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Category Archive: Science

Jul 26 2014

The dog is a nice touch

The National Review apparently has an article this month, sneering at nerd culture in general and Neil deGrasse Tyson in particular (I haven’t read it, since it’s behind a paywall). It’s called “Smarter Than Thou”, and I guess Republicans find intelligence repulsive, and an intelligent black man is an affront to nature. But here’s a …

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Jul 25 2014

I like this hypothesis

nceffects

But we have to be clear that it is only a hypothesis at this point. I was reading about domestication syndrome (DS) — selecting animals for domestication has a whole collection of secondary traits that come along for the ride, in addition to tameness. We are selecting for animals that tolerate the presence of humans, …

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Jul 25 2014

Friday Cephalopod: Not a bird with a curved beak, or a curvy flower

Ilan Lubitz

But still curvy.

Jul 24 2014

It’s mayfly season!

mayflycar

Every year around this time, we can expect a sudden eruption of clouds of mayflies to emerge, as Gwen Pearson describes. There have been a few times I’ve been out driving when caught in it, and the car gets coated with brown dead bug smears, to the point where visibility is a serious problem. But …

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Jul 23 2014

Botanical Wednesday: Cruel bird

This bird, over many generations, has warped the poor Centropogon‘s flower into that bizarre curve.

Jul 23 2014

They don’t understand allometry!

eq

I think the engineers are just trying to wind me up, again. Joe Felsenstein tackles a paper published in an applied physics journal that redefines evolution and tries to claim that changes in aircraft design are a good model for evolution. It’s a terrible premise, but also, the execution is awful. But permit me a …

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Jul 22 2014

Those sneaky forms of academic bias…

It’s Tuesday…that must mean it’s “Let’s point out flaws in the academic system!” day. Here’s another example: some investigators did a study of the value of screening cancer patients for distress — they asked whether such screening actually contributed to patient’s feelings of well-being and willingness to follow medical recommendations, and whether it was cost-effective. …

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Jul 22 2014

Biology is a hard problem

New genetic disorders pop up all the time — each one represents a child who may face incredible challenges, or even be doomed to death. A child named Bertrand exhibited some serious symptoms — profound developmental disabilities — shortly after he was born, and no one could figure out what was wrong with him. So …

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Jul 21 2014

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Cruel flower

HHMI

This flower, over many generations, has warped the poor buff-tail sicklebilled hummingbird’s beak into that bizarre curve.

Jul 21 2014

The dose makes the poison

Princeton physicist William Happer is still getting invited on television to say stupid things. I keep hearing about the "pollutant CO2," or about "poisoning the atmosphere" with CO2, or about minimizing our "carbon footprint." This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." …

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