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Archives for April, 2010

When James Hrynyshyn launched The Island of Doubt in five years ago, he directed his efforts at dismantling “pseudoskeptical arguments from those who have trouble accepting reality.” This meant covering a variety of subjects, from climate change, to creationism, to alternative medicine, and more. And while this has put The Island of Doubt into august…

Think of an Elephant

There’s an old parable about blind men and an elephant; each touches a different part of the great beast and comes to a wildly different conclusion about what stands before them. This parable shares some similarities with science, since we’re all probing the secrets if the universe in different places and ways. Unlike the ancient…

Stephen Hawking may have been the only person to play himself on Star Trek, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to sign Earth up for the United Federation of Planets. The world’s most famous living scientist recently reiterated his warning that the search for intelligent life on other worlds could lead to a scenario not…

Two Decades of Hubble

After a week of excitement?complex volcanism, the 40th Earth Day, and cinematic cephalopods?the weekend brought us the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch. On April 24, 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery lugged the silvery tube of mirrors, circuitry, and solar panels into low earth orbit; now both the shuttle and telescope are in the…

Back at the height of volcano-mania, I wrote that “Eyjafjallajökull’s ill temper been an unexpected object lesson in the complexity and interconnectedness of our environment, technology, and social networks.” Jason Goldman of The Thoughtful Animal added further dimensions in his post Intelligence, Cancer, and Eyjafjallajökull. But why stop there? Taking up that torch is Lee…

Cephalopod Cinema

Ever since the giant squid’s star-turn in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, cephalopods have shown promise in the world of film. Though sharks may get the glory (and the title roles), their tentacled nemeses stole a scene in Oldboy and were conspicuous by their absence in Watchmen. Now they’re stealing more than scenes: watch as…

Earth Day 2010

Today we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an environmental “teach-in” first promoted by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The environment of Nelson’s day was a little different than the one we now possess, not only in terms of an extra four decades of pollution, but in the attitudes and information the general public…

Though airplanes are starting to take off from various parts of continental Europe, UK airspace will remain locked down for at least another day. Eyjafjallajökull’s ill temper has been an unexpected object lesson in the complexity and interconnectedness of our environment, technology, and social networks. Who knew that you needed to factor glaciology and geophysics…

[This post comes courtesy of the State Department’s Katherine Musgrove, who is an economic officer in the Office of Economic Policy and Summit Coordination in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas is having its first ministerial right now in Washington D.C., and you can watch the end…

The webcast of day two is