Being on Mars

To get a sense of what it would be like to be on Mars, turning around and taking in the view, check out this 360 degree click-and-drag zoomable panorama from the Mars lander Curiosity.  (For full effect, go to the fullscreen view.)  Click on this link:  MARS Curiosity Rover first Color 360 Panorama – Round the world with panoramas.dk.

Republicans postpone convention

Good thing we don’t believe in omens.  (Or do we?):  The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, was supposed to start today.  It’s been postponed until Tuesday, for fear that Tropical Storm Isaac might turn into Hurricane Isaac, which may very well wreak havoc in the Sunshine state and with Republican convention plans.

Republican National Convention reworking schedule because of Tropical Storm Isaac – The Washington Post.

Antibiotic woes

In today’s scientific livestock industry, cattle are often given antibiotics. Not as medicine but “to fatten them up.”  Apparently the drugs kill beneficent bacteria in the animal’s digestive system that causes them to put on weight.  Now the light has dawned in the minds of some medical researchers.  Could the heavy use of antibiotics among human beings be a factor in our obesity problems?  Are we fattening ourselves up like drugged cattle in a feed lot?  See Early use of antibiotics linked to obesity, research finds – The Washington Post.

In other antibiotic news, a “superbug“–a strain of bacteria completely resistant to all known antibiotics killed six people at the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center.  The linked article estimates that 6% of American hospitals are infested with this thing.  (This doesn’t seem to be a case of what scientists have been worried about, bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics because of their overuse and evolved into something that cannot be killed.  [That wouldn't be evolution, by the way, just natural selection, which I don't think anyone denies.  Faster animals outrun predators, animals adapt, and the fittest do survive.  What Darwin did was insist that natural selection eventually turns one species into another.]  Anyway, this superbug is normally one of those friendly bacteria that inhabits our bodies, but when a person’s immune system goes wrong, it turns into a monster.

Photo of the Loch Ness monster

A Scottish monster hunter named George Edwards has claimed to have caught the Loch Ness Monster on film.

I am skeptical about such things, but I get a kick out of cryptozoology–all of those Big Foot stories, Yeti sightings, and other mysterious creatures that allegedly live in the depths of lakes or forests or jungles and are sometimes glimpsed but never found.  Do any of you believe in that stuff?  Have any of you encountered, first or second or third hand, in person or in an oral tradition, any of the “cryptids” on this list?

 

Has the Loch Ness monster finally been caught on camera? – Telegraph.

How Quantum Physics refutes materialism

Physics professor Stephen M. Barr explains how quantum physics makes the world view of materialism–the assumption of most of today’s atheists–scientifically impossible.

Materialism is an atheistic philosophy that says that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. It has gained ground because many people think that it’s supported by science. They think that physics has shown the material world to be a closed system of cause and effect, sealed off from the influence of any non-physical realities — if any there be. Since our minds and thoughts obviously do affect the physical world, it would follow that they are themselves merely physical phenomena. No room for a spiritual soul or free will: for materialists we are just “machines made of meat.”

Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things.  No less a figure than Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism — at least with regard to the human mind — is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.” And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including [his] knowledge, and [his] consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing.”

Barr goes on to explain in a technical but pretty lucid manner why this is the case, going into the mathematics of probability and why the observer has an intrinsic impact on the system being observed.   I can’t summarize it.  Read it yourself.  Here is his conclusion:

If the mathematics of quantum mechanics is right (as most fundamental physicists believe), and if materialism is right, one is forced to accept the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. And that is awfully heavy baggage for materialism to carry.

If, on the other hand, we accept the more traditional understanding of quantum mechanics that goes back to von Neumann, one is led by its logic (as Wigner and Peierls were) to the conclusion that not everything is just matter in motion, and that in particular there is something about the human mind that transcends matter and its laws. It then becomes possible to take seriously certain questions that materialism had ruled out of court: If the human mind transcends matter to some extent, could there not exist minds that transcend the physical universe altogether? And might there not even exist an ultimate Mind?

via Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? | Big Questions Online.

HT:  Anna Williams

Children as cure for the common cold

More counter-intuitive mysterious health findings:

A new study says that parents are less apt to the common cold than those without children.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that those with kids were half as likely to develop colds with that number increasing with each additional child in the household.

Yet, the study shows that a strengthened immune system is not what protects parents.

Rather, researchers say that “mental toughness” stemming from parenthood helps them to fight off the virus, reported the Daily Mail. . .

Researchers found that those people who had children were 52 percent less likely to get a cold.

Medical News Today said that the study also found that the risk of parents contracting a cold was even lower when the parents did not live with their children – 73 percent less likely.

Interestingly, when researchers controlled for factors such as immunity and exposure to the cold virus, parents still fought off the virus better than non-parents, pointing to psychological factors that may offer protection.

“Although parenthood was clearly protective, we were unable to identify an explanation for this association,” said study author Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in a press release.

“Because we controlled for immunity to the virus, we know that these differences did not occur just because the parents were more likely to have been exposed to the virus through their children.”

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

via Parents less apt to common cold than non-parents, says study.

One would assume that having kids would expose parents to all kinds of bugs their offspring bring home with them.  But that having kids reduces the number of colds?  And that the more kids you have the more protected you are against colds?  And more so if your  offspring aren’t around?  It’s hard to imagine the connecting factors.  That parents have greater “mental toughness”?  May be, but since when does toughmindedness protect a person from viruses?

Any theories about why this should be?


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