The lead in Flint’s water and the corruption of science

In the story about the high levels of lead in the Flint, MI water supply, the scientists who first produced the measurements that indicated that there was a serious problem were from Virginia Tech University. I was intrigued by the fact that people so far away had to be called in to reveal this problem but did not follow up on why this was so.
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Why do people take an instant dislike to Ted Cruz?

Because it saves time, according to one former Bush administration official. But joking aside, it is quite extraordinary how so many people, including colleagues and acquaintances going all the way back to his college days, describe him as a totally unlikable person. Not only do they feel that way, they are all coming out of the woodwork to say so openly.
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Driving a Model T Ford

The Model T Ford car, produced from 1908 to 1927, is a legend in car history becoming the first to be popular in the mass market. A little fact that I had not been aware of is that the car got its name from a series of models that began with Model A and worked its way through the alphabet until they got to T when they had a winner. Not every letter corresponded to a production model since many were just prototypes.
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The US Senate inches slowly towards accepting climate change reality

The US Senate which boasts, despite all the evidence, that it is the world’s greatest deliberative body, voted 50-49 for cloture on an amendment that stated that “climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it”. Since the cloture rules require 60 votes, the amendment did not pass. All the Democrats voted in favor of it except minority leader Harry Reid, probably for tactical reasons. Five Republicans voted in favor of Schatz’s amendment.
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The problem of bullying in the internet age

The desire to wield power over other people and to get enjoyment from doing so are unpleasant traits. While the structure of complex modern society requires hierarchies that have people in positions in authority over others, the exercise of power often extends well beyond the demands of one’s job and some people seem to actually enjoy having others be submissive to them and belittling and humiliating them.
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How snowfalls are measured

People on the eastern seaboard of the US are digging themselves out after last week’s major snowstorm. One of the things that I have long been curious about is how people actually measure the amount of snow that falls. Unlike rainfall that is relatively easy to measure, snow is very variable in its water content and winds can cause it to swirl and create drifts and uneven amounts even within a small region.
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Where do people get these ideas?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you placed a washing machine on a trampoline, put a brick into it, and turned it on? Me neither. But somebody thought it might be a good idea and the video below shows what happens. In general, my distaste of waste and wanton destruction of perfectly good appliances makes me reluctant to endorse this kind of thing. But I have to admit to being fascinated by the video because it made me think about the physics that was driving it.
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It’s official: 2015 was the warmest year in modern times

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2015 easily broke the previous record for the warmest year that had been set just the previous year.

During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62 Fahrenheit (0.90 Celsius) above the 20th century average,” said the NOAA report.

“This was the highest among all years in the 1880-2015 record.”

Compared to 2014, last year was 0.29 Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius) warmer, the “largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken.”

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