Category: Science

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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Cosmic Whale Music: Listen To What Cassini Picked Up Near Saturn

 

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Credit: NASA

NASA has released an extraordinary tape of the sound picked up by the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into Saturn on its final mission in 2017.  The craft captured plasma waves from Saturn to its rings and into one of its moons, Enceladus. It is mesmerizing. It has been describing as Saturn singing and it is strangely beautiful.

 

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Just When You Thought You Had Enough To Worry About . . . Lunar Hay Fever

apollo moon photos-1033716704_v2.grid-6x2If you are planning to join the first Moon colony, you might want to read the latest report from NASA which found that moon dust is actually quite harmful to humans.  A recent study published in the April issue of the journal GeoHealth found that moon dust produces what some described as “lunar hay fever.” Indeed, it might give you Moon Lung if you live there long enough.

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Indian Minister Claims Ancient Hindus Invented The Internet

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Biplab Deb, who is the chief minister of the north-eastern state of Tripura, has become an international clown after claiming that the Internet was invented thousands of years ago by ancient Indians.   He now competes as the world’s least intelligent person with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who claimed that Muslims discovered America.

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Federal Court Permits Emoluments Challenge To Move Forward

1600_executive_branchA federal judge issued a surprising decision that allowed part of an emoluments challenge to proceed toward trial.  The opinion has been widely misreported, but still represents a rare win for those arguing that President Donald Trump is accepting prohibited payments from foreign governments at the various Trump properties.  However, the decision is only on the threshold standing question and did not address the merits of the constitutional claim.  Moreover, United States District Judge Peter Messitte dramatically narrowed the action to only claims related to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.  These is considerable debate over the meaning of the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause.  There are clearly good-faith arguments that such payments fall within the meaning of the language, but I remain highly skeptical.  Even with the much reduced action, I think Messitte is wrong and that the action should have been dismissed in its entirety.  Previous actions have been dismissed.

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Study Criticizes Engineering Programs For Focusing On Math and Science Rather Than Political Concerns

One_of_Diamonds_Mathematical_instruments_1702We recently discussed how University of Illinois math professor Rochelle Gutierrez triggered a national controversy over her work “Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods” in which she criticized math classes as a “tool of whiteness.”  Then we discussed CUNY Professor Laurie Rubel’s publishing of a peer-reviewed article in the  Journal of Mathematics Education arguing that the concepts of meritocracy and “color-blindness” are ideological precepts that work against minorities.  Now four professors denouncing the “hegemony of meritocratic ideology” and the “masculine culture” in engineering courses as hostile to women. University of California (Irvine) Professor Carroll Serron’s March 1 study insists that merit-based advancement in engineering is harming women and fails to consider political factors in recognizing engineers.  The professors criticize the focus on “empirical science, technical thinking, merit, and individualism” as the cause for the isolation of female engineers.

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Stanford “Gender Research” Director Declares Space Exploration To Be “Another Example of Male Entitlement”

as11-40-5875hreditWe previously We discussed recent publications by academics arguing that math is a form of white privilege and male domination.  Now, Marci Bianco, the communications manager of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, has found a new manifestation of patriarchy: space exploration.  In the article on NBC.com, Bianco declares that “the patriarchal race to colonize Mars is just another example of male entitlement.”  The efforts reveals a “Columbusing attitude.” The movie The Martian will now be renamed “The Patriarch.”

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NOAA Data Shows Arctic Ice At Its Lowest In 1500 Years

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We have been following the overwhelming evidence of drastic climate change, but few studies are as striking as the most report from NOAA’s Arctic research program.  The annual Arctic Report Card  that we have reached the highest loss of Arctic ice in 1500 years. Recently discussed the controversial statements of Administration officials like Energy Secretary Rick Perry on the U.S. offering a better future through fossil fuels.  These studies show a potentially catastrophic future as our climate continues to change exponentially.

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NASA Continues To Rack Up “Firsts,” Including “Heat Shield Rock” Found On Mars

 

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As many of you know, I love the NASA site and all things associated with space exploration.  In that vein, I had to share this photo of the first meteorite found on another planet.  I could come up with a better name than “Heat Shield Rock” (like Rocky McRock Face or something) but those NASA people are a bit literal.  There is a stark beauty of such objects, hardened and shaped by billions of years. I also still get a thrill of being able to see these pictures from another world.  While this picture was taken in 2015, there are some new pictures that are truly record breaking in terms of distance below.  These images should remind the public of the tremendous breakthroughs being made by NASA and its partners with limited funding, including significant cuts.  Indeed, as Trump pushes to make the International Space Station a private or corporate effort, we need to keep in mind the windfall of new information that has come with each of these programs.

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