Technology

We all seek immortality in some way. Death has been a terror of nearly all since humans first started realizing that everybody dies. After all, no one wants to face the end of everything that one has been, is, and will be, so much so that a key feature of many religions is a belief that death is not the end, that there is an afterlife where we will all live forever and where evil is punished and good rewarded. Even if, as seems most likely, death is simply the end, and the time after death is just like the time before we were born (or, more properly, before our first memories), something that…
By Anthony Robbins, MD, MPA So screams a headline in the New York Times business section on July 12, 2014.  Two of the three tobacco companies in the $100 billion US market plan to merge. Fifty years after the Surgeon General’s first report on Tobacco and Health, the US tobacco industry is working to grow its profits. Will the universal consensus that cigarettes kill have any effect on a government decision whether to intervene in the proposed merger?  The Government usually gets involved when a merger would reduce the number of sellers in the market, possibly reducing competition and raising…
I've seen a bunch of people linking approvingly to this piece about the "Fermi paradox," (the question of why we haven't seen any evidence of other advanced civilizations) and I can't quite understand why. The author expends a good deal of snark taking astronomers and physicists to task for constructing elaborate solutions to Fermi paradox on the basis of shoddy and unjustified assumptions. And then proceeds to offer a different solution for the Fermi paradox based on shoddy and unjustified assumptions. Whee! I mean, there is an element of this that's useful, namely the reminder that "We…
Although I'm a translational researcher, I'm also a surgeon. That was my first and primary training and only later did I decide to get my PhD during my residency, when the opportunity to do so with a decent stipend presented itself. From my perspective, clinical research in surgery is difficult, arguably more difficult than it is for other medical modalities, at least in some ways. For instance, in surgery, it usually very difficult to do a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. For one thing, doing "sham" surgery on patients in the placebo arm is ethically dicey, and it's very hard to…
A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard. While we cannot "see" DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. Each base pair is 34 angstroms in length (.34 nanometers, or ~0.3 billionths of a meter), so six billion base pairs (all chromosomes laid out head to toe) form a chain that's two-meters long. If we could hang this DNA chain from a hook, it would…
The Global Warming Policy Foundation is an organization of mainly economists dedicated to mucking up the development and advancement of good science-based policy related to climate change. It is a denialist "think" tank. A couple of weeks ago, Swedish meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson joined the GWPF. This was a little surprising, but not totally surprising. It was surprising because Bengtsson is scientist and the foundation is anti-science and, as I noted, mostly economists. (Well, they are sort of like scientists too, but a different kind of science.) It was not surprising because…
This is the paper to read: Palazzo & Gregory's The Case for Junk DNA. It clearly and logically lays out the complete argument from evidence and theory for the thesis that most of the genome is junk. It's not revolutionary or radical, though: the whole story is based on very fundamental population genetics and molecular biology, and many decades of accumulated observations. And once you know a little bit of those disciplines -- you don't need to be a genius with a great depth of understanding -- the conclusion is both obvious and in some ways, rather trivial. Here's that conclusion: For…
“If the world wants you, it's gonna keep on coming till it gets you. And who am I that can fix it? Who am I that can change this if the world wants it so badly? Who am I to stop the end of the world if it keeps on coming?” -Patrick Ness It's been a wonderful and diverse week over at the main Starts With A Bang blog on Medium, and we've covered an awful lot of ground if you missed anything (or want a re-read), including: Using up the Universe's Fuel (for Ask Ethan), LEGOs for those with a little Curiosity (for our Weekend Diversion), An Elliptical Rotating Wrongly, M59 (for Messier Monday),…
“The atoms become like a moth, seeking out the region of higher laser intensity.” -Steven Chu Sure, lasers are fascinating entities. By stimulating the right medium with the right conditions, you can induce the stimulated emission of radiation of the same exact wavelength in the same exact direction over and over again. Image credit: Q-LINE Laser pointers, via Wikimedia Commons user Netweb01, under a c.c.-by-3.0 license. But is there a limit to the amount of energy that can be produced by a laser? And if so, what is that limit, and might it be overcome by future technological advances, or…
By Guest Blogger Jason OsborneExplorer, Innovator, and co-founder of both Paleo Quest™, a non-profit citizen science organization, and SharkFinder™ When most people think about scuba diving, they envision coral reefs and colorful tropical fish. But for me and my fellow professional-amateur paleontologist Aaron Alford, this is not the case. As the cofounders of non-profit organization Paleo Quest, diving is a tool for us. It is a method we use to reach places most people wouldn’t dare to explore. Imagine diving in a river with zero visibility and heavy currents – and throw in some submerged…
Guest Blog By Bart Gordon  Our nation has a long and proud history as a global leader in the development of technological breakthroughs and the development of revolutionary products that change and save lives around the world.  In recent years, however, fewer young Americans are entering fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and as a result, our global competitiveness is in jeopardy.  For the past six years, the majority of patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have been awarded to international owners, and fewer American students are pursuing advanced…
  Many people know Walmart as the largest corporate retailer in the world, but did you also realize it is a leading innovator and employer in STEM? At Festival Expo 2014, you'll discover in unforgettable ways this other side of Walmart, which this year is serving as an Americum-level Sponsor of the Festival! Walmart's imprint on STEM is significant worldwide, and is especially noted for: developing ways to make its foods more healthful by reducing sodium, sugar and fat; designing high-tech fleet trucks; working with farmers to produce better crop yields; creating energy-efficient retail…
I'm not really a comic-book guy, but I've watched a bunch of comic-book movies recently. Kate was really fired up for the new Captain America movie, so I finally got around to watching the first one as background for that, then when I was sleep-deprived last week I watched the second Thor movie via on-demand cable, then Sunday evening Kate and I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the theater (her second time watching it-- she's really fired up). Mostly, this has served to confirm that I'm not a comic-book guy. I'm just not invested enough in the idea of a movie about these…
As part of the celebrations for Canada's upcomming 150th birthday, the Canadian federal government has released its Digital Canada 150 strategy paper, and while it`s not all bad, at the same time there is not an awful lot to recommend it. Especially considering it was four years in the making. My sense is that its main purpose is for the Harper Conservative government to be able to say it has a digital strategy during the next election campaign in 2015. The most telling thing about the strategy, of course, is which department it originated in: Industry Canada. Not Culture, not Heritage, not…
By Shawn Flaherty  Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and author of New York Times’ list topping “The Future of the Mind,” is one of 31 best-selling science-related and children’s book authors (and characters) who will be signing books during the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s Book Fair, hosted by Anderson’s Bookshops.   The Book Fair is part of the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo, hosted by founding and presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin, taking place April 26 and 27 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. from 9am to 6pm daily.  Designed to inspire…
Added: Please note the date this post was published on. After a couple of years of implementing some really amazing and progressive change at Elsevier, I've decided to refocus some of my advisory efforts over the next few years. As a result, I'll be taking on a senior advisory role for the Government of Canada. I'm thrilled to announce I'll stepping into a new position created just for me: Chief Advisor on Science Libraries. In this capacity I'll be reporting directly to our brand new Minister of State for Science & Technology Ed Holder and one of my chief roles will be liaising with…
Mike Rowe star of TV's Dirty Jobs series and founder and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, would like to add "skilled" trades to the well-known acronym of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). "Adding an 'S' to the end of STEM would further get across the vital role that training and jobs in skilled trades are playing in the future of STEM frontiers," says Mike. No doubt, skilled trade professionals such as auto technicians, plumbers, heating/air conditioning technicians, welders and electricians represent some of the most well-paid and in-demand high-tech jobs in STEM…
This month, join the USA Science & Engineering Festival and the rest of the nation in celebrating Women's History Month, paying tribute to generations of women around the world whose contributions to numerous fields and endeavors -- including those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- have proven invaluable to society. The national theme of Women's History Month this year is "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment," and we invite you to commemorate such innovators in two ways with the Festival. First, visit the Festival's Role Models in Science &…
Yes. Not only that, but we can't separate climate change from any single weather event that ever happens, anywhere, no matter what. So just stop saying that we can't. Here's a thought experiment to explain why this is true. Imagine that climate science is like it is today with a few significant exceptions. First, humans never messed with fossil fuel, using only solar energy. If you need to, you can add in that there are only a half billion humans on the planet because birth control was discovered and implemented earlier in human history and everybody has Obamacare. Second, the climate…
STEMconnector®, "the one-stop shop for who's doing what in science, technology, engineering and math", has joined the Festival's growing cadre of Sponsors, bringing to the event a proven ability to keep professionals, students and the public abreast of STEM news and updates across a broad spectrum. "STEMconnector® is proud to be a partner for the USA Science Festival as we support and endorse the largest gathering in the world celebrating science and engineering," says Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector. "We couldn't be happier than to see young people interested in STEM and believe in the…