September 22nd, 2013
NASA has a plutonium problem that threatens the future of deep space missions. And no, putting plutonium on rockets is not as dangerous as some politically motivated fear mongers have made it out to be. And NASA is turning science fiction into fact.
Why are some hell-bent on intelligent design. I think there’s some insight into people I’m inclined to refer to as fundamentalist idiots when I’m being lazy. Even if they are idiots, they’re not going to listen to anyone using that terminology. And Michael Shermer reminds us of why we should pick science over belief. So there you have why we should, and why some don’t.
An aspiring scientist quits and blames the culture of modern academia. This is an interesting letter and contains nuggets of truth. I went through a similar crisis of conscious in grad school, but I didn’t quit. I just got depressed for a few months, then recovered. Science is done by real people who suffer the shortcomings of real people. Academics involves money, power, egos, and more, just like everything else — the ivory tower is dirty. But at the end of the day, there is still meritocracy and you get to spend a lot of your time doing research, and everything else tends to be even dirtier. Still don’t like it? Change it, at least in your own department or research group.
Why you don’t fucking love science. A bit of a stretch to be linkbait, but a sound point in there to consider.
Here’s an article by someone who thinks that Bill Nye the Science Guy being on Dancing with the Stars is bad for science. His reasoning is that Nye is an older white guy and put on a lab coat for his opening dance — kind of stereotypical in a way that will drive women and POC away from science. I disagree, mostly. Yeah, a bit stereotypical, except for the fact that it’s a science guy being called “a star” in the popular sense, and being seen dancing. That’s not stereotypical. If he sticks around, we’ll see more sides to Nye. Also, a lot of scientists are older white guys — letting an older white guy be a speaker for science is just fine. He’s not the only one — just the only one on this how. I am horrified sometimes about playing demographic games on sample sizes of one. I’m all for someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson taking his turn on DWTS, and for all I know he turned them down and Nye is a second choice. I also question the premise in the article that Nye being a white male will “drive women away from science.” It may not attract them, but that’s a far cry from driving them away.
Here’s someone who is doing the right thing about the stereotyping issue. Don’t complain about what others are doing — do what you think should be done and be the change you want to see. The important thing here to me is that the trailer for her movie looks decent and interesting (given the time I’ve spent in Brazil). I mean, can you imagine voting for a woman for President just because she’s a woman? I think of Palin, and the idea makes me shudder. But a smart, talented, and ambitious woman like Landre is probably worth supporting. (I also see she’s just hit her $75k kickstarter target).
Here’s a bunch of stuff that’s about alien life, for real, but not really as scientifically sound as it probably should be. We’ll start with the most sound: alien microbes from space? Unfortunately, a bit circumstantial and published in a “journal” that is more speculative than most. But it’s still kind of science, compared to pictures of various small animals seen in Curiosity Mars photos. (Maybe Valentina Tershkova will show up in a photo. Or robot snakes.)
OK, we all know about Orson Scott Card’s various bigotries by now, and confirmation bias is giving people bad reasons to read his mind, accusing him of “defending genocide”. (This is probably based on Kessel’s essay giving one interpretation of Ender’s Game.) I’m fine with interpreting complex literary work. I’m not so fine with mind reading and giving a biased interpretation of a piece of work because you find the author’s personal views unappealing (or worse). If Ender’s Game is a defense of genocide, Ender sure seems to feel guilty about it and spends a lot of effort in subsequent books to make up for it. Writing a story involving genocide doesn’t mean the author supports genocide. Card gives us plenty of non-fiction essays to tell us what he really believes — let’s stick to that. No mind reading required.
Two competing models for alien civilizations. I’ve been thinking about this myself.
Lo and behold…adults play video games. Duh, like this is news. Except to some it apparently is. Adults also watch cartoons, play board games, dress up for Halloween, read comic books, and do anything fun they want to — even if some people have narrow-minded definitions of what it means to be an adult.
You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but magnetic bracelets don’t help your arthritis, or in general have health benefits. Duh.
I like the idea that Wonder Woman should tie her hair back when the shit gets real.
Star Trek the Next Generation cast wearing The Original Series uniforms. Fun. And mostly for the headline: Cheer me up, Scotty!
This is the car of the future I always wanted. Pretty awesome. Too pricey, however.
A fun color acuity test. I got an 8.
The case against high school sports. Physical education, yes, but the expensive, organized sports thing is unfair and makes little sense, except from a particular point of view. How about putting that emphasis on math, science, writing, and thinking?
Teacher outed for comparing atheism to smoking, nets student a scholarship. Yes, Texas.
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