Science

Sea stars mystery: Mass mortality from virus

Pisaster ochraceus, Ochre sea star is affected by the wasting disease (Wikipedia)

We have a worrying update to the news from 2013 about star wasting disease. Starfish in record numbers along the U.S. West Coast were dying – losing limbs and turning to slime (technically reported as “epidermal necrosis and ulceration, and dermal inflammation and edema in the body wall”). Researchers have proposed that a virus is…

L’Aquila decision against geoscientists overturned

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In an update to a story that shook geoscientists around the world, almost all of the people formerly found guilty in the L’Aquila earthquake prediction manslaughter case have been acquitted. Verdict Overturned for Italian Geoscientists Convicted of Manslaughter | WIRED. Today, after a surprisingly swift-by-Italian-standards appeals process, the three-judge panel acquitted six of the men.…

Additional evidence that ghosts may be all in the mind

Ghost Behind the Glass

A study of people with brain injuries or those that have experienced hallucinations, suggests that environmental miscues can fool our brains into thinking there is something there that is not. Spooks generated by brain-body mismatch. [U]nder some circumstances, real people can also believe that a non-existent person is close to them — extreme mountaineers often…

Haters will hate if you kill a spider

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We all heard the story of the researcher who caught the giant “puppy sized” spider. Well, people who don’t know how science works have sent him death threats. People can be very very ignorant and awful. Entomologist Slammed For Euthanizing ‘Puppy Spider’ : NPR. Piotr Naskrecki’s blog post about finding a “puppy-sized” spider in the…

Reptile Virgin Mary

Thelma, the reptile virgin mother. Wonder if they'll rename her Mary now.

Photo credit: Kyle Shepard

You don’t always need a male. But it helps. World’s Longest Snake Has Virgin Birth—First Recorded in Species. An 11-year-old reticulated python named Thelma produced six female offspring in June 2012 at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, where she lives with another female python, Louise. No male had ever slithered anywhere near the 200-pound (91-kilogram),…

Hawaiian natives protest Mauna Kea telescope

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Politics or spiritualism? There remains hostility over the United States’ annexation of Hawaii and an undercurrent feeling of astronomy as an “industry”. Very weird to us but not weird to natives who feel intruded upon. Seeking Stars, Finding Creationism – NYTimes.com. This month a group of Native Hawaiians, playing drums and chanting, blocked the road…

Big Bang Gravitational Wave Study – Update: Interstellar dust clouds data

Superconducting Detectors for Study of Infant Universe
by NASA/JPL-Caltech

As previously covered on Doubtful News, in March 2014 the BICEP research team announced results from a series of cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments, which appeared to detect the first evidence of gravitational waves. As previously mentioned further review would be required, and some problems with the data have emerged. Criticism of Study Detecting Ripples From…

Spinosaurus appears to have been toothy and semi-aquatic; but don’t call it a crocoduck

Ibrahim (left) and Sereno with Spinosaurus

Previously-known Spinosaurus was a dinosaur that blew my mind. I couldn’t figure out the deal with the sail and the ultra-long snout. Turns out it had more surprises in store. Scientists report first semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus: Massive predator was more than 9 feet longer than largest T. rex — ScienceDaily. Scientists today unveiled what appears…

Newly described animals do not fit into known phylum

Dried Dendrogramma gen. nov., all 15 paratypes of D. enigmatica and (with *) D. discoides. From doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102976.g001

A new kind of animal, Dendrogramma, looks like a mushroom but does not fit into either the jellyfish or comb jelly family. It resembles fossils of some very ancient fauna. Their discovery could change the way scientists currently think organisms evolved. New Deep-Sea Animal Species Look Like Mushrooms but Defy Classification. The tiny animals, less…

Photon photos exhibit quantum weirdness: Not ‘ghosts’

Quantum cats. Photo credit: Gabriela Barreto Lemos

Don’t get me started on quantum weirdness. No, really, don’t. Cause I can’t wrap my brain around it. “Spooky” Quantum Entanglement Reveals Invisible Objects. Like twins separated at birth who are later reunited, two laser beams revealed invisible objects in a display of their weird quantum connection, researchers reported on Wednesday. The images, of tiny…

Ohio lawmakers lack science education, want to be sure everyone else does too

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Once again, nonscientists are dictating how to do science. They are mistaken. And they have an agenda. Ohio lawmakers want to limit the teaching of the scientific process. The bill, currently under consideration by the Ohio Assembly, is intended to revoke a previous approval of the Common Core educational standards, which target math and literacy.…

Mystery of moving rocks of Racetrack Playa solved by science

GPS-instrumented rock with its rock trail.

Mystery of mysterious moving rocks is solved. Actually, it was solved a while ago. It’s just finally published. The research is public access and it is WONDERFUL. This is a fantastic piece everyone should read to note how methodically, carefully and thororoughly experiments must be planned and executed to get reliable, convincing results. There was…

Healer’s belief may have killed hundreds in Sierra Leone

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Herbalist began inviting clients across the border with promises of salvation. Sierra Leone’s 365 Ebola deaths traced back to traditional healer – Times LIVE. The outbreak need never have spread from Guinea, health officials revealed to AFP, except for a herbalist in the remote eastern border village of Sokoma. “She was claiming to have powers…

Facepalming article suggests Darwin may fall via epigenetic findings

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One Australian reporter (so far) gets the headline and story WRONG WRONG WRONG. Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged by University of Adelaide genetic memory research, published in journal Science. Adelaide research showing that sperm and eggs appear to carry genetic memories of events well before conception, may force a rethink of the evolutionary theories of…

Death from a broken heart: a potential explanation

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We have covered several stories of couples who die hours apart. It seems logical to suffer from the stress of losing a loved one. A new study provides an explanation that emotional events can trigger heart trouble. Can you die from a broken heart?. Research published earlier this year in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found…

It’s probably not the evil gluten

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More evidence that self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity is bogus. Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Now Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn’t Exist. In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that show the opposite. The study was…

NASA Propellant-less Propulsion Story Gains More Momentum than it Should

Virtual pairs near electron by RJ Hall (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Several news stories have made the rounds this week regarding an apparent microwave space propulsion system with no on-board propellant. NASA validates “impossible” space drive (Wired): Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that “impossible” microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is…

Ebola outbreak out of control and misinformation helps it spread

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The Ebola outbreak is putting plenty of people on edge and creating problems. Now we have faith healers saying they are treating it. GREAT! THIS IS ALL WE NEED! Nigerian official warns pastors and healers to stop making false Ebola-cure claims. African governments are doubling down on efforts to contain the widening Ebola outbreak in…

Backwards evolution busted: People walking on all fours do not have “apelike” gait but have adapted

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A new study shows that a group of humans made famous by a 2006 BBC documentary called The Family That Walks on All Fours are not exhibiting backward evolution to that of our ape ancestors, but have just adapted to this strange means of locomotion due to their brain conditions. The family from remote Turkey,…

Discovery Channel: Jumped the shark long ago, now just despicable (Update: More despicableness)

Fake shark used in Discovery media hoax in Lake Ontario

Once again, Discovery Channel shows they are not science-based and will even pull unethical stunts to get ratings. Epic. Fail. We posted the link in the leftovers of 16-July to the story in Canada’s National Post about a video that purportedly showed a bull shark spotted in Lake Ontario. The best answer at the time…