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Archives for August, 2012

In Memory, on the Moon

Neil Armstrong, first man to walk (and take a photograph) on the Moon, died August 25th at the age of eighty-two. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin turned a primordial fantasy into reality, and what we knew was possible changed in the space of a television broadcast. On Universe, Claire L. Evans honors the human spirit as…

Threatening Zoonoses

Two weeks after an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, the same disease is circulating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the outbreaks have been caused by two distinct subtypes of virus, meaning they were not spread from one country to the other. The same thing happened in 1976, when over 500 people died…

Runaway Warming

The extent of Arctic sea ice undulates like a yearly sine wave—rising in October, peaking in winter, and melting all spring and summer. This September we are likely to observe the lowest of lows; Greg Laden writes “There is less sea ice in the Arctic Circle than recorded in recent history.” More ice has also…

Published in 2012

Information exchange defines us as humans, and perhaps even as living things. In 2012, we’re approaching a whole new level. Greg Laden introduces us to Apple’s iBook, which handles images better than a generic eBook. Greg says “An iBook can be a product that has almost no writing in it at all, or it can…

New Wheels on Mars

Despite NASA’s teasing prospect of a crash landing, the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars without a hitch.  It is the biggest, most expensive, and best-equipped scientific instrument to ever reach the Red Planet.  On Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau writes: With its plutonium-fueled power plant, its robotic arms, and its rock-destroying lasers, Curiosity’s goal…

Inadvertent Overkill

In Uganda, the fourth outbreak of Ebola in twelve years has killed sixteen people. On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham says the virus is “readily transmissible,” kills quickly and assuredly, “and the way it kills is gruesome – causing massive bleeding from all orifices.” These may seem like dominant characteristics, but a virus is not a…

Global Warming Reiterated

At first glance, Richard Muller’s “conversion” from global-warming skeptic to true believer—based on research funded by global warming denialists—is a welcome surprise. Hey, people can change their minds! But on Stoat, William M. Connolley takes a more critical view. Connolley asks, “Everyone who has doubts gets to run their own re-analysis of the temperature record?…