Posts Tagged ‘Science’

50 Years of Starfish

Monday, July 9th, 2012

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.

How Not to Do Science

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

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.

Monday Linkorama

Sunday, April 15th, 2012
  • Did Fata Morgana sink the Titanic?
  • Nowadays, it takes ten years to build a sidewalk. Didn’t used to be that way.
  • You know how women were supposed to never get married if they were still on the shelf at 30? Yeah, that was bullshit.
  • Moore’s real law.
  • Mathematical malpractice watch: Mitt Romney.
  • Quickie Linkorama

    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

    This week’s linkorama is brought to you by my insanity over the last two weeks.

  • Will even a little red meat kill you? Maybe not. But even if it did, what’s the point in living a couple of extra years if you’re hungry and miserable for the previous 70?
  • A pretty cool story about a cab ride around the world.
  • Why I love the internet: it creates heart-warming stories like this one.
  • Sunday Linkorama

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012
  • Now this is cool. A plant is brought back to life after 30,000 years. I once wrote a very cliched short story about a human having the same thing happen; being woken up millennia after our extinction by intelligent insects.
  • Continuing in that vein: let’s go back 298 million years.
  • I knew that kids understood words at much younger ages than we thought. They’re sorta like cats: they just can’t be bothered to talk back until they need something.
  • Mathematical Malpractic Watch: the financial crisis. They have one outlier data point. And it seems much more likely that men move back in with their families because they economy is in the shitter, not the other way around.
  • A wonderful note about overcoming racism and Sidney Pottier.
  • An amazing story about a man surviving two months in the snow.
  • This graph-laden article is probably one of the more intelligent analyses I’ve read of the trends in marriage in our society. Long story short? People are still getting married; they’re just waiting longer. That’s not entirely a bad thing.
  • Saturday Linkorama

    Saturday, September 24th, 2011
  • Holy crap. Freakonomics backs me up on how spineless and useless NFL pre-season picks are. I really should be an economist.
  • Cracked takes on Doctor Who. It’s so weird to see this show become so popular. When I was a kid, Whovians were looked down on by Trekkies.
  • What 40 years of war has done to Kabul.
  • I’m not sure about this story. The Drug Warriors have a noted tendency to overstate their case, as does the CDC.
  • I can’t tell is this vampire kit is a real thing from the 19th century or somebody’s art project.
  • Another missing link has been found. But remember, finding a transitional fossil just means you need to find two more.
  • If it weren’t for his Fair Tax position, I’d really like Gary Johnson.
  • Hershey Linkorama

    Thursday, September 1st, 2011
  • I love science. A new record for oldest fossils.
  • What our pronouns say about us.
  • Yet more good news you will never hear in the media: war is on the decline.
  • Nate Silver on the obvious: popularly matters in the BCS.
  • Cracked is becoming a one-stop-shop for debunking bullshit.
  • The Waffle House Factor.
  • TNC on “The Help”
  • Friday Linkorama

    Friday, July 15th, 2011
  • Fun with data. The thing is, some social scientist would probably publish this seriously.
  • Your inspiration for the week. Most people are so good.
  • Cool medieval art. I’m so glad I get to enjoy cool medieval stuff (art, literature, professors with armor) and none of the bad stuff (famine, disease, war and death).
  • Because it’s Friday: cute cats.
  • Some questions don’t need to be answered.
  • Monday Linkorama

    Monday, June 20th, 2011
  • An archive of the internet? Nice idea but good luck. The whole point of the internet is to generate more information than paper could ever keep up with.
  • Dreadful story about a vintage airplane being destroyed. Although a least everyone was OK.
  • This is how science works (H/T: Astropixie.
  • More matching old photos to current locations.
  • More pictures of volcanoes.
  • This is one of the more interesting articles I’ve read on parenting. It suggests that coddling kids is a good way to land them in therapy.
  • I can’t wait until my vacation in the Outer Banks.
  • Wednesday Linkorama

    Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • What does your brain do when you orgasm? A scientist finds out.
  • This imitation of video game voices cracked me up.
  • Wonderful color photos of the Great Depression.
  • Political links:

  • This sort of thing happens every day in our ridiculous War on Drugs.
  • I don’t know what depresses me more about this story: that New Jersey passed an ill-considered law mandating decals on cars drive by teenagers; or that people succumbed to a baseline Predator Panic as a result.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Sunday, May 15th, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • A truly fascinating demonstration of the shift in population.
  • And, slowly, we lose the last of the WW1 vets.
  • More of my love of time lapse video.
  • A lovely story about an e-mail scam.
  • Political links:

  • Yer government at work: literally crying overspilt milk.
  • I wonder how the people who hate the Oath Keepers will reconcile this.
  • Remember when the President said he would make decisions based on science? That’s OK, neither does he.
  • The Curse of the Libertarian: you’re always right but no one listens. We said homebuyer tax credits would hurt more than they would help. We were right.
  • For the six thousandth time — we did not profit on the bailout of the automotive industry. Quit claiming we did, media.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Sunday, May 8th, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • And now … low salt diets are bad for you.
  • I found this article, from Vanity Fair about the Playboy Clubs of the 60′s oddly fascinating, and not just because of my generalized interest in the opposite gender. Doubtless the clubs were bad bad things. They certainly wouldn’t function today — they’d get justifiably eaten by sexual harassment laws. But the 60′s and 70′s were interesting times in terms of sex. Mad Men, to my understanding, mines that particular retro-chic vein very well. The article also reminds me of the near-innocence in the early days of commercialized sex that has been lost as it has become ubiquitous. Hef, at least in the early days, was great at up-marketing porn. The magazine had legitimately great articles (for which they paid a fortune to writers). Early pictorials were far more tasteful and coy than today and the clubs, from the description, played to that aesthetic. Plus, how cool would it have been to see Aretha Franklin give only her second public performance?
  • On the flip side of that, Cracked dissects one of the most disturbing romance/sex writers out there. Egad.
  • And just to round out a gender-conscious linkorama: this comes from the Fanatics Come in All Faiths file. Hillary Clinton has been photoshopped out of a White House picture.
  • Political Links:

  • Egad. Sugar interests vs. corn interests. Who to cheer for?
  • Of the many things our government could be worrying about, why is raw milk even on the list?
  • A touching note on forgiving bin Laden from a 9/11 survivor.
  • Half of Detroit can’t read. The city is spending $13,000 per pupil on their schooling system. Can we maybe admit that money isn’t the limiting factor here?
  • You’re Not Helping

    Friday, April 29th, 2011

    Look, you assholes. Before you gloat about the deaths of 300 people and blame it on global warming, maybe you should show some research proving tornado activity is connected with global warming. Because there is no established connection. And this statement:

    the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of ‘of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming

    is pathologically stupid. That’s the exact opposite of the null hypothesis. And this is exactly what global warming skeptics accuse you guys of — blaming any extreme weather, no matter what it is, on AGW.

    Wednesday Linkorama

    Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • Great news that our fish stocks are recovering.
  • Some interesting pushback on the idea that parenting doesn’t matter.
  • Orac has fun with the latest blast of toxin hysteria.
  • Some follow-up on the principles of the Duke Lacrosse case.
  • Political Links:

  • Two of the most arrogant men in Congress push a “privacy bill” that exempts government. I would much rather have Amazon collating information about me than the FBI.
  • The latest shut up and do what we say from TSA.
  • Usual statement: what this guy did was stupid, but it doesn’t warrant the severity of the reaction.