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Category Archive: Science

May 23 2014

The Earth is a surprising place

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We think that we know the surface of the Earth pretty well but it continues to surprise me. Xeni Jardin describes a gas crater in Turkmenistan that has been burning for over forty years.

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May 22 2014

Co-ed lab rats

It is quite odd how some things that should be obvious are not so purely because tradition has deadened our sensibility. For example, it has long been standard practice for medical research on animals to use only male specimens since it was argued that the presence of female hormones would add another uncontrollable variable in …

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May 21 2014

Why correlations sometimes imply causation and sometimes not

One of the commonly heard aphorisms of reasoning is that correlations do not imply causation. It is good to be periodically reminded that correlations themselves can sometimes be so high as to suggest causality and this site offers a few amusing spurious correlations, reminding us to not be seduced into taking them seriously.

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May 19 2014

John Oliver on the new climate change report

He suggests that talk shows should change their format so as to more accurately reflect the weight of scientific support on either side.

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May 12 2014

Studying dog emotions

Owners of dogs don’t need much convincing to believe that their pets can sense their moods and respond accordingly. But now scientists have done something quite remarkable and that is to train dogs to lie so still that their brains can be studied in an MRI machine and their response to emotionally loaded sounds analyzed …

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May 08 2014

See how the universe evolved

Scientists have created a computer simulation that produces a realistic picture of the evolution of the universe, starting from just after the Big Bang to the present, compressing the 13.7 billion years into just over two minutes.

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May 05 2014

Authenticating ancient documents

Modern scholarly techniques are used to detect which ancient documents are genuine and which are forgeries. In 2012 there reports of the discovery of a piece of papyrus that seemed to suggest that Jesus had been married. The document had been given by an anonymous person to a Harvard scholar who proclaimed it to be …

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May 05 2014

How to cut airplane boarding times in half

When boarding airplanes, different airlines have different policies. The most common policy adopted by airlines is to board passengers by seat rows starting from the back. This makes a kind of intuitive sense. A few airlines have some kind of zone system. About three years ago, a physicist studied the issue using Monte Carlo simulations …

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May 05 2014

The intrinsic helpfulness of children

The study of the origins of altruism is quite fascinating. There is increasing evidence that our cooperative, helpful, and altruistic behaviors have an innate component that we add to by acculturation. Felix Warneken has done some experiments on the origins of altruism and helpfulness and the results are quite remarkable.

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May 01 2014

CNN coverage on UN climate report

CNN must be dreading to watch The Daily Show because, next to Fox News, Jon Stewart seems to enjoy taking shots at them for their descent into mindless coverage of non-news. It seems like he expects them to be better than they are while he has no hope for Fox.

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