Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aurora Pic | Aurora Vid

Solar Storm's A'brewing!

Today on New Scientist's Short Sharp Science

Bizzare looking, this is a 360 panorama photograph with the aurora seen prominently to the right.
"Sky shimmers after solar storm"

Image Credit: Göran Strand

Lights in the Dark shares this quick video capturing some of this new magnetic activity.
"Solar Storm in Progress!"

Video Credit: Peter Rosén / Aurora Sky Station

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Space Pics: 4 Beauts I Kept in My Back Pocket

 A collection from a week or so ago.  Just getting around to sharing it with you guys now.

"Strait of Hormuz Shot from the International Space Station – World Strategic Flashpoint"
"This showcase image of the Strait of Hormuz (center) and the Persian Gulf region was shot on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2011"

Image Credit: NASA/ISS via Universe Today

"Cooking Up Stars In Cygnus X"
"A bubbling cauldron of star birth is highlighted in this new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA via Universe Today

"Earth from Space: A southern summer bloom"
"In this Envisat image, a phytoplankton bloom swirls a figure-of-8 in the South Atlantic Ocean about 600 km east of the Falkland Islands.  

During this period in the southern hemisphere, the ocean becomes rich in minerals from the mixing of surface waters with deeper waters. Phytoplankton depend on these minerals, making blooms like this common in the spring and summer."

Image Credit: ESA/Envisat via

"We Are Stardust… We Are Cold Then"
"This new image shows the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy in infrared light as seen by the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency-led mission with important NASA contributions, and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope"

Image Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI via Universe Today

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Albido and Temperature Feedback Loops in a Fun New NASA Short


This is a rare style of video to come out of NASA.  This World Is Black And White covers a few concepts that are not widely known, using claymation, playful music, and humor.

Targeted to layman who crave more entertainment oriented presentation of science, this should be very appealing in style to the younger crowd too.

Video Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bizarre Emails Cause Me Paranoia / Write an Astronasty Guest Post on Novas vs Supernovas

Because of the story I'm about to tell, I decided to put this topic up for grabs as a guest post for any of my readers!

The subject is: Novas VS Supernovas

Anyone who would like to tackle this for fun, post on the comments to declare you're gonna be the guy for the job!   
It's really fun to write a research post like this.  Further down in this post, all the necessary sources of information for a rounded, 1page or less article on this topic are given. 
And of course feel free to add a link back to whatever site you work on.

 Now here's the mystery I can't wrap my head around ....

Late last year I got two separate emails from people requesting to write a guest post on this blog.  Something seemed really fishy.  Both people, presenting themselves as separate entities, had a greeting and a closing sentence with the EXACT SAME WORDING.  This has bothered me for quite some time.  I don't understand why one person would send both of these emails.  If he/she did, under different names, why would she/he make that mistake? 

If it's a robot, what's the goal of an interaction like this?

This is the second email I received: I did not respond.

Mindy Laughton

My name is Mindy Laughton and I think it would be really good to promote myself by posting guest on

Please let me know if you consider this type of thing. If you do, what are your guidelines? I would love to send you some articles for you to consider sometime.

If you have any questions, or you'd like to talk about it further, don't hesitate to shoot me a message.



Here's the first one I received.  I wasn't freaked out... yet.



My name is Breanna Carter and I'm looking to increase my presence online by writing on other great sites. I'd love to do that by writing on Hse Asbestos.

I'd love to send you a guest post from time to time if you are up for it. I'm a clear and concise writer that can tackle just about any topic. I'd love to provide you with quality content in exchange for a byline on your site. I can choose the stories myself, or you can feel free to assign me any topic that you'd like.

If you have any questions, or you'd like to talk about it further, don't hesitate to shoot me a message.



My response:  In good faith I gave her a topic and all the necessary resources to write about Novas VS Supernovas.

dj Busby
to thebreannacart.

Sounds interesting.  Is this the HSE Asbestos blog of yours? covers astronomy, physics, chemistry, medicine, technology, the lot.  The majority is physics and astronomy or astrophysics.  I'm enjoying breaking out into the other disciplines lately.  If you've taken a look of the last 15 or so post you're get an idea of the content on the site.  If you'd like to make a guest post along similar lines I would put your ad in that post.  Along with a link to your main blog.  Seems fair, and I'd be curious to read it.  I have a research blogging idea lined up on Novas vs Supernovas.  No one seems to ever talk about novas.  Here are the resources I had lined up.  staring with

further on to which has lots of great info on novas,  It's from 2009 which is good, but I can't get a DOI on it which sucks.  At least there're some credits at all.  the website is weird, rubs me the wrong way.  Well, after all it is French.

Again to novas,
Easily grabbed, this from arXiv

This next resource is really old, but you might be able to get something out it.  It's one of the better actually due to it being released in that journal.  .

and a final arxiv paper on novas

Don't be pressured to write too much.  Images will be added by me.  about 1 page typed works well for this style of post.

Let me know if you're still interested.
-DJ Busby


If anyone can clue me in, I cannot seem to fit the pieces together for what the hell is going on here.

On top of that, she/it/script has had almost three months to respond... nothing.


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New from Nature: 3 Pics and a Great Timelapse

This picture of a purple aurora is pretty amazing.  Nori Sakamoto is so very talented.

 Credit: Nori Sakamoto via G+

Amanda Bauer shares with us a fantastic view of the milky way sitting right in the crevice of the mountains
"milky way above the himalaya"
 Image Credit: jan kovoy!

The eagle nebula, seen with the greatest detail we've had to date.
ESA with a lackluster title: "A New View of an Icon"

"Combining almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum, this composite of the Herschel in far-infrared and XMM-Newton’s X-ray images shows how the hot young stars detected by the X-ray observations are sculpting and interacting with the surrounding ultra-cool gas and dust, which, at only a few degrees above absolute zero, is the critical material for star formation itself." -ESA
And yes, that was one sentence.

This is a pretty huge picture.  Click to enlarge, then right click and set as background if you fancy.
Credits: far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium; X-ray: ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC/XMM-Newton-SOC/Boulanger

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Found on Bad Astronomy via Phil Plait on G+ (circle him, he's awesome)

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

5 Gorgeous Comet Jovejoy Wallpapers

All photographs Credit of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
Click any for the full size image.  Then right click - save image as.

I flipped this last picture horizontally, because everyone lines their desktop icons along the left side of the screen.  Flipping helps when image content is heavy on one side.

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The Story Behind Astronomy's Messier Objects

If you enjoy learning about the history of astronomy, you'll love it.
New from Deep Sky Videos, an offshoot of Sixty Symbols

"Charles Messier's "anti-list' of objects in space has become iconic in the world of astronomy. We'll making videos about each object - but first here's an introduction to the catalogue itself.

IMAGE CREDITS (with thanks):
Bob Fera: - Philip Perkins: - Nik Szymanek: - Roy Gretton

Deep Sky Videos website:
More about the astronomers in our videos:

Video by Brady Haran

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Copyright Talk: The RIAA Bites the Hand That Feeds


This analysis is based on a survey study and shows us some useful data. The acutal correlation found is counter intuitive to what you'd think was immediately counter intuitive. Honestly that's the fist scenario I've ever encountered like that. 

Intuitively, and in my experience, it seems that people initially believe that the more you pirate music, the less you buy through legitimate means.  I then ask people, “What alternative scenario could be going on if I told you it's actually counter-intuitive?” The response is the inverse, “The more you pirate, the more you buy?” Neither of these are shown to be verified, in this paper at least. It's a correlation. No matter what your budget is for buying legitimate music, the majority of people who have that budget are going to be heavier piracy offenders. This means the RIAA could be missing an important aspect of their demographic. The percentage of people who are pirating less and less is a smaller and smaller percentage of their demographic. They are furious about piracy, so the logical thing is to piss off or prosecute ~½ of their total customers, who provide them with ½ of their total profit?

Below is a graph from the paper: "Pirates or Explorers? Analysis of Music Consumption in French Graduate Schools" by David Bounie, Marc Bourreau, Patrick Waelbroeck
Find the paper HERE

Click to enlarge if you can't read the chart.

I know, it's crappy labeling. From left to right, the top columns represent the increasing numbers of [pirated] mp3's in people's possession.  Top to bottom, the rows from the left show the amount of legal cd purchases the people have in their possession.  For each node, the top number is a head count, and the middle number is the percentage of the total row.  The second to last column, middle number is what we're looking at:

Of people with <10 cds,  63%
Of people with 10-30 cds, 45%
Of people with {should be 31} 30-50 cds, 54%
Of people with 51-100 cds, 70%

Point being...this ~½ of their total customers, provide them with ½ of their total profit.

The perpetrators seem to be the RIAA's best friends.  They just haven't have realized it yet.  This should be motivation enough for the RIAA's to halt their lobbying, at least until they learn to read.  In a business sense, for them to push the legislation of SOPA/PIPA seems ridiculous, given this context, doesn't it?

The story of Joe Downloader. Tonight will he be eating pizza?  Or homeless, busy panhandling?

New Scientist posted an article today: (first published online over at Slate Magazine.  Oddly enough NS directs to the main page, and searching the title on doesn't bring up the article...)

Here the author, Matthew Yglesia, builds a scenario that is misleading. The logic is not at all sound.

To quote him:
“...even when copyright infringement does lead to real loss of revenue to copyright owners, it's not as if the money vanishes into a black hole. Suppose Joe Downloader uses BitTorrent to get a free copy of Beggars Banquet rather than forking over $7.99 to Amazon, and then goes out to eat some pizza. In this case, the Rolling Stones's loss is the pizzeria's gain and Joe gets to listen to a classic album. It's at least not obvious that we should regard this, on balance, as harmful.”

It's obvious BS.
His story implicitly says that the market price of mp3 downloads, when pirated, is money then separated and locked into the market in general.  Consider an alternate hypothetical situation: Tom Downloader, with $1000 to his name goes on an mp3 pirating spree, downloading many artists' discographies at whim. Say he ranks up what would have legitimately cost $5000.  He'd be hard pressed to go out and spend $5000.  Unless you're reselling, theft doesn't make deposits in your savings or checking account for you.  There is absolutely no reason to connect piracy to any of his spending that year on pizza, see-saws, or cutlery, even though there are definitely stores that sell these things.

Let me reiterate his last sentence, “It's at least not obvious that we should regard this, on balance, as harmful.” Yes, it is obvious. The two activities are not related.  “on balance” seems to be the core idea, however flimsy, that made the author think up this whole scenario.

The moral of the story of Joe Downloader is:  Don't fully trust even what you consider reputable news sources. Writers are human and fallible.  Maybe he stayed up all night?  Who knows?  As always, remain skeptical.  The clarification of the issue is what's important.  I admit, however, I was surprised to find this in New Scientist.

The mechanics of piracy. What is the claim of “profit loss”

Servers and maintenance, bandwidth, web domains, hard drive space... These are the elements involved in the actual mechanics, the actual process of pirating. It shouldn't be a surprise to you that the music industry spends exactly 0 money to facilitate this. They are not involved in that operation, obviously. They claim loss of profit. They aren't losing invested capital. What they mean is loss of potential profit. The potential profit they could gain from an individual who is poor, obviously, is not much. In Tom Downloader's situation, the RIAA would very much like to have their $5k that they think they're due. See ya, Tom, good luck with being homeless. But here Justice is Served!!! Oh, and the actual artists get under 10% of the money too.

Is it really that cold in Canada? I'm just curious...

From "An Overview of Copyright and Intellectual Property" by Marta Ceballos:
You can download the paper free off of The Social Science Research Network HERE

"Copyright holder lobby groups often present arguments to the effect that piracy is so rampant that it is threatening the very existence of legal transactions involving intellectual property. Indeed, in some countries, it is argued that the proportion of consumers using pirate copies of certain items of physical supports of intellectual property is almost as great as those using legitimate copies. Statistics are also given to the effect that piracy is costing immense amounts of money in lost legitimate trade. However such statistics must be treated with a certain degree of doubt, since they are typically based upon the assumption that each pirate copy that is transacted represents the loss of a legitimate sale. This is a shaky foundation upon which to base an estimate of the loss of legitimate trade, simply because pirate copies are always transacted at a lower price than legitimate copies, and so eliminating the pirate copy does not imply that the user would then purchase a legitimate copy. Furthermore, eliminating the option of pirate copies would certainly affect the price at which legitimate copies are sold, presumably increasing it further since legitimate trade would be facing less competition. Hence we may have reason to believe that eliminating the option of piracy may even reduce the number of legitimate copies sold due to price increases. Indeed, recent studies based on more correct economic theory suggest that only about 10 percent of pirate copy transactions represent lost sales of originals (compared to the figures, often between 40 and 60 percent, that multinational record companies discuss). "


As a caveat, I have to point out that this survey was held in France.  I believe the RIAA collects revenue from all over the world, but SOPA/PIPA is specifically an American issue at the moment.  All around the world, there are people who both pirate and purchases music legitimately. One would have to assume that these behavioral statistics would translate to America and other countries.  If not, well hell, I guess I'll have to translate this post to French!

Marta Ceballos (2003). An Overview of Copyright and
Intellectual Property
Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues (June)

Bounie, D., Bourreau, M., & Waelbroeck, P. (2005). Pirates or Explorers? Analysis of Music Consumption in French Graduate Schools SSRN Electronic Journal DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.739284
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Wee Bit of Pseudoscience, Anyone?

I ran across some great stuff tonight.  FATE Magazine is the cream of the crop.  Here's a screenshot of the checkout page: only $49.95 for
The Atlantean Crystal Healing Wand
By the way, click it if you want, but please don't buy this, for the love of Jeebus!
I'm pretty anal about providing links and credit, just gotta.

I left the image large, pushing out into the blog's right column for a better look and laugh/facepalm.

ROUND II: Way to go FATE Magazine!

Animal Communicators Directory
Coming Soon. Oh Thank God!! Hopefully really soon, I don't know how much longer I can stand this "inter-species language barrier" thingy.

The entertainment value I get out of this stuff is phenomenal.  After screenshotting the stuff above, I whipped out my gift cards, spent quite a while comparing their selection. (which does not include FATE magazine.  Very disappointed) Here's what I landed on:

Christian Research Journal is a Bi-Monthly publication, targeted to fundamentalists and evangelicals.  Already my mouth is watering.  $38, and yes I think it will be worth it.  The organization is run by the CRI, Christian Research Institute.  Their wikipedia page is HERE.  It made me feel more confident that I'll be getting the type of content I want out of this subscription.


I doubt there would be confusion at this point as to what my stance is.  
Yes, I am an atheist.  Get this!

Now get this!

 Image Credits:
3.Christian Research Journal/Christian Research Institute
4.American Atheists Inc.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Watch the Cosmos Socially Mingle on Facebook

My friend James shared with me this funny parody of a Facebook comment thread.  I love it!

... If the Cosmos created us in it's image...

Image Credit: Know Your Meme, ("watermarked" in the bottom left as posted by College Humor)

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This is the best presentation and explanation of the SOPA/PIPA issue at hand that I've seen thus far.  It is very much worth the time to watch.

I got a nice little exciting discovery today, that an ArXiv video I've posted on YouTube has been featured on another site.

This happens a decent amount.  I have NASA and ArXiv videos on there, both of which are fair game to the best of my knowledge.  One of the NASA videos I put up (simply because it wasn't on YouTube yet) was embedded by cnn, yahoo, and msnbc, yielding 10,000 views in a day.

This one in the link above, featured on WIN today is from ArXiv, on fluid dynamics, the physics of a water balloon bursting.  It's currently at 5,700 views.

This is the spreading of science and education.

This all ends with SOPA/PIPA.  What I've done here could now be a problem.  YouTube's in danger.  ArXiv's in danger, Google's in danger for me linking this on a based blog and for listing my posts in their search engine.  All search engines now have to respond to my specific pesky harmless little situation here.  WIN's blog, who is sharing what I've found, is in danger.  I could be in danger.

How ironic that YouTube has rejected my monetization and accused me of infringement for several of my original songs.  I sent the standard proof they required, but no response.  Keep in mind the dangerous false positives.

Entire chains of content, just dust, blown away by a puff of wind.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Evolution Themed Symphony of Science Music Video

The last few Symphony of Science productions have been increasingly complex and professional.  I consider both aesthetic appreciation and deconstructive appreciation as separate qualities.  John has been maturing in both aspects.  His video editing capabilities go one step further, requiring an additional layer of expertise and creativity.  As you can tell, I'm quite a fan.

Symphony of Science - The Greatest Show on Earth! A music video about Evolution

Video Credit: Symphony of Science [bandcamp page for purchase]

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Avoiding Lasting Pain With Administration of High Dosage Spurts of Morphine


This discovery, in a nutshell, can be found in the last sentence of the abstract:
"Opioids thus not only temporarily dampen pain but may also erase a spinal memory trace of pain."

In other words...
The heretofore uncommon administration of opioids (clinically most often morphine) in high dosage spurts (instead of the standard moderate sustained dosage) has now been shown to have a different effect and distinct advantage.  The moderate sustained amount leaves "memory pain" in the spinal cord.  In chronic pain, pain is sustained after the stimulus is removed.  (a process I didn't know about and which surprised me)  They describe this function on a cellular level elegantly as: "potentiation of signal transmission at the contact points (synapses) between the nerve cells."  Using the high dosage spurt method, pain amplifiers and neural connections become disengaged upon the alleviation of the stimulus.  Chronic pain is thought to be, in cases, caused by or exacerbated by these "memory traces."  With these traces now avoidable, this post-stimulus suffering can be avoided before it even sets in, providing a great advance in anesthesia.

Insightful Random Guy at the Coffeeshop:
"If this becomes a viable treatment for chronic pain, there should be some protocol specifically for people who've been on low-dose opioid treatment for years -- and by 'low-dose' I mean 'low-dose with respect to the individual's tolerance', because low-dose eventually becomes high-dose.  I doubt the short high-dose treatment will also erase the dependence resulting from long-term treatment.

...I wonder how many patients in [this] condition will attempt their own little high-dose experiments."

Found via Science Daily
Image Credit: Vio3b on Flickr

Drdla-Schutting, R., Benrath, J., Wunderbaldinger, G., & Sandkuhler, J. (2012). Erasure of a Spinal Memory Trace of Pain by a Brief, High-Dose Opioid Administration Science, 335 (6065), 235-238 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211726
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Sloth: Not Just a Deadly Sin (Warning, This Animal Induces Involuntary and Contagious Smiling)

You ready for some sloth overload?
It's always been my favorite animal.  With a constant smile, this, the slowest and most vulnerable of all mammals took my heart at an early age.  Every once and a while I indulge in a sloth filled afternoon.  (my older sloth posts [1] [2])
My defense, as I like to say here, let's chalk it up to Biology and call it science.  Deal?  Deal.

Bath Time for Baby Sloths


Nick Baker and Pygmy Sloth

Pygmy three-toed sloth swimming

Video Credit:  BBC/Animal Planet/Discovery/Sloth Sanctuary and...
...begin run on sentence venting...
First vid, new, found on Io9, who credits Super Punch only, who credits ZooBorns only, who finally credits the ACTUAL SOURCE The Sloth Sanctuary, (kudos) all strangely bypassing Animal Planet, who I'd think everyone would point to in the first place, as they're the publisher,  what's wrong with you guys?
...end run on sentence venting...

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Few New Beautiful Astronomy Pictures

Here's 3 great new pics that came out a couple days ago.  (Sorry! I normally post day-of)

First and foremost, a beauty from NASA/Goddard
"Hubble Solves Mystery on Source of Supernova in Nearby Galaxy"
"Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, that caused a supernova in a nearby galaxy. The finding yields new observational data for pinpointing one of several scenarios that could trigger such outbursts."

click to enlarge, this is huge.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, SAO, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and J. Hughes (Rutgers University)

Second from NASA/Goddard:
"Rare Ultra-blue Stars Found in Neighboring Galaxy's Hub"
"A new Hubble Space Telescope image centers on the 100-million-solar-mass black hole at the hub of the neighboring spiral galaxy M31, or the Andromeda galaxy, one of the few galaxies outside the Milky Way visible to the naked eye and the only other giant galaxy in the Local Group. This is the sharpest visible-light image ever made of the nucleus of an external galaxy."

Again, huge, click to embiggen.

WIYN/KPNO Image Credit: T. Rector and B. Wolpa (NOAO/AURA/NSF)
Hubble Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Williams and J. Dalcanton (University of Washington, Seattle)

Last but not least... 
--"Planetary professor shows what alien sunset really looks like"--
Sunset on HD209458b (reconstructed from the HST/STIS transmission spectrum)
"...he used data from a camera onboard Hubble, called appropriately enough, the Space Telescope, knowledge of how the color of light changes based on chemicals it encounters, and computer modeling, to create an actual image of what a sunset on an actual planet far out in space would look like. "

Image Credit: Frederic Pont

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Very Impressive Street Art


Credit: YouTube user denisbudkov

Occasionally I come across a truly impressive display of artistry.  Art is very important in my family, since it's my mother's profession.
Posted above is a street artist and vendor in action, who raises the bar sky high for art of fingerpainting AND the time-to-quality ratio assumed in the field.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why Pluto Got What It Deserves

It seems to be met with mild and popular dislike by those of us who were taught differently growing up.

If the issue is still hazy in your mind, clear up the confusion with this layman-friendly explanation.  The choice of visuals is great, and the script is too.  The narrator may be over-enunciating a little bit, but that's never a dealbreaker. 

Coming in new from Lights in the Dark, a video produced by Universe Today which really impressed me.  In my opinion this is a better quality video than the majority of NASA's.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Give Me a Break: Io9 vs New Scientist on a Universal Science Symbol

The Gawker media network, including Io9 and Gizmodo (both of which I follow), does not have a pristine reputation. 

Today I was peeved immediately because I happened to have read a New Scientist article before the Io9 one.

Io9's authored an article today,
"Science does not need a universal symbol,"
which is an editorial arguing just what it sounds like.  The problem is, the article is based (and linked to by Io9) on a New Scientist post today:
"Science needs a universal symbol."
...Which also argues just what this title implies.

Io9 out of context quotes the New Scientist author within this, making it look like he's of the same opinion.

Io9 ends with:
"But maybe I'm all wet. I encourage you to check out the full editorial over at New Scientist."

Nowhere is there a mention that this editorial is in fact one expressing the complete opposite opinion than the original content it's "based" on.

--End Rage


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To Celebrate My 300th Post: Flute Beatboxing

300th post! Yay me!

Off the topic of science today, I'm sharing something musical that has completely stunned me.  As a musician seeing this, I extend my greatest respect for the innovative hybridization seen here.  It really boggles my mind.

Three Beats for Beatbox Flute
A three movement composition written by Greg Pattillo

Performed by JEEMINI LEE

Movement I

Movement II

Movement III

Found via WIN

300th post...
A benchmark I think I can be proud of!

I started this blog in September of 2010, at first getting single digit hits daily, pretty much exclusively friends.  The further I've come, the more rewarding it's been.
Thanks to all of you!  It's so great to see people enjoying what I enjoy and appreciating my efforts.
All the encouragement and attention I receive from you keep me going!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Walkthrough To Find Credible Souces and Answers to the Controversies of Vaccines, Evolution, Holocaust, and Global Warming

Where do you get your facts?  
Hopefully, a reliable source.
So what's an online reliable source, and how can a regular Joe get a hold of this information?

A very easy way to be confident is to make sure that you're reading from an .edu or .gov page.  One of the easiest (and quickest) ways to find your topic is through the citations on Wikipedia.  Some people doubt the validity of Wikipedia in fear of hecklers.  The nature or self-maintaining issue of Wikipedia aside, the citations at the bottom are a real treasure trove.

It's ok to say I don't know.  It's honorable to say I don't know yet.
There is a tendency for people to choose sides  in controversial issues, to decide what to believe for themselves on a hunch or faith.  Not necessarily religious faith, but especially when a religious or political voice offers alternative explanations.  This is a form of black and white thinking.  By deciding what is real without information from a reliable source, you are ignoring or refusing to accept the validity of precise measurements, also known as data or evidence.

So here we go, 4 issues to tackle quickly.  I'll guide you through it and you'll see how accessible, valuable, legitimate information can be at your fingertips easily.

The topics:
Thank you to those who participated in my latest poll.  For an underdog blog I'm very happy with the turnout.  We got 324 participants who each voted an average of two total options in a list of 4 issues of denialsm, expressing which irked them the most.

Vaccines:               147 votes
Evolution:             197 votes
Holocaust:            159 votes
Global Warming: 128 votes

Follow me now...
Vaccine misconceptions

While typing in Vaccine, Vaccine Controversy is available for auto-suggestion.  Lets do it.
Quick Look:
You see that this issue is, "Is it worth it to get a vaccine?"
"A vaccine controversy is a dispute over the morality, ethics, effectiveness, or safety of vaccinations. Medical and scientific evidence surrounding vaccinations generally demonstrate that the benefits of preventing suffering and death from infectious diseases outweigh rare adverse effects of immunization."

Right after this last sentence are two citations.  Clicking [1] or[ 2] here pops you down to the bottom.  Scroll over and you see each have a link ending in .gov. First:
Quick Look:
"There is increasingly convincing epidemiologic and laboratory evidence against a causal relation of several alleged adverse events following immunization. The scientific framework to detect and investigate adverse events following immunization is increasingly robust.  SUMMARY:  Currently available vaccines are safe in immunocompetent individuals and there is no evidence to deviate from current immunization schedules."

Pretty damn good.  Let's hit up the second link while we're here.
Quick Look:
There's a bit about the research methods, which is encouraging.  Hop down the conclusion:
"The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate. The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases."

So it's worth it.

The controversy over Evolution

You could literally read about the opposing sides for your entire life.  Here's what I mean.
A google search of "Evolution" has 602 million results.
Search "Religion" for 985 million results.
Let's tackle it quickly.
While typing in Creation, Creation–evolution controversy is available for auto-suggestion.  Lets do it.
Quick Look:
The bottom part of the intro offers a quote from the National Academy of Sciences

"Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.
—National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism"

Here we see that the issue is rampant amongst fundamentalist religious literalists.  This is really worth going further now.
We click the citation here.
A concise description of this work follows:
"In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes."

This is from the National Academias Press.  With of course a heartwarming .edu link.

There you go.  Evolution is real.  Intermingle it with God if you'd like, just don't deny evolution.

Holocaust Deniers

A speed bump
This topic revolves around a fixed event.  The output of academic releases on WWII was at its height before the internet was around.  The other issues spanning this article are all over the media today still.  Media today, as you know, goes digital pretty much at the same time as hard copy.  For this reason, books, not websites, are the most frequent source of information on the Holocaust.  

Here we go
A very small minority of people claim that the holocaust either didn't happen or that conspiracies have massively overstated claims.  This was brought to the attention of the American media namely due to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad basically being ridiculous.  (You might also remember his claim that there were absolutely no homosexuals in Iran.)  "On December 11, 2006, the "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust" opened to widespread condemnation.  The conference, called for by and held at the behest of Ahmadinejad,"

While typing in "Holocaust" Holocaust Denial shows up as an auto-suggestion.  Let's do it.
Quick Look
The citation section is primarily .org's.
In this scenario one can use a nifty trick.  It's a backdoor way to essentially make sure information is coming from an .edu academic source. 

ctrl-F to search for the word University.  31 times in the citation section, the reference is affiliated with a University.
In order to look up these books not available online, one can reference which gives a wide variety of library lookups via ISBN.  The overwhelming number of University publications specifically debunking Holocaust Denialism is then able to be cross referenced over and over.  This does not even address the publications by academic historians on the Holocaust itself.  Publications that have been thoroughly accepted into academia can be accepted as another solid line of inquiry and verification.  The scarcity of holocaust denialism books, papers, and believers in comparison to these might have increased the necessity of this work-around.

Global Warming

While typing Global Warming, Global Warming Controversy is offered as an auto-completion.  Let's see it.
Quick Look
Worth a complete bold.
"In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view...Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and scientists are more than 90% certain most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.  These findings are recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries."
The VERY first reference down in the citations section is great.  It allows you to get the pdf straight from this site, which is wonderful.  
Here's the full entry for citation [1]

 ^ Boykoff, M.; Boykoff, J. (2004). "Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press1" (Full free text). Global Environmental Change Part A 14 (2): 125–136. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.001 

This is good stuff.  You have a link to the .pdf here, along with the doi code and date.
Pdf's, or rather 1st generation new source papers can be a goldmine.  This is generally preferred when looking for credible information if: it's either brand spanking new, or if it's an analysis of a series of repeated experiments with test results scrutinized in order to compile a consensus.

By opening this PDF, we see it's a paper on Global Environment Change.
It's being hosted on .  For those who know that site, its a damn good source for academic info.  Sometimes they require you to pay to read articles though.

Right at the top we have our scientists and their universities.
Maxwell T. Boykoffa, Jules M. Boykoffb
Environmental Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA b Department of Government, American University, P.O. Box 27, St Mary’s City, MD 20686, USA

A paper this this is a great find and is also interesting.  Here and there he'll mention facts and studies that back up the claims he's making with citations.  He's focussing on journalist practices when the topic of global warming comes up.  Follow up the cites there if you wish...
The Rabbit Hole Can Always Go Deeper...

Search Global Warming now to wrap up the issue.
Straight out of the gates we have our issue and a citation.
Quick Look
"Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F) with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades.  [here they reiterate most of a paragraph seen on the Global Warming Controversy page]"
Their VERY FIRST citation gets us on our way.
Quick Look
This is a common but differet type of page you'll come across when doing this kind of thing.  As you can see it's NASA's .gov site.  This type of page gives you concise data.  And that's pretty much it unless you're lucky.  This is the kind of data that gets looked over and then eventually comes to a paper.  Downward on Earth Observatory's page you can see a link for
Global Warming Factsheet

A page such as this one is a holy grail to the quest we're currently on.
Incoming--Massive quote

"What is Global Warming?

"Global warming is the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century primarily due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels.

Earth has experienced climate change in the past without help from humanity. But the current climatic warming is occurring much more rapidly than past warming events.
Why Do Scientists Think Current Warming Isn’t Natural?
In Earth’s history before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate changed due to natural causes unrelated to human activity. These natural causes are still in play today, but their influence is too small or they occur too slowly to explain the rapid warming seen in recent decades.
How Much More Will Earth Warm?
Models predict that as the world consumes ever more fossil fuel, greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to rise, and Earth’s average surface temperature will rise with them. Based on plausible emission scenarios, average surface temperatures could rise between 2°C and 6°C by the end of the 21st century. Some of this warming will occur even if future greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, because the Earth system has not yet fully adjusted to environmental changes we have already made.
How Will Earth Respond to Warming Temperatures?
The impact of global warming is far greater than just increasing temperatures. Warming modifies rainfall patterns, amplifies coastal erosion, lengthens the growing season in some regions, melts ice caps and glaciers, and alters the ranges of some infectious diseases. Some of these changes are already occurring."

The data has been measured.  The evidence, rolling around the brains of our brightest scientists, get analyzed, solidified, peer reviewed.  Eventually you're get your general consensus.

But without doing this, who would be telling you what the general consensus is?  Yahoo News really likes reality TV shows, but cnn belief blog told me transcendental meditiation has many benefits.  There are, like, these magnetic bracelets, like, going around.... I wonder if they really work like they claim.   I remember someone saying something about a placebo effect, a self-fulfilling prophesy... I don't know.  Well, when the issue hits you, decide then and use your gut, your intuition, helped by a little bit of "educated guessing" from, say, recent clips from the news radio or television, maybe a magazine. Or some sign in the median of the road with a name on it that says "vote."

Bonhoeffer J, & Heininger U (2007). Adverse events following immunization: perception and evidence. Current opinion in infectious diseases, 20 (3), 237-46 PMID: 17471032

Demicheli V, Jefferson T, Rivetti A, & Price D (2005). Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (4) PMID: 16235361

Committee on Revising Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2008). Science, Evolution, and Creationism The National Academies Press : 9780309105866

Boykoff, M., & Boykoff, J. (2004). Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press Global Environmental Change, 14 (2), 125-136 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.001

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