Human genes can’t be patented

In a rare unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes cannot be patented.  As we blogged about earlier, some companies have patented human genetic material, but the judges ruled that only inventions and not products of nature can be patented. [Read more...]

A Christian physicist, the Higgs particle, and an anthropic multiverse

Christian physicist Stephen M. Barr, of the University of Deleware and a frequent contributor to  First Things, wrote with some other scientists a paper on the Higgs field–an aspect of the so-called “God particle”–that is getting new attention in light of the collider that has recently assembled evidence about this mysterious yet fundamental entity.  See The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends) » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.  After the jump, a sample and a link to a very lucid popularized explanation from Dr. Barr about his findings, having to do with both the multiverse and the anthropic principle (the notion that the laws of physics are what they are in order to make possible human life). [Read more...]

Dark lightning

Thunderstorms create bolts of lightning, as we all know.   Scientists have recently discovered that they also create bolts of energy that we cannot see:  pulses of radiation–X-rays and Gamma-rays–that are being called “dark lightning.” [Read more...]

A vacuum is not empty

More weird science:

Two forthcoming research papers question whether or not the nature of a vacuum remains static.

In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate. [Read more...]

Volcanos are countering global warming

The earth is taking care of itself.  From James Fleure in Science Recorder:

Erupting volcanoes offset recent Earth warming, according to a team led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. Researchers arrived at this conclusion after searching for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as climatologists expected between 2000 and 2010. . . . [Read more...]

The asteroid feint & the meteor punch

The universe did to the earth what a boxer does to his chump opponent, feinting with his right as a distraction, then punching hard with his left.  On the very day we were concentrating on the near miss from the asteroid, which passed within the orbit of some of our satellites, a 55-foot-long meteor, weighing 10,000 tons and traveling 44,000 miles per hour, slammed into Russia with the energy of 30 nuclear bombs.  Most of that was absorbed by our atmosphere, but the shock wave injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of houses. [Read more...]