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Spoiler Alert: Rogue One

Serving as an immediate prelude to the very first Star Wars film (A New Hope), Rogue One restores a measure of gravitas to the Star Wars canon that was seriously undermined by the goofiness of 2015’s The Force Awakens. Rogue One is still a remarkable nostalgia trip, thanks to the digital recreation of familiar Rebel…

Never Mind About that Paper…

A few scientific papers are retracted after they’re published, such as this analysis of nuclear energy that appears to have been nixed for poor methodology and bad numbers on Stoat. William M. Connolley adds that because of the politics surrounding nuclear power in Europe, “this crude level of analysis would be unlikely to be useful.”…

Bracing for President Trump

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the U.S. caught nearly everyone by surprise, and fingers were immediately pointed in all directions as the election’s losers looked to lay blame. Chad Orzel offers one relevant narrative: “There are a lot of people who feel like they’re being screwed by a system run for…

Thanksgiving Gratitude and #NoDAPL

Today is about American tradition, and feeling grateful for all that we have been given. The first Thanksgiving represented the gratitude of American settlers towards the indigenous peoples who originally inhabited this country. It is about the men and women who came to North America on the Mayflower giving back to the men and women…

The new film Arrival, based on a story by Ted Chiang, is unlike most any science fiction blockbuster at the box office these days. It’s a tense, thoughtful, somber meditation on the human condition and the nature of a higher reality. In many ways, it is a religious film that deals with eschatology (the end…

Understanding the History of HIV

On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith explores the story of Gaetan Dugas, a man who was long blamed for precipitating the AIDS epidemic in the United States. The vilification of Dugas had nothing to do with science; instead he was dubbed “patient zero” in a misinterpretation of his study moniker “patient O” (for Outside). Dugas’ portrayal…

Nobel Prize Notes

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers examines the work of Yoshinori Ohsumi, who was awarded the prize in Physiology for his studies of autophagy in yeast. Autophagy, or self-consumption, is a strategy used by all cells to recycle malfunctioning bits of themselves, or to survive during times of starvation. But autophagy is also involved in cancer metastasis…

Planets, Planets Everywhere

The European Southern Observatory made major headlines with their discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting our nearest neighboring star. On Dynamics of Cats, Steinn Sigurðsson writes: “ESO researchers, using the radial velocity variability technique, have detected a quite robust signature of a planet with a mass of 1.3 Earth masses, or more, in a 11…

Spoiler Alert: Star Trek: Beyond

The centerpiece of the latest Star Trek film is a bright celestial bauble, a tremendous re-imagining of a Federation starbase, named Yorktown. Yorktown is on the scale of a Death Star, but instead of incinerating worlds it is presumably dedicated to a lot of peace-mongering bureaucracy and some very nice apartment buildings. To quote Memory…

Cupping Just Sucks

Even as Michael Phelps piled a 23rd gold medal onto his stack, he also drew attention at the Rio Olympics for circular bruises on his shoulder resulting from a pseudoscientific medical treatment called cupping. Several ancient cultures practiced variants of cupping in order to reduce pain or heal injury. On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “even…