Page 3.14

Latest / page 5

In his role pinch-hitting as The Daily Show anchor while Jon Stewart directs a feature film called Rosewater, John Oliver has demonstrated a candid, hilarious fury that is unmatched in its impact by Stewart’s usual well-meant silliness.  People have called Stephen Colbert the heir to 1950′s primetime BS-caller Edward R. Murrow, and Colbert is certainly…

Life has been growing on Earth for about 4 billion years, and during that time there have been a handful of mass extinctions that have wiped out a large percentage of complex lifeforms.  Asteroid impact, volcanic eruption, climate change, anoxia, and poison have dispatched untold numbers of once-successful species to total oblivion or a few…

To War over Water

Water may be the most abundant molecule on the surface of the Earth, but more than 99% of it is frozen, underground, or too salty to drink.  Only .007% of the planet’s water runs in rivers and lakes, yet this precious amount sustains massive populations worldwide.  Agricultural societies have long gone to war over water,…

Prophylactic vs. Poison

The will of the voters in Portland, Oregon has endured for more than fifty years, for the fourth time rejecting fluoridation of the city’s tap water in a ballot referendum.  On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “public water supplies are a precious commodity. To justify putting something in them requires good evidence of safety and efficacy.”…

Beyond 400 PPM

The threshold of 400 carbon dioxide molecules per million molecules of Earth’s atmosphere is an arbitrary but still significant milestone, reflecting a near 50% increase in the concentration of the greenhouse gas since humanity first started burning fossil fuels for industry. Sure, the Earth has experienced hotter chemistry before, but Peter Gleick says it all…

Last week the European Union voted to ban neonicotinoid pesticides in an effort to fight colony collapse disorder among honeybees.  Although research has clearly fingered these pesticides in bee behavioral problems, the ban is still rather speculative, as multiple environmental factors may be at play in CCD.  Greg Laden writes “navigation over long distances, communicating…

Ruled by Relativity

Walking on two legs, time and space seem universal, but take a good look at the universe, and things start to get mushy. Chad Orzel defines time with a circular-sounding title, writing “there isn’t a giant master clock at the center of the universe that everybody sets their watches by.” Although time can only be…

Endlessly Adaptable Animals

Dr. Dolittle spent a few days at the Experimental Biology meeting of the American Physiological Society, learning incredible facts about animal adaptability. In the Sunday session, researchers showed that metabolic byproducts called ketones can protect against seizures caused by hyperbaric oxygen therapy, while seal pups, who fast for up to three months once weaned, increase…

Genital Warts Will Be History

On ERV, Abbie Smith reports on the phenomenal success of the HPV vaccine in Australia.  The vaccine, designed to protect against several types of sexually-transmitted papillomavirus, was first administered to Aussie girls in 2007.  Since then, total prevalence of the virus among young women has dropped from 11.5% to less than 1%—and to 0% among…

New Flu Emerges in China

A new strain of bird flu is circulating in China, and authorities are keeping a close eye on a potentially disastrous scenario.  On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith writes that by now, “the microbe may have already become established in the population, adapting to humans stealthily before we were even aware of it.”  Greg Laden writes,…