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Current Topic: Science

Political Preference Is Half Genetic - Yahoo! News
Topic: Science 5:41 pm EDT, May 29, 2007

“Forty, perhaps 50 percent of our political beliefs seem to have a basis in genetics,” said Hibbing, whose studies were included in Jost’s analysis. While genetics are unlikely to “hardwire” people into being liberal or conservative, Hibbing said that genes could make people more or less likely to have certain values or react to situations in a particular way.

Political Preference Is Half Genetic - Yahoo! News

Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human | the Mail on Sunday
Topic: Science 2:16 pm EDT, Mar 26, 2007

Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The purpose is making vital organs viable for transplantation into humans. Its an idea that could save lives, but I presume serious vegitarians wouldn't take such an organ. One wonders if this process has any impact on the sheep's brain. The comments in the thread here are entertaining... This is certainly a subject that bristles hairs in bioethics circles. The article states:

When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.

Now, obviously the brain would not be available for transplant, so its not clear exactly what this sentence means. One also wonders, if they are using adult stem cells, if those cells are not already typed, allowing them to control which organs actually end up containing human content.

Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human | the Mail on Sunday

Belief and knowledge—a plea about language - Physics Today January 2007
Topic: Science 2:48 am EDT, Mar 26, 2007

We scientists need to convey more about the status of our knowledge than can be learned from the muddy "most scientists believe" statement. We need our listeners to know what is tentative and what is not so that they understand better the ragged but cumulative progression of science and can use current knowledge effectively, with an understanding of its inherent uncertainties, in personal and political decision making.

An interesting discussion of scientific semantics, which has come up on MemeStreams in the context of evolution for years, as well as some observations about the difficulty that people who don't have any training in physics face in understanding why we know what we know.

Belief and knowledge—a plea about language - Physics Today January 2007

Start your own nuclear program!
Topic: Science 8:15 pm EDT, Mar 18, 2007

This page is all about the amateur effort at creating fusion. The process is easier than you might imagine!

The Fusor was the brainchild of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television. The device is best described as a spherical geometry, electrostatically focused, deuteron accelerator-collider.

It might appear that nuclear fusion is very difficult for the amateur physics experimenter to consider, but it is actually relatively easy to achieve. Costs can be controlled by working in stages and acquiring parts used or surplus. Skills are the key factor.

Fuck around with international nonpoliferation politics in your own back yard!

Start your own nuclear program!

Build your own laser spectrograph - Hack a Day
Topic: Science 5:37 pm EDT, Mar 16, 2007

After some digging around, I located Mary's web site. It's a work in progress, but I found an early version of her spectrograph build.

Sweet, Hack-a-day has some details on the DIY Spectrograph!

Build your own laser spectrograph - Hack a Day

Teen wins $100,000 science scholarship -
Topic: Science 2:01 pm EDT, Mar 16, 2007

A 17-year-old girl won a scholarship worth $100,000 for building an inexpensive yet accurate spectrograph that identifies the "fingerprints" of different molecules.

They can cost as much as $100,000, but Masterman's invention -- made of lenses, a laser, aluminum tubing and a camera -- cost less than $1,000, Intel said.

Amazing. I want details on how to make one.

Teen wins $100,000 science scholarship -

Lunar Eclipse Tommorow
Topic: Science 12:47 pm EST, Mar  2, 2007

Why does the Moon appear red during an eclipse? While the Moon remains completely within Earth’s shadow, some indirect sunlight still manages to reach and illuminate it. The small amount of light that does hit the Moon comes around the Earth after bending through the Earth's atmosphere. This light is deep red or orange for the same reason that sunsets are red. Rays of white sunlight passing through the atmosphere are subject to "scattering." Blue light sprays off in all directions (this is why the daytime sky glows blue), but the red light is relatively unaffected, so it continues through.

Don't forget about tommorow night's skyshow.

Lunar Eclipse Tommorow

The Volokh Conspiracy - Libertarianism and Communicable Disease:
Topic: Science 11:35 am EST, Feb  6, 2007

A huge HPV vaccine discussion if you're interested.

The Volokh Conspiracy - Libertarianism and Communicable Disease:

eSkeptic: There IS such a thing as an anti-christian agenda
Topic: Science 2:22 pm EST, Jan 20, 2007

A few weeks ago I posted this link, which had made BoingBoing and Interesting People. It said:

Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.

I very quickly had to update the post, as this the national park service had a clear reference to the age of the Canyon on their web page. This story has more detail about the apparent lie.

PEER is an anti-Bush, anti-religion liberal activist watchdog group in search of demons to exorcise and dragons to slay. On one level, that’s how the system works in a free society, and there are plenty of pro-Bush, pro-religion conservative activist watchdog groups who do the same thing on the other side. Maybe in a Hegelian process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis we find truth that way; at least at the level of talk radio. But journalistic standards and scholarly ethics still hold sway at all levels of discourse that matter, and to that end I believe we were duped by an activist group who at the very least exaggerated a claim and published it in order to gain notoriety for itself, or worse, simply made it up.

eSkeptic: There IS such a thing as an anti-christian agenda

Topic: Science 1:33 pm EST, Jan  1, 2007

As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.

What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!


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