Misc

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Category archives for Misc

No Rest for the Warming

Climate change denialists are apt to grasp at straws, which may explain their heralding of a global warming “hiatus” or “pause” that since 1998 has supposedly invalidated scientific consensus and its models of climate change. Clearer and more clever heads have renamed the hiatus a “faux pause,” playing off the French faux pas which means…

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE offers hope that scientists can reverse the development of antibiotic resistance among bacteria with the help of “a mathematical model that pinpoints optimal antibiotic cycling patterns.” On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg writes, “the research comes at a time of widespread concern that without a coordinated, well-funded response…

On ERV, Abbie Smith provides an update on a pioneering treatment for hemophilia that uses viruses to insert missing genes in a patient’s DNA. Hemophilia results from from the mutation or deletion of a gene that makes a blood clotting agent called Factor IX; without it, hemophiliacs are at risk for uncontrolled bleeding. While Factor…

MESSENGER Did Not Go Gentle

Yesterday the MESSENGER spacecraft circled behind Mercury one last time, where no one on Earth could see it, and slammed into the surface of the intemperate planet at an estimated 8750 miles per hour. It was the second probe to visit Mercury—Mariner 10 completed three fly-bys of the planet in 1974, and according to NASA, still orbits…

In the wake of the Willie Soon scandal, scientists are taking a hard look at the Smithsonian and other institutions at the forefront of research and public outreach. Should these organizations really be supported by industrialists who deny that industrial emissions continue to warm the planet, disrupt the climate, amplify extreme weather, and threaten to…

Anti-Vaxx Loses its Edge

It’s getting harder and harder to hate vaccines in America. The trend will only continue as diseases like measles re-emerge because of some parents’ paranoia. Much of the anti-vaccine sentiment of the last twenty years resulted directly from scientific fraud—and most anti-vaccine propaganda likewise employs scientific terminology to sound credible. But more people are waking…

Out of the Earth, Out of the Blue

Greg Laden reports on a hominid fossil “recovered from the seabed near Taiwan” which reveals new levels of dental diversity among proto-humans and may qualify as a new species. Greg says the specimen known as Penghu “is yet another indicator that multiple different hominids lived on the Earth at the same time after the rise…

Physics vs. Fishy Footballs

When it was reported that many of the footballs in the AFC Championship game were inflated below the required minimum pressure, the triumphant New England Patriots were accused of cheating. Looking for an explanation, Chad Orzel whipped out some footballs, a freezer, and the Ideal Gas Law to do some delving. Physically, air pressure depends…

Chance Cancer Mutations

This new year, researchers concluded that 2/3 of the difference in cancer risk between different parts of the body can be attributed to the number of stem cell divisions those parts undergo. More cell divisions reflect a higher risk as errors that occur naturally during the DNA replication process can contribute to the development of cancer. In…

More Than One Right Answer

On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle examines the fascinating parallels between hummingbird and insect flight. He and/or she writes: “The researchers placed nontoxic paint on the wing of a ruby-throated hummingbird at 9 different spots then videotaped the animal flying at 1,000 frames per second with 4 cameras simultaneously.” Despite being far removed from insects on…