June 2012 Archives

Disease-in-a-Dish: Converting Skin to Brain Cells

Huntington's Disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that usually strikes patients in their 30s and 40s. It is a cruel disease that slowly causes mental and physical decay, manifesting in the form of dementia and loss of muscle control....

Yes, Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight

Yesterday, over at PolicyMic, Mr. Cameron English wrote an incisive article on obesity, which we linked to here on RealClearScience. In it, he implicated exercise as an ineffectual solution for weight loss. Citing sources such as Gary Taubes, Dr. John Biffa,...

Carbon Super-Materials Will Change the World

During the early 20th century there was a revolution in the materials used everywhere around us due to the inventions of polymer chemistry. Polymer molecules are long chains--only a few atoms wide but many, many atoms long--bonded covalently. (They share...

Who Is Waging the Anti-Science Crusade Against GMOs?

The scientific community overwhelmingly supports the use of genetically modified crops. Here is a partial list of the prominent groups in favor of GMOs:American Medical AssociationNational Academy of SciencesWorld Health Organization (UN)Food and Agriculture...

Are Zoos Unnatural and Inherently Cruel?

Each year, over 175 million people visit zoological institutions accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and countless other Americans visit smaller local zoos and animal shows across the country. Yet, as commonplace as a family...

Why Are We Fascinated By Negative Space?

Negative space is commonly used in advertising and design. It is a technique where the artist creates a shape out of empty space by using the objects around it. A well-known but clever example is the FedEx logo. If you look closely, you can see an arrow made...

Alan Turing Receives Olympic Honoring

Saturday, June 23, 2012 marks the 100th birthday of famed British computer scientist, Alan Turing. To honor his life and his incredible accomplishments, a special event will be held this weekend at the University of Reading in conjunction with the upcoming...

Public Disinterest: Our Problem as Scientists

In a thought-provoking piece published in Wired last week, writer and physicist Michael Brooks discusses public disinterest in science from the angle of mistrust of scientists."We are not consciously aware of it, but we have a deeply-rooted suspicion of...

Five Hilarious Science Videos To Tickle Your Ulnar Nerve

Science has a sense of humor, and I've got the videos to prove it. Allow me to count down five of my favorites:5. It's Not Y.M.C.A., It's G.T.C.A. Sure, the majority of scientists can't dance or follow choreography even if their their lives depended on it,...

Vaccine Debate Drives Married Couple to Divorce

In 2008, a British Columbian couple split up after three years of marriage. Uniquely, the primary driver of their feuding wasn't money or infidelity; it was a fundamental disagreement over whether or not to immunize their young son. As CTV News reports:The...

Thanks, Dad! You've Been Like an Emperor Penguin.

Newton Blog presents an open letter to dads everywhere...Well, dad, your day is fast approaching. This Sunday, sit down on a sofa, kick up your feet, grab a Sudoku, and relax. You earned it. But before you do that, I'd like to take some time to say, "Thank...

Lethal Injection Protocol Needs Science

On Tuesday, Idaho became the second state to use a new type and method of lethal injection.Traditionally, lethal injection is administered using a three-drug cocktail that sequentially sedates, paralyzes the muscles, and stops the heart. The problem is, this...

These Animals Lived Longer than You

The life expectancy of the average American is not too shabby. 78.5 years is plenty of time to learn plenty, love lots, and live a pretty darn good life. But 78.5 years pales in comparison to the ages achieved by some of our bestial brethren: Henry the...

Black Hole Hunting

While actively fighting in the German army in the trenches of the Russian front in 1915, Karl Schwarzchild wrote Albert Einstein a letter. The letter contained the first known solutions to Einstein's brand new equations of general relativity. (Schwarzchild...

Logic, Reason Must Be Adopted in 'Pink Slime' Debate

On May 24th, Temple Grandin, the heralded animal scientist responsible for revolutionizing the livestock industry, weighed in on the recent "pink slime" controversy. Speaking with Tim Carman of The Washington Post's All We Can Eat Blog, she came out in "clear...

My Six Years in Graduate School

In my previous life as a research scientist, I spent 10 years studying microbiology. As an undergraduate, I majored in microbiology (with a chemistry minor), and as a graduate student, I spent six years getting a Ph.D. in microbiology. After that, I joined...

Six Things You Didn't Know About Chicken Reproduction

This month, Smithsonian published a fascinating article about the history of chickens and how they basically took over the world.  Obviously, chickens couldn't have established their empire without reproduction, so I thought I'd take a behind-the-scenes...

A Burning Need for Better Science Communication

What is a flame? It's a simple enough question. One you'd think would beget an equally simple and comprehensible answer. But no, for such an elemental phenomenon, one so essential to mankind's success as a species, flame is as mystifying to most as it is...

Internet Deprivation is No Laughing Matter

Think Internet deprivation isn't serious?  Think again.I once heard tell of a terrible case. The poor girl who was afflicted didn't know what hit her until it was all over. She was only 21... so young.It started innocently enough. Facebook wouldn't load....

Venus: Near-Earthly Body

Yesterday the world watched as the planet Venus "transited" our sun. Millions of people squinted into capped telescopes and home-made pinhole cameras. In a display that shocked the physicists working in my department, so many local people came out to see...

Things to Do with Soda... Besides Drinking It

You may disagree with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg on how to handle the "problem" of carbonated sugar water, but he is right about one thing: soda is not good for you.In fact, it's the number one source of added sugar in the diet of American children and...

Have Emoticons Improved Written Communication?

It was September 19th, 1982 when written communication changed forever. On that fateful day, Scott Fahlman, a research professor of computer science at Carnegie Melon University, strung together three punctuation marks -- a colon, a hyphen, and a parenthesis...

Science Behind Five Weird Gardening Tips

Photo by SiefkinDR via Wikimedia CommonsAs we turn the corner into summer, I see more and more people outside in their gardens. Nurseries are swarming with gardeners looking to brighten their beds with annuals. The more ambitious souls are toiling in their...

'Mousetronauts' Help Prepare Humans to Go to Mars

It was one minute before midnight on August 28th, 2009 when Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, riding a wave of fire into the moonlit sky. The mission -- STS-128 -- was yet another glorious trek for mankind into outer space, and an even...