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Richard Muller: I Was Wrong on Climate Change

Yale Climate Forum - Peter Sinclair
Science • Views: 25,591

I’m thinking back to all the climate trolls who used to throw this guy in my face when arguing with them…

YouTube

Richard Muller founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project after declaring himself skeptical about climate change. He was funded in part by the Koch Brothers.
He found out what other scientists have known for decades. The Earth is warming, and we’re doing it.

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Mind-Bending 4K Video of the Andromeda Galaxy: The Largest Photo Ever Taken

Makes you feel small, don’t it?
Science • Views: 22,477

YouTube

You’ll leave this video with a sense of how unimaginably vast the universe is. This isn’t CGI, and it isn’t animation, it’s the largest photograph of the universe ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope — and it’s just a small portion of the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbor.

Watch and be amazed. (1440p and 2160p versions are included.)

First & Last photo by Cory Poole: facebook.com

Super-high resolution image of Andromeda from Hubble (NASA/ESA): spacetelescope.org

Music is ‘Koda - The Last Stand’: soundcloud.com

Space is crazy.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Will Host New Science-Oriented Late Night Talk Show

More of this, please
Science • Views: 23,668

What a great idea — a late night talk/variety show dedicated to science, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to this one.

“Cosmos allowed us to share the awesome power of the universe with a global audience in ways that we never thought possible,” said Tyson. “To be able to continue to spread wonder and excitement through Star Talk, which is a true passion project for me, is beyond exciting. And National Geographic Channel is the perfect home as we continue to explore the universe.”

“This is kind of low-risk, I think, for National Geographic,” Tyson told the crowd at the Television Critics Association press tour. “Star Talk exists as a thriving podcast right now.”

Star Talk will indeed follow a similar format to Tyson’s podcast, which marries science and popular culture and feature interviews with celebrities, comedians and scientists. He’s still sorting through all of the elements that he’ll add to the television iteration, but he does intend to give Bill Nye a platform for a minute-long rant in each show, much as Andy Rooney had for many years on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

A Timelapse of the Surface of the Sun in Stunning 4K Video

Hot solar action
Science • Views: 31,719

YouTube

One of the most amazing videos I’ve seen this year is this absolutely stunning timelapse of the wildest frontier, the surface of our Sun, composed of images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. What you’re looking at is actually a gigantic self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction. The center of our solar system is not a very peaceful place.

If you’re lucky enough to have a large Retina or other high resolution display, check out the 4K version in full screen mode — the detail is mind-blowing.

(h/t: Randall Gross.)

The surface of the sun from October 14th to 30th, 2014, showing sunspot AR 2192, the largest sunspot of the last two solar cycles (22 years). During this time sunspot AR 2191 produced six X-class and four M-class solar flares. The animation shows the sun in the ultraviolet 304 ångström wavelength, and plays at a rate of 52.5 minutes per second. It is composed of more than 17,000 images, 72 GB of data produced by the solar dynamics observatory (sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov) + (helioviewer.org). This animation has been rendered in 4K, and resized to the Youtube maximum resolution of 3840×2160. The animation has been rotated 180 degrees so that south is “up”. The audio is the ‘heartbeat’ of the sun, processed from SOHO HMI data by Alexander G. Kosovichev. Image data courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.”Image processing and animation by James Tyrwhitt-Drake. To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email licensing@storyful.com

In Which My Tweet About #Ebola and Evolution Goes Viral

Creationists get upset
Science • Views: 42,162
Image via Shutterstock

I’m going to kick off the week by humble-bragging about this off-handed tweet I posted over the weekend that has now gone viral (ironic considering the subject), with more than 7200 retweets as I write this.

This really touched a nerve, I guess, and I’ve now received hundreds of replies (possibly over a thousand, I haven’t counted), many of them from creationists.

One common theme in replies from conservatives is that “not all conservatives” are creationists or deny the science of evolution — but while it may be true that not every single conservative is a creationist, for years every poll on the subject has shown that a majority of Republicans not only disbelieve evolution, they’re hard core young Earth creationists.

(And by the way, my tweet didn’t even say that “all conservatives” are creationists, but it sure upset the ones who are.)

Two other common responses from creationists:

  1. We don't deny micro-evolution, just macro-evolution. If Ebola evolves, it's only micro-evolution.
  2. If Ebola ever becomes airborne, that won't be evolution -- it will be mutation. That's different.

Both of these talking points are well-worn creationist dodges, and they’re both bogus.

1. While biologists do use the terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution,” they both refer to the same well-understood mechanism of evolution; the only difference is the scale, both in time and in size. Micro-evolution can take place much more quickly, because microorganisms breed much faster and have much shorter life spans.

2. The “mutation isn’t evolution” talking point is another nonsensical dodge, because biologists know that mutations are one of the most important mechanisms through which evolution occurs. If Ebola does ever become airborne (a very remote possibility, according to those who’ve studied the disease), it will most likely be due to a mutation that enables the virus to adapt better to its environment — leading to a general trend of evolution within the virus population, by means of natural selection.

I’ve answered these talking points just for reference, because unfortunately the people who spout them are impervious to logic, and simply don’t care about the truth of these issues. They’re rejecting the science of evolution because of an atavistic fear that it renders their cherished belief systems irrelevant, not out of logic — so they’ll never be convinced by logical arguments.

Also for reference, I highly recommend TalkOrigin’s Index to Creationist Claims, an exhaustive list of the many deceptive, false, and/or misleading talking points creationists use in these kinds of arguments (no matter how many times they’ve been debunked).

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

Robert Provine, Doctor of Laughology
Science • Views: 23,773

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: 21,555

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: 16,622
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: 17,066

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: 17,917

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

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 Frank says:

Kid's heads are filled with so many nonfacts that when they get out of school they're totally unprepared to do anything. They can't read, they can't write, they can't think. Talk about child abuse. The U.S. school system as a whole qualifies. -- Discussing the state of the education system in America - Playboy magazine, April 1993.