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Archives for July, 2014

California Drought Feels Fine

On Significant Figures, Peter Gleick examines the rather relaxed attitudes of some Californians to an extreme drought fostered by three years of dry weather. Gleick writes “reservoirs are at record low levels. Deliveries of surface water to some farmers are lower than at any time in recent history. Streams are drying up and fisheries are being…

More Money than Brains

If the IT resources exist to simulate 90 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections between them, mediated by dozens of different neurotransmitters and organized into highly specialized networks, there’s still no reason to expect intelligence to emerge or a ghost to glom on to the machine.

How Alien Can a Spacefarer Be?

As our planet makes more and more noise, we can’t help but wonder why no one is paying attention. Are we alone in the universe? Or alone in our desire to discover new worlds? PZ Myers says “Spaceship building is never going to be a selectively advantageous feature — it’s only going to emerge as…

Life Without Lady Mosquitoes

Disease control has made incredible strides in the last century, as interventions like vaccines and antibiotics have averted undeterminable suffering. In 2014 we face a backlash as vaccine uptake drops, preventable diseases re-emerge, and bacteria continue to evolve resistance to our most powerful drugs. Yet even as the limits of these tools become apparent, scientific…