The social implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

15559246066_b31a92f623_oIn discussing the debacle at the Oscars, government incompetence, political surprises, and unintended cultural consequences, Jonah Goldberg invokes the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  This is the principle in physics that closed systems will increase in entropy (become less ordered) unless energy is introduced to maintain the order.  (A lay definition by me, a layman.  Feel free to explain it better.)

Goldberg applies this to social systems as well.  I suspect this is more of a figure of speech than an actual application of physics.  (Again, those of you who know, weigh in.)

But his point seems to hold true:  Our political system needs our continual input of energy to keep it going, otherwise, it will degenerate.  Societies, cultures, and institutions need the continual effort of their members to keep them from descending into chaos.  By extension, we could observe that marriages need continual work to keep them strong.  So do churches.

What other applications do you see? [Read more…]

Why science is sexist and racist

Researchers_in_laboratoryJoy Pullman at the Federalist writes about a doctoral dissertation that maintains that science is inherently sexist and racist.  In the study of STEM syllabi, the education graduate student draws this conclusion:

Initial exploration of the STEM syllabi in this study did not reveal overt references to gender, such as through the use of gendered pronouns. However, upon deeper review, language used in the syllabi reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging, a view of teaching that promotes the idea of a passive student, and by promoting a chilly climate that marginalizes women. . . .

Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.

[Read more…]

Pluto might get promoted back to “planet”

Nh-pluto-in-true-color_2x_JPEG-edit-frameThe recent space probe to Pluto revealed it to be no mere frozen rock but a complex world.  Now NASA scientists involved with that project are proposing a new definition of “planet” that would restore Pluto to its former planetary status.

Possible problems:  The new definition would also make the Earth’s moon a planet.  Also 110 other celestial bodies in our solar system.

But read the reasoning after the jump. [Read more…]

Bringing back the woolly mammoth

Now a human/pig hybrid

4376553184_a40a8d9055_zScientists have combined the cells of a pig with the cells of a human, resulting in an embryo that has been implanted into a sow.
From Human-pig HYBRID? Scientists hoping to create part man, part pig organs | Science | News | Daily Express:

Scientists from the Salk Institute – a biological research organisation in California – have taken cells from pigs and people to create an embryo that was then inserted into a female pig.

As part of initial experiments, several different types of human cells were inserted into pig embryos in petri dishes to determine which cells were the best match for the pig embryo. [Read more…]

The superiority of the left-handed

512px-Linkshaender_01People who are left-handed constitute 10-15% of the population.  The other 85-90% have often given them a hard time.  But new research suggests that lefties are wired in a way that makes them, among other things, quicker thinkers and more creative.  And, judging from my left-handed wife, I know it’s true.

Read details after the jump. [Read more…]