Pure Pedantry

Archives for December, 2006

FDA (finally) approves cloned food

The FDA — after years of twiddling their thumbs because of the irrational fears of “consumer” groups — has finally approved cloned food for human consumption: After years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration tentatively concluded yesterday that milk and meat from some cloned farm animals are safe to eat. That finding could make…

Best Foot-In-Mouths of 2006 via Wired

Wired Magazine has the Foot-in-Mouth Awards for 2006. My personal favorite: “They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and…

The Economist has an article that wonders whether new knowledge into neuroscience and more particularly social pathologies will erode our belief in free will. I roll my eyes every time I read an article like this one, mostly because they tend to express an uniformed view about how the brain works: For millennia the question…

Poem of the Week is a bit late because of the holiday, but I think it is worth it. The World Is a Beautiful Place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti The world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t mind happiness not always being so very much fun if you don’t mind a…

Court-ordered surgery?

A 17-year-old man under suspicion for attempted murder is refusing to have a 9-mm bullet removed from his forehead. Prosecutors claim that the bullet, which is lodged just under the skin, could prove that the man was involved in a shootout with a used car-lot owner after taking part in a gang-related robbery of the…

If you hadn’t heard yet, Time’s Person of the Year is…well…You. The thrust of their argument is that New Media is user-generated media, and sites like blogs, MySpace, and YouTube are changing the way that we create and distribute information. It has a totally tacky mirror on the front cover so that you can see…

This is never going to end: A lawmaker introduced a bill on Tuesday that would make Massachusetts the first U.S. state to ban artificial trans fats from restaurants, closely following New York City’s ban of the artery-clogging oils. “We have an opportunity to vastly improve public health by directing restaurants to switch to healthier alternatives,”…

To Read On Scienceblogs

There is some good stuff on Scienceblogs right now: Evolgen has an article about how the oft quoted 1% genetic difference between chimps and humans may hide much larger differences due to copy number and expression differences. Jonah Lehrer reports on how the function of dreams may be to replay and consolidate daytime memories. Mixing…

German scientists have created a metamaterial with a negative refractive index for far red light: The trick is to assemble an array of electronic components that resonate with the electric and magnetic fields of the light waves as they pass through. These materials are unlike any conventional substance, hence the name “metamaterial”. Pendry suggested that…

Americans having sex (before marriage)

Americans are not waiting until marriage to have sex: More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past. “This is reality-check research,” said…