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Koalas Not Functionally Extinct From Fires - 1000 Killed Out Of 300,000, Reduced Numbers In New South Wales For 1 Or 2 Decades

Nov 24 2019 - 14:11

Short summary: A Koala population in New South Wales has been severely impacted by fires with loss of perhaps 70%, at least 350 of them killed, and it could be more, leading to headlines of "1000 koalas killed". However, it will recover again, not immediately but in a couple of decades. A koala population can triple in population in 12 years. It depends on eucalyptus leaves and those trees have died, but the eucalyptus grows quickly too.

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5 Things Schools Can Do To Promote News Literacy

Nov 23 2019 - 06:11

When it comes to news literacy, schools often emphasize fact-checking and hoax-spotting. But as I argue in my new book, schools must go deeper with how they teach the subject if they want to help students thrive in a democratic society.

As a new poll shows that Americans struggle to know if the information they find online is true, news literacy remains essential in student education.

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Protecting Earth's Environment During A Mars Sample Return - Have NASA Started The Legal Process Yet? Too Late To Start For 2032

Nov 23 2019 - 04:11

This is the latest of several articles I've done about NASA / ESA’s plan to return a sample from Mars. I ask people to comment on my articles and ask my friends if they know of anything NASA or ESA are doing to prepare legislation for a sample return. So far nobody I talk to has come up with anything. The caching rover to collect the samples is already complete and will be sent to Mars in 2020.

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Reefer Madness And Seduction Of The Innocent Are Now The Anti-Vaping M.O.

Nov 22 2019 - 13:11
The 1950s were the first sign that with a booming economy, progressive busy-bodies were going to once again turn their sights on controlling behavior. Though Prohibition had ended the Puritan Piety attack on alcohol, and Hitler had put a halt to progressive dreams of eugenics, the war on inferiors continued by well-meaning elites unabated after the soldiers came home.

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Aspirational Recyclers Don't Want To Read This

Nov 22 2019 - 07:11
Much of recycling is aspirational, and we choose to believe it works because we don't want to feel worse knowing it is a scam.

In the 1980s I worked as a fundraiser for an environmental group, Public Interest Research Group.  PIRG had all of the predictable anti-science activism points, which was a challenge since part of the region I covered contained a whole lot of people working at Westinghouse Nuclear, but I would concede they were goofy when it came to nuclear energy, but they were absolutely right that a bottle bill - a fee on top of the cost of a drink - was better for everyone than government recycling.

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The 17 MeV Anomaly That Would Not Die

Nov 22 2019 - 06:11
Is there a fifth force of Nature, beyond the four we know about ? This question has been around ever since it was understood that 
1 - electric charges attract and repel, and influence one another, due to the action of the electromagnetic force;


2 - hadronic matter is held together by the strong force;


3 - quarks transmute into other quarks due to the action of the weak force (and leptons do that too);


4 - bodies carrying mass feel attracted to one another, although very weakly, by the gravitational force.

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This Holiday, Give Thanks For Affordable Food - And The Farmers Who Only Get 8 Cents Of Every Dollar For Making It

Nov 22 2019 - 05:11
You know you are in a wealthy country when there are articles about how people are depressed if they can't get a $2,000 Macbook, young people can talk about how bored they are, and poor families live in more square footage than the middle class in France.

Oh, and a majority are fat, even among poor people. It was never before possible for poor people to be obese, abundance of food used to be a sign of wealth.

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Death Anxiety Seems To Be Universal - Do We Also Suffer Birth Anxiety?

Nov 22 2019 - 04:11

Many people feel anxious about the prospect of their death. Indeed, some philosophers have argued that death anxiety is universal and that this anxiety bounds and organizes human existence. But do we also suffer from birth anxiety? Perhaps. After all, we are all beings that are born as well as beings that die.

Whereas philosophers have said a lot about our anxiety about death, they have said little about birth anxiety. This is part-and-parcel of the broader neglect of birth in the Western philosophical tradition. The guiding thought has been that ‘all men are mortal’ (‘men’ in the sense of ‘human beings’) rather than ‘all human beings are mortal and natal’.

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Too Late For NASA / ESA To Legally Return Mars Unsterilized Sample To Earth By 2032

Nov 21 2019 - 22:11

NASA have put a great deal of work into the engineering for a sample return but I can't find any papers or blog posts or any sign of prepration for the legal side of the return mission. We are strongly protected by many environmental laws and laws to protect human health that we didn’t have at the time of Apollo. These laws don’t rely on the Outer Space Treaty for their legal basis. How NASA categorizes Mars makes no difference to them. See the article by Margaret Race of the SETI institute.

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GRB190114C: No Longer Speculation: Tera-Electron-Volt Gamma-Ray Bursts Detected

Nov 21 2019 - 10:11

While they last, gamma-ray bursts outshine stars and even galactic quasars. They are the most energetic phenomenon known to humankind, resulting from the formation of neutron stars or black holes as dying stars collapse. They are triggered by outflows of plasma ejected near the speed of light. 

They usually display energies in the region of tens of giga-electron-volts but why not even greater? Indeed, it is no longer speculation, a gamma-ray burst in the region of a tera-electron-volt has been detected. Which means these energies might actually be common.

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How Snakes Got Their Bite But Lost Their Legs

Nov 21 2019 - 09:11
The evolution of the snake body has captivated researchers for a long time because it represents one of the most dramatic examples of the vertebrate body's ability to adapt. A limited fossil record has obscured our understanding of their early evolution but now an ancient legged snake, called Najash has shed light on the origin of the slithering reptiles.


The fossil analyses reveal they possessed hind legs during the first 70 million years of their evolution, and provide details about how the flexible skull of snakes evolved from their lizard ancestors.

Scientists performed high-resolution (CT) scanning and light microscopy of preserved skulls of Najash to reveal substantial new anatomical data on the early evolution of snakes.

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For World Philosophy Day, Here Are 3 Women You’ve Probably Never Heard Of In The Field Of Big Consciousness

Nov 21 2019 - 09:11

Ask anyone to name a philosopher and they’ll likely name a man. So, let’s turn the spotlight on three women: Mary Calkins, May Sinclair, and Hilda Oakeley. They each defended “idealism” – the idea that consciousness composes, or somehow pervades, the universe we live in.

Big consciousness theories are trending right now. Ecologists such as Suzanne Simard argue trees can “talk”, and philosophers such as Philip Goff argue elementary particles exhibit basic forms of consciousness. These women should be remembered as part of this blooming tradition.

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Manufacture Of Consent: Why Democracy Has A Major Mass-Media Problem

Nov 21 2019 - 04:11
Before Chomsky, there was Lippmann: the First World War and ‘manufactured consent.’

While the ‘manufacture of consent’ is an idea now mostly associated with Noam Chomsky, the phrase was actually coined by the US journalist and writer Walter Lippman in his influential book Public Opinion (1922) – a fact that Chomsky and Edward S Herman, his co-author of Manufacturing Consent (1988), readily acknowledge.

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This Real Life Buckaroo Banzai Jet Car Went So Fast Its Paint Peeled Off

Nov 20 2019 - 15:11
Land speed records used to be a big deal, in 1984’s “Buckaroo Banzai: Across The 8th Dimension”, the hero completes brain surgery because he has to drive his jet car to impress the Department of Defense, while his secret mission is to discover a portal to another dimension.

Now, it is not such a big deal. While everyone knows Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet, few can tell you who broke Mach 2 or how fast planes can go today. And so it goes with cars.

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With No Evolutionary Cost, Why Not Same Sex Behavior In Animals?

Nov 20 2019 - 15:11
Though homosexual behavior has been rewarded in over 1,000 organisms, it can be an evolutionary puzzle; since reproduction can't happen, there is a fitness cost, so why do it?

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Bats In The Belfry May Be Needed For Conservation

Nov 20 2019 - 14:11
During mating season in the summer, little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) females huddle their small, furry bodies together to save thermal energy. These "maternity colonies" are important but with population losses across North America, summer access to an attic or other permanent sheltered structure, as opposed to just trees or rock crevices, could be a huge benefit.

In a new Ecosphere paper, researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats  in Yellowstone National Park.

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Teens Report Being "So Bored" More Than Ever

Nov 20 2019 - 12:11
In a story that feels like it could have come from Babylon Bee or The Onion, psychologists used surveys of teens to declare with somber seriousness that teens are more bored than ever - and adolescent girls are most bored. And that could lead to drug abuse.

They looked at responses from the Monitoring the Future in-school survey to statements like "I am often bored." Youth self-chose how bored they were on a five-point scale starting in 2008.

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Standards Of Identity, And Fighting Confusing Food Labels - Some Hope FDA Might Still Be On The Case

Nov 20 2019 - 11:11
if we're ever going to know if marijuana does anything important, we need reference-grade marijuana for scholars to study. NIST has reference-grade peanut butter so it makes sense that with so many marijuana claims (and obvious harm when mixed with chemicals to use in vaping devices, as recent hospitalizations and deaths showed) to separate hype and woo from science there needs to be a way to study it empirically.

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Want To Be A Health Reporter? Apply For The Bayer and National Press Foundation Fellowship

Nov 20 2019 - 10:11
Bayer is a funding a National Press Foundation all-expenses paid health journalism fellowship to take place Jan. 26-29, 2020, in Florida.

The health issue in this case is narrow; cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States at 25 percent.

The National Press Foundation is offering a four-day training program for 20 journalists that will look at all facets of heart health and heart disease: who is at risk, symptoms, preventive care, treatment, demographics, data, and the latest science and medicine. The fellowship covers airfare, ground transportation, hotels and meals.


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Norm Borlaug Gave Us The Green Revolution: What's Next?

Nov 20 2019 - 05:11
Dr. Norm Borlaug, the "father of the Green Revolution", is credited with saving a billion lives using agricultural science, and for the last 50 years he and his successors debunked the Malthusian claims of cynics like Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, and their modern-day acolytes like Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, and Naomi Oreskes.

When Holdren and Ehrlich (and the other Ehrlich) were trying to drum up support for mandatory birth control and a world government to enforce it(1), Borlaug and the science community quietly made farming more efficient than ever. Today, even the poorest people in most of the world can afford to be fat, something never possible before, and that is thanks to the legacy of Dr. Borlaug.

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