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Archives for October, 2012

20/20 Hindsight

Even the best and brightest can get things wrong, which is why science depends on corroboration to get things right. On Respectful Insolence, Orac investigates the conviction of six Italian seismologists for failing to warn people about an earthquake that killed 300. Orac writes “‘earthquake swarms’ are not uncommon in the L’Aquila region” and “a…

A Republican Pound of Cure

On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “the relationship between health insurance and, well, health is a question that can be addressed scientifically, which puts it right smack dab within the purview of science-based medicine.” Orac contradicts Mitt Romney’s statement that because a 1986 mandate requires hospitals to treat anyone needing emergency treatment, people don’t die for…

Beyond Cloud Nine

On Universe, Claire L. Evans notes the renewed appreciation than can come with a change in perspective—whether it’s seeing the space shuttle Endeavour roll past a Sizzler in South Central, or daredevil Felix Baumgartner leap towards the Earth from 24 miles up. Baumgartner, aided only by gravity and a spacesuit, broke the speed of sound…

Coldest, Colder, Freezing, Cool

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have fostered chemical reactions at “one hundredth of a degree above absolute zero,” analogous to conditions in interstellar space. By merging two parallel beams of ultra-cold atoms, scientists kept them sedated enough for quantum behavior. Chemical reactions “took place in peaks, at specific energies – a demonstration of…

Pursuing Woo in Africa

Alexander Pope wrote “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” but cancer isn’t far behind.  Hope also springs worldwide, and it can lead the sick to the unproven, to more dire disease and death.  On Respectful Insolence, Orac tells the stories of two women—one Kenyan, one American—who avoided modern treatment for their breast cancers.  Orac…

Just Whose Creation is This?

Congressman Paul Broun struck something into the hearts of empiricists everywhere with his remark that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”  Some of us were put off, others angered, possibly amused, or else afraid for the fate of the nation.  Greg Laden writes, “this man is…

Martian Myopia

Mars appears to be our twin in some ways—it is rocky, nearby, and of similar size. But after many a hopeful prodding, Mars remains a dead body. The rover Curiosity made a happy discovery last month, photographing river rocks in an ancient Martian streambed. This led Claire L. Evans to straighten out the legendary “canals” of Mars,…

Silent Spring 50th Anniversary

On Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk says that although many books are ascribed profound historical significance, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring truly brought environmentalism to the mainstream.  Carson described the deadly effects of pesticide use on its unintended targets—birds, wildlife, human beings.   Carson was a nature-lover at heart, but her memory will always be tied to…