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Genetic Quality Of Fathers Influences Gender Of Offspring

Sep 11 2017 - 16:09
In determining the gender of offspring, fathers may be getting shortchanged.

Because mothers can influence their offspring in a number of ways, from copulation to birth, while fathers have control over sperm only, it has long been assumed mothers are more important. In mammals, it is also believed that offspring sex ratios can only be determined by the mother, since fathers have always been thought to inseminate an equal proportion of X and Y sperm, having a random effect on offspring sex that they could not shift from equality, or 50:50.
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Brain-Computer Interface Turns Thoughts Into A Musical Score

Sep 11 2017 - 15:09

Brain-computer interfaces can replace bodily functions to a certain degree and now they can even compose music. At least in a sense.

Derived from an established brain-computer interface method which mainly serves to spell - more accurately - write, a team has developed a new application by which music can be composed just through the power of thought. All that is needed is a special cap which measures brain waves, composition software. Before you start to think you'll be the next Haydn, keep in mind it can't create musical knowledge.

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NASA's NOT RISKY Plan - Drill Into BASE Of Yellowstone Magma Chamber - Generate Electricty - Stop Eruptions CENTURIES From Now

Sep 11 2017 - 05:09

This is a good example of a story that has morphed and changed as it gets passed from one paper to another. They all cite the same source, from the BBC but the reporters haven’t read the source. I think they just read each other. The science is actually rather interesting. But just about everything they say is the opposite of what the original story says.

This is the original story on the BBC:

This is what Fox News make of it (notorious for being somewhat unreliable)

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On Turtles, Book Writing, And Overcommitments

Sep 09 2017 - 11:09
Back from vacations, I think I need to report a few random things before I get back into physics blogging. So I'll peruse the science20 article category aptly called "Random Thoughts" for this one occasion.
My summer vacations took place just after a week spent in Ecuador, where I gave 6 hours of lectures on LHC physics and statistics for data analysis to astrophysics PhD students. I did report about that and an eventful hike in the last post. Unfortunately, the first week of my alleged rest was mostly spent fixing a few documents that the European Commission expected to receive by August 31st. As a coordinator of a training network, I have indeed certain obligations that I cannot escape. 
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If Regular Farming Is Now "Factory" Style, Why Do Only 0.4% Of Farms Pay Estate Taxes?

Sep 08 2017 - 13:09
The President has declared he is against the Estate tax, and he is not alone. For decades it has seemed punitive to levy a special tax on wealth people already paid taxes on just because the person who paid the taxes died. 

In North Dakota, President Trump said he would "protect small businesses and family farmers here in North Dakota and across the country by ending the death tax" and that would ease the "Tremendous burden for the family farmer, tremendous burden. We are not going to allow the death tax or the inheritance tax or the whatever-you-want-to-call-it to crush the American Dream.”
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BPA Exposure In Canada - How Low Can You Go?

Sep 06 2017 - 11:09

A recent analysis of published data on human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA -->

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In Early Stage Breast Cancer, Even Small Tumors Can Be Aggressive

Sep 05 2017 - 13:09

Even small tumors can be aggressive, according to a study in patients with early stage breast cancer presented at the ESMO 2017 Congress in Madrid.  They found that nearly one in four small tumors were aggressive and patients benefited from chemotherapy. Aggressive tumors could be identified by a 70-gene signature.

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Can JP Aerospace's Future Giant Airships Slowly Accelerate To Orbit? Looking At The Numbers

Sep 01 2017 - 18:09

A while back I wrote my article "Can Giant Airships Slowly Accelerate to Orbit Over Several Days" . It lead to a lot of discussion and as usual whenever you discuss John Powell's ideas, there were physicists and aeroengineers saying it is impossible, and others saying it can be done. So anyway as part of this I had an especially interesting online discussion over many days with James Fincannon on the Space Show blog and much of this article comes out of that discussion. Unlike many of those who get involved in these discussions on the topic, he actually did many detailed calculations and shared them on the blog.

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Hurricane Harvey And The Risk To Criminal Evidence

Aug 31 2017 - 12:08
The story that won't be told in the wake of Harvey's wrath is the incredible risk to the thousands upon thousands of items of physical evidence being stored in police departments and crime laboratories throughout Texas - especially in Houston.  Any damage to this evidence may derail the state's pursuit of justice. 
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Why The IAU Definition Of Planet Has A "Use By Date" - And How We Can Get To Call Our Moon A Planet!

Aug 31 2017 - 12:08

Yes. I think all the objects large enough to reach equilibrium under gravity should be called planets. That would include Ceres too, and our Moon as a “moon planet”, and dwarf planets like Haumea, and Eris. This is the definition many planetary scientists use already - they call it the "geophysical definition".

This is not for nostalgic reasons. It's because it's a natural distinction to make. Something large enough to be rounded under gravity is normally going to have geological features too, differentiated interior and a large surface area. The smallest ones, perhaps around 200 kilometers in diameter, still have a surface area similar to that of England, or Arizona.

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Cold Houses Are Far More Likely To Kill Us Than Heat Waves

Aug 30 2017 - 16:08

A pervasive myth in Australia is that hot weather is the greatest danger to our health. In reality, it’s more likely cold weather will kill you.

For all our concern about the dangers of heatwaves, simple analysis of mortality data suggests the cold months present a much greater health risk. Almost 7% of deaths in Australia from 1988 to 2009 were attributable to cold weather. Less than 1% of deaths were attributable to heat.

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The Myth Of The “Bee-pocalypse”

Aug 30 2017 - 15:08
Should we ban cars because of their potential to crash? Or stop selling painkillers in case someone takes too many? If we take the logic the EU applies to regulating pesticides, then the answer should be a resounding “yes”. Thankfully, EU lawmakers have looked at the weight of evidence and concluded the risk of driving cars and taking painkillers is acceptable – no ban needed.

Pesticides get different treatment though.

Take the class of insecticides so much in the news, neonicotinoids, that some have blamed for problems with bee health. Didn’t the European Union ban them claiming they were posing unacceptable risks to bees? Isn’t that case closed?
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Debunked: The Planetary Protection Racket

Aug 28 2017 - 18:08

This is an article by the space engineer and Mars colonization enthusiast Robert Zubrin, The Planetary Protection Racket claiming that we don’t need to protect Earth from Mars microbes or Mars from Earth microbes. This is not he first time he has said controversial things like this, and they are not taken seriously by the planetary protection experts. To give you an idea of how his arguments are received by them, let’s go back to what I think is the first time he put forward forceful arguments in print saying that there is no need to protect Earth from Mars microbes.

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A Narrow Escape From The Cumbre Rucu Volcano

Aug 26 2017 - 05:08

If I am alive, I probably owe it to my current very good physical shape.

That does not mean I narrowly escaped a certain death; rather, it means that if I had been slower there are good chances I would have got hit by lightning, under arduous conditions, at 4300 meters of altitude.

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All Robots Are Unpredictable

Aug 25 2017 - 12:08

The heads of more than 100 of the world’s top artificial intelligence companies are very alarmed about the development of “killer robots”. In an open letter to the UN, these business leaders – including Tesla’s Elon Musk and the founders of Google’s DeepMind AI firm – warned that autonomous weapon technology could be misused by terrorists and despots or hacked to perform in undesirable ways.

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Sly Grog Traders: The Sophisticated Methods Of Alcohol Bootleggers In Australia

Aug 25 2017 - 10:08

The dominant Australian community would very much like to keep Indigenous communities from alcohol, but indigenous communities aren't having it. A giant black market has sprung up and such non-government alcohol sells for up to 1100 percent of the retail price.

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Smoking Is No Longer Cool Among American Kids - Peer Pressure Is Why

Aug 24 2017 - 17:08

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seem more scared than elated by United States smoking rates. They have migrated from a war on the world's top killer, smoking, to being in a war on a chemical, nicotine.

They needn't be concerned. Science and health have won, and it wasn't because of taxes on cigarettes or a cottage industry of anti-smoking ads built by a tobacco company settlement, it was because of peer pressure. In young people. As the American Council on Science and Health, a pro-science consumer advocacy group based in New York City, has said since the 1970s, smoking is a pediatric disease. In the past, 90 percent of smokers picked up the habit by age 18, making adolescence a critical time for smoking-prevention efforts.

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'Good' Cholesterol Also Linked With Excessive Mortality

Aug 24 2017 - 12:08

Center for Science in the Public Interest, a litigation group that sues food companies, may be dusting off some of its old materials after new report which finds "good" cholesterol, also known as HDL, might not be as good as we think.

The new paper contradicts findings from the last 25 years that high levels of HDL in the blood are a good thing. They instead found that people with extremely high levels of good cholesterol have a higher mortality rate than people with normal levels. For men with extremely high levels, the mortality rate was 106 percent higher than for the normal group.

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