RealClearScience Articles

What If We Had Subsidized Nuclear Power Like Renewables?

Ross Pomeroy - October 22, 2021

Recent news in the energy world has not been encouraging. Prices are rising rapidly due to a supply crunch coupled with blistering, post-pandemic demand. Renewables like wind and solar are faltering in an unprepared electrical grid. Coal burning is set to spike to make up for energy supply shortfalls at a time when the world needs to aggressively decarbonize. Some of this hardship might have been avoided if, over the past couple of decades, policy makers had the guts to support the safest, most reliable form of energy, which also happens to be carbon-free: nuclear. Instead, Germany is taking...

The Societal Factors That Drove Military Technology Throughout History

Peter Turchin - October 22, 2021

Starting around 3,000 years ago, a wave of innovation began to sweep through human societies around the globe. For the next millennium the continued emergence of new technologies had a dramatic effect on the course of human history. This era saw the advancement of the ability to control horses with bit and bridle, the spread of iron-working techniques through Eurasia that led to hardier and cheaper weapons and armor and new ways of killing from a distance, such as with crossbows and catapults. On the whole, warfare became much more deadly. During this era, many societies were consumed by the...

What Scientists Learned From 'Investigating' 61 Public Bathrooms

Ross Pomeroy - October 20, 2021

Two scientists have made a brave sacrifice in the name of public health. M. C. Jeffrey Lee of National Taichung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan and K. W. Tham of the National University of Singapore thoroughly “investigated” 61 public toilets in Taiwan to identify potential biological hazards. They documented their sanitation adventure in a paper just published to the journal Scientific Reports. As Lee and Tham reminded readers, the flushing toilet is one of the greatest public health advances of all time. However, public bathrooms can spread infectious disease if...

Latest Results From CERN Boost Tantalizing Evidence for New Physics

Harry Cliff - October 20, 2021

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) sparked worldwide excitement in March as particle physicists reported tantalising evidence for new physics - potentially a new force of nature. Now, our new result, yet to be peer reviewed, from Cern’s gargantuan particle collider seems to be adding further support to the idea. Our current best theory of particles and forces is known as the standard model, which describes everything we know about the physical stuff that makes up the world around us with unerring accuracy. The standard model is without doubt the most successful scientific theory ever...


Law Enforcement Has Been Interrogating Incorrectly. Science Reveals a Better Way

Ross Pomeroy - October 19, 2021

On September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in rural Pennsylvania, irrevocably altering the course of human events. 9/11 ushered in the United States' 'War on Terror'. To fight this global conflict, the George W. Bush administration allowed the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" – torture – by the Central Intelligence Agency and various components of the armed forces. Methods like beating, binding in contorted positions, subjection to deafening noise,...

Take Heart in America's Growing Space Industry

Grant Anderson - October 19, 2021

While our current times seem rife with consternation and strife, the news isn't all bad. In the burgeoning space tourism industry, America has not only been setting new and exciting benchmarks, but is actually leading the global pack. This cultural era is marred by constant distractions, side-bar issues, and bright shiny objects that continuously pop up and pull our attention away from the things that are, often times, most important. And with social media minutiae, constant soundbite politics, the quest for “clickbait”, and the drone of the wall-to-wall news cycle, it seems like...

How Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Academic Performance?

Jason R. Kilmer & Christine M. Lee - October 19, 2021

In a trend that coincided with the pandemic, marijuana use among college students in 2020 reached levels not seen since the 1980s. That’s according to the latest research from Monitoring the Future – an annual survey that looks at drug and alcohol use among the nation’s young people. Below, Jason R. Kilmer and Christine M. Lee – both University of Washington School of Medicine researchers who study marijuana use among college students – explain some of the reasons behind the trend, and some of its consequences. Why is marijuana so popular among college students...

A Common Infection Could Be a Trigger for Multiple Sclerosis

Scott Montgomery - October 18, 2021

For most of the time since the first description of multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1868, the causes of this disabling disease have remained uncertain. Genes have been identified as important, which is why having other family members with MS is associated with a greater risk of developing the disease. A recent study my colleagues and I conducted found that several types of infection during the teenage years are associated with MS after age 20. Our study didn’t investigate whether people who are more likely to have genetic risks for MS were also more likely to have worse infections. This...


Can the Eyes Reveal Sexual Orientation?

Ross Pomeroy - October 16, 2021

Through our eyes, the world is revealed. But can our eyes also reveal ourselves? In particular, the pupil, the black oval located in the center of the iris that allows light to enter, is governed by the autonomous nervous system, which controls unconscious bodily functions. The pupil's size primarily responds to light, but also to arousal. This quirk led psychologists to wonder whether or not pupil size would correlate with someone's sexual interest. In other words, do a person's pupils dilate more in response to sexual imagery that matches their sexual orientation? Researchers began tepidly...

Ivermectin Is a Nobel Prize-Winning Wonder Drug – But Not for COVID-19

Jeffrey R. Aeschlimann - October 15, 2021

Ivermectin is an over 30-year-old wonder drug that treats life- and sight-threatening parasitic infections. Its lasting influence on global health has been so profound that two of the key researchers in its discovery and development won the Nobel Prize in 2015. I’ve been an infectious disease pharmacist for over 25 years. I’ve also managed patients who delayed proper treatment for their severe COVID-19 infections because they thought ivermectin could cure them. Although ivermectin has been a game-changer for people with certain infectious diseases, it isn’t going to save...

Distant Dead Star Shows Glimpse of Our Solar System's Future

Joshua W. Blackman & Andrew A. Cole - October 14, 2021

The golden age of discovery of planets around other stars (known as exoplanets) began in 1995. Since the first discoveries, more than 4,500 worlds have been found, most of them orbiting ordinary stars like our Sun. The Sun is about 4.6 billion years old, and Earth and all the other planets formed at about the same time. But what will happen to the planets in another 5 billion years, when the Sun eventually dies? In a new study published in Nature, we show a glimpse of the possible future of our Solar System, when the Sun burns through all its hydrogen fuel and becomes a dead star called a...

10 Ways the Chinese Government Lied, Misled, and Messed Up Early on in the Pandemic

Ross Pomeroy - October 14, 2021

A plethora of politicians and government officials across the globe screwed up in their handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Chinese government, however, was acutely damaging with its ineptitude, because it, more than any other entity, had a chance to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus when it first emerged in late 2019. Instead of trying to contain the virus with the help of the international community, however, the Chinese government lied, misled, and stalled. All of humanity has experienced the disastrous result of this negligence. In his new book, Uncontrolled Spread,...


The Electron-Ion Collider Will Look Inside a Proton

Daria Sokhan - October 13, 2021

When the Nobel Prize-winning US physicist Robert Hofstadter and his team fired highly energetic electrons at a small vial of hydrogen at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1956, they opened the door to a new era of physics. Until then, it was thought that protons and neutrons, which make up an atom’s nucleus, were the most fundamental particles in nature. They were considered to be “dots” in space, lacking physical dimensions. Now it suddenly became clear that these particles were not fundamental at all, and had a size and complex internal structure as well. What...

Flashing Radio Signal From the Center of the Milky Way Is Still a Mystery

Ziteng Wang & David Kaplan & Tara Murphy - October 13, 2021

In early 2020, we detected an unusual radio signal coming from somewhere near the centre of our galaxy. The signal blinked on and off, growing 100 times brighter and dimmer over time. What’s more, the radio waves in the signal had an uncommon “circular polarisation”, which means the electric field in the radio waves spirals around as the waves travel through space. We first spotted the signal using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder Telescope (ASKAP), then followed up with other telescopes around the world and in space. Despite our best efforts, we are still...

What If the Universe Had No Beginning?

Paul Sutter - October 12, 2021

  In the beginning, there was … well, maybe there was no beginning. Perhaps our universe has always existed — and a new theory of quantum gravity reveals how that could work. "Reality has so many things that most people would associate with sci-fi or even fantasy," said Bruno Bento, a physicist who studies the nature of time at the University of Liverpool in the U.K. In his work, he employed a new theory of quantum gravity, called causal set theory, in which space and time are broken down into discrete chunks of space-time. At some level, there's a fundamental unit...

Why Do Geniuses Commit Crime?

Ross Pomeroy - October 12, 2021

“Our society tends to regard as a sickness any mode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system and this is plausible because when an individual doesn't fit into the system it causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a cure for a sickness and therefore as good.” The line between genius and insanity is a fine one indeed, as exemplified by former UC-Berkeley Professor Theodore J. Kaczynski, aka the "Unabomber", who wrote the words above. Kaczynski has an IQ of 167....


Why the Water You're Drinking May Be Thousands of Years Old

Marissa Grunes & Alan Seltzer & Kevin M. Befus - October 11, 2021

Communities that rely on the Colorado River are facing a water crisis. Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir, has fallen to levels not seen since it was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam roughly a century ago. Arizona and Nevada are facing their first-ever mandated water cuts, while water is being released from other reservoirs to keep the Colorado River’s hydropower plants running. If even the mighty Colorado and its reservoirs are not immune to the heat and drought worsened by climate change, where will the West get its water? There’s one hidden answer:...

Why You Should Exercise If You Have Back Pain

Suzanne McDonough & Joanne Marley & Michael Thacker - October 11, 2021

After many months in lockdown, a lot of us are finding that we’re experiencing back pain that we hadn’t been bothered by before. There could be many reasons for this, including increased stress during the pandemic, moving less and spending more time sat in one position. But while you might think you should rest your back if it hurts, being active can actually help relieve your pain and protect you from getting back pain again in the future. This is because our spines are designed to move, bend and lift, which keeps our bones and soft tissues strong and supple. Regular movement and...

What Is Chaos? A Complex Systems Scientist Explains

Mitchell Newberry - October 9, 2021

Chaos evokes images of the dinosaurs running wild in Jurassic Park, or my friend’s toddler ravaging the living room. In a chaotic world, you never know what to expect. Stuff is happening all the time, driven by any kind of random impulse. But chaos has a deeper meaning in connection to physics and climate science, related to how certain systems – like the weather or the behavior of a toddler – are fundamentally unpredictable. Scientists define chaos as the amplified effects of tiny changes in the present moment that lead to long-term unpredictability. Picture two almost...

Humans Had Advanced Fishing Technology 12,000 Years Ago in Israel

Ross Pomeroy - October 8, 2021

Ancient humans living between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago in what is now Northern Israel were using sophisticated hooks, lines, weights, and lures to catch fish, a new analysis published to PLoS ONE reveals. An international team of researchers led by Dr. Antonella Pedergnana at the University of Zurich analyzed a variety of hooks and grooved pebbles found at the Jordan River Dureijat site on the Upper Jordan River in the Hula Valley of Israel. The hooks (pictured above), are made of bone, likely taken from butchered gazelle or fallow deer, and some even have rudimentary barbs to ensure that...