Category: Science

How To Open A Jar: Like A Boss

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In giving you the reader something you could actually find useful, here is a technique I developed that makes opening overly-tight fitting jars rather easy. The method takes advantage of leverage and large muscle groups of your arms to twist off the jar lid rather than relying on comparatively weaker muscles serving the wrists and fingers. It works well for those having weak or arthritic hands.  One only needs to have a secure grip in order to open most jars.

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“Not Based On Science”: Chief NOAA Rebukes Trump As IG Investigates Allegations Of Political Pressure To Reverse Forecast That Contradicted Trump

I have previously written about the controversy over President Donald Trump’s comments on Hurricane Dorian and the latest self-inflected wound in what is being called “Sharpiegate.” The name however masks something more serious. It is not the bizarre decision to mark up a hurricane map with a Sharpie to extend the path to Alabama. It is not even the bizarre refusal to just acknowledge an honest mistake in not acknowledging that path predictions on that day showed the hurricane avoiding Alabama. The more serious problem is what the statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effectively rebuking the forecast of its Birmingham office contradicting the President. There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement. When Trump issued his statement no one was predicting that the hurricane would hit Alabama (days earlier there was a possibility that Alabama could be effected). Various scientists and experts denounced NOAA’s statement and the politicalization of NOAA. Now the Inspector General is investigating and Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, has called the unprecedented NOAA statement “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

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Study: Umpires Wrong In 20 Percent Of Plate Calls

In 2018, Cubs player Ben Zobrist was thrown out in the ninth inning of a 2018 game against the Milwaukee Brewers after telling plate umpire Phil Cuzzi  “That’s why we want an electronic strike zone.” I have long agreed with Zobrist that it is insane that we continue to rely on umpires rather than electronic strike zones. Indeed, we watched games where an electronic strike zone is used to determine if an umpire was right. Instead of using that system, however, we use the less reliable human umpire at home plate. Now  a new study  of some four millions pitches found that umpires were wrong an astonishing 20 percent of the time. That is one out of five pitches in games that often turn on a handful of calls. It is insane to use the least accurate means for calling strikes and balls when so much depends not just for these games but for the players who deserve to be measured accurately on their performance.

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A-Lean Cuisines: Source of Alien Signals Confirmed At Australian Radio Telescope After 17 Years

For 17 years, astronomers at a massive radio telescope in Australia at the Parkes Observatory have been searching for the source of an alien signal of “perytons.” With a new retrofit, they finally were able to isolate the source: their microwave in the kitchen.

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Meet Ultima Thule: Cosmic Snowman

As readers know, I totally geek out with NASA missions and this week is no exception. This is the long awaited image of Ultima Thule (“beyond the known world”) and it is provided by the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. The previous record was the New Horizons image of Pluto in 2015.  Ultima Thule is 1.5 billion km further out. Thought to be the shape of a bowling pin, it turns out to be a 4.5 billion-year old, brick-colored cosmic snowman in the cold of deep space. Closer to home: this week saw China land the first probe on the dark side of the Moon.

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And Now The Sound Of The Martian Winds . . .

As many on this blog know, I am something of a geek and particularly love the NASA website.  Having watched the moon landing on a tiny black and white television (at another family’s house because we did not have a television), I still marvel at seeing images from space.  I found the latest posting by NASA thrilling: the actual sound of winds on Mars.

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Meet Ryugu: Close Up And Personal

_103600101_mediaitem103600100Japan’s space agency (Jaxa) has released incredible images from its robot rovers of the asteroid Ryugu. I know that I go all squealy over NASA and space pictures, but this is amazing.  It is difficult to get one’s mind around the fact that we are looking at the surface of an asteroid that has been moving through space since before the advent of mankind.

 

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Trump Versus George Washington: GW Stands By Mortality Findings From Puerto Rico

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped150px-GWUlogoGeorge Washington University has found itself in the eye of the storm over Hurricane Maria after President Donald Trump has lashed out at its findings that roughly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico rather than a couple dozen cited by President Trump.  Trump has called the widely cited GW study “inflated” but the university (where I teach) is standing by its findings. Top Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks and leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan went public to say that there is no reason to doubt the GW findings. Even Trump supporter Florida Gov. Rick Scott who is running for the Senate tweeted “I disagree with @POTUS

 

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Roundup The Academics? Monsanto Verdict Raises New Troubling Questions About Professors Working Under Corporate Sponsorship

Roundup_herbicide_logoFor a growing number of critics, the breakthrough verdict against Monsanto for $289 million over its Roundup weedkiller is an indictment of the company’s corporate culture but also of academics who were used by the company to discredit scientific studies linking the herbicide to cancer.  Former groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, 46, reportedly has only months to live but he just delivered a body blow to one of the largest corporations in the world. It is not that $289 million is a crippling fine for Monsanto, but the verdict of guilt based on a finding of actions taken “with malice or oppression” will likely trigger tens of thousands of such claims.  Not surprisingly, Monsanto is now ditching its name in favor of Bayer after its recent acquisition. Continue reading “Roundup The Academics? Monsanto Verdict Raises New Troubling Questions About Professors Working Under Corporate Sponsorship”

Survey: BBC and FOX Are Most Trusted TV News Brands In U.S.

200px-bbcsvg180px-Foxnewslogo.svgA survey  by Research Intelligencer by Brand Keys found that BBC, Fox News and PBS are the most-trusted TV news brands in the U.S.  The survey covered over 4,000 news viewers.  It is most interesting that BBC can in first in the United States — a well-deserved distinction for the venerable news organization but a bit of an embarrassment for U.S. media.

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