Tag: Science

“Making America toxic again,” as one publication suggested, or a public servant dedicated to paring honest science and environmental stewardship? Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, stops by to explain how the Trump Administration has reoriented the EPA, its highlights and priorities, and how a former college baseball player deals with political hardball in the nation’s capital.

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The Ethics of Abortion?

 

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Teleportation? Naw . . .

 

I’ll believe this when I can teleport a beer from my fridge into my coozy while watching a football game. http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/07/11/space-breakthrough-scientists-teleport-photon-from-earth-to-orbit.html More

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From Mad Cows to Granny’s Memorial – “Green Cremation”

 

Also called “water cremation”, “resomation”, and “biocremation”, this procedure disposes of corpses in much the same way Drano dissolves clogs, namely alkaline hydrolysis. The alkaline hydrolysis of fats is familiar to us as saponification, or soapmaking. But hot lye solution attacks more than just the body’s fats. It attacks all the body’s organic material, dissolving […]

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Snakes on a Plane – Academics vs the TSA, round n+1

 

The airport security line has ground to a standstill. Again. Some bozo packed a giant plastic penis in his carry-on, and of course the bozos working for the TSA couldn’t resist. From the depths of the man’s carry-on, one TSA worker unsheathes “this mouse penis by its base, like it was Excalibur.” Yep. A Gigantic. Plastic. Mouse. Penis. 3-D printed.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s for science. The biologist carrying it is on his way to a two-day conference, and so has no checked luggage. Other times, scientists carry on stuff that can’t go into the cargo hold even when they’re checking luggage. Permits issued to biologists to collect live specimens may stipulate the specimens must be hand-carried onto planes. Other live specimens simply don’t travel well in cargo holds. A duffel bag full of ants. Live frogs in Tupperware containers. Roaches. These things:

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Winning through Ricochet – and Knowing What You’ve Lost

 

Ah, collagen. The most abundant protein in animals. Great for cooking into rich sauces – and glue (hence the name). It gives structure to mammals’ extracellular space. Your skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, mucous membranes, cartilage, bones, and teeth all depend on collagen for strength. When our collagen lets us down, we can expect trouble.

Several diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to scurvy, are connective-tissue diseases. Several attack our abundant collagen specifically. Sometimes, though, collagen weakens not because it’s under attack, but because it never formed right to begin with. Several genes have been identified as causing Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), congenitally weakened cartilage, and several genes remain to be discovered. The worst types of EDS are super-weird, and super-scary. Your silly-putty skin could be so loose and stretchy that it’s obvious from birth you’d be a freak-show star, pulling your neck skin over your face for strangers’ amusement. Or maybe your joints dislocate so easily you’d join the circus as a contortionist, disarticulating yourself for cold, hard cash. Or maybe EDS causes your organs to explode, far less marketable but still super-scary. Many of us, if we’ve heard of EDS at all, have more reason to think “circus freak” than “subtle.”

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A Few Thoughts on Science

 

So the big march “in support of Science!” happened. I skipped it, since it was an obvious and transparent attempt to appropriate “science” for the political left. The whole self-regarding spectacle stank of red herring. The red herring being, of course, that conservatives are a bunch of snake-handling backwoodsmen who hate science. Or something. I have it on first-hand authority that there were many placards along the lines of “Evolution doesn’t care if you believe.” Very true. But it didn’t occur to the placard-carriers that if evolution doesn’t care, then carrying the placard is rather pointless. Unless you are a professional working biologist, loudly proclaiming your belief in evolution is useful for precisely one thing: social status positioning.

I am a big fan of basic science, including science that promises little in the way of practical returns. For example, on a strictly ROI basis, our considerable spending on research in cosmology and astrophysics has been a terrible investment. On this basis there is no way to justify something like the Hubble Space Telescope. Yes, it has increased our knowledge of the universe on the macro scale. But it is difficult to justify this cost as an investment – basically it’s consumption. The same is true of the manned space program. It cost a huge amount of money, and, despite all the promises of great new zero-g drugs and so forth, it has been basically a luxury bauble that we as a nation purchased to adorn ourselves, not an investment in an economic sense. (You could call it the Hubble Bauble.) In fact, the manned space program is much worse from an investment standpoint than the Hubble, because it hasn’t even gotten us very far in terms of basic science, let alone paid for itself economically.

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My Contributions to Science

 

The discoveries keep piling up, and since science journals insist on sending me form letters saying my work is “not up to their standards” and needs to be “peer reviewed,” whatever that means, I decided to submit my work to a more appreciative audience. Dogs and Numeracy More

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Carol of the Smells: What’s the oddest gift you’ve given?

 

My klutzy self has not been doing anyone any favors lately, whether what I’m breaking is computers or body parts. By falling off a stepladder, I neatly put the kibosh on having a few good days before Christmas to do the gift planning I’ve till now done earlier in the year. At first, nothing seemed […]

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Why Betsy Devos, School Choice Represent the Future of Education

 

Lawrence Krauss, professor at Arizona State University, recently opined in The New Yorker that the Trump administration is declaring a “war on science.”[1] With the nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, Krauss foregrounds education as part of this battle: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her […]

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​City Journal associate editor Matthew Hennessey and contributing editor John Tierney discuss the politicization of science and how the Left’s dominance in universities and the scientific community actually threatens progress.

Read John Tierney’s article from the Autumn 2016 Issue of City Journal, The Real War on Science.

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