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Archives for November, 2012

Implausible Cause

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers deconstructs the hypothesis of two physicists who show an undue enthusiasm for biology. They claim cancer is caused by cells regressing from their modern, multicellular functionality to a “proto-metazoan” lifestyle of largely uncoordinated growth. Myers says their is no plausible avenue for such atavism, writing “you can’t take one of your…

Drifted Apart, Crammed Together

As organisms spread into new habitats, they diverge and differentiate to best adapt to their surroundings. But when separated species exploit similar niches, their body plans begin to converge, and they end up looking a lot like each other. Such is the case with Beaked Sea Snakes, uber-venomous consumers of spiny catfish and blowfish, long…

Time to Act on Climate Change

Although the science is getting cold, the conversation about climate change was warmed over by President Obama on Thursday. On Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau says “This is a welcome change from the complete silence of the last few years, but falls well short of what the American people and the world deserve.” Rosenau argues…

Statistics > Pundits

Along with President Obama, statistician Nate Silver emerged triumphant on election night, after calculating a 90% chance of victory for Obama and correctly predicting the outcome of every state.  Chad Orzel allays suspicions of witchcraft on Uncertain Principles, writing that “statisticians have been refining the process of public opinion polling for something like a hundred…

Tightening Life’s Belt?

New research rethinks the possible prevalence of life in the Universe, suggesting that our asteroid belt—as disrupted by the gravitational influence of Jupiter—played a key role in seeding the Earth with water and organic compounds. Unable to coalesce, and situated around the solar system’s “snow line,” the belt provides millions of little ice trays which…

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29th, drawn northwest by two cold fronts into the most populous area of the United States. Coby Beck has a telling wind map of the colossal storm on A Few Things Ill Considered, which was abetted by “a full moon causing the highest high tides of the year.” Sandy…