illness logs not accepting submissions; California farmworkers sickened by pesticide after Trump’s EPA reverses course on a probable ban; and former Walmart employees file class-action lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination.

A complaint from National COSH and an investigation by the Arizona Daily Star led federal OSHA to examine the Industrial Commission of Arizona’s discounting of safety inspectors’ findings.