Science

Animal Planet and Discovery channels make MONSTROUS missteps for Monster Week

monster week2

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)…

Cosmos series irritates those who hold anti-science ideas

cosmos_milky way

The new Cosmos reboot is generating some waves for sure. Creationists have a beef with the exclusion (even derision) of the God concept while teachers are excited to have interesting science content for their classes. Now, climate change deniers might get a little broiled over the latest episode to air. New Video: Neil deGrasse Tyson Destroys…

Physicists plan to make photons matter (and no, it’s not a Star Trek replicator)…

A Feynman diagram of an electron and positron exchanging a photon, by JabberWok at Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Professor Stephen Rose and his research team at Imperial College London have designed an experimental test of a 1934 model by Breit and Wheeler, which would provide empirical verification of the process’s ability to create matter from photons. UK discovery ‘starts race’ to turn light into matter (BBC News): Breit and Wheeler’s theoretical prediction [...] that…

HAARP terminated

haarp array

Conspiracy theorists’ favorite excuse is gone down the toilet. In an update to this story from last year about HAARP being closed, it’s not reopening. Air Force prepares to dismantle HAARP ahead of summer shutdown | State News | ADN.com. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle…

Cue all the “vampire” headlines

aging

Yep. “We want young blood” is soon to become a popular request as studies show it is rejuvenating. New studies show that young blood reverses the effects of aging when put into older mice – The Washington Post. A trio of new studies has discovered that the blood of young mice appears to reverse some…

Periodic Updates

Periodic Table (OpenClipArt Public Domain Image)

What happens when a new element is discovered? Another new element, Element 117, is one step closer to being named. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) will review findings and rule on whether the element will be granted an official name and be allowed to strike terror into the hearts of high…

AP poll has experts lamenting science literacy – It’s more complicated

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Should we be surprised by this? No, I’m not. Disappointed, maybe. But, we should be used to these results by now. Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans. Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own…

Evidence-based skepticism in the spotlight thanks to Bill Nye’s debate

Screen capture from the video where Bill Nye talks about evolution

It’s so very exciting to see the reverberation of the Creation-Evolution debate continuing. And I am very happy to see Skeptical Inquirer play a role in it. This current issue of SI has an exclusive piece written by Bill Nye, The Science Guy himself, discussing the behind-the-scenes goings on that took place before and during…

The Big Bad Moon, used to sell fear to the superstitious

If the moon ever REALLY looks like this, we're DOOMED.

Tuesday, April 15th marks the first of four lunar “blood moon” eclipses over the next two years. The tetrad — or four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at approximately six month intervals — will all be visible over the United States during 2014 -2015. The other dates are Oct. 8, 2014, April 4, 2015…

The bleeding road of Leek

Ashbourne-road_red-stain

Locals have noticed a red discoloration in a roadway that makes it appear as if the road is bleeding. However, there is a logical, chemical explanation. Red stain on A523 road into Leek explained by Staffordshire County Council The presence of iron from a water seepage could be the reason for a road turning red…

Dreams study gets mooned by silly headlines

If the moon ever REALLY looks like this, we're DOOMED.

Set up for better dreams? Professor Wiseman reveals his dream study results. Mass participation experiment reveals how to create the perfect dream Today psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire announces the results of a two-year study into dream control. The experiment shows that it is now possible for people to create their…

Richard’s remains questioned

Richard III

Uh oh, someone is doubtful that the remains really are of the king. Not surprising. ‘Richard III remains’ found in Leicester car park have doubt cast upon them. Leading archaeologists have challenged one of the most sensational discoveries of the last century, insisting there is no proof that the man with the twisted spine found…

No wiki woo woo

hero

We sent the link to this story out yesterday in leftovers but Guy Chapman has written it up for us in a post worth reading. Thanks, Guy.  If there’s one thing proponents of SCAM (Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine) cannot stand, it’s objective unbiased information. Wikipedia’s policies have long mandated against giving undue weight to…

Nineteen new species of praying mantis discovered

A praying mantis in the genus Liturgusa Saussure Photograph: /Gavin J. Svenson/Zookeys

Our cataloging of diversity continues unabated. New praying mantis species discovered | Environment | theguardian.com. Nineteen new species of a tree-living praying mantis family have been discovered, tripling the group’s diversity at a stroke. The bark mantises (Liturgusa Saussure) from Central and South America were found in tropical forests and among specimens kept in museums.…