Paul Kurtz on the Enlightenment.
Unfortunately, there has been a massive retreat from Enlightenment ideals in recent years, a return to pre-modern mythologies. There has been a resurgence of fundamentalist religions
worldwide—Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism. Added to this are occult-paranormal claims, which allegedly transcend the existing scientific paradigm.
In the United States—the preeminent scientific-technological-military superpower in the world—significant numbers of Americans have embraced primitive forms of biblical religion. These focus on salvation, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. Evangelical Protestant Christians have made alliances with conservative Roman Catholics and neo-conservative Jews, and they have captured political power—power they have used to oppose secular humanism and naturalism. via the council for secular humanism
posted by skallas
on Apr 5, 2004 -
Time to replace your old Periodic Table. ...a joint American-Russian team has found two new elements—numbers 113 and 115 on the periodic table—hinting at an impending breakthrough in creating novel forms of matter that will test our understanding of atomic behavior.
posted by mcgraw
on Mar 29, 2004 -
Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes
. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life
. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
posted by y2karl
on Mar 28, 2004 -
"The unpiloted 12-foot-long X-43A vehicle, part aircraft and part spacecraft, will be dropped from the wing of a B-52 aircraft, lofted to nearly 100,000 feet by a booster rocket and released over the Pacific Ocean to briefly fly under its own power at seven times the speed of sound." Watch
(RealPlayer) it live.
posted by cedar
on Mar 27, 2004 -
The Panda's Thumb
is a multi-authored blog "dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world." [Via The Loom.]
posted by homunculus
on Mar 27, 2004 -
I want my LTV, brothuh!
Interesting research in the field of trapping lobsters from the University of New Hampshire. Like so many people, I learned about lobsters on the street, so it's nice to see some hard science.
posted by Mayor Curley
on Mar 25, 2004 -
Thou shalt not make scientific progress.
"Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush's religious convictions stand in its way."
posted by homunculus
on Mar 24, 2004 -
The New Science Wars.
When a leading psychologist like Harvard's Howard Gardner
calls the president's science adviser
a "prostitute," it's a safe bet that all is not well in the realm of government science policy. Indeed, in the past month, the United States has been engulfed by a kind of "science war," one pitting much of the nation's scientific community against the current administration. Led by twenty Nobel laureates, the scientists say Bush's government has systematically distorted and undermined scientific information in pursuit of political objectives.
posted by skallas
on Mar 23, 2004 -
Nootropics ("smart" drugs)
- all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins
) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise
in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon
, the effect seems temporary
. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire
in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
posted by troutfishing
on Mar 5, 2004 -
"A single test can now reveal the presence
of meat from any of 32 different species in food samples, enabling a wide range of important questions to be answered. These include whether chicken has been bulked up with beef or pork extracts; whether expensive albacore tuna is really cheap skipjack tuna; whether rats, mice or even bits of people fell into the mincer when your burger was being made..."
posted by taragl
on Mar 4, 2004 -
Scientists Accuse White House of Distorting Facts
The Bush administration has deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued today.--would you believe the scientists or the people's (almost) choice? May need free reg for NY Times.
posted by Postroad
on Feb 18, 2004 -
Videos of common objects zoomed seemlessly to the near-atomic level. [RealVideo with audio commentary]
posted by gwint
on Feb 6, 2004 -
Making the Mind.
"The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
posted by homunculus
on Jan 17, 2004 -
We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life--they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.Gene Wolfe
- Now step within Father Inire's mirrors....
posted by y2karl
on Jan 15, 2004 -
Cyborgs in Canada?
When you first meet Steve Mann, it seems as if you've interrupted him appraising diamonds or doing some sort of specialized welding. Because the first thing you notice is the plastic frame that comes around his right ear and holds a lens over his right eye.
posted by edmcbride
on Jan 12, 2004 -
Did belief in extraterrestrials pave the way for today’s general belief in global warming
? Is the blending of public policy with science creating junk science? Michael Crichton drew out an intriguing connection in this lecture at Caltech. Via Arts & Letters Daily
posted by gd779
on Jan 3, 2004 -
Investigating the Renaissance.
'This interactive program demonstrates the ways in which computer technology can be harnessed to add to our knowledge about Renaissance paintings and how they
were made.' Analysis of paintings using x-ray, infrared and ultraviolet technology.
posted by plep
on Dec 23, 2003 -
New Scientists readers were asked to come up with new and necessary scientific words and their (amusing) definitions. These are the results.
posted by biffa
on Dec 19, 2003 -
The Best of Hubble
Its mission will end in 2010. Four years later it will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. Many astronomers are calling for Hubble to be refurbished
and its mission extended to 2020. Here
are some of it's best pictures.
posted by reverendX
on Dec 10, 2003 -
may or may not be the best medicine, but researchers have discovered it's a good drug, at least.
posted by Spezzatura
on Dec 8, 2003 -
"They do not use Western means to tell time. They use the sun.
These drugs have to be administered in certain sequences, at certain times during the day. You say, take it at 10 o'clock, they say, what do you mean, 10 o'clock?" They, of course, refers to "Africans" and the above logic from the head of USAID
was used an explanation for why it's tough to extend AIDS treatment to Africa. The only problem with this argument is that it's wrong.
People with HIV in developing countries are in better compliance with drug regimes than in the US as new research is showing
[RealAudio]. As we've seen throughout the epidemic, it's a lot easier to get funding for researchers in lab coats than for actual treatment . . .
posted by donovan
on Dec 1, 2003 -
Jaron Lanier talks
about philosophy, computer science and physics. Suppose poor old Shroedinger's Cat has survived all the quantum observation experiments but still has a taste for more brushes with death. We could oblige it by attaching the cat-killing box to our camera. So long as the camera can recognize an apple in front of it, the cat lives.
posted by kliuless
on Nov 20, 2003 -