RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Delving into the Bigfoot Aliens who built the Pyramids in Giza

ImageThe Science Channel and Animal Planet have some excellent science and nature programming that I enjoy watching with my son. It makes me happy to see his interest piqued by Big Cat Diaries or How It’s Made or The Wonders of the Universe.

ImageBut it troubles me that sometimes these shows will end and immediately something about Bigfoot’s Ghost comes on. The positive effect of quality program rapidly erodes when juxtaposed against pseudo-science hogwash and I’m not sure how to handle it other than to constantly talk to him about what good science looks like compared to a well choreographed hoax or wild goose chase. ‘Does the Loch Ness Monster really control the US Stock Market?’

‘We may never know….’

Image

Explore an expanding Universe and a shrinking Intellect back to back on the science channel

‘But wait!’ you say.’Isn’t there some merit to asking the question? I mean, we don’t know for sure do we?’

Of course. The robot overlords may actually be the ones who keep making us forget where we left our car keys. But is it really the most likely answer? Maybe you weren’t paying attention when you put them down because you also had groceries, your iPhone and a couple of old coffee cups in your hands when you came home.

Image

Gad Zooks! A ghost bite!

Do we have no way of sorting out probable causes from improbable ones?

Discovery Communications, owners of The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel, TLC and other media outlets offers this mission statement:

 

dcimissionstatement

Hey, Ghostbusters was entertaining and engaging. But was it enlightening?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is accuracy essential in films about science?

Science in Cinema.

“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen *anything* to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.” – Han Solo, skeptic

How important is scientific accuracy in film?
How much is enough?
What matters? And what doesn’t?

Meroe Candy of the Wellcome Trust discusses the role of scientific accuracy in film…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Question of Death

Image

Death’s Dance

In the film, Questioning Darwin, it is asked of ‘Darwinists’, “How does evolution deal with death?”

I have to admit, I don’t know what this question really means.  Is he asking why there is death? What happens after death?

Several people texted just this question during the live broadcast of the Nye / Ham debate and I didn’t understand it then either. In that context, they had posed this question as something of an experimental challenge to evolutionists and I interpreted it as meaning … ‘ Just wait until you die, heretic. Then you’ll see who’s right.’ Perhaps I had been to quick to this conclusion ?

If there is anyone out there who can explain just what this means, please let me know. Right now it’s nothing but an inside joke that I don’t get.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Lehrer Method

Start with Acetyl CoA.

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Scanning electron microscopy image of regular salt and pepper

Scanning electron microscopy image of regular salt and pepper.

A beautiful look at two common substances.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

“This blog is our last hope ”

“No, there is another.”

Exam I for Microbiology nears. Where will the extra credit questions come from? Will they all be found here? Perhaps. But there is A New Hope.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Reasons Curling Is the Best Olympic Sport

6 Reasons Curling Is the Best Olympic Sport

Admit it, you can’t wait to watch.

For The Win

(AP) (AP)

Today’s big winner:Curling

It’s time for an intervention, Earth.

It happens every four years. Curling comes on, you point and laugh, curling goes away. The same jokes are always made. How hard is it to throw a rock? If using a broom is an Olympic sport, than I’m an Olympian every day. How can you seriously call yourself an athlete when you wear pants like this?

(AP) (AP)

It needs to stop. Curling is the best and these are six reasons that will change your mind forever.

1. The rules are simple.

(Getty) (Getty)

Get your stone closest to the bull’s-eye; win. It’s that simple. There’s strategy involved, but the sport is easy to follow and easier to understand.

2. The U.S. women are pretty good.

(USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports)

The American women came in fourth at last year’s world championship, barely missing out on a bronze, and enter the Sochi…

View original post 344 more words

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Bill Nye, Popular Guy

Bill Nye was on The Bill Maher Show tonight.He’s been very popular the past week or two, appearing in a debate on evolution and the viability of intelligent design, he spoke about climate science with Marsha Blackburn on Sunday’s Meet the Press, and now Bill Maher.

Image

Teddy Roosevelt and party at the tree, General Sherman.

On Maher’s show Nye was asked how it is that we know the world is older than 6000 years. Or to rephrase, “How could we know if a tree is older than 6800 years old?”

It’s actually a good question.  It’s a good question that gets to the crux of what Bill Nye was engaging Ken Ham on: how do we know things?

To address that big question, let’s talk about how we would answer the smaller one about the tree and see if that gives us any insight into how we gain knowledge…

Every kid has heard that the rings in a tree stump correspond to years that that tree lived. But how do we know?

ImageForestry.about.com tells us that, “The new, large cells that are produced the following spring are easily distinguished from the previous year’s tree growth as a distinctive ring. A ring composed of a light part (spring growth) and a dark part (late summer/fall growth) represents each year’s growth.”

If you want to test this method for dating trees, the best place to start is to find a tree that you know was planted at a certain date. Perhaps in a housing development, something you planted yourself, something your parents planted, or better yet… get some trees to plant this year and come back in a decade or so. 

ImageOver the course of a decade or so, cut one of your trees or use an increment borer to take a sample that includes the pith (the centermost section of the tree). Now count the rings. While you’re at it, consult some records that can tell you the weather patterns over the time that this particular tree lived. With this information, you can now cross-reference your tree ring data with weather data. If you have bores from your trees over successive years, you can line your samples up and compare. Do the older trees have more rings? Do all of your trees have numbers of rings corresponding to their known age? Do you see any weather-related patterns in your ring spacing? Do all the trees have the same weather patterns for the same years?

What I’m proposing is, you can adopt the hypothesis that trees make a ring every year and then test it just as we described above.

If you do this, you’re doing science. You can see the data yourself, see how the data supports or refutes the hypothesis you made. You don’t need any outside help, you just need time and access to some trees (and perhaps the equipment that enables you to get your data).

Now ask yourself, ‘do you believe your data? Do you think it supports your idea? What experiment would give you the best opportunity to change your mind about this?’

Now do that experiment.

And call yourself a scientist while you’re at it.

You aren’t just answering the question that started this column. You are seeing how scientific method works and getting a glimpse into the way that we learn from the world around us.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Set your DVRs

Image

Nice Tie, Nye

Tomorrow morning’s ‘Meet the Press’ puts Bill Nye the Science Guy in the spotlight again. This time Mr. Nye will be speaking with (debating?) Marsha Blackburn on the topic of Climate Change. Just about a week ago Mr. Nye debated with uber-creationist Ken Ham over the theory of knowledge (actually, the topic was supposed to be evolution that time, but that wasn’t what was actually argued).

Nye is becoming the public face of science, willing to take on anyone anywhere in defense of science as a means of uncovering the mysteries of the universe. This has been making waves in the science community where many academics are uncomfortable with these kind of debates. Their argument is that science is not decided by debate. Science is a way of interrogating nature directly; data comes first and conclusions are derived from these data. 

Bill will be debating Tennessee Congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn.

Image

Marsha Marsha Marsha

The Washington Examiner describes Congresswoman Blackburn as “a conservative Tennessee Republican and vice chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been skeptical about scientific research showing that human activities have altered the world’s climate patterns at an alarming and unnatural rate.”

Just like the eve of the debate at the Creationist Museum, I will be eager to see the results at the same time I will be cowering and hoping that Nye has, again, does his homework.

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Night is Pizza Night

Mmmmm. Pizza

It’s all I can think about right now. I’m dreaming of pizza right now to possibly pre-game the event later on tonight. One of the most devastating things I’ve discovered since moving to Kansas is that it is something of a food desert. 

Image

Gene Simmons making some killer Ellio’s

What I mean by that is the East Coast Roller Rink staple, Ellio’s Pizza, is not sold anywhere near Imagehere. I looked into the Ellio’s website, hoping to find some way to set up a standing order, but my results were mixed. On the downside, I didn’t see any way to ship Ellio’s here, but I did find that there is an Ellio’s Nation to sign up for. I gather it’s something like the Kiss Army of pizza And I gather there are just about as many benefits to both groups: meaning none. But I think members of the Kiss Army at least get to post topless pictures. I couldn’t find the page where people do that on the Ellio’s site.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,