Experts and Quackery

Over at Ethics Alarms, Jack Marshall is blogging about a recent British Medical Journal study of TV medical talk shows which found that, basically, Dr. Oz is talking out of his ass. Jack makes a good point, but this throw-away line caught my eye: For some reason medical experts have waited over a decade to […]

Considering a Geiger Counter

It probably says something about me that I’m thinking of buying a Geiger counter. It’s not that I really have a need to detect radioactivity, exactly. But you know all those CSI shows where they pull out the UV light and shine it around a crime scene to find suspicious stains? If you tried that […]

How Bill Nye Debates Creationism

When word got around that Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) was going to debate Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum, I was skeptical because just understanding the science of evolution is not good enough, you also have to understand and be prepared for all the creationist criticisms of evolution, and most scientists have […]

Not Quite the End of Big Oil

I stumbled across an amusing bit of scientific confusion at Addicting Info (“The Knowledge You Crave”) in an article titled “The U.S. Navy Just Announced The End Of Big Oil And No One Noticed.” The author, Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario, says the U.S. Navy has “achieved the Holy Grail of energy independence – turning […]

Why I Don’t Debate Evolution

My sometimes co-blogger Ken and I often discuss the whole evolution-v.s.-creationism issue, and I’ve tried a few times to explain to him why I don’t write about it much here. I occasionally discuss or speculate about some basic evolutionary science, and I’ve slammed some really idiotic creationist nonsense, but I just don’t want to get […]

From DNA to Questionable Science

It’s my understanding that DNA matching is arguably the best and most reliable of the forensic sciences. One reason is that it’s based on scientific knowledge and ideas that were developed independently of its forensic uses. Scientists spent decades studying DNA: How it’s structured, what it’s made of, how it replicates, how it combines in […]

Some DUI Science and Guesswork

Jamison Koehler put up a post on the fraction of your breath that a breathalyzer uses to estimate your blood alcohol ratio. He’s had expert training in DUI defense and therefore DUI-related technology, whereas I’ve just had some basic math and science education. But it’s an interesting subject, and I thought I’d try to explain […]

Alarming Asteroid News…If It Were True

Yesterday, Roger Ebert tweeted: Bad luck. The asteroid that came so close to Earth is coming baaaaak. Well, of course. It’s a known near-Earth object. They do that by definition. But the linked article by Andrew Malcolm at Investor’s Business Daily was a little more alarming than that, at least until I realized he […]

Weyland-Yutani Startup?

Could we be seeing the start of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation? A new space startup company, Planetary Resources, claims they “will overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources“. That sounds like space mining! And it’s not just a bunch of nuts I’ve never heard of backing this idea. The investors include Ross Perot Jr., Google co-founder […]

Goddesses and Falsifiability

My Nobody’s Business co-blogger Rogier has a pretty good article up about divine delusions v.s. observable reality. It’s a plea for rationality, even if faith and mysticism seem like more fun. As is often my way, I have a small quibble. Rogier and his opponent are discussing a Facebook poster’s insistence that a bit of […]

Life at Conception

A few days ago, at the conservative Illinois Review, an unnamed author who I assume is editor Fran Eaton got excited about some basic science in a post titled “Biology Textbook Author Asserts Life Begins at Conception”: When does life begin?  At conception?  When the fertilized egg begins to multiply cells?  When the zygote embeds itself […]

It’s a Convoy!

Yesterday NASA awarded development grants to four corporations for development of human-rated space transportation systems (spaceships). Here are the big winners: $22 million went to Blue Origin, best known for its intricately detailed corporate logo (as well as its founder, Jeff Bezos of fame) which has a creative vertical take-off and landing system which […]

Why Philosophers Shouldn’t Argue Physics with Stephen Hawking

The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by Roger Scruton, an English philosopher, titled “Memo to Hawking: There’s Still Room for God“. (Sorry, it’s behind a paywall.) He attempts to refute Hawking’s premise that no God is needed to create a universe from nothing. Immanuel Kant, who believed that Newton’s laws of gravity are not merely true but […]

Powers of Ten

I first saw the Powers of Ten short on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. (If you don’t know who Carl Sagan was, please don’t tell me. It will just make me feel terribly old and sad.) Way back in the ancient mists of time the Museum of Science and Industry setup a kiosk looping the video and […]

Bite me, Bambi!

Or, How Eating Habanero Peppers Proves I’m Smarter Than Other Mammals. It’s chili pepper harvesting time again! While most Chicagoans seem enamored with growing tomato plants, I think habanero peppers should be the crop of choice. OK, to be honest, I’m actually too lazy to grow my own, but I have a couple of friends […]