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Updated: 49 min 27 sec ago

3 Ways Activists Gamed California's Prop 65 List To Get Glyphosate On It

Jul 18 2017 - 11:07

Glyphosate, a component of the popular herbicide commonly known as Roundup in the United States, has been placed on California's Proposition 65 list, which requires a cancer warning label on it, despite the fact no regulatory body can find evidence it harms anyone or anything other than what it is supposed to harm, much less that it causes any cancer.

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Revenge Of The Slimeballs: When US Labs Competed For Leadership In HEP

Jul 17 2017 - 05:07

The clip below, together with the following few which will be published every few days in the coming weeks, is extracted from the third chapter of my book "Anomaly! Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab". It recounts the pioneering measurement of the Z mass by the CDF detector, and the competition with SLAC during the summer of 1989.

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Ravens Plan Ahead

Jul 15 2017 - 11:07
In early times, a raven could be a bad omen, and a new study finds that ancient people were not wrong in thinking the raven might be planning on using a negative event to full advantage. It turns out, according to the paper, they plan ahead, just like humans, and can even forgo an immediate reward in order to gain a better one in the future, which at least some humans do. Great apes too.

Ravens and great apes have not shared a common ancestor for over 300 million years, so what explains it? Evolution is not a straight line and the authors speculate that the cognitive "planning" abilities they share in common re-appeared, on a separate evolutionary path, in the birds. 
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Muon G-2: The Anomaly That Could Change Physics, And A New Exciting Theoretical Development

Jul 15 2017 - 10:07
Do you remember the infamous "g-2" measurement ? The anomalous magnetic moment of the muon has been for over a decade in the agenda of HEP physicists, both as a puzzle and as a hope for good things to come. 

Ever since the Brookhaven laboratories estimated the quantity at a value over 3 standard deviations away from the equally precise theoretical predictions, the topic (could the discrepancy be due to new physics??) has been commonplace in dinner table conversations among HEP physicists. 
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Tardigrade, The World's Most Indestructible Species - What Would It Take To Make Them Extinct?

Jul 14 2017 - 13:07
It won't matter if all the ice melts and seas rise 100 feet, even if frogs rain from the skies and dogs and cats are living together, one species will be around until the sun explodes.

That species is the eight-legged micro-animal tardigrade, the world's most indestructible species.
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Flacking For The Organic Industry: Paul Thacker

Jul 11 2017 - 12:07
A bizarre diatribe published by the hard-left political fanzine Progressive.org came across my desk today. I even got a mention. I don't delve into politics much, I am a registered Independent and I voted for Clinton in the 2016 election, those are all known, but I run a non-partisan consumer advocacy non-profit and we don't do politics, so I was surprised anyone in a political site would even know who I am.

Then I looked at the author: Paul Thacker. 
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600 Attend To Outreach Event In Venice

Jul 10 2017 - 10:07
On Saturday, July 8th, the "Sala Perla" of the Palazzo del Casinò was crowded by 600 attendees, who filled all seats and then some. The event, titled "Universo: tempo zero - breve storia dell'inizio", was organized in conjunction with the international EPS conference, which takes place until this Wednesday at Lido of Venice. It featured a discussion between the anchor, Silvia Rosa Brusin, and a few guests: Fabiola Gianotti, general director of CERN; Antonio Masiero, vice-president of INFN; and Mirko Pojer, responsible of operations of the LHC collider. The program was enriched by a few videos, and by readings by Sonia Bergamasco and jazz music by Umberto Petrin. -->

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Brain Performance Not Affected By Menstrual Cycle

Jul 07 2017 - 08:07
Men who worry that women may not make the right decisions during a menstrual cycle, and women who claim biology is a valid excuse for being a jerk, you're both out of luck.

An examination of three aspects of cognition across two menstrual cycles found that the levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone had no impact on working memory, cognitive bias or ability to pay attention to two things at once.

While some hormones were associated with changes across one cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects didn't repeat in the following cycle. Overall, none of the hormones the team studied had any replicable, consistent effect on study participants' cognition.
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LHCb Unearths New Doubly-Charmed Hadron Where Marek Karliner And Jonathan Rosner Ordered It

Jul 07 2017 - 03:07
[UPDATE: see at the bottom for some additional commentary following a post on the matter by our friend Lubos Motl in his blog, where he quotes this piece and disagrees on the interest of finding the Xi mass in perfect agreement with an a priori calculation.]

It is always nice to learn that a new hadron is discovered - this broadens our understanding of the extremely complicated fabric of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interactions that govern nuclear matter and are responsible for its stability.  -->

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Theories On Pulsar Phenomena Aren't Theories

Jul 04 2017 - 07:07
A theory is a very precise thing in science - yet some scientists can't resist using the term to lend intellectual weight to what may be a hypothesis and is likely just reasonable speculation. It's a large part of the reason why the term has become colloquialized, and 'wellness' is equivalent to gravity in the minds of some.

Physical science is not immune. String Theory put theory in the name, so it gets to skate on the edges of truth, but theoretical physicists are trying to recapture the Golden Age of the 1930s, plus write a bestselling book. Astrophysics should know better. Yet many have still used the word theory to describe the "glitch" and "wobble" detected among pulsars, despite having no basis for it.
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Hawking Says Trump Could Tip Earth To Hot Venus Climate - Is It True? What Can Earth's Climate Tip To?

Jul 03 2017 - 23:07

Stephen Hawking celebrated his seventy fifth birthday on the 2nd July. We can all be delighted that he lived so long, and continues in robust health, after he was diagnosed to survive only three years. May he continue to "live long and prosper" as the fictional Vulcans say in Star Trek (a UK man can expect to live another 12 years if he reaches his 75th birthday, other things being equal). He's a brilliant physicist, everyone agrees, noted for his work in General Relativity and related areas. However he has never done any research in climate change AFAIK.

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EPS 2017: 1000 Physicists In Venice

Jul 03 2017 - 09:07
The 2017 edition of the European Physical Society conference will take place in the Lido of Venice this week, from July 5th to 12th. For the first time in many years -30 as of now- a big international conference in HEP is organized in Italy, a datum I found surprising at first. When I learned it, the years were 26 and I was in a local organizing committee that tried to propose another conference in the same location. Although excellent, our proposal was ditched, and from the episode I learned I should not be too surprised for the hiatus.  -->

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Gender-Blind Recruitment Process Leads To More Men Being Hired

Jun 30 2017 - 22:06
It's been shown that there is no hiring deficit for women in science; women have been hired far more than men for new jobs. Yet women's groups have continued to point to total numbers as the problem, as if to say older men who have been supportive of more diversity and are making it happen on hiring committees should be fired without cause to open up more jobs for women.

Only the weakest candidate wants to be hired as part of a quota. There has to be a better way.
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For Amateur Cyclists, EPO Blood Doping Won't Help

Jun 29 2017 - 18:06
Use of performance enhancing drugs is a major problem in many competitive sports and the 2017 prohibited list includes over 300 substances. However, the scientific evidence around these substances is scarce, partly because it is impossible to do trials with professional cyclists who are subject to anti-doping regulation.

Meanwhile, media attention given to performance enhancing drugs may encourage amateurs to try them. But it is unlikely to help, according to a new paper published in The Lancet Haematology journal.
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Is Betelgeuse A Cannibal Star?

Jun 29 2017 - 14:06

A day or two ago I came across this article

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Did BPA Bite The Dust?

Jun 29 2017 - 07:06

A common definition of the word dust refers to fine, dry particles of matter.  From dust storms on earth to cosmic dust, just about everywhere that any form of matter is present, dust will also be present.  That includes the ubiquitous household dust that seems to magically appear in our homes on every surface and in the form of dust bunnies under furniture.

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How Nature's Bleach Protects Against Sun Damage

Jun 29 2017 - 06:06
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is best known for use in bleach and hair treatments and is often invoked as a scary chemical by environmental groups promoting concern about food and products, but it is produced naturally in our bodies. A new study shows it is a useful chemical across nature; plants use it to control how their cells react to varying levels of light.

Like preventing plant sunburn. 

Hydrogen peroxide is a by-product of photosynthesis in parts of plant cells called chloroplasts, much like it is in our bodies by cellular respiration. Using a fluorescent protein that detects hydrogen peroxide, the researchers behind a new study in Nature Communications observed how H2O2 moves from chloroplasts and can be detected in cell nuclei.  -->

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California’s Very Expensive Free Healthcare

Jun 28 2017 - 09:06
What will cost $400 billion, a giant leap over California’s total health care budget for 2018 of $179.5 billion, yet is not mentioned by California lawmakers? California's free "single-payer" healthcare proposal.
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Ancient Human Retrovirus Could Help Fight HIV

Jun 28 2017 - 07:06
We're in a lifelong struggle against nature every single day, the ultimate arms race. Viruses have continually infected humans just as they do today.

Some early viruses even became integrated into our genome and are now known as human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). Over millions of years, they became inert due to mutations or major deletions in their genetic code.

Today, one of the most studied HERV families is the HERV-K family, which has been active since the evolutionary split of humans and chimpanzees with some members perhaps actively infecting humans within the past couple hundred thousand years.

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