Random stuff found while procrastinating :P

Posts Tagged ‘science

A bunch of interesting reading

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Sorry for a bit of delay between posts.  Have been too busy with study/work/touch football (I have 4 nights of touch this week :/).

Anyway here are the favourite things I’ve read lately;

Christopher Hitchens rightly has a massive swing at the Republican’s strong anti-science platform.  Anti-science seems to be all the rage these days.  In fact just recently the Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett dismissed what actually amounts to over 400 peer reviewed scientific journal articles that show that logging forests reduces their carbon carrying capacity as “bullshit.”  In doing so he ensured that I will never vote for him any higher than just above the religious political parties.  It’s also interesting to note Bartlett’s view that emissions from forestry are not a big deal because they represent such a small portion of global emissions.  The same can be said for every single persons individual emmisions, all of us make an almost insignificant impact on global warming, and it’s only when you add up all those almost insignificant impacts that you end up with a very significant impact.  People in Qatar (the country with the highest per capita emissions) emit 0.0000002% of annual global emissions.  Using Bartlett’s logic they don’t need to bother doing anything about climate change either – and everybody in the world emit even less than them.

There is a good article about Richard Dawkins here.  He addresses some criticisms well and demonstrates that he’s a funny guy too (although anybody who reads his stuff would know that already :P).

Speaking of religion, there’s a interesting, but heavier, essay about it from Pascal Boyer in Nature.  Definitely worth a read.


McCain hates science

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So I kind of missed the presidential debate earlier in the week, but it’s generated a lot of comment from science blogs because of the criticism about Obama supporting a “$3 million overhead projector.”  Andrew Kravtsov from the University of Chicago sums it up beautifully in this comment to a New York Times article on the story.  Quoted because I’m not sure if that’s a perm. link.

I am an Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Chicago (the University that today has added yet another Nobel Prize winner in the sciences for the US). I would like to comment on Sen. McCain’s statement during the today’s debate that Sen. Obama has earmarked “$3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Ill. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

The way Sen. McCain has phrased it suggests that Sen. Obama approved spending $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment (overhead projector).
The 3 million is actually for an upgrade of the SkyTheater – a full dome projection system, which is probably the main attraction of the Adler Planetarium and is quite sophisticated and impressive piece of equipment.

I find it appalling that Sen. McCain would call a science education tool for public (largely children) for
a historic planetarium with millions of visitors a year a wasteful earmark. The planetarium’s focus, as stated on their website ( is “on inspiring young people, particularly women and minorities, to pursue careers in science.” Is an investment in such public facility at the time when US
competitiveness in math and sciences is a constant source of alarm a waste?

“American’s ability to compete in a 21st Century economy rests on our continued investments in math and science education,” said Rep. Brian Baird, Chairman of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee in Congress, after the passage of The 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007.

Considering such investments “wasteful earmarks” today, even in the face of the financial crisis, will severely cripple US economic competitiveness in the increasingly high-tech world down the road.

— Andrey Kravtsov, Chicago, IL

The other thing worth briefly mentioning is that there are oranges out there with THC in them.  I’m not sure how you get your hands on them, but it’s pretty interesting anyway.  The story of why the scientist in question developed them is even cooler (check the link 🙂 )

Written by beast9

October 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

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So it turns out, at least in the US, that people who play online games tend to be fitter than people who don’t.  Sounds like playing online games is good until you have a look at the figures.  The average US gamer has a BMI of 25.2 – which makes them officially overweight.  The average American has a BMI of 28, which makes them even more overweight.  One imagines that there is third group of Americans who don’t play online games, but play organised real world sport instead, who manage to fit into the healthy range of 20-25.  Not that I don’t play online games sometimes.


Speaking of games, I’ve been playing a lot of Braid lately.  It’s a pretty awesome puzzle game for Xbox 360.  It was developed independently too, so it’s cool that it’s getting so much press.


A pretty terrible report from Egypt has emerged, that found that 85% of girls between the age of 10 and 14 had been “circumcised.”  I find it so hard to accept views of cultural relativism when you hear reports like that.  I would be happy to see views that this kind of practice is wrong forced onto people if that would prevent it from continuing.  


Seed has released a new online discussion of peer reviewed scientific articles site.  Web 2.0 applied to science essentially.  Lots of interesting reading.  You can read a little more about it from The Economist, Although the article is a little optimistic I think.


I enjoyed Will Self‘s column this week in the Independent, and the Steadman picture of course, which is a good image to finish with.

Written by beast9

September 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Some Stuff

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Fold It;  

Sick online puzzle game where you can help science by working out the structure of proteins!  


Jason and the Secret Climate Wars

Basically the US Department of Defence was warned of the effects of climate change in 1979 by this elite science advisory group, and then again by the National Academy of Sciences, but chose to ignore the warnings.  More evidence that instead of having democratic governments, we need scientific dictatorships :P.

Jason sounds interesting.  A lot of big names have been involved, including Freeman Dyson and Steven Weinberg.


Energy saving fluorescent lightbulbs are safe!

Incase you were worried – if you break your green lightbulbs you’re not going to breath in mercury and die!


Large Helical Device!

The Large Hadron Collider seems to be getting all the press lately.  I guess I still need to read a lot to find out what it actually does 😛


Currently reading; The Electic Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.  Interesting read so far.  I’m glad I’ve read most of the references from the time; Hell’s Angels, On The Road, etc.  Although as is the case with all this “New Journalism,” I’d like to know how accurate the book really is.  Not very I suspect.  Unfortuantly I haven’t read One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but I’m going to go buy it today, and maybe pause my reading to read that.

Written by beast9

September 8, 2008 at 3:03 am