Searching for new sources of helium

The gas helium is invaluable for scientific research and is used in its liquid form for, among other things, reaching temperatures close to absolute zero. It is also, next to hydrogen, the most abundant material in the universe. That is well known. What is less well known is that our own supply of helium comes from underground gas traps as a byproduct of natural gas exploration. Thus the world’s supply is limited which means that we should not be wasting it on party balloons and the other frivolities.
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Why you should not take WebMD seriously

Somehow or other, I have got on the mailing list for WebMD, the medical information site that is often the first one that is returned by search engines when you look for information on anything health related. I get emails from them regularly and on the surface, it has all the signs of being a reliable objective source of authoritative health-related information.
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Anti-vaxxers get religion

As the dangers of not having children vaccinated become more well known, states are starting to cut back on the categories of exemptions given to parents who want to avoid vaccinating their children but yet want them to attend the same schools as other children and thus put them at risk. Vermont is the first state to remove the exemption based on parents’ philosophical beliefs. But since it keeps the religion exemption intact, some parents are suddenly ‘finding religion’.
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The crazies have found a new dark plot

Yesterday brought news from NASA scientists that they had evidence of flowing water on Mars

Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life.

Scientists are unsure where the water comes from, but it may rise up from underground ice or salty aquifers, or condense out of the thin Martian atmosphere.

“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, the lead scientist on Nasa’s Mars exploration programme, told the Guardian. “Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.”

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Nothing is too stupid to believe anymore

One of the poisonous side effects of the fact-free atmosphere that has been created by the Republican party is that evidence in support of any theory is no longer considered necessary. As long as prominent people are willing to make strong assertions confidently and their targets have already been suitably demonized, these statements are given a presumption of credibility. The examples are legion. Obama is a Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist plotting to install a dictatorship in the US is perhaps the most egregious example and best known. Others are that Christians are being persecuted in the US, climate change is a hoax, Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit, 9/11 was an inside job, Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and was responsible for 9/11, Obamacare has death panels, airplane contrails are really ‘chemtrails’ in a secret government spraying program, immigrants from Mexico are responsible for a crime spree of murders and rapes, the list goes on and on. It seems like there is no major issue, whether natural or human-caused, that escapes the paranoid fantasies of a significant minority in the US.
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New study says that ‘gaydar’ is a myth

You may be familiar with the neologism ‘gaydar’. The idea is that people who supposedly have this quality can intuit accurately a person’s sexual orientation simply by observing them. I had heard about this and naturally was curious to see if I had this ability. But a few casual attempts on my part to do so had such variable results that I concluded that even if there were such a thing as gaydar, I certainly did not have it.
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