A six-year-old girl trapped in the body of a 52-year-old man

A 52-year-old man with a wife and seven children decided that he is really female.  But not only is he transgendered, he decided that he is really a six-year-old girl.  So he left his family and now lives with an “adoptive mommy and daddy,” dressing as a little girl.

But why not, if our identity has nothing to do with our physical being? [Read more…]

The world’s leaders have saved the planet

The Paris climate talks ended with all 195 nations agreeing to cut carbon emissions to combat global warming.  Previous agreements asked only the developed nations to do so, leaving the developing nations, including mega-polluter China, to keep pursuing economic growth without worrying about energy use and climate change.  This agreement, in contrast, committed pretty much all of the world’s nations, though the richer nations promised economic help for the poorer nations to meet the goals.  See this for specifics.

What struck me was the self-congratulatory words of many of the world’s leaders (from the AP story linked after the jump):

“It’s a victory for all of the planet and for future generations,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, adding that the pact will “prevent the worst most devastating consequences of climate change from ever happening.”

“History will remember this day,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. “The Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people.”

President Barack Obama said the climate agreement offers “the best chance to save the one planet we have.”

“The 12th of December, 2015, will remain a great date for the planet,” [French President Francois] Hollande declared. “In Paris, there have been many revolutions over the centuries. Today it is the most beautiful and the most peaceful revolution that has just been accomplished — a revolution for climate change.”

[Read more…]

The gift of pain

A 39-year-old woman was born with the inability to feel pain.  But this rare syndrome is no super power.  A new treatment enabled her to feel pain for the first time.  And she was glad. [Read more…]

Prosecute global warming skeptics?

A group of 20 scientists is urging the president to prosecute scientists and organizations  that question global warming. Now a Rasmussen survey has found that 27% of Democrats agree with that approach.  So do 11% of Republicans and 12% of Independents. [Read more…]

Let’s declare Pluto a planet again

Pluto lost its status as a planet in 2006, but the New Horizon space probe has found that it is no little frozen space rock, as had been assumed.  Rather, it is one of the most complex, varied, geologically-active, and mysterious entities in the Solar System.  It has water, glaciers, ice mountains, and blue skies.  It is even colorful.  I say let’s call it planet again!

[Read more…]

Math discrepancy in astrophysics

There is energy even in a vacuum.  But the amount predicted by quantum physics and the actual measurements are off by a factor of 1 followed by 120 zeroes.  This discrepancy is described as “one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics.”  It would suggest that there is something wrong with the mathematical models behind quantum physics, something scientists are reluctant to admit.  So they are looking for other explanations, including the final all-purpose answer when scientists don’t know something:  the invocation of multiple universes.

After the jump is an excerpt from an account of a panel discussing this problem, which develops into a discussion of multiverses.  That solution is simply that if there are an infinite number of universes, we would have every possibility, including this unusual math fact, as well as the evolution of life, which they also get into.  (But that isn’t right, is it?   According to the mathematics of probability, random events continued on into infinity will not result in every possible action, much less result in a particular event.  Monkeys at typewriters will not eventually give us the works of Shakespeare, even in an infinite number of universes.)

Anyway, read the account.  Notice how the scientists say that the advantage of positing multiverses is that this avoids the necessity of agency!  They end by saying that all possible answers to the “anthropic principle” must be considered, but I don’t think they mean it. [Read more…]