This month in Italy, three judges have a chance to undo the Kafkaesque nightmare that has ensnared some of the country’s top scientists for almost five years. So far it looks doubtful they will. In 2012, seven scientists and engineers were convicted of manslaughter for things they said and did not say in the days…
Once upon a time, newly-minted science Ph.D.s would get research jobs at a senior scientist's laboratory, to train and hone the ideas they would explore at their own labs. But now the supply of post-doctoral students is outpacing demand, creating a new, hyper-educated underclass.
A list of reviews of Nicholas Wade’s book “A Troublesome Inheritance,” mainly by anthropologists and others who have investigated issues surrounding the concept of “race” in humans. Bethune, Brian: Inheritance battles Daniels, Anthony: Genetic disorder Dobbs, David: The Fault in Our DNA Fuentes, Augustín: The Troublesome Ignorance of Nicholas Wade Geneticists, Lotsofthem: An Open Letter…
A blogger in the Daily Kos reports that Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks people should “chill out” regarding genetically modified food. Tyson argues, as I have for years, that all our food is genetically modified, but it took on the order of 10,000 years to get where we are now.
The pseudonymous blogger, SkepticalRaptor, notes that GM foods are to many on the left as global warming is to many on the right: It is an article of faith that genetic modification is bad, and no amount of evidence can be adduced to change that opinion.
I would add, though, that there are valid reasons to oppose at least some genetic modifications, such as corn that is immune to glyphosate (Roundup) or plants laced with insecticide (Bt). Additionally, you could reasonably argue (as does SkepticalRaptor) that, whereas it may be legal to sell seeds that cannot reproduce themselves, it is certainly immoral to sell them to farmers in developing countries. Finally, I seem to recall that there have been occasional problems introducing, say, fish genes into tomatoes. None of these problems speaks against genetically modified food in general, though they surely militate in favor of considerable caution.
SkepticalRaptor concludes with the observation that Tyson is correct in following the evidence to its conclusion rather than denying the evidence in order to support a preordained conclusion. I could not agree more.
An astonishing new rock formation has been revealed in the Colorado Rockies, and it exists in a deeply perplexing relationship with older rocks. Named the Tava sandstone, this sedimentary rock forms intrusions within the ancient granites and gneisses that form the backbone of the Front Range. The relationship is fascinating because it is backward: ordinarily, it is igneous rocks such as granite that would that intrude into sedimentary rocks.
Individual ants are not very smart, but ants working together in a colony are capable of extraordinary feats. Case in point is this remarkable video in which a colony of ants have transformed into a daisy chain to pull a dead millipede — behavior that's never been seen before.
Mark Your Cosmic Calendar: 774/775 One wonders if anyone felt it. Did Charlemagne feel it as he led his forces across Pagan Saxon Westphalia, knocking down Irminsuls and making everyone pretend to be Christian or else? Did the people of Bagdad, just becoming the world’s largest city, notice anything aside from their own metro-bigness? Did…
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