Monday, April 30, 2012
The "strength and weaknesses" argument, or the idea that teachers should be allowed to "teach the controversy" of certain scientific theories -specifically, evolution- is a tired, but growingly successful tactic employed by religious creationists. The group adopted the strategy as part of a pseudo-scientific makeover the organization underwent, following their defeat at the hands of a1987 supreme court ruling, which rightly deemed the teaching of their religiously based fiction in public schools to be a violation of church and state. In response to this defeat, Creationists manufactured a completely non-existent scientific controversy (more on that in a minute), relabeled their efforts a struggle for academic freedom, adopted the, extra sciency-sounding moniker: "Intelligent Design", and went back to lobbying for their cause: Undermining the teaching of science and circumventing the separation of church and state, in order to infect public education with religion.
But just for fun, let's pretend the creationist agenda really is about education (which it isn't) and not about promoting a religious agenda through pseudo-science (which it is). So what about the scientific controversy surrounding the validity of Darwinian Evolution? I mean, if science isn't even sure evolution is real, isn't that something children should know about?
It certainly would be, if it were true. But it isn't.
There is NO scientific controversy as to weather or not evolution is true, NONE. To science, evolution is as much a fact of reality, as gravity; which is also absolutely true, and also "just a theory". Yes, there's an ongoing effort to fully understand the specific mechanisms which drive the phenomena of evolution, and to complete the paths it has taken to drive all species on the planet to their current states; because that's how science works. But there is NO question as to weather or not evolution has taken place, or that it continues to take place today.
As for Creationism/Intelligent Design, on the other hand. The lack of scientific evidence supporting the handful of quantifiable claims they're willing to make, is equally definitive. IN other words, there isn't any. Which is the problem with trying to label your religious fantasy a testable, provable science; people will try and test it, and then end up disproving it.
The simple fact is, the "theory" that we live in a universe that's 6,000 to 12,000 years old; that all the organisms on the planet were either designed as they exist today, or, after escaping extinction by taking refuge from a world-wide flood on the deck of mythical boat, underwent some ridiculous, made up, hyperactive version of evolution in order to diverge into all of the species on the planet today- simply does not fit with reality. Evolution on the other hand, like climate change (sorry, it's real too. But we'll deal with that another day), does. And the only place any controversy about evolution exits, is in the mind of creationists.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Now I know what you're thinking, and I didn't think watching a handful of geeks play boardgames sounded particularly exciting either, and was fully set to be all snarky and judgmental about it. But after watching it, I thought they did an exceptional job of making doing exactly that, not just entertaining, but more entertaining than it should be. So much so, that I think that even if you never liked boardgames or RPG's, you'll still find it entertaining. In fact, I've actually watched both of the episodes currently out, twice now. Which, I realize as I type that sentence, is an excellent indication of why my dating life so lively. But I really don't see how that's relevant to anything, and I resent you for pointing it out. Now go watch the show, and stop judging me.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Earlier this week Planetary Resources Inc announced it's intent to become the first asteroid mining company in history. While details on the company's plan were pretty vague, their list of financial backers, was much easier to find, as they were the focus of most of the articles on the subject. Which isn't terribly surprising given it's a list which includes Google's Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, as well as James Cameron, who's also apparently famous for some stuff, but I'm not sure what.[/sarcasm]
Though Planetary Resource's goal is both a fairly straight forward and plausible one: Identify near Earth asteroids worth mining for water and or precious metals, and then do it. Actually achieving this feat, will require the company to first launch it's own telescopes in order to locate said NEA, find a way to bring them into orbit around the moon, and then develop all of the technology necessary to actually mine them. All of which the company hopes to achieve within the next ten years. It's a lofty goal, and given that it's one based largely on technologies that don't yet exist, I won't be holding my breath in anticipation.But I do think could very well be an achievable goal for a company ultimately motivated by profit, as founders estimate their new industry could potentially mean the influx of trillions of dollars into the world economy.
The idea of commercial interests in space is undoubtedly one that will make the ardently anti-capitalist amongst you uncomfortable, and to be honest, I share your apprehension. But if successful, Planetary Enterprises endeavor could also be a potential stepping stone towards the goal of interplanetary explorations, as one of the proposed goals of the project is to develop ways of manufacturing and distributing fuel as well as water to ships and crews in space; not to mention its potential for easing the drain on Earth's own natural resources. Also, at this point it seems all but impossible to me that any government will ever allocate the necessary resources to fund the level of scientific development or space exploration, I so desperately want to see become reality. So even if we never hear from Panetary Resources again. Like it or not, I think the future of space (much like everything else) is largely a commercial one.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Yes, I know, I neglected you all again this weekend. I’d like to say I have a good excuse..but I don’t. I’ll start catching up later. For now, Here’s a picture I took. Because I’m on my lunch break, and I don’t have time to “science” right now.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
Created by photographer Alex Rivest, by enhancing publicly available data from NASA’s Johnson Space Center to focus primarily on the field of stars moving in the background, the above time lapse is filled with an array of amazing images. From glowing green aurora to, to entire continents lit up by the night time lights of civilization, it’s truly an awesome piece of video. My only critique would be the music (of course). Because personally, I think smooth jazz should remain buried behind the disturbingly overgrown pubic mounds of 1970’s vintage Hardcore pornography where it belongs, and I’d have chosen something more subtle and soothing to go along with the video. Like, say, Hate Eternal’s, “The Art of redemption”. Or maybe a classical piece like, say, SLAYER’s, “Seasons in The Abyss”.
Go ahead, try it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Okay, probably not.
But It’d mean a lot to me if you did. =)
One of the methods of testing the giant impact theory is to compare the isotope structure of basic elements found within rocks both on the moon and here on Earth. Because the the number of neutrons contained within each elemental isotope's nucleus can change, finding, say, an oxygen isotope with same atomic structure to be present in both samples, is a strong indicator that the samples in question originated from the same place. Which is exactly what previous analysis of lunar materials have shown.
But if 40% of the moon is made of the remains of the hypothetical object known as Theia, as is proposed by the giant impact theory. Then one would expect to eventually find some variance in the isotope structure of elements found in materials on the moon vs those on Earth, as those originating from Theia would presumably have been slightly different. But so far, that isn't the case. In fact, a recent analysis conducted by geochemists led by Junjun Zhang at the University of Chicago in Illinois, together with a colleague at the University of Bern in Switzerland, found, not only oxygen isotopes, but that also titanium isotopes taken from lunar materials, were identical to those found on Earth, which is a significant result. Because, while oxygen isotopes on each body could have been homogenized as a result of the formation process (meaning, oxygen isotopes originating from Theia cold basically have been "burnt off" and replaced) the high boiling point of titanium makes the same explanation an unlikely one for the presence of identical titanium isotopes.
So if the Giant impact hypothesis is correct, Thia really was a thing, and it's remains now account for 40% of the material on the moon, then why haven't we found any pieces of it yet?
The answer, of course, could be as simple as scientists having over estimated the size of Theia, that we merely haven't managed to collect a sample of it's remains yet, or some other variable or detail that we have yet to discover. But while it's an absolute certainty that the details of the Giant impact theory will change over time as new discoveries are made, and I think instances like this are both interesting and important examples of how the scientific process works. I think it's unlikely that this single data set will lead to the dethroning of the theory, and I'm personally not even convinced that it's a significant contradiction of previous findings, as the giant impact theory still accounts for more observed physical effects both on the Earth as well as the moon, than any of the alternate lunar formation theories around today.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Posted by YouTube user: Nerdist
I know, I've already plugged this once. And no, I don't know anyone involved in this, nor am I trying to virtually kiss anyone's ass. But in case you hadn't noticed, I'm a big fan of indie, well, everything. And since YouTube is my television, I'm always excited to find new content creators I really enjoy, and in the case of the Nerdist Channel, I'm already a fan of everything about it. Plus, c'mon, it's Rob Zombie doing an impression of a former Doctor Who. If I didn't post that here, someone would take my geek-card AND my Metal-card away.
Subscribe to Nerdist on Youtube.
I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t a massive fan of Bioshock as a game. I got the first one, played for a few hours, got bored, never went back again. But that’s the usual path for me and shooters. What can I say, I’m just not a fan. But, as most geeks were; I was impressed with the games aesthetic, and I do enjoy beer. So of this Bioshock themed home-brew, I approve.
VIA: The Drunken Moogle
Posted by YouTube user: richarddawkinsdotnet