Happy Valentine’s Day … science!


• Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice. And some say in supervolcanic eruptions, fungal outbreaks, y-ray bursts, or submarine landslides.• "Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface."• Am I linking to Christie Wilcox's Scientific American article just for the headline? No, it's an encouraging story about a medical refinement that will help sick people get better. But the headline is pretty terrific, too.• "Japan plans world's larges … [Read more...]

Geocentrism and a historical Adam


It is possible to read certain passages from the Bible in a way that suggests they "teach" a geocentric model of the universe.It is also possible to read those same passages differently, which is to say to read them in a way that does not suggest that they "teach" a geocentric model of the universe.The case for the geocentrist reading is not particularly strong. It requires, among other things, a disregard for genre and literary context in which the reader treats one kind of text as … [Read more...]

A tolerable response to intolerable sophistry

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Here's a terrific video from Minute Physics (via), in which they take a silly question and respond with far more seriousness, and creativity, than it deserves."What happens if an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?"The conclusion, if you can't watch the video linked and embedded above, is that "an immovable object" and "an unstoppable force," if they're to be understood to mean anything real at all, "are really just the same."And, abiding by the semantic silliness of the … [Read more...]

As sweet as any harmony …

"This object is an expanding cloud of gas rushing away from a dying star. So what's with the huge backwards S-shape?"

• "Isn't life great?" The final words, and final thoughts, of a scientist and "an amazing man."• A² + B² = C² ... Here, I'll show you.• I suppose a new poll showing that "78 percent of Americans believe the earth's temperatures are rising" is a positive sign. That's up from  the same survey taken in 2009, so it's an encouraging sign that climate denial can't be sustainable.But on the other hand, the results of the poll -- and even the existence of the poll itself -- show that even our … [Read more...]

Hobby Lobby takes human biology to court, loses


The Hobby Lobby retail chain continues its court battle to avoid having to provide health insurance for female employees. This, the corporation says, is a matter of corporate religious liberty. Corporations are people, my friend, and corporations have the right to worship their corporate deities as they see fit. "All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don't have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions," Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel … [Read more...]

As deep as any ocean …


• "It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free."• Arsole, Cummingtonite, Sparassol, Domperidone … and many other "Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names." (via Steve Buchheit)• The funniest thing here is that I don't for a moment doubt that his math is actually correct.• "Ecklund’s findings sketch a portrait of a scientific community that is much more religiously diverse than previously thought."• "F is … [Read more...]

Black swans and blue tarantulas: ‘Without’ and ‘despite’ are not the same


Recently came across this quote from Aldous Huxley: "The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence."Baloney.Believing in things contrary to evidence is obviously far worse than believing in things despite a lack of evidence.To believe that which has been disproved is always wrong. To believe that which cannot be proved could be wrong, but it also could be right. The distinction is not subtle, and it's rather important.Before leaping to another round … [Read more...]

Does the Universe Have a Purpose? Your vote counts

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Joe Hanson shared this quote from Michio Kaku: "Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself."And vorjack shared this from Phil Hellenes: It's like the universe screams in your face, "Do you know what I am? How grand I am? What are you, compared to me?"And when you know enough science, you can just smile up at the universe and reply, "Dude, I AM you." Vorjack says, "I like the sentiment, but we're only a tiny part of the universe." And thus … [Read more...]