Science

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…

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…

Nature pulls two papers on stem cells after investigation shows serious problems

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Nature publishes retractions of two high-profile papers that claimed a major advance in the field of stem cells. Science journal retracts paper on stem cell discovery. The scientific journal Nature Wednesday retracted two stem cell papers that received national attention when they were published in January. The paper by researchers from Harvard University and Japan’s…

Fantastic purple siphonophore – It’s like weirdo, man

Siphonophore discovered by the Nautilus expedition. Screen capture from video.

What a fantastically weird animal captured by the Nautilus - a remotely operated vehicle taking video and photos of the underwater conditions and whatever they find moving down there. See and hear the scientists describe this bizarre colony of organisms operating as a single unit. The public hardly knows anything about siphonophores. Now YOU know. Amazing purple…

Time to publicly shame people who are STILL anti-vaccination?

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This is something that most of us already knew. Vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause autism. Childhood vaccines are safe. Seriously. – CNN.com. Children should get vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases. Period. That’s what a review of more than 20,000 scientific studies on childhood vaccines concludes this week. The review appears…

Controversial GMO-rat tumor study republished (UPDATE: Not peer reviewed)

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Recall that really, really awful paper that was published about genetically modified maize, Monsanto and Round-up weed killer? You know, the unethical one with the tumor-laden rats which was eventually retracted? Well, here is another example of YOU CAN GET ANYTHING PUBISHED. It’s been published in another journal. It includes a new analysis. Retracted Seralini GMO-rat…

Where was this guy hyding? Rediscovery of colonial hydroid

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Cryptozoologists will get needlessly excited of a colonial hydroid that was MIA for 4 million years. Or maybe they don’t really pay attention to scientific findings. I know, I snark. Anyways, I like these stories because each new find betters our understanding of the evolution of life on earth. Wildlife Extra News – Marine animal…

U.S. young-earth creation views steady but evolution acceptance growing!

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While there is little movement in percentages of conservative belief, there is much to be encouraged about in the latest Gallop poll on evolution versus Creationism. In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins. More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago,…

Gender bruhaha over female storm names

Hurricane Sandy impacts the ENTIRE Eastern U.S.

So, this caused a kerfuffle yesterday on the internet. A study regarding a gender bias turned into a debate about sexism and misogyny. Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes. Meteorologists and geoscientists have called for greater consideration of social science factors that predict responses to natural hazards. We answer this call by highlighting the…

Face it! Cydonia region of Mars Exposed

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Stuart Robbins of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast has put together a great new video that, well, exposes some bogus claims in astronomy. This one is going to get Richard Hoagland a bit angered as he covers the speculation from the Cydonia region of Mars – you know, the face. Richard C. Hoagland made this famous…

“At first I was skeptical” is a convincing ploy, unless you are wise to it

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A new paper was just published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology that is further confirmation of something skeptics of the paranormal and alt med treatments have noticed for a long time. It’s called the “avowal of prior skepticism”. This is a narrative device used by a person telling a story in which…

Animal Planet and Discovery channels make MONSTROUS missteps for Monster Week

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Last week was Monster Week on Animal Planet. This weekend is Monster Weekend on Discovery Channel. (The two channels are affiliated under the Discovery Network). I came across a series of stories today that relate to these Discovery Channel/Animal Planet offerings. I decided to put them all together. From the past offerings of a dubious…

Gamma-ray Burst False Alarm: Self-Correcting Science and Public Scientific Enthusiasm

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are powerful flashes of energetic gamma-rays lasting from less than a second to several minutes. They release a tremendous amount of energy in this short time making them the most powerful events in the Universe. They are thought to be mostly associated with the explosion of stars that collapse into black holes. In the explosion, two jets of very fast-moving material are ejected, as depicted in this artist’s illustration. If a jet happens to be aimed at Earth, we see a brief but powerful gamma-ray burst. (By ESO/A. Roquette at Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0)

It’s been a tumultuous week in astronomy-related false alarms. See also Citizen journalism asteroid hoax should be a lesson to CNN (Doubtful News). This week, social media buzzed rather excitedly about a “possible gamma ray burst detected in Andromeda.” But despite the excitement and speculation as to whether the detected emission was a gamma-ray burst (GRB)…