RealClearScience Newton Blog

Tucker Carlson Misrepresents the Science on Transgender Youth

Ross Pomeroy - April 8, 2021

The Arkansas legislature recently passed the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, which prohibits minors from receiving hormones, puberty blockers, and surgeries related to a gender transition. Moreover, any healthcare provider who offers these services would face penalties. The Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, viewed the bill as “vast government overreach," arguing that it would interfere with medical care between physicians, parents, and patients. He vetoed it. "The bill is overbroad, extreme and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under...

Will We Actually Use Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics?

Ross Pomeroy - March 30, 2021

Legendary science fiction author Issac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics seem as timeless as they are thought-provoking. You'd be hard-pressed to find an adult sci-fi fan alive today who hasn't heard of them. Hard-wired into almost all of the positronic robots in his stories, the laws are designed as a safety mechanism to keep autonomous droids in check. They are: First Law A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Second Law A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First...

The Scourge of Chronic Scrotal Content Pain

Ross Pomeroy - March 23, 2021

In some cases, a knock to the groin can result in pain that doesn't go away. At any given time, an estimated 100,000 American men suffer from chronic scrotal content pain (CSCP), defined by at least three months of chronic or intermittent pain with severity that interferes with daily activities. The condition accounts for roughly 2.5% of urology visits each year. While CSCP sometimes results from a tumor, infection, or some other kind of readily correctable trauma, in as many as half of cases, the pain is idiopathic, meaning that it doesn't have a clear cause. In many instances, sufferers...

Amazing Creatures From Before the Time of the Dinosaurs

Ross Pomeroy - March 16, 2021

Dinosaurs really suck the air out of Earth's ancient history. Judging by coverage in the popular press, the timeline of our planet seems to go something like this: Earth formed. The dinosaurs arose and eventually went extinct from a cataclysmic asteroid impact. Then we arrived. Granted, the dinosaurs ruled our planet for a significant chunk of time – roughly 170 million years! (Humans and our ancestors have only been around for roughly three million.) So it makes sense that they'd receive a lot of attention. Still, there were some truly fascinating animals that dwelled on Earth before...


You're Related to Egypt's Queen Nefertiti. So Is Everyone Else.

Ross Pomeroy - March 11, 2021

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, whose name can be translated as "The Beautiful Woman has Come", was a great queen of Ancient Egypt during its 18th – and perhaps its wealthiest – dynasty. After her husband Akhenaten's death, she may have even briefly assumed the role of pharaoh. Oh, and she's also the common ancestor of all humanity. That's right. Nefertiti might be your great-great-great... grandmother, or an aunt. Regardless, you're related. We have mathematics and modern genetics to thank for this astounding fact. It comes back to a concept called the global genetic isopoint, the...

White Supremacists' Pride in Drinking Milk Reveals Their Ignorance

Ross Pomeroy - March 4, 2021

A few years ago, white nationalists and neo-Nazis became strangely infatuated with drinking milk. They repeatedly shared videos of themselves chugging gallons of the stuff. Prominent white supremacist Richard B. Spencer proudly displayed a milk emoji on his Twitter profile, declaring "I'm very tolerant... lactose tolerant!" Geneticist Adam Rutherford, who teaches the history of eugenics, race science, and genetics at University College London, explained this peculiar, somewhat laughable saga in his recently-published book, How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality. It was...

Why Is the Gut So 'Emotional'?

Ross Pomeroy - March 2, 2021

You don't get a 'sinking' feeling in your feet, nor butterflies in your fingers, nor elation in your shoulders. You feel these sensations in your stomach. But why? As RCS originally reported nine years ago, the gut is home to at least 100 million neurons, and perhaps as many as 500 million, by far the most outside of the brain. Concentrated in the lining of the gastrointestinal system, embedded in the esophagus and even the anus, these neurons constitute what scientists have dubbed the "enteric nervous system." Through the vagus nerve, this 'second brain' has a direct line to the primary one...

Five Things Science Has Told Us About Cryptocurrency

Ross Pomeroy - February 22, 2021

With cryptocurrency prices skyrocketing to all-time highs, digital monies based on the ultra-secure blockchain are making some people very wealthy and catching eyes across the Internet. Scientists are also taking notice. While research into cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, dozens of studies have been published that shed light on these upstart digital assets and the people who purchase them. Here are five takeaways: 1. Cryptocurrency consumes a lot of energy. Cryptocurrencies are energy-intensive because they require computers to solve complex puzzles to verify transactions. People...


The Renewable Energy Disaster Far More Deadly Than Chernobyl

Ross Pomeroy - February 17, 2021

Decades ago, a single energy disaster left three million acres of land uninhabitable to humans and killed between 85,600 and 240,000 people. A casual student of history might assume these shocking statistics refer to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, but that would be incorrect. No, this catastrophic specter was the fault of the Banqiao Dam collapse in Henan, China. By comparison, Chernobyl killed fifteen times fewer people and desolated an area of land one-sixth as large. Though sharply different in magnitude, the Banqiao and Chernobyl disasters occurred under similar circumstances....

The Most Amazing Fact About Koalas

Ross Pomeroy - February 9, 2021

Koalas are absolutely fascinating creatures. Females have two vaginas, and males have a bifurcated penis split into two prongs. They also have one of the smallest brains in proportion to body weight of any mammal, perhaps an adaptation to their eucalyptus diet, which probably isn't nourishing enough to support a large brain. Koalas also digest their food for as long as 200 hours! But all of those incredible factoids pale in comparison to this one: koalas have fingerprints that are almost indistinguishable from human prints! (Below: a koala's print is on the left and a human's is on the...

Postmodernism: "The Ultimate Sour Grapes of Science Deniers"

Ross Pomeroy - February 4, 2021

"Postmodernism, as it applies to science, is the philosophical position that science is nothing more than a cultural narrative and therefore has no special or privileged relationship with the truth." So explains Dr. Steven Novella in his 2018 bestselling book, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. A Yale neurologist and President of the New England Skeptical Society, Novella is ever watchful of all things anti-science, and the rise of postmodernism – viewing science as simply "socially constructed" – is a disconcerting trend that has caught his attention. A discipline where it's...

The Dangers of Masturbating With a Vacuum Cleaner

Ross Pomeroy - January 28, 2021

The things one can find in the scientific literature never cease to amaze. For example, researchers have reported the existence of radiation-consuming fungi near Chernobyl's ruined nuclear reactor. They've described the surprising history of a parasitic plant found only near Chicago. And they've documented numerous cases of penile injury caused by masturbation with vacuum cleaners. Yes, you read that last one correctly. The most recently reported instance was in 2017, when Italian doctors recorded their efforts to fix a 61-year-old man's ruptured penis after he "vigorously" masturbated with a...


How Do People Die in the Sauna?

Ross Pomeroy - January 26, 2021

Sauna bathing is generally safe for healthy individuals and good for cardiac health, as well as a breath of warm air in the frigid winter. However, in rare circumstances, it can also be deadly. "A saunas' dry heat (which can get as high as 185° F) has profound effects on the body," Harvard Men's Health Watch describes. "Skin temperature soars to about 104° F within minutes. The average person will pour out a pint of sweat during a short stint in a sauna. The pulse rate jumps by 30% or more, allowing the heart to nearly double the amount of blood it pumps each minute." As is probably...

Schools Are Spending Millions on Ionization Technology to Fight the Coronavirus. There's No Good Evidence It Works.

Ross Pomeroy - January 21, 2021

In October, Tulare City School District in California announced it would spend more than $400,000 to install needlepoint bipolar ionization technology into the ventilation systems of its 15 schools. Gloucester County Schools in Virginia completed a similar undertaking in all of its buildings in December. The bill? $923,488. Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota recently spent $1.4 million installing the technology in all of its schools. Near identical stories are playing out in public school districts across the United States – with total expenditures in the tens of millions of...

How the River Thames Once Became a Cesspool in the Name of Public Health

Ross Pomeroy - January 18, 2021

The River Thames has a storied history. Stretching 215 miles from Kemble to Southend, it is the longest river in England. Archaeological evidence suggests that humans were living along its shores in Neolithic times. Around the dawn of the Common Era, ancient Romans navigated its waters and constructed fortifications nearby. Nine hundred years later, Vikings from Scandinavia sailed up the Thames, leaving destruction in their wake. In the 1700s, the river served as a major hub for the thriving British Empire. Throughout all this time, the Thames remained a fertile fishing ground and...

How Alcohol Saved Humanity From Crappy Water

Ross Pomeroy - January 12, 2021

Humans' knack for consuming alcohol dates back around ten million years, long before Homo sapiens were a distinct species. A single gene mutation granted our evolutionary ancestors an enhanced ability to break down ethanol – drinking alcohol. Suddenly, some individuals could metabolize the alcohol from fermenting fruits on forest floors, converting it to energy and alleviating its toxic, incapacitating effects. Over time, these individuals survived and procreated more often, gradually granting almost all humans alcohol-imbibing abilities. Fast forward to between 10,000 and 14,000 years...


The Funniest Side Effect of Returning to Earth From Space

Ross Pomeroy - January 8, 2021

In outer space, under conditions of microgravity, objects float. Astronauts who spend many months onboard the International Space Station (ISS) grow accustomed to this. Rather than handing a tool to their colleague, they might simply push it from a distance. Or when drinking a beverage, they'll let it hover beside them in between sips. Space has its perks! Of course, those perks vanish upon returning to Earth's surface, where our planet's tyrannical gravitational pull exerts a stronger sway. What once floated instead abruptly falls. This harsh reality has a long history of thwarting...

COVID-19 Showcases the Supplement Scam

Ross Pomeroy - January 4, 2021

2020 was the year of COVID-19. As cases started to skyrocket earlier this spring, sales of dietary supplements ascended alongside. With no treatments yet in sight, worried consumers were eager to imbibe, consume, and swallow all sorts of chemical compounds purported to ward off the coronavirus. Hucksters like InfoWars's Alex Jones were eager to sell them. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, colloidal silver, and quercetin were a few of the supplements touted. At the time, none had good evidence to support their effectiveness... and they still don't. Though more than nine months have passed since the...

Could the Chemoton Conquer RNA World?

Ross Pomeroy - January 1, 2021

One of the leading hypotheses for the origin of life is called 'RNA world'. In this model, self-replicating ribonucleic acids (RNA) proliferated in Earth's primordial soup and slowly but surely evolved into proteins, which evolved into DNA, which evolved into ever more complex life. Composed of sugars, phosphate groups, and nitrogenous bases, RNA molecules are essentially half-size DNA molecules. If RNA world is correct, they could also be Earth's first 'living' fossils. Whether RNA world actually happened is far from certain, but the idea certainly has attracted lots of scientific attention...

This May Be the Best Definition of "Life". It's Surprisingly Simple

Ross Pomeroy - December 28, 2020

Definitions of "life" are a dime a dozen. In a paper published back in 2011, University of Haifa biophysicist Edward Trifonov documented 123 of them. But which one is best? Trifonov decided to seek the answer in a unique way. Rather than skeptically nitpick each and every definition, pinpointing a single winner, Trifonov did something different. He combined them. He imagined bringing all of the authors – some separated by centuries – together and having them hash out their differences to formulate a single, crowdsourced definition of life. However, lacking the requisite abilities...