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What we're talking about Saturday, May 27, 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

Researchers in Brazil are testing a new way to treat burn victims. They have found that tilapia skin is rich in collagen which helps the damaged skin heal better than standard wound dressings and eliminates the need to wait for donor tissue. Check out these videos from YouTube describing this radical new idea in burn…

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…

Physical Science

“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” -Hunter S. Thompson When we look at the nearby Universe, it looks a lot like we, ourselves, appear. Nearby galaxies are similar in structure to our own; the…

“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain, For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain. America, America, man sheds his waste on thee, And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.” -George Carlin When you think of helium, you very likely think of balloons, birthday parties, and blimps. But this inert,…

“First Rate People hire first rate people. Second rate people hire third rate people.” -Hermann Weyl So, here we are, encountering one another on the internet. There’s a really good chance that this is because you have some interest in space, science, astronomy, astrophysics, or some related area. Although I am an astrophysicist with a…

Environment

I like the “Analysis*”; it reminds me of Tesco’s “Finest*”, where I think they intend the “*” to mean “star” as in quality; but I always read it as “*” as in “footnote: may not actual contain fine quality ingredients”. But I digress. In this case, the “*” really is a footnote: Note that scientists…

Researchers in Brazil are testing a new way to treat burn victims. They have found that tilapia skin is rich in collagen which helps the damaged skin heal better than standard wound dressings and eliminates the need to wait for donor tissue. Check out these videos from YouTube describing this radical new idea in burn…

A Georgia congressman thinks poultry plants should be able to increase line speeds to 175 birds per minute. That was a bad idea from Obama’s USDA. It was nixed, but now it’s resurrected.

Humanities

To the surprise of literally no one, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed stripping all federal funds, including Medicaid dollars, from Planned Parenthood. Proponents of this argue that if Planned Parenthood clinics end up shuttered, women can simply access care elsewhere. But growing research shows that’s the opposite of what actually happens.

During my sabbatical last year, I decided to try to do a photo-a-day project, taking and sharing at least one good picture a day of something or another. The strict photo-a-day format fell victim to my general busy-ness and disorganization, but I did eventually complete the whole thing. In the final post of the series,…

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…

Education

Researchers in Brazil are testing a new way to treat burn victims. They have found that tilapia skin is rich in collagen which helps the damaged skin heal better than standard wound dressings and eliminates the need to wait for donor tissue. Check out these videos from YouTube describing this radical new idea in burn…

It is hard to find a good book for kids between the ages of 5 and 9. These are kids who can read, but at varying (and rapidly changing) levels, and who are too fancy for the little kid books (thick, big pictures, few words, boring). Amanda and Huxley spend a lot of time figuring…

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…

Politics

To the surprise of literally no one, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed stripping all federal funds, including Medicaid dollars, from Planned Parenthood. Proponents of this argue that if Planned Parenthood clinics end up shuttered, women can simply access care elsewhere. But growing research shows that’s the opposite of what actually happens.

A Georgia congressman thinks poultry plants should be able to increase line speeds to 175 birds per minute. That was a bad idea from Obama’s USDA. It was nixed, but now it’s resurrected.

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…

Medicine

To the surprise of literally no one, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed stripping all federal funds, including Medicaid dollars, from Planned Parenthood. Proponents of this argue that if Planned Parenthood clinics end up shuttered, women can simply access care elsewhere. But growing research shows that’s the opposite of what actually happens.

Researchers in Brazil are testing a new way to treat burn victims. They have found that tilapia skin is rich in collagen which helps the damaged skin heal better than standard wound dressings and eliminates the need to wait for donor tissue. Check out these videos from YouTube describing this radical new idea in burn…

What, with all the attacks on science and scientist these days, we may not want to be focusing on those times when science goes off the rails and makes a huge mess of things. But, science at its best and scientists at their best, will never shy away from such things. Dr. Paul Offit just…

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.