BEEPS AND BLIPS FROM OUTERSPACE
NYR: AGE OF IGNORANCE
quotation"In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as "Real Americans"defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth:
Christians are persecuted in this country.
The government is coming to get your guns.
Obama is a Muslim.
Global Warming is a hoax.
The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.
Schools push a left-wing agenda.
Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.
Obama hates white people.
The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.
The safety net contributes to poverty.
The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.
One could easily list many more such commonplace delusions believed by Americans. They are kept in circulation by hundreds of right-wing political and religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers and their listeners. “Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces,” Sidney Hook said once. No doubt. What we have in this country is the rebellion of dull minds against the intellect. That’s why they love politicians who rail against teachers indoctrinating children against their parents’ values and resent the ones who show ability to think seriously and independently. Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on to vote against their self-interest. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is why millions are being spent to keep my fellow citizens ignorant."--Charles Simic (NYR Blog)
POSTED 2012-04-02 11:30:41 CATEGORY LITERATURE POLITICS RELIGION SCIENCE TAGS GOP IDIOCRACY ROME IS ON FIRE STUPID THERE IS NO HOPE
VIEW THE BIG PICTURE WITH CHRONOZOOM

chronozoom - big history viewer

ChronoZoom was written in HTML5.
"ChronoZoom is an open source community project dedicated to visualizing the history of everything to bridge the gap between the humanities and sciences using the story of Big History to easily understand all this information."
proceed to ChronoZoom.
POSTED 2012-03-22 11:47:33 CATEGORY SCIENCE TAGS BIG HISTORY HTML5
PEOPLE ARE TOO DUMB FOR DEMOCRACY
brainResearch by David Dunning, of Cornell University, has come to the conclusion people rarely correctly determine the competence level of someone that is more competent than themselves, and since the US is becoming more and more incompetent (see dumb), it is hitting the threshold for democracy to thrive.
"No amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, "very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is."
Mato Nagel created a political simulation based upon Dunning's work and concluded that Democracy elects candidates that are only slightly better than average.
"Nagel concluded that democracies rarely or never elect the best leaders. Their advantage over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they "effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders.""
This reminds me of the famous Winston Churchill quotation:
"Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
read the full article at LiveScience.com.
POSTED 2012-03-11 11:44:48 CATEGORY POLITICS SCIENCE TAGS CHURCHILL DEMOCRACY IDIOCRACY INCOMPETENCE STUPID US
CAT POOP MAY MAKE YOU CRAZY
Cat SuitNot only is the parasite toxoplasma gondii bad for pregnant women, but it is possibly bad for everyone by changing mental behavior and even increasing the risk of schizophrenia and suicide.That's some serious findings and makes you wonder how long it takes for symptoms to appear.  Is it similar to Mad Cow, which doesn't surface until 10 years after exposure?  Scary stuff.
"The subjects who tested positive for the parasite had significantly delayed reaction times. Flegr was especially surprised to learn, though, that the protozoan appeared to cause many sex-specific changes in personality. Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. Infected women, on the other hand, presented in exactly the opposite way: they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women."-- The Atlantic
So, it makes you wonder if those crazy cat ladies (that own more than 5 cats) are nuts before owning the first cat.... or if they are victims to the parasite, making them get more and more felines?  It's a chicken or the egg problem...Read more about the research Jaroslav Flegr has been doing at Pregue's Charles University at the Atlantic.via BoingBoing.
POSTED 2012-02-11 13:01:27 CATEGORY HEALTH NEWS SCIENCE TAGS CAT CRAZY KITTEH PARASITE POOP UNCHI
WATER DROPLETS ORBITING A NEEDLE IN MICROGRAVITY
The orbits are not from gravity, but from electrical charge.  How amazing is that?

via BoingBoing.
POSTED 2012-02-09 15:18:51 CATEGORY SCIENCE SPACE TAGS ELECTRICITY GRAVITY KNITTING
MILLENNIUM FALCON FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BALTIC SEA
An unexplained 60 meter round object was found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea with distinct drag marks trailing for 400 meters behind it.  Could it be a sunken spy boat?  or is it an ancient space ship from a time long long ago?

ocean falcon

Watch the full report:

find out more about Peter Lindberg, the guy that discovered the object.

via BoingBoing.

POSTED 2012-02-07 11:00:41 CATEGORY SCIENCE TAGS ALIENS BALTIC SEA SONAR STAR WARS
SIDEWALK ASTRONOMERS
San Francisco Sidewalk AstronomersBeing a Sidewalk Astronomer isn't really about "joining" anything - it's about embracing a philosophy and acting on it.Ask John Dobson, founder of the Sidewalk Astronomers, how he became interested in astronomy and he'll answer, "I was born!" People have a natural fascination with the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, but to most it's something they read about in a magazine or see on television.We stop people on sidewalks and let them see the craters of the Moon, the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, or the spots on the Sun. For just a moment, they have a personal connection with the universe around them, and sometimes life seems a little better after that.

We call it "urban guerilla astronomy."

more at SF Sidewalk Astronomers. 
POSTED 2012-01-03 11:28:11 CATEGORY SCIENCE SPACE TAGS ASTRONOMY SF
MAGENTA EXISTS ONLY IN YOUR MIND
color wheelHere's in interesting bit of information on how your brain interprets the real world:  There is no Magenta color in the real world.Magenta manifests itself on the wavelength boundaries of human vision.  For example when you look at a rainbow, you see the colors that range from Violet to Red and Magenta is curiously absent.A color wheel, however, is created by gradually blending colors, which is why you perceive blending red and yellow light as orange.  What is happening is your brain perceives an average of the wavelengths, which makes RGB televisions/monitor pixels so effective.If you look at the visible color spectrum, you will notice Violet and Red are on opposite sides of the scale:

visible spectrum

So, when the color wheel gradually blends the Violet and Red color area it is basically bending the visible color spectrum and connecting the ends; the result is Magenta.  Instead of averaging the wavelengths into the expected Green, your brain experiences Magenta while trying to make sense of the edges of visual perception.What could be a better choice for Alpha/Transparency than a non-existent color?So, look around.  You will not see the color Magenta in nature unless it is the product of a blend of Red and Violet light.Speaking of edges of visual perception, the brain does interesting tricks while compensating for limited sensory input.  The interpretation of field-of-view is also odd once you try to experience the edge of your peripheral vision.Fix your eyes on a point, then take your hand and explore the edge of your sight.  You can see your hand at one point, then you can no longer see it once it passes beyond the corner of your eye.  But where did it go?  It didn't pass into a black visual space.  But, what did it pass into?Your brain does not comprehend sight outside of the field of vision and it does not allocate visual cells for the area behind yourself.  For that we have a mental construct of the world around us.  Your hand is passing from a visual existing object to a purely conceptualized object in your mental space.Passing an object over this boundary is exciting since you almost feel a shudder as it loses all visual existence and only remains positioned in your mind.  No wonder it takes children a long time to learn people and things don't cease to exist when they are no longer visible.It makes you wonder why there isn't a Magenta equivalent in the transition between opposing edges of your field of vision...inspiration from Anne Marie Helmenstine  
POSTED 2011-11-21 10:58:27 CATEGORY NEAT SCIENCE TAGS AWE MAGENTA VISION
DAMN, I LOVE HUMANS
What pattern matchers we are.  Here is a story of a man that systematically experimented to say without out doubt a tree causes headaches; the bay laurel.
"Pierangelo Geppetti, who led the study, heard from a friend about a man who was trimming trees on his property and suddenly experienced a cold sensation in his left nostril and then excruciating pain around his left eye. In his youth, the man had regularly gotten cluster headaches, which are one-sided, intense bouts of exceptional pain that often recur in people who suffer from them.Unlike a full-bore cluster headache, the man’s symptoms quickly faded, and he forgot about the episode. But a few months later when he was again working with bay laurel, the headache struck again.  This prompted him to experiment, intentionally sniffing the crushed leaves of the tree. The intense pain resumed and not long after, Geppetti heard the headache story from their mutual friend.  Intrigued, he began investigating the chemical compounds that might be responsible."
It is interesting how certains smells or inhalents cause headaches.  The next time you experience a headache, think back to previous headaches.  What was common?  Perhaps you had some soup and munched on a bay leaf... or snorted some formaldehyde.read the article
POSTED 2011-11-06 11:49:41 CATEGORY SCIENCE WTF TAGS none
SCIENCE EXPERIMENT ON HALLOWEEN
This looks perfectly dangerous and the class' reaction is priceless!

POSTED 2011-11-01 14:47:10 CATEGORY DIY SCIENCE WTF TAGS EXPLOSIVES HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN
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