Tag Archives: Science

Incredibly, today is also Carl Sagan Day

Shell-shocked from the election results, and I need something to believe in right now. Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” speech has been my touchstone all throughout the writing of this blog, and I have to believe his vision is still one that can inspire and sustain us, even if — as on days like this — its fulfillment still feels heartbreakingly out of reach.

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“The engine that lights up the stars”

At last! A new music video from John Boswell of Symphony of Science, and it’s one of his catchier tunes:

More Symphony of Science videos here.

The clips of Michio Kaku are taken from his video for The Floating University, which offers free online lectures by leading scholars and thinkers on a wide range of subjects — from astrophysics to political philosophy, from finance to population studies, from linguistics to the psychology of sex. It’s a wonderful online resource and I highly recommend checking it out.

Here’s Kaku’s full lecture:

More Floating University videos on YouTube (via BigThink) here.

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The moon landing and “the fate of knowing”

S.G. Collins provides an excellent takedown of the “moon hoax” argument. Watch it through to the end: Collins not only dismantles this particular theory but shines a much-needed light on the difference between knowledge and belief, the nature of paranoia, and the utmost importance of distinguishing between imagined conspiracies and very real government shenanigans.

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy offers lots more debunkery here and here.

(h/t Bob Cesca)

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Why don’t American physics teachers teach awesome physics?

Good question:

More excellent bite-size science videos over at Minute Physics.

(h/t io9)

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Science versus dogma

Click on the image (or here) for the full sequence. If there’s a simpler or cuter way to summarize the conflict between the methods of science and the claims of fundamentalist faith, I’ve yet to see it.

I found this via Phil Plait, who says: “Not everyone is so unwavering in their dogma, but enough people are (especially those who run this country) that this should be required reading by the time every US citizen reaches elementary school.” I concur.

(A note: from the comments on Plait’s site, there seems to have been some debate about whether the artist was reinforcing gender stereotypes. Well, maybe — though I’m not aware of any perception that women are more fundamentalist than men, and there are certainly plenty of fundamentalist males in the news today. As always, though, please correct me if I’m wrong. And you can check out PZ Myers’ post about it and his readers’ reactions, if you’re interested.)

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How to build a person

Tim Minchin narrates a nice introduction to the history — and future — of genomics:

More on ENCODE — the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements — here:

Gina Kolata of the New York Times walks us through the most recent breakthrough in DNA research and its implications. It’s worth reading through, but here’s a bit some may miss:

The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn lead to new drugs.

Indeed — ENCODE operates under the auspices of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, which is a division of the National Institutes of Health. That’s your tax dollars at work, America! As researchers continue to decode the human genome and gain significant ground in the fight against diseases like diabetes and cancer, it’s yet another clear example of why government matters.

(h/t Boing Boing)

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The Dalai Lama, “beyond religion altogether”

Wow. Here’s the Dalai Lama:

[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

And also this, from his book The Universe in a Single Atom:

My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.

Fantastic — and this comes from a source I’d never have expected. What other major religious leader would have had the courage, confidence, and humility to make this assertion?

I must admit here that I’m shockingly ignorant of the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism and the beliefs of the DL. More for me to learn and catch up on, hooray!

(via io9; photo via Inquire)

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