Human activity may indeed be affecting the climate, but after reading the calm, methodical statements by the â€œdeniers,â€ Iâ€™m no longer willing to believe that anyone has a complete model of the complex, chaotic systems that determine global temperature, and I regret that the simplistic fear-metaphors used by people such as Al Gore have tended to demonize those who simply feel that the evidence, at this point, is still inconclusive.
Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week’s Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: “They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance.”
Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give “credit” to God, Attenborough added: “They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”
Using the St Matthew’s Gospel as a reference point, Mr Reneke pinpointed the planetary conjunction, which appeared in the constellation of Leo, to the exact date of June 17 in the year 2BC.
The astronomy lecturer, who is also news editor of Sky and Space magazine, said: “We have software that can recreate exactly the night sky as it was at any point in the last several thousand years.
“We used it to go back to the time when Jesus was born, according to the Bible.
“Venus and Jupiter became very close in the the year 2BC and they would have appeared to be one bright beacon of light.
“We are not saying this was definitely the Christmas star – but it is the strongest explanation for it of any I have seen so far.
“There’s no other explanation that so closely matches the facts we have from the time.
“This could well have been what the three wise men interpreted as a sign. They could easily have mistaken it for one bright star.
Researchers from Japanâ€™s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a personâ€™s mind and display them on a computer monitor, it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other peopleâ€™s dreams while they sleep.
The scientists were able to reconstruct various images viewed by a person by analyzing changes in their cerebral blood flow. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the researchers first mapped the blood flow changes that occurred in the cerebral visual cortex as subjects viewed various images held in front of their eyes. Subjects were shown 400 random 10 x 10 pixel black-and-white images for a period of 12 seconds each. While the fMRI machine monitored the changes in brain activity, a computer crunched the data and learned to associate the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.
Then, when the test subjects were shown a completely new set of images, such as the letters N-E-U-R-O-N, the system was able to reconstruct and display what the test subjects were viewing based solely on their brain activity.
Using argon-argon datingâ€”a technique that compares different isotopes of the element argonâ€”researchers determined that the volcanic ash layers entombing the tools at Gademotta date back at least 276,000 years.
Many of the tools found are small blades, made using a technique that is thought to require complex cognitive abilities and nimble fingers, according to study co-author and Berkeley Geochronology Center director Paul Renne.
Some archaeologists believe that these tools and similar ones found elsewhere are associated with the emergence of the modern human species, Homo sapien.
“It seems that we were technologically more advanced at an earlier time that we had previously thought,” said study co-author Leah Morgan, from the University of California, Berkeley.
But Iâ€™m thinking that no matter what, weâ€™re talking ages significantly longer than say, 6000 years. In fact, unless Antarctica was moving at a pace faster than you can jog, weâ€™re talking millions if not hundreds of millions of years here.
Of course, creationists have an answer for this, including “catastrophic plate tectonics”, which apparently can have all the continents scurrying across the face of the Earth like cockroaches avoiding light. Go ahead and read that link; itâ€™s pretty entertaining. According to them, the continents all got pushed around by Noahâ€™s flood, then suddenly stopped, except not really stopped; now they move slowly, and at just the right speed to be in concordance with the hundreds of other pieces of evidence that show that the Earth is billions of years old.
You canâ€™t make this stuff up.
this is a personal challenge to my good friend john crane.
any chance you can devote an hour to listening to this (while you’re folding laundry or something) in the next month?
i know you’re just getting back from the UK, so no rush, but i would love your reaction to this:
Taner Edis, born and raised in Turkey, is associate professor of physics at Truman State University and the author of The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science and Science and Nonbelief, among other publications. His latest book is An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam.
In this wide-ranging conversation with D.J. Grothe, Taner Edis explains reasons he thinks religion persists, and explores the complex relationship between science and nonbelief, detailing how the institutional interests of science may prevent some in the science community from working to diminish religion, the New Atheists excepted. He talks about how scientific theories are often misused by paranormalists and supernaturalists to advance their cultural position, focusing on the New Age movement’s use of quantum physics and on the intelligent design movement. He examines differences between science and pseudoscience, arguing that often it is not possible to demarcate what is uniquely science. And he surveys various scientific approaches of examining religion, such as rational choice theory, the secularization hypothesis, and various evolutionary approaches, such as group selection theory, the byproduct theory of religion, and memetic approaches (that religion is a “virus of the mind”).
well, that just about proves it then, doesn’t it?
Here, it was clear that there simply is no controversy. In contrast to the arguments over bacterial trees and the origin of eukaryotes, none of the researchers felt compelled to explain or justify their focus on the role of mutation and selective pressure. Concerns, when they arose, were simply focused on identifying the consequences of selection. As such, Discovery’s focus on presenting a controversy here seems hallucinatory.
Chilean authorities are considering the possibility that Region Xâ€™s ChaitÃ©n Volcano, now in its eighth day of continuous eruption, might collapse and thus release a torrent of red-hot pyroclastic material (burning gas and rock) that could devastate the surrounding area.Â
Very much a â€˜worst case scenario,â€™ the possibility is nevertheless a very real one, vulcanologist Luis Lara of Chileâ€™s National Geologic and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) told reporters Thursday afternoon.
â€˜Thatâ€™s precisely the reason we recommended that authorities define a restricted area, because this is a real possibility with volcanoes that are similar to ChaitÃ©n. We canâ€™t offer any kind of probability that this will happen, or say for sure how things will play out. Itâ€™s a worst case scenario,â€™ said Lara.
There is indeed precedent for such concern, according to the SERNAGEOMIN official, who pointed out that similar volcanoes â€“ in Mexico and the Philippines, for example â€“ have collapsed on the seventh or eight day of continuous eruption.
â€˜Pompeii is in some ways similar,â€™ said Lara, referring to the Roman city famously destroyed in AD 79 by Mount Vesuvius. â€˜There was a pyroclastic flow that resulted in the consequences we all know. Thatâ€™s exactly the worst case scenario that weâ€™ve defined here.â€™
No, at some level they believed that their insurance helped keep the plane aloft, according to psychologists with new experimental evidence of just how weirdly superstitious people can be.
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeksâ€™ instinct for appeasing the gods.
We may not slaughter animals anymore to ward off a plague, but we think buying health insurance will keep us from getting sick. Our brains may understand meteorology, but in our guts we still think that not carrying an umbrella will make it rain, a belief that was demonstrated in experiments by Jane Risen of the University of Chicago and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell.
long-time readers here know of my love for the dog laika
some recent news about her:
Fortunately, Laika’s legend has lived on.Â There is, of course, a semi-famous surf rock band from Finland called Laika and the Cosmonauts, whom we love dearly. Laika also makes a cameo on the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, which was erected in 1964. But now Russia has decided to give Laika a permanent statue of her very own, near Moscow’s Military Medicine Institute