The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

The novelist E. M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote books such as A Passage to India, Howard’s End, and A Room With a View that deal with life in Victorian England and its empire, casting a wry look at the mores of the British bourgeoisie, the kind of material that is ideal fodder for Merchant-Ivory films. He is not known as a science fiction writer and so I was surprised to learn that in 1909 he wrote a futuristic short story with the title The Machine Stops that is available online.
[Read more…]

Can the minds of anti-vaxxers be changed?

The frightening and false information that is being propagated by anti-vaxxers has led many people to either not vaccinate their children or decide on changing the rate at which the dosages are given, which is also dangerous. These people claim that they are not anti-vaccine but are merely seeking safer vaccines or methods of delivery. But their actions are harming the population at large.
[Read more…]

Creationists must love Turkey

It is really not surprising how fundamentalism is the same irrespective of the religion because at root it requires the putting on of blinkers on young people so that they believe dogma and not question anything. A draft of the new science curriculum for Turkish students has deferred the teaching of evolution until students enter college because it is too ‘controversial’ and students may bot be able to understand the scientific issues involved. Actually, of pretty much all the major ideas in science, evolution is the easiest to explain and understand.
[Read more…]

The strange creatures of the deep

The process of evolution produces an extraordinary diversity of species, far greater than we experience in our normal lives. As we become able to explore the Earth in regions that are utterly different to what we normally experience, we discover fascinating new forms of life that are the products of extreme conditions. A team of scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have been conducting a month long investigation in a deep rift near the coast of Tasmania and brought up creatures that evolved under conditions of extremely high pressures, little food, almost freezing temperatures, and no light. The depths range from 2500-4000 meters. They have been maintaining a daily blog of what they have found.
[Read more…]

I need this car horn

Have you noticed that in US cities, when you are at a stop light and the color changes to green, sometimes the person behind will honk angrily if you do not immediately take off like a jack rabbit? That annoys the hell out of me and is one reason why I almost never use the horn even when it is the person in front of me at a stop light who has not immediately noticed that the light has turned to green. In such cases, it is often the driver behind me who horns.
[Read more…]

Why do trees grow vertically upwards?

Even a cursory acquaintance of with plants will make one aware that they seek the light and will turn towards it. This phenomenon is called phototropism. But if that is the case, then why is it that plants and tall trees seem to grow vertically upwards and do not lean towards the equator, with the tilt being more pronounced the further away from the equator one goes? Even when they grow on sloping hillsides, trees grow vertically and not perpendicular to the ground.
[Read more…]

Nicaragua – a renewable energy paradise

When we hear of the country Nicaragua, many of us will associate it with the vicious war that Ronald Reagan waged against that country, using the CIA-supported Contra mercenaries an terrorist proxies to destabilize that country by killing people and inflicting damage on schools and hospitals and other soft targets, simply because the Reagan administration did not approve of the Sandinista government led by Daniel Ortega.
[Read more…]

The consequences of US withdrawal from the Paris accords

Donald Trump has finally made good on his signature campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris climate change accords, a move that has been pretty much condemned by everyone except his die-hard base of climate-change deniers, the US fossil-fuel industry, and those business leaders who see this as yet another step in removing all those pesky restrictions that prevent them from squeezing ever more profits at the expense of people’s lives and the planet’s health.
[Read more…]