Page 3.14

Hurricane Harvey visited a near-biblical deluge upon Houston, dropping over 40 inches of rain on parts of the city. The situation resulted from warmer ocean waters, more moisture in the atmosphere, and Houston’s geography along with its preparedness for the disaster. Greg Laden shows hotter sea surface temperatures in the Tropics and the Gulf of…

Standing Tall for Vaccines

“Who fears or rejects vaccines, why do they do so, and how might we reach them to change their minds?” On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith answers these questions with a new paper written as a primer for those who want to stand up for vaccination. She says, “for many individuals on the vaccine-hesitant spectrum, it’s…

Climate Change in the ‘Hood

On Class M, James Hrynyshyn shows us how climate change will benefit the economies of some U.S. counties while damaging many others. This mostly has to do with location; coastal areas and southern latitudes are more threatened, with Florida poised to suffer worst of all. James writes, “we’re not just talking about polar bears anymore.…

Exoplanet Extravaganza

In February, exoplanet hunters announced the discovery of seven 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…

Pro-Science Gets Organized

Outrage at Donald Trump has coalesced around several political loci, including women’s rights, immigration, environmentalism, and scientific endeavor at large. As Trump threatens to roll back regulations and de-fund universities, Mark Hoofnagle points out that science has always been political, increasingly so in an age when politicians control huge sums of money devoted to basic…

Trump Against the World

Donald Trump continues his blitz to fulfill all his campaign promises at once, leaving snowflakes aghast and deplorables cheering for the proto-fascism on parade at The White House. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump issued a statement “in the name of the perished” without any reference to Jews or anti-semitism, and while his Chief of…

Trump Preps for War on Vaccines

In the latest of a series of appointments that are poised to contravene scientific and medical consensus, Donald Trump met with anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the purpose of forming a commission on “vaccine safety.” On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg says “Kennedy is a lawyer — not a scientist, doctor, child health…

Science Communication FTW

Despite a greater percentage of people knowing about (and agreeing with) scientific issues, denialism remains a powerful political and psychological force that threatens to have its heyday under President Trump. As Peter Gleick writes on Significant Figures, “good policy without good science is difficult; good policy with bad science is impossible.” Peter asks: what is…

Spoiler Alert: Rogue One

Serving as an immediate prelude to the very first Star Wars film (A New Hope), Rogue One restores a measure of gravitas to the Star Wars canon that was seriously undermined by the goofiness of 2015’s The Force Awakens. Rogue One is still a remarkable nostalgia trip, thanks to the digital recreation of familiar Rebel…

Never Mind About that Paper…

A few scientific papers are retracted after they’re published, such as this analysis of nuclear energy that appears to have been nixed for poor methodology and bad numbers on Stoat. William M. Connolley adds that because of the politics surrounding nuclear power in Europe, “this crude level of analysis would be unlikely to be useful.”…