Philosophy’s great experiment. "Philosophers used to combine conceptual reflections with practical experiment. The trendiest new branch of the discipline, known as x-phi, wants to return to those days. Some philosophers don’t like it." [Via]
The Virtual Laboratory - A collection of essays, biographies, instruments and trade catalogues (e.g. experiment kit) from between 1830 and 1930. I must warn you that some of the films are a bit disturbing. Check out the eerie sounding vowel experiments in the audio section too.
That Voodoo That Scientists Do. "When findings are debated online, as with a yet to be released paper (PDF) that calls out the field of social neuroscience, who wins?"
Functional Neurons Induced From Adult Stem Cells. Meanwhile, stem cells may be better than bone marrow for certain cancers, and have the potential to revolutionize the supply of blood. Anecdotal success stories continue to pile up.
World of Science contains budding encyclopedias of astronomy, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics. This resource has been assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric Weisstein with assistance from the internet community. MeFi visited Weisstein's Mathworld a couple years ago.
The Signtific Lab invites people to develop cutting-edge ideas through experiments of imagination and discussion. Experiment One: what would happen if outer space becomes as accessible as the Web today?
The Essential Parallel Between Science and Democracy. "[T]he restorative steps Obama has taken vis-à-vis science are praiseworthy not so much because they respect science as because they respect the grand institutions of democracy. This is no accident, because the very virtues that make democracy work are also those that make science work: a commitment to reason and transparency, an openness to critical scrutiny, a skepticism toward claims that too neatly support reigning values, a willingness to listen to countervailing opinions, a readiness to admit uncertainty and ignorance, and a respect for evidence gathered according to the sanctioned best practices of the moment."
Dawkins on Darwin | A Peek into the Life of Darwin with Jon Amiel, Director of Creation | Six scientific hot spots for modern Darwins | 'Why Evolution Is True,' by Jerry A. Coyne
The Invasion From Outer Space: Steven Millhauser gives The New Yorker a short, unsettling sci-fi story.
Darwin the abolitionist. "The theory of evolution is regarded as a triumph of disinterested scientific reason. Yet, on the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, new research reveals that Darwin was driven to the idea of common descent by a great moral cause." [Via]
The Lecture System in Teaching Science "Meanwhile, back at the classroom, the lecture is drawing to a close. Just as the bell rings, the lecturer, if he's a really smooth operator, comes to the end of a sentence, a paragraph, a nice neat unit. He lays down his last piece of chalk — he knows exactly how many pieces the lecture will take — picks up his precious lecture notes, and goes out. The students, tired but happy, rise up and follow after him. Their heads are empty, but their notebooks are full. Their necks are a little tired; it's been like a sort of vertical tennis match: board, notebook, board, notebook. But other than that, everything is all right. Any student will tell you, "I never had any trouble with the course until the first examination."" [via]
Science & technology funding has an enormous long term impact on the economy, a fact that has not escaped China. Yet, Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have proposed cutting all National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Office of Science funding from the Senate American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, along with almost all other proposed funding of the sciences and technological development, as a part of a $77.9B reduction effort. Why? Well, you'll notice that Nebraska & Maine don't contribute much to science & technology in the United States, nor win many grants, and hence no bacon for Nelson and Collins. [more inside]
The Small Science Collective creates mini-zines about SCIENCE. Each zine downloads as a PDF. Learn about DNA computing, rediscover cephalopods, or host a bot fly. More information is available on the collective's accompanying blog. (via)
Sal Khan likes explaining things, and he's really good at it. Here he is on CNN giving an excellent explanation of the financial crisis. And here's a great explanation of Newton's Law of Gravitation. His YouTube channel has over 700 lectures and you leave understanding everything he talks about no matter the subject.
CERN Podcast - Lighthearted chats at the CERN laboratory with "a bit of particle physics thrown in". Featuring visits from British satirists and comedians, including Chris Morris and Kevin Eldon.
Scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland have managed to teleport information from one isolated atom to another over a distance of one meter, without it ever crossing space. Here's how they did it. [more inside]
One of the kings of nuclear proliferation has his own website. No mention of house arrest though.
Recent work by Yichao Wu, Judy Lieberman, and Deborah Palliser has led to a topical treatment that knocks out the herpes virus in testing with mice by way of RNA interference (RNAi). Notably, it works when applied prior to or after sexual contact and holds promise for human usage. (RNAi is a very recent (1998) discovery that garnered the 2006 Nobel prize [MetaFilter thread] for Fire and Mello.) You can read more about the intravaginal application of siRNAs in the January issue of Cell Host & Microbe.
Seeing and Believing: The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail. [Via Pharyngula]
The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show is easily the most terrifying "children's show" ever broadcast. [more inside]
What do women want? A post-feminist look at female desire.
In a breathless, passionate, yet level-headed 15 part series, YouTube user, paleontologist, ex-Christian, and potential Space Coyote impersonator AronRa presents an uncommonly well-written and presented argument against what he identifies as the 14 "Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism." [more inside]
Atmospheric Optics. Rainbows, in spray, of moonlight, in reflective paint, without sky, with spokes, twinned, reflected, in clouds, in the fog, more. Halos, horizon distortion, green flashes, pillars, near-contrails. Surface and volume shadows. Waves atop the atmosphere. Mysteries. Picture of the Day. Via. Previously. Still no unicorns.
My Genome, My Self: Steven Pinker considers what we can expect from personal genomics. Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes: Carl Zimmer looks at the hunt to learn about the role of genes in intelligence.
"The more we understand why we demonise certain scientific advances, the better we will be able to decide whether some areas of research are so sensitive they should always remain off limits to science." Is Science Out of Control?
Once every 27 years or so, the mysterious binary star system of Epsilon Aurigae undergoes an eclipse, lasting nearly two years. This gives this system the distinction of having both the longest eclipse and the longest period of any known binary system. However, it is not clear why the eclipses last so long, or even what the structure of the system actually looks like--the main star is a supergiant, with a radius as big as the distance from the earth to the sun, and yet its light is dimmed for two years by something yet bigger. The next eclipse is due to begin in August of 2009, and as part of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, amateur astronomers are being called on to make their own observations of the changing brightness of Epsilon Aurigae. If you want to try it yourself, you can read the training guide to find out how to do your own observations and report them. In addition, the two scientists who organized observations of the previous eclipse both have webpages [1, 2] which are coordinating the organization for the upcoming observation. If you want to learn more about the science behind ε Aurigae, a good rundown with links to papers is available here.
Scientists at the Auckland Museum will be performing a necropsy of a great white Shark between 11am and 1pm New Zealand time on Thursday. Though they will be examining the contents of its gut, they will also, among other things, look at its sex organs (female) and jaw. The necropsy will be viewable on the web from 2pm NZ time (when's that?). [more inside]
You and Your Research was a talk given by Richard Hamming in 1986. Read it if you have an interest in doing first-class work.
The Academy of Achievement brings students face-to-face with the extraordinary leaders, thinkers and pioneers who have shaped our world. Through profiles, biographies, and interviews Achievers in The Arts, Business, Public Service, Science, and Sports teach us how the Academy's core values of passion, vision, preparation, courage, perseverance, and integrity can, and will, lead to success. [more inside]
Dorkbot is a "monthly meeting of artists (sound/image/movement/whatever), designers, engineers, students, scientists, and other interested parties who are involved in the creative use of electricity." Started in NYC in 2000 by Douglas Repetto, Director of Research at the Columbia University Computer Music Center as well as one of Wired's 10 Sexiest Geeks, there are now dozens all over the world. Past presenters have been featured here on the blue. For instance Jeff Han presented his multi-touch interface at dorkbot-nyc in April of 2006. Miru Kim presented her naked city spleen at dorkbot-nyc in October of 2006. Bummed that there's not one in your own city? Start your own! [more inside]
Dogs get jealous. Or, if you are a scientist, they exhibit inequity aversion.
Where did Venus’s water go? Water may have once been as abundant on Venus as it is on Earth. New data from the Venus Express suggests that the planet's lack of a magnetic field has allowed water in the atmosphere to be stripped apart and carried into space by the solar wind.
The Hellstrom Chronicle "The film posits a theory any science fiction buff would glom onto in a second—that dominion over the world will come down to a battle between two classes of Kingdom Animalia, Man and insects, and that insects will win." Watch on youtube, 11 parts.
The Economist on Drugs -- Scientists in North America, Europe and Israel are studying the use of MDMA, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and other banned psychoactive substances in treating conditions such as anxiety, cluster headaches, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are supported by private funds from a handful of organisations: the Beckley Foundation in Britain; the Heffter Research Institute and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in America. [related]
Rethinking Earthrise. On the 40th anniversary of the NASA's Apollo 8 mission [caution: weird JFK animation], which answered Stewart Brand's epochal, LSD-inspired question "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?" with an unforgettable image of a seemingly fragile and isolated blue planet, Nature editor Oliver Morton -- author of a new book on photosynthesis called Eating the Sun -- disputes the notion that the Earth is fragile and isolated. "The fragility is an illusion," he writes. "The planet Earth is a remarkably robust thing, and this strength flows from its ancient and intimate connection to the cosmos beyond. To see the photo this way does not undermine its environmental relevance -- but it does recast it."
British scientists discover hundreds of new species in a remote forest in Mozambique using Google Earth. The pictures are the best part.
"...we see on the ground a number of spots of light, scattered irregularly, some large, some small..."
The Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air "Moreover, this book is written for all those who love Nature; for the young people going out into the wide world and gathering together round the camp-fire; for the painter who admires but does not understand the light and colour of the landscape; for those living in the country; for all who delight in travelling; and also for town-dwellers, for whom, even in the noise and clamour of our dark streets, the manifestations of Nature remain." - Marcel Minnaert [more inside]
The conclusion of a research paper by associate professor Andrew McIntosh and research assistant Declan Patton of the School of Risk and Safety Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: "To minimise the risk of head and neck injury, head bangers should decrease their range of head and neck motion, head bang to slower tempo songs by replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock, only head bang to every second beat, or use personal protective equipment." (Via)
The British government's Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology retains PhD and EngD students to produce POSTnotes, information-dense 4 page summaries of science and technology issues, aimed at informing members of parliament. Topics covered include HIV/AIDS in developing countries, large scale electricity storage, future nuclear technologies and next generation broadband access.
Bracing for Islamic Creationism (PDF). "To avoid a vast rejection of evolution in the Muslim world, scientists can present the theory as the bedrock of biology and can stress its practical applications." [Via]
The new Star Trek movie is both canon and a (partial) reboot. Screenwriter Roberto Orci explains using canon examples - and a discussion of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. [more inside]
A team of researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have managed to reconstruct black-and-white visual images from an fMRI scan of a test subject's brain. Some more examples of the recovered data. The organization responsible claims that the technology to record thoughts and dreams is just around the corner. [more inside]