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Archives for January, 2013

Outmaneuvering Influenza

Flu season is gearing up in the northern hemisphere, and this year’s strains appear more virulent than usual.  In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control declared an epidemic on January 11; the CDC estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from influenza or its complications every year.  By comparison, the infamous flu…

Double Negative Kelvin

Reports that researchers elicited a temperature “lower than absolute zero” might make one question the meaning of the word absolute.  On Built on Facts, Matt Springer writes “temperature is a relationship between energy and entropy, and you can do some weird things to entropy and energy and get the formal definition of temperature to come…

No Mistaking Astronomical Objects

On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel makes headway on his tour of “110 spectacular deep-sky objects” first cataloged by Charles Messier in 1758.  Before powerful telescopes were developed, the heavens consisted of the sun, moon, stars, a few bright planets, and the rare passing comet.  Comets were actively sought by men like Messier, who…