#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine

In a bid to give women scientists other than Marie Curie the recognition they're too often denied, science editor Melissa Vaught asked for contributions to a Twitter hashtag, #BeyondMarieCurie, listing women with noteworthy achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here's the first version of the list:[View the story "#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine" on Storify]I suggested a few other names that weren't already there:Some others: Annie Jump Cannon, … [Read more...]

When Would You Rather Be Alive?

Reading the news is always a marathon race between hope and despair, but that conflict has been especially sharp these last few months. While every era has its doomsayers, they've lately become a lot harder to dismiss.Europe remains slumped in depression and wracked by infighting over the future of its union, with no way out in sight. America is sweltering under political stagnation, fraying at the seams from breathtaking inequality and the brutal violence of a police state, and there's a … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: April 18


The National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon is almost here again! If you've got a few dollars to spare and want to help strike down barriers to choice, please donate to my wife Elizabeth and her team, At Your Cervix.• The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is being blockaded by protesters who believe the mountain is sacred because of a Native Hawaiian myth stating that the world was created starting there.• Just for laughs: The Journal of Universal Rejection, … [Read more...]

Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Why Small-Minded Religious Fundamentalists Are Threatened by Wonders of Universe

This column originally appeared on AlterNet.Neil deGrasse Tyson's new Cosmos series is a worthy reboot of Carl Sagan's original. Following in Sagan's footsteps, Tyson takes viewers on a voyage through the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond, showing how our sun is just one star out of a hundred billion in the majestic spiral of the Milky Way galaxy, and even the Milky Way itself is a speck in the observable universe. As in the original series, he compresses the history of the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 7


• Creationists lose a lawsuit seeking to keep evolution out of public schools on the spurious grounds that it's "religious". It's worth noting that they've given up on demanding equal time for their own beliefs and are now just seeking to destroy science education.• This painfully appropriate headline says it all: Actual War on Black People Distracting from Fictional War on Christmas". And along the same lines, don't miss the magnificently righteous anger of my Patheos colleague … [Read more...]

Weekday Coffee: Skepticon Edition

I've spent this past weekend at Skepticon 7, and I'm still recovering (especially from the Skeptiprom dance party on Saturday night). In the meantime, here are some links I picked up from the weekend's talks:• My favorite talk of the convention was by Ben Blanchard, who spent a year working abroad with the Foundation Beyond Belief's Humanist Service Corps. He dug wells in Cambodia and Ecuador, helped build latrines in Haiti, taught science to children at the Kasese Humanist Primary … [Read more...]

Rosetta’s Comet Rendezvous


The last few weeks have offered atheists and progressives ample reason to feel discouraged. Down on Earth, anti-rational fundamentalism runs riot, and angry, reactionary conservatism seems stronger than ever. But in spite of all this, in spite of the many obstacles that encircle us and limit us, humanity is accomplishing great things among the stars.The latest of our successful cosmic explorers is the Rosetta spacecraft, a mission of the European Space Agency. Launched in 2004 (!), Rosetta … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: September 6


• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

Repost: The Age of Wonder


[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2008.]If you search the internet, it's not hard to find New Agers and others who think that the dawning of the age of reason was a mistake. They envision a more "holistic" approach, one that properly pays heed to the mystery and complexity of existence, and castigate science for being cold, unfeeling, heartless in its probing, reductionist scrutiny of the natural … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 13

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 13, "Unafraid of the Dark"For their final episode, the authors of a show usually focus on their core message, on the one element that lies at the heart of what they want to say. The new Cosmos is no exception, and for the series finale, what they chose to emphasize was intellectual humility: the fact of our fallibility and the immensity of how much we still don't know. In the vastness of the cosmos, there are many wonders yet to be revealed; but it's only … [Read more...]