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      Archive of posts related to science

[Some posts pre-2008 also listed by topic at the end.]

Patent filing claims solar energy ‘breakthrough’      May 14, 2013

Inventor Ronald Ace claims a solar energy breakthrough. His solar collector is said to absorb nearly 100% of the sun’s energy without any significant loss. Mind-boggling, if true.

The frankenfood alarmists were right — again      February 3, 2013

The treehuggers turn out to be right about GMO foods, and the respectable scientists in the white lab coats were wrong. The scientists assumed that the viruses ferrying the DNA-of-interest into cells were just doing what they were told and disappearing afterward. Wrong.

One people, one planet, one pollution      January 24, 2013

I was hiking yesterday and looked out to sea. This is what I saw. An orange-brown band of dust? smog? all of the above? stretching over the whole horizon. I’ve lived here for years and never seen anything like it.

The only thing worse than running out of oil      January 4, 2013

This is the headline of an article on CNN: “Damon’s film ‘Promised Land’ overlooks fracking’s boon to U.S.” The boon of global climate change, I guess. The boon of flammable tap water. All that, and cheap gas. Are we lucky, or what? Like I said before, the only thing worse than running out of oil is not running out of oil.

Selling life for fun and profit      December 31, 2012

Maybe not so much for fun, but profit? Definitely. I’ve written about what’s really wrong with genetically modified food before, and it’s not mutant monster three-eyed chickens giving you cancer. Being a biologist, I’ve been complaining about biological problems. Monsanto creating crops to withstand its own RoundUp herbicide. More herbicide = more ecological damage + less nutritious crops. And, in a win-win (for Monsanto), it gets paid for the patented crops and the patented RoundUp sloshed on the fields. (1) The potential to cause allergies due to substances created or used anywhere in the process of production through to application […]

Women must run the world      December 22, 2012

And businesses. And everything else. That is the inescapable implication of the following findings from: The Mere Anticipation of an Interaction with a Woman Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Performance, Nauts et al. 2012. Recent research suggests that heterosexual men’s but not heterosexual women’s cognitive performance is impaired after an interaction with someone of the opposite sex Karremans et al., 2009. These findings have been interpreted in terms of the cognitive costs of trying to make a good impression during the interaction. In everyday life, people frequently engage in pseudo-interactions with women e.g., through the phone or the internet or anticipate […]

I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords      September 30, 2012

So long as they’re this much fun. Not otherwise. Related: Swarm of flying robots: I want.

Climate Change Bozos      July 19, 2012

Remember the folks who said warming wasn’t a problem because plants use more CO2 when it’s hot? Corn field drying up in southern Wisconsin, USA, July 16th, 2012. (wxmom on flickr) How’s that working out for you?    

Humans are the only thing we can’t fix      July 5, 2012

So this is not actually good news: The Fukushima nuclear disaster was the result of “man-made” failures before and after last year’s earthquake, according to a report from an independent parliamentary investigation. A technical glitch, an unforeseen cascade of technical glitches, an accident exceeding design parameters, all those things can be dealt with, assuming money is no object. But even if money can be spent like water (and if you have to, why use nukes to begin with when there are cheaper, better, cleaner alternatives?), but if you can spend no end of money, you still can never fix the […]

What Really Makes Us Fat      July 1, 2012

Let’s face it. People feel the fat-antifat kerfuffle is a struggle between good and evil. Gluttony is bad! It’s not gluttony. It’s a disease! It’s not a disease. It’s genetics. It’s okay. It is not okay. And so on and on. Folks, we’re talking about biology. It could be all of the above and then some. “Then some” is actually my preferred answer and I’ll discuss it in a bit. But in the meantime, it’s worth remembering that none of the above are mutually exclusive. The answers vary from person to person and there is no single thing that is […]

Swarm of flying robots: I want      February 7, 2012

Continuing my must-have vehicles series … fleets of tiny drones flying in formation in a lab. I think about fifty or so would be just the right amount to fly around the house while I cackle wildly. (But, wouldn’t you know, the first thing everyone says is, “Military applications!”)

Something is happening here, Mr. Jones      January 10, 2012

First you read about Nome, Alaska. It’s had such tough weather, a Russian tanker and a US Coast Guard icebreaker are painstakingly trying to deliver emergency fuel supplies. The icebreaker is facing backward because [T]he ice is under so much pressure, it closes up almost as soon as it’s broken. So the ship has to double back and re-break it. [Update: The view is from the icebreaker toward the tanker, which is facing forward. The icebreaker does double back, but that’s not what the picture shows. Sorry for the brain fart.] You get the picture. Very severe winter in Alaska. […]

The only thing worse than running out of oil      December 22, 2011

Is not running out of oil. This headline today is not good news: Does shale oil boom mean U.S. energy independence is near? Neither is this one that the US has a “200-year-supply” of coal. Nor these about all the fuel available in the Marcellus Shale, or the Canadian tar sands, or the Green River oil shale. At this point it’s obvious to the meanest intelligence that burning fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which causes climate change, which causes floods, fire, famine, pestilence, and war. It will kill billions of humans. I’ll repeat that. It will kill […]

The obesity epidemic      October 24, 2011

People discuss obesity as an epidemic, but the solution somehow remains individual action. That doesn’t work for real epidemics. You can’t, for instance, not catch smallpox all by yourself. (You can be lucky and have natural resistance, but that’s different.) It’s turning out that people spoke more truth than they realized. Evidence is accumulating that obesity is a real epidemic, i.e. a public health issue with social and environmental causes. It’s something I’ve suspected for years. Obesity has become more prevalent over the last thirty to forty years. That means — at the population level — it can’t be caused […]

Cure for viruses. This is HUGE.      August 10, 2011

I just saw this, and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. This is like being there at the discovery of penicillin. MIT researchers have found a way to cure viral diseases, any viral diseases, from common colds through dengue and up to HIV. (Press release, PLoS One research article.) This is one huge, massive, “Wow!” Rider drew inspiration for his therapeutic agents, dubbed DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), from living cells’ own defense systems. When viruses infect a cell, they take over its cellular machinery for their own purpose — that is, creating more copies of the […]

Toxicity and GM Food      January 13, 2010

Genetically modified food was declared too safe to label years ago. Greenpeace has been fighting to have Monsanto’s original data released. Their RoundUp resistant crops (“RoundUp Ready” in adspeak) and Bt corn are a large majority of GM crops worldwide. Monsanto lost some legal cases, the data finally became available, and have now been reanalyzed. (Via Slashdot) The bottom line? You don’t have to stop eating, but it is time to get really, really, really mad. (Background info for those who’d like it: Monsanto produces RoundUp, a glyphosate-based herbicide. That interferes with plant growth via a pathway not present in […]

Science-related, at least to me    (pre-2008 list)