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Science

March 26, 2015

"Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places"

"What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common?"

March 25, 2015

Good news for rats: they're probably off the hook

Rats probably weren't the transmission vector of bubonic plague. Gerbils probably were.

It’s always the cute ones you have to watch out for, isn’t it?

March 23, 2015

"Is time travel allowed?"

Kip Thorne:

In brief: The laws of physics allow members of an exceedingly advanced civilisation to travel forward in time as fast as they might wish. Backward time travel is another matter; we do not know whether it is allowed by the laws of physics, and the answer is likely controlled by a set of physical laws that we do not yet understand at all well: the laws of quantum gravity

March 16, 2015

I wish the best of luck to my friends in California

"California has about one year of water left."

"The Big One more likely, earthquake forecast indicates".

March 15, 2015

"Has The Snow Finally Stopped?"

According to statistics--hey, when have statistics ever been wrong?--the snow is done for this year in Raleigh. 

But lots of places in the U.S. won't be able to rest assured for another month or so.

March 12, 2015

"Inside the World of Viral Dark Matter"

An introduction to phages.

They are all incredibly small; at just a few nanometres across, they lie on the border of measurability between quantum and classical physics, all but impossible to see without a scanning electron microscope. Like their hosts, phages are everywhere—in dirt, water, intestines, hot springs, Arctic ice cores. They float about, awaiting a microbial encounter, then attach themselves to their preferred targets using a remarkable array of equipment—arms like grappling hooks, tails like hypodermic needles, fibres like teeth—each of which is perfectly adapted to bind to, and then sneak genetic material through, the bacterial membrane. Once inside the cell, some phages replicate at speed, destroying the host by bursting out of it, like a fungus dispersing its spores. Others are parasitic, integrating their DNA with that of their host. Sometimes they even provide it a benefit of some kind. . . .

There are, for example, an estimated 1031—ten million trillion trillion—phages on Earth, more than every other organism, including bacteria, put together. 

March 04, 2015

"How to survive a disaster"

From the BBC, highlighting the research of John Leach, University of Portsmouth.

So the only reliable way to shortcut this kind of impaired thinking, most survival experts agree, is by preparing for an emergency in advance. . . . Typically, survivors survive not because they are braver or more heroic than anyone else, but because they are better prepared.

Link via Instapundit who observes, "Maybe a little bit of panic is a good thing."

March 03, 2015

"Why Oscar winners live longer than nominees"

Actually, they don't. Meet "immortal time bias."

February 28, 2015

Stellarium

Cool little free astronomy program.

February 23, 2015

"Low-fat diet advice was based on undercooked science"

"Damning report says the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States should never have been introduced." So who do I sue? See also "We should never have told people to stop eating fat".

And see also "The glorious return of the egg: Why Uncle Sam is a horrible nutritionist".

And James Delingpole makes the important connection to climate change: "So Butter is Good For You. Just Like Global Warming, Then."

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