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Sunday Potluck

Here’s a list of quick headlines with minimal comment for mental snacking.  Then it will be time to clear the kitchen for another week of more deep-fried reporting. Magician fools scientists:  Skeptic/magician James Randi tricked a group of scientists, then warned them to doubt their own infallibility (except when it comes to atheism); see Live […]

Best Qualified Candidate Expelled Over Views on Evolution, Design

For daring to question evolution, an astronomer who was the best qualified candidate to become director of a new observatory lost out.  “No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 – until his writings on evolution came […]

Latest Animal Winners in the Inspiration Contest

Scientists want to copy animal skills.  The new science of biomimetics is on a roll (11/30/2010), looking to living things for design inspiration.  Here are a few of the latest organisms giving inventors and engineers goose bumps. Bird gloss:  Ravens have what scientists at the University of Akron in Ohio want: glossy materials.  Nevermore shall […]

SETI Ignorance Gets Stronger

“Science is not about blind faith” begins a video posted on MSNBC about SETI.  Part of an article by AP reporter Seth Borenstein, “Evidence for E.T. is mounting daily, but not proven,” the video explains Frank Drake’s famous equation that tries to quantify the probability for extraterrestrial intelligence (09/29/2010, 11/24/2008).  Though Drake confidently asserts the […]

Are You Too Clean?

You shower, you put on clean clothes, you wash your hands with antibacterial soap, you keep the house spic and span, you work in a clean office – and you set yourself up for disease and depression.  That’s what some scientists are proposing with the “hygiene hypothesis.”  By depriving yourself of access to your bacterial […]

News from Saturn

Amazing discoveries continue to pour in from Cassini, now within its second extended mission since arriving at Saturn in 2004.  The spacecraft is back to nominal operations after a 3-week safing event caused by a single-bit error in the onboard computer (JPL).  The recovery came just in time for another major flyby of Enceladus. Enceladus […]

News on the Mind

Here are a dozen recent stories dealing with brains, the mind, perception, motivation and other aspects of psychology and neuroscience. Nature and nurture:  PhysOrg claims that scientists at SMU have resolved the nature vs nurture debate with a hybrid approach.  Whether it satisfies critics remains to be seen.  Perhaps they are still thinking inside the […]

Lean to the Left: Science Reporters Oblivious to Conservatism

Take any issue, and there will often be a liberal view and a conservative view.  Why is it, then, that science reporting is almost always liberal?  It’s not just that left-leaning slants on science issues predominate; the reporters and institutions often seem utterly oblivious to the idea that other positions, like conservative views, even exist.  […]

Cells Manage Stress and Death

Like soldiers in a foreign land, cells sometimes find themselves in unexpected situations.  Key equipment breaks down, or the environment puts stress on their resources.  Without the ability to adapt, they could perish – and in worst-case scenarios they must, like a squadron under ambush with no way out.  In such cases, like spies carrying […]

Science Done by Humans Is Mushy

Discoveries in science must be mediated by flawed agents: human beings.  Though the most hardened scientific realists maintain strong beliefs in external reality, the perceived reality is mediated by senses, then interpreted by minds that are not omniscient.  Those are some of the reasons that science keeps changing, as illustrated by some recent examples: Endangered […]

NASA Finds Life on Earth; or,Arsenic and Old Lake

A NASA teaser about an announcement coming Dec 2 that will “will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life” had watchers on edge.  PhysOrg said, “Speculation that life has been discovered beyond Earth exploded on the Internet after NASA announced plans for a briefing involving scientists who study unusual life forms.”  It wasn’t to […]

Speleology Without Evolution

“Steven Taylor, a macro-invertebrate biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois, has spent more than two decades plumbing the mysteries of cave life,” an article said on PhysOrg, based on a press release from the University of Illinois.  The article describes his adventures in tight, dark spots in numerous caves, […]

Biomimetics Is On a Roll

There’s a gold rush on: a rush to copy living technology.  Scientists have found that plants, animals and cells have the solutions to problems that will help us all, if we will just study them, imitate them, or harness them. Jellyfish pumps:  Need a flexible pump for medical use?  Look no further than the aquarium […]

Mammals Partied When Dinosaurs Left

A research team headed by a biology professor at the University of New Mexico are claiming that mammals had a field day when the dinosaurs went extinct.  They got bigger and more diverse, filling in the ecological wasteland left by the missing giant reptiles.  Their analysis was published in Science.1     In addition, they […]

Can Astronomers See Behind the Big Bang?

An astonishing claim is being reported: “Cosmos may show echoes of events before Big Bang” (BBC News).  How can this be, since secular cosmologists claim that the big bang was the beginning of time, space, matter, and everything, and it is impossible even in principle to go beyond it?     The character behind the […]
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