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Oct 05 2011

RCimT: Science roundup 10/05/2011

Another bunch of science links from the last two weeks to get your brain meats working. Which is the coolest? Which is the most promising? Which makes you violate Occam’s Razor to explain? Which sets your skeptic-sense tingling? Which should, conceivably, convert me to your specific religion?

There are no right or wrong answers. Well, there are stupid answers, of course. Which I wholeheartedly encourage!

Mercury is evidently going through its teenage years, with sulfur hollows unlike any seen anywhere else in the universe, resembling so much acne pock-marking. Now how’s it going to ask Venus to the junior prom!?

Women apparently have better immune systems than us, suggesting of course that they should stay at home and make babies. Not the immune system part, the part where they’re women. (Don’t hit me! It’s scientifically proven that I’m more fragile than you!)

Plants evidently take in more CO2 than previously thought, meaning our climate models will have to be rejiggered to compensate. Given that we know how much the planet’s been warming over the past several decades, this suggests we were probably being over-conservative in how much warming we’ll see in our projections, since they obviously aren’t just going to start taking in more CO2 starting right now just because this study said so — they must have done so historically as well. Either that, or this means that global warming won’t happen at all, because it’s not like we’ve been deforesting entire — oh.

Differently sized regions of the brain apparently determine personality, when mapped to other similarly sized brains and/or the brains are scaled to be equivalent volume. This sounds a bit like phrenology, only it sort of makes sense. Your personality, like your consciousness, comes from your brain. Phineas Gage got a spike through his head and became a lecher and a gambler overnight. If you’re not dead from a brain injury, you’re significantly different. So altering the size and shape of the brain areas has got to have some effect on how the neurons are fired.

Now that they’ve supposedly discovered faster than light travel is possible under hairy circumstances, for an encore CERN’s now looking into the possibility of figuring out why antimatter and matter weren’t created in equal parts at the Big Bang. If it had, there’d be nothing here in the universe. However, I think you’re as confident as I am that they’ll discover that Yahweh is responsible, so he could create humankind to praise him, and so his son Jesus could have a nice ball of dirt on which to get nailed to a cross. I mean, it’s the most plausible explanation, right?

And on the topic, here’s an actual reasonable and skeptical take on the possibility that CERN actually did record neutrinos travelling faster than light. And a napkin calculation that would suggest a good way to verify this had happened — by collecting neutrinos from distant stars and seeing if we get them years early, considering the amount of time these neutrinos apparently shaved off their trip.

Finally, an odd trio of links came across my browser all at once, all evidently within a few days of each other: NSAIDs linked with renal cancer, NSAIDs might be risky in early pregnancy, and a possible link between NSAIDs and cardiovascular issues. These might all be true, but for them to be grouped together like this makes me wonder if there’s something else going on, like some attempt to smear NSAIDs by Big Acetaminophen or something.

So, your picks are…?

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