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Archives for December, 2011

Father Physics

On Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel counts down to—what else?—Isaac Newton’s birthday. Opening a link on this advent calendar yields not a chocolate, but an equation and an important piece of the physics puzzle. For December 19th, we come to “one of the most revolutionary moment in the history of physics,” Max Planck’s “formula for the…

Vaccine Varieties

On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski examines the ethical dilemma of testing the anthrax vaccine in children. If a widespread attack were to occur, we would want to know the safety and efficacy of the vaccine beforehand. But is an attack likely enough to warrant testing the vaccine on children? On ERV, Abbie Smith explains…

Cracking Microbial Code

On Tomorrow’s Table, Pamela Ronald shares a breakthrough in the study of bacterial communication. Although bacteria have been known to use a limited chemical vocabulary, for the first time they have been observed to use a protein as a signalling mechanism. Ronald writes, “Ax21 is a small protein. It is made inside the bacterial cell,…

Putting Down the Pipeline

Like addicts, we would love to stick to what is easy, familiar, and dependable. The withering consequences of our actions, abstracted to an intangible future, are easy to deny. Prominent politicians say that global warming is a fantasy, that we can keep doing what we’re doing, that everything will be okay. Meanwhile their speech is…

No Cure for Cancer

On The USA Science and Engineering Festival, Joe Schwarcz writes that in the media’s “drive to capture public attention, science sometimes takes a back seat.” He offers an accurate headline for one study: “Large daily dose of blueberry powder may reduce the growth of a rare type of artificially induced breast cancer in a special…

Throwing (Fossilized) Bones

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers tries to imagine an ancient squid, preying on reptilian whales and arranging their vertebrae as a testament to its glory. He writes “I love the idea of ancient giant cephalopods creating art and us finding the works now. But then, reality sinks in: that’s a genuinely, flamboyantly extravagant claim, and the…