Archive for the ‘Science and Edumacation’ Category
This post, from Phil Plait, is a must-read on the history of one of the most dangerous nuclear tests in history. I do have on quibble however, with the opening paragraph:
In 1958, the Soviet Union called for a ban on atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons, and went so far as to unilaterally stop such testing. Under external political pressure, the US acquiesced. However, in late 1961 political pressures internal to the USSR forced Khrushchev to break the moratorium, and the Soviets began testing once again. So, again under pressure, the US responded with tests of their own.
That’s a generous reading of the history. It could be argued, as Robert Heinlein said at the time, that the history was more like this: In 1958, the Soviet Union called for a ban on atmospheric test of nuclear weapons, and went so far as to unilaterally stop such testing. Of course, they had a massive country with closed borders where they could test weapons on the sly. The US eventually caved into to Soviet bullying and internal Communist sympathizers to join the ban. However, as Heinlein predicted, Khruschev later resumed testing when it suited him.
Amy Alkon breaks down the study that claims the TSA nudie scanners are safe. In short: they basically took TSA’s nominal figure for the radiation put out by these things and assumed that this was the output of all the devices at all times.
What? Quit giving me those looks. We all know that theory and practice are the same.
This week’s linkorama is brought to you by my insanity over the last two weeks.
It’s bogus. And whoever put it together — I can’t find the composite on the NASA site — has been deliberately deceptive.
The first image dates from 2001, not 1978. You can find it here in wikipedia. It was taken on July 29 — summer for the Northern hemisphere. Check the cloud patterns and you’ll see it’s the same image. The second image you can find here from January of this year from the new Suomi satellite. And for those of you keeping up, that means it’s a winter image.
So this is not an image of deforestation at all. It doesn’t cover 34 years. And it’s not even from the same satellite. And I didn’t have to use any of my NASA insider skills to figure out how the deception was done.
If you want to know the facts about deforestation, try wikipedia. In the US, forests declined about 25% from 1600 to 1900. Since then, they’ve been stable due to protection, better management and sustainable logging practices in which new trees are planted as old ones are cut down.
This is bullshit. This is Paul Ehrlich level bullshit. I’m angry about it, not only because of the pollution of the debate but because of the political abuse of some beautiful images NASA has produced.
Update: Just to clarify why I was immediately suspicious of this image. One, I keep up with environmental issues so I knew the facts on deforestation already. Two, as a professional, I immediately noticed the difference in angle of the Earth in the two images, indicating the first was taken in summer and the second in winter. NASA can orient these images any way they want, since they are composites. But they angle them as they are shown to reflect the difference in seasons.
I suspect that the century long concern that children aren’t getting enough sleep is at least partially bogus. There are many problems with the scientific studies backing the supposed recommendation up, not the least of which is the assumption that all children need a similar amount of sleep. But why would we assume this when it’s so obviously not true for adults? There are may adults who function fine on a few hours of sleep, others are zombies with less than ten. And there is some evidence that sleeping a lot is correlated with a shorter life span.
I personally love a good night’s sleep, but I’m averaging about 5-7 hours. A good night is 7-8 hours. And while I wake up groggy and confused, I find that I really can’t go much beyond that. Is is shortening my life? I don’t know. No one knows. What matters more to me is quality of sleep, rather than quantity. A hard four hours is better than a broken eight.
I do think there may be a genetic component to it. Although Sue needs 8-9 hours, Abby only needs about 9, about 1-2 less than recommended for her age group. And like me, if we try to force her to get more, she just lies in bed wide awake.