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Wesley Dodson

The Dead Planet

Ethan Siegel calls Mars “the obvious first step in our journey to the stars” and “part of our dreams for reaching out into the Universe.” Last year thousands of people applied to join Mars One, a proposed colonization effort slash reality show that plans to put humans on the red planet in 2023. But unless…

Hot Winter Days

The anti-scientific M.O. of some political conservatives was in full swing during the ‘polar vortex,’ as frigid weather brought south from the Arctic led many commentators to scoff, “look how cold it is, can you believe anyone thinks the Earth is getting warmer?” Coby Beck adds some perspective from climate historian Christopher C. Burt on…

Horror Vacui

Aristotle thought that there could be no lasting void in the natural order, that any emptiness would be instantaneously filled. Of course Aristotle was full of batty ideas. But this one came to be rephrased by philosophers and Vulcans alike as “nature abhors a vacuum,” enduring as a powerful metaphor if not a precisely factual…

The Time I Broke My Neck

This is a story with a happy ending, or at least a happy middle, because it isn’t over yet. Right after it began I found myself floating face down in the water, drifting very slowly with the current, trying to stand but hardly able to move my legs. Trying to swim, but unable to move…

Cold, Hard Facts

Coldness can manifest where you least expect it: on a planet rapidly warmed by the combustion of fossil fuel, or in the heart of a star 250 times as massive as our own. On Greg Laden’s Blog, Greg explains that an apparent “recovery” of Arctic sea ice from its historic low in 2012 does not…

Talk Shows vs. The Truth

Katie Couric riled up the internet last week with her uncritical promotion of anti-vaccine viewpoints on her talk show. It was certainly a twist in the professional narrative of a woman who has undergone televised colonoscopy and mammography to promote cancer awareness. That awareness should have been front-and-center in her discussion of HPV vaccines as…

Santa Claus is a Black Gay Vampire

You may be too young to know the truth about Santa Claus, but dear old Saint Nick is not the affable Anglo-Saxon philanthropist he appears to be.  In fact, evidence suggests that he is an unholy creature of the night, an ancient vampire who would suck your blood if you didn’t placate him with milk…

Hard Numbers, Hard Living

On EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse confronts the challenge of basic math education: “we need to find a balance between hammering the basic skills, while also making it clear that there is so much more to mathematics than arithmetic.”  Rosenhouse rejects the approach of New Math, “teaching grade-schoolers about set theory and the axiomatic method,” instituted briefly in…

Discrediting Anti-GMO Propaganda

Not too long ago, when the media became excited about a study saying genetically modified corn causes tumor growth in rats, ScienceBloggers were quick to point out that the study featured some of the worst science ever.  Now the paper has been officially retracted by its publisher, but to what end?  On Pharyngula, PZ Myers…

Thankful for Industrial Poultry

Gratefulness is an important part of a happy life, but are we right to be thankful for an ill-gotten bounty?  In a country of 300 million people, a turkey on every table (or a chicken in every pot) means that many birds live hard and die fast.  They are also plucked, gutted, inspected, and packaged…