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A Not-So-Simple Question: Why Do We Laugh?

Robert Provine, Doctor of Laughology
Science • Views: 23,530

Vimeo

Laughter is universal, but we know very little about the reasons we do it. Dr. Robert Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for 20 years, and has come to surprising conclusions about how we operate as human beings.

For more on the health benefits of laughter, visit: theatlantic.com

To learn more about Dr. Provine’s research, read his latest book, Curious Behavior: bit.ly

Finally: a Truly Fair Representative Climate Change Debate From John Oliver

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Science • Views: 21,250

YouTube

John Oliver beautifully illustrates the disparity between climate change “skeptics” and the scientific community, with help from a special guest.

Stunning New NASA Image: Uranus Seen From Saturn

Saturn’s neighbor seen from Cassini for the first time
Science • Views: 15,937
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (click to enlarge)

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft features a blue planet, but unlike the view from July 19, 2013 (PIA17172) that featured our home planet, this blue orb is Uranus, imaged by Cassini for the first time.

Uranus is a pale blue in this natural color image because its visible atmosphere contains methane gas and few aerosols or clouds. Methane on Uranus — and its sapphire-colored sibling, Neptune — absorbs red wavelengths of incoming sunlight, but allows blue wavelengths to escape back into space, resulting in the predominantly bluish color seen here. Cassini imaging scientists combined red, green and blue spectral filter images to create a final image that represents what human eyes might see from the vantage point of the spacecraft.

Uranus has been brightened by a factor of 4.5 to make it more easily visible. The outer portion of Saturn’s A ring, seen at bottom right, has been brightened by a factor of two. The bright ring cutting across the image center is Saturn’s narrow F ring.

Uranus was approximately 28.6 astronomical units from Cassini and Saturn when this view was obtained. An astronomical unit is the average distance from Earth to the sun, equal to 93,000,000 miles (150,000,000 kilometers).

A Fun Animation Explaining a Huge Concept: How Big Is the Universe?

Pretty danged big
Science • Views: 16,705

Vimeo

Beakus were commissioned to create three animated films that explain key concepts about our universe, with humour helping to explain the ‘almost’ unexplainable! Director Amaël Isnard also designed the films.

In ‘How Big Is The Universe?’ ROG astronomer Liz shows us the expanding nature of the Universe and how this affects the light reaching us from distant galaxies, some of which will remain forever hidden from our view.

Creationists Demand Airtime on ‘Cosmos’ for the Sake of Balance

“Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen”
Science • Views: 17,452

For some reason, they can’t understand why real scientists aren’t giving them equal time to spread their inane nonsense.

SoundCloud

Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis and the Creation Museum appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to criticize Cosmos for not providing airtime for Creationism adherents. When Mefferd asked if Cosmos will “ever give a Creationist any time,” Faulkner responded by lamenting that “Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all.”

Mefferd agreed that the show isn’t being very fair and balanced: “Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed.”

It’s almost like Cosmos wants to talk about real science..

More at Right Wing Watch: Creationists Demand Airtime on ‘Cosmos’ for the Sake of Balance

Amazing Video Preview From NASA of What’s Next for the Cassini Spacecraft Orbiting Saturn

We’re going inside the D ring
Science • Views: 14,507

YouTube

Video: Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson - Update: Catholic League Defends Inquisition

MOAR SCIENCE
Science • Views: 19,834

Click to open the videos:

Comedy Central

Comedy Central

UPDATE at 3/11/14 1:16:22 pm

Any show that can get the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to defend the Inquisition is OK in my book: “COSMOS” SMEARS CATHOLICISM - Catholic League.

At first I thought he was just going to deny the Catholic Church had anything to do with the Inquisition, but no — he actually defends it as a force for “order and justice.”

The propagandists involved in this show, represented most conspicuously by Seth MacFarlane, told viewers last night that “the Roman Catholic Church maintained a system of courts known as the Inquisition and its sole purpose was to investigate and torment anyone who dared voice views that differed from theirs. And it wasn’t long before [Giordano] Bruno fell into the clutches of the thought police.”

The ignorance is appalling. “The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with [the Inquisition],” writes Dayton historian Thomas Madden. “One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition,” he says, “is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong.” Because the Inquisition brought order and justice where there was none, it actually “saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.” (His emphasis.)

As for Bruno, he was a renegade monk who dabbled in astronomy; he was not a scientist. There is much dispute about what really happened to him. As sociologist Rodney Strong puts it, he got into trouble not for his “scientific” views, but because of his “heretical theology involving the existence of an infinite number of worlds—a work based entirely on imagination and speculation.”

In short, MacFarlane, who is no stranger to the Catholic League, has once again shown his true colors.

Overnight Space Photo: The Glory of Saturn’s Rings

Spokes
Science • Views: 15,053

Among the interplay of Saturn’s shadow and rings, Mimas, which appears in the lower-right corner of the image, orbits Saturn as a set of the ever-intriguing spokes appear in the B ring (just to the right of center).

Scientists expect that spokes will soon cease to form as Saturn approaches northern equinox. The exact mechanism of spoke formation is still the subject of debate, but ring scientists do know that spokes no longer appear when the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky. It is believed that this has to do with the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming spokes. Thus, these may be some of the last spokes ever imaged by Cassini.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 146 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.

Ken Ham-Bill Nye Debate: Just One Point, Ken…

Science • Views: 13,810

YouTube

I’ve uploaded a piece about this on my Potholer54 Facebook page. Basically, I think it’s a mistake to share a public platform like this with Creationists. Unless they can be questioned directly, it is simply a forum to make equal speeches in equal time. And that gives Creationism legitimacy. You have to be very familiar with Creationist arguments to be able to anticipate and ambush them.

Pat Robertson: Young Earth Creationism is a “Joke”

Science • Views: 17,283

Pat does disagree with evolution “as it is currently presented” (whatever that means), but at least he acknowledges the idiocy of Young Earth Creationism. So there’s a teensy weensy bit of hope.

“Let’s face it, there was a bishop [Ussher] who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years,” Robertson said. “There ain’t no way that’s possible. To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.”

He continued: “We’ve got to be realistic that the dating of Bishop Ussher just doesn’t comport with anything that is found in science and you can’t just totally deny the geological formations that are out there.”

YouTube

More: Even Pat Robertson Thinks Young Earth Creationism Is a ‘Joke’

Related:
Pat Robertson, Science Guy

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Randall Gross
Tommy Emmanuel and Janis Ian at the Philadelphia Folk Festival
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Escapist: Maniac Cop
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A Lizard’s Regenerating Tail
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Laughing Gas
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 Frank says:

Now imagine a Moebius vortex inside a spherical constant, and you've got my cosmology. -- 1992