Evolution in almost real time

I thought I had shown the fascinating video below before but a search of my blog did not find it, suggesting that I meant to and forgot. It shows how in just eleven days bacteria can evolve to become resistant to high levels of antibiotics. As a visual demonstration of evolution it is dramatic. It is also frightening in that it shows how we need to be careful about the use of antibiotics since unnecessary use can help speed up the appearance of resistant strains of bacteria.
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How Intelligent Design went agley

As I said in my post yesterday that looked at the moribund state of the ID movement these days, there was always a deep-rooted tension between the Intelligent Design (ID) group and young Earth creationists. The ID people were playing a long game. Their goal was to overthrow the principle of naturalism that governed scientific practice and which they felt ruled out any role for god. As I have said before, naturalism can be divided into methodological naturalism in which you look for natural causes and explanations for any phenomena, and philosophical naturalism, the idea that the material world governed by natural laws is all there is and thus a priori rules out any possibility of any kind of supernatural phenomena.
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Meet the (great-great-great-…-grand) parents

If any of us could trace our family tree back far enough, right to the very beginning, then we might expect that we should all converge on LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, the organism from which all life on Earth evolved. But as Addy Pross writes in his book What is Life? (2012), the tree of life metaphor that Charles Darwin introduced may break down once you get as far back as the Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya kingdoms.
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Corruption experiment

Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist about whom I have written many times before because he devises interesting experiments to test social values and behavior. He has done several experiments that looked at cheating and in the video below he talks about another one that seems to address the question that I posed two weeks ago about how openly unethical behavior at the top of the Trump administration might affect those lower down.
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Lavabit to relaunch

Followers of the NSA spying stories will remember Lavabit, the encrypted email service created by Ladar Levison. Its claim to fame is two-fold. One is that it was the service used by Edward Snowden. The other is that in 2013 Levinson chose to shut down the service entirely rather than hand over the encryption keys of the emails of his clients to the US government. I have written about this story before, as have many others.
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Good article on vaccinations

Recently Dr. Daniel Neides, a family physician and executive in the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, published an article that attacked what he considered the overuse of vaccines and seemed to support the connection between childhood vaccines and autism. Since the Clinic is one of the top medical centers in the US, this article naturally created a stir since the doctor’s affiliation with it gave his views greater credibility. But many experts criticized what they considered his shoddy and poor understanding of science and the Clinic quickly dissociated itself from the opinions expressed.
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Film special effects without computers

We are so used to computer-generated special effects in films that we have become blasé about them. While producing these effects takes a lot of skill and tedious hard work, there is something about it being done on a computer that makes it seem to be not as clever somehow, though that does an injustice to all the programmers and artists who work so hard to produce these magical effects. We also know that the actors are not in any real danger, that they are safely on some sound stage in front of a green screen and that the dangerous effects are being produced in a studio.
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Dutch electric trains now run entirely by wind energy

The smaller nations of Europe seem to be in the vanguard of using wind energy. Some time ago, I wrote about the day when Denmark managed to power the entire national grid using just wind energy. It was on a Sunday when energy consumption is lower but it was still a remarkable feat. Then this week had this news item that said that all the electric trains in the Netherlands are now powered by wind energy.
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‘Proving’ a negative

There has been an interesting discussion in the comments on my post When can we conclude that dark matter does not exist? with commenter Establishment Liberal taking strong exception to my statement that one cannot prove the non-existence of entities. I started posting my response in the comments but it got rather long and I thought, what the hell, why not make it into a separate post? All these are things that I go into in some detail in my forthcoming book The Paradox of Science but I will sketch out my response here.
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Is twice-boiled water bad for tea?

The lively discussion that followed my post on how the British really cared about their tea reminded me of an issue that I had idly thought about some time ago when I visited relatives in New Zealand. They are Sri Lankan and thus, like the British, take their tea seriously so that they make sure that the ‘tea things’ (tea kettle, tea pot, tea, sugar, milk, cups, strainer, and spoons) are located in prominent and easily accessible places in the kitchen so that no one dies due to tea-deprivation. Their tea kettle is a powerful electric one that heats water very quickly, not the wimpy one that I have that you heat on the stove.
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