Water is not self-conscious

July 27th, 2006

Ok, yes, I am a skeptic. But would someone please tell me how this is not just frozen water? Why don’t people go to a chemistry textbook before making websites and going on book-tours? Yes, the water crystals are pretty. No, polluted water doesn’t crystalize the same. I don’t understand why this is so amazing. I am ready for the hate mail. Last skeptic standing is a monkey’s uncle.

From the FAQ:

“The misssion of water is to act as a multidimensional transporter, carrying out our thoughts and whatever is in front of them.”

Politicians are NOT scientists

July 25th, 2006

Urg… the whole stem cell bill issue makes me want to throw up. Here is an article from Wired correcting a few statements made by politicians in the course of debating the three bills that went up for vote last week. I swear politicians make me sick.

Mormons on the side of science

July 20th, 2006

It seems the fight for science in education is not yet over. Utah is currently considering a bill that would basically require teachers to “disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer” when introducing evolution in science classes. This is a similar idea to the Dover, Pennsylvania case that was recently shot down by the legal system, and many other bills that states around the country are still considering. Does it never end?

Well, there’s no end in sight yet, bit it might be a changing playing field. In Utah the majority of people subscribe to the Mormon faith, the Church of Latter Day Saints, which doesn’t have much of a problem with science or even evolution for that matter. However, passage of this bill would send the message that Utah is pro-intelligent design. That would be a funny event because Mormon’s don’t believe in ID, they have different beliefs entirely. So, Mormon Senators are beginning to wake up to the idea that passing this bill might not be such a good idea… for their religion.

Now, another religiously based bill is also up for debate, which will promote prayer in schools. That’s something that a lot of religious people would like to see happen, but according to an article the NT Times the Mormon lawmakers are starting to realize that their religion is in a minority in this country, and that by allowing Mormon prayer in their schools they are promoting regional religous majorities having prayer in their schools. That wouldn’t do at all now, would it? Little Mormon Bobby going to school in a Protestant district, and having to say Protestant prayers?

University of Utah Professor Kirk Jowers had this to say:

“It was kind of a realization that if you push to have prayer in school, then outside of Utah, the prayer would not typically be a Mormon’s prayer, so is that road you want go down?”

These two bills go hand in hand in a way. Although, people say that the evolution bill is about science, not religion, it comes down to religion in the end. And, a minority religion may wind up on the side of science inadvertently by simply refusing to promote a view that goes against their religion (i.e. intelligent design). The more that these miorities in the national religious scene realize that the zealots within the majority Christian Right are going to eventually affect their freedoms to worship/believe as they like with sneaky tactics like playing on religious sentiment to get bills passed into laws, the sooner science as it is taught in schools will be free of the politics game.

Ah, yes… The Self-Control

July 14th, 2006

According to this article, the science of how we develop could go a long way to inform educational policies and programs.Just think… we could have schools that actually work to teach our children rather than beat them into submission and underachievement.

Oh, and if that weren’t enough to keep you busy thinking. Here’s something else to do with your time. I think I’ve just about got it perfected.

Laws for the Lawless

July 12th, 2006

OK. So, here’s an article from MSN that I found interesting. It brings up the fact that our lawmakers are in the process of rewriting the Telecommunications Act to include rules and regs for the internet, which up to this point has been relatively ignored. Mainly the new act will have a lot to do with how much companies, and which companies, can charge us for using bandwidth, taxes for internet commerce, and the freedoms associated with copying information found and bought on the internet. I think that the ideas that our lawmakers and lobbyists are pondering are well worth understanding, as they will eventually affect us all. You are reading this via the internet aren’t you?

Wikipedia has some great information on the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

If you are interested in what the bill/amendment that is being debated actually looks like, I found a link to a pdf on ZD Net, in a very well written article about the Net Neutrality issue that is a significant part of the bill.

Dude… Check it!

July 6th, 2006

MC Hawking Rawks! I LOVE this video (Click on the watch this movie link on the right).

Sorry to those of you who would rather not navigate to a new page. NewGrounds has some code that takes over any embed you try to do, and puts a way too big box in the middle of your page that doesn’t fit right, and looks awful. So, instead of having a nice clean embedded link to the video itself here on my site, you have to navigate elsewhere and click lots of buttons and look at lots of popup ads. Grrr. The video is still great though.

Why Does Everything Have to be Political?

July 6th, 2006

This is from an email that I received recently:

Remember that Stanford scientific ³genius² Paul Ehrlich and his prophecies
of ³the end is near?² Well a funny thing happened on the way to disaster.
We¹re still …you never know. Right?

Now another ³scientific genius² has materialized in the person of Al Gore,
member of the lowest third of his class at Harvard. Like Michael Moore, the
believers yearn, nay, are desperate, to report on such matters as this:

³Because of melting ice caps and glaciers, “The End Is Near!” But melting
Arctic ice won’t raise sea levels any more than the melting ice in your
drink makes your glass overflow.

³The fundamentalist doom-mongers ignore scientists who say the effects of
global warming may be benign. Harvard astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas says
added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may actually benefit the world
because more CO2 helps plants grow. Warmer winters would give farmers a
longer harvest season.

³Why don’t we hear about this part of the global warming argument?

“It’s the money!” says Dr. Baliunas. “Twenty-five billion dollars in
government funding has been spent since 1990 to research global warming. If
scientists and researchers were coming out releasing reports that global
warming has little to do with man, and most to do with just how the planet
works, there wouldn’t be as much money to study it.”

³And the politicians would have one less excuse to take control of our

Quotes excerpted from an article by Jon Stossel.

I feel very strongly about the misinformation that is being disseminated regarding the science behind global warming. So, I’m posting my response to the email.

Several problems with the excerpts:

1) true, ice floating in water will not raise water levels because ice actually takes up more space than water. So, ice floating in the form of icebergs, etc. in the Arctic will not affect water levels. However, water in the form of ice on land will run-off into the oceans when it melts, and add water to the water, thus increasing the total amount of water. The water level will therefore increase. There is a LOT of ice on land in Greenland and in Antarctica, which could significantly affect the levels of our oceans. Current research shows Greenland’s glaciers to be melting at a significantly increasing rate.

2) So-called doom-mongers aren’t ignoring those other scientists, rather the scientific evidence on the side of global warming is becoming overwhelming. Sallie Baliunas is but one skeptic. True that she is an astophysicist, but I don’t know what that has to do with plant biology. While it may seem logical that an increase in CO2 would be beneficial to plants, recent studies have shown that increases in CO2 actually hamper the ability of plants to respire. They grow less, and convert less CO2 to O2 as CO2 increases. I challenge Jon Stossel to write a less biased atricle by talking to more scientists who are actually on the forefront of atmospheric and biological research. He might actually learn something.

3) The statement “warmer winters would give farmers a longer growing season” is a fallacy. Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperatures worldwide. It makes no prediction that there will be longer, warmer winters or even longer warmer summers in any one place. There is no way to estimate what will happen to the areas in which farmers grow crops currently. The midwest could end up with massive glaciers, thus putting a lot of farmers out of work. There is no way to know what will happen to the climate, or the day to day temerature changes for that matter, in any one region on the planet for certain at this point in time.

4) Governemtal science grants are given to people with worthwhile project ideas and hypotheses. Scientists are publishing the results of their studies no matter what conclusions are to be made from the data. The government is not pushing scientists to publish pro-global warming papers. In fact, most governmental actions have tried to cover up or discredit the mounting scientific evidence that global warming is in fact becoming a serious issue. If anything, the oil and coal lobbies have a lot more money invested in the outcome of this debate than the scientists.

5) I have a question to those who argue against human involvement in global warming. So what if we aren’t fully responsible? But, what if our actions could mitigate the effects of the warming that is occurring? What if we can do something now to preserve the earth as we know it for future generations? Shouldn’t we do something if we can?

We are a part of this planet, and there are so many humans (with numbers still growing) that our actions do effect it. It is egotism and greed that have blinded so many of us against the probablility that we are damaging the only planet we have to live on.

This is not a political issue, or at least it shouldn’t be. This is a human issue. People like John Stossel ought to be ashamed of themselves for spreading unscientific myths in order to propagate divisive political discord.

So, It’s Only a Rat

July 5th, 2006

Cool study published in the Journal of Neuroscience… scientists have used a drug that stimulates D3 Dopamine receptors in the brain to produce neurogenesis (that’s new cell BIRTH!) in the substantia nigra of rats with Parkinson’s-like disease. The new cells went on to make functional connections to other areas of the brain and allow the rats to regain abilities that they had lost due to their disease. The study suggests that drugs currently used to treat Parkinson’s in humans could possibly be manipulated to result in a similar effect in humans. If true, it would do away with the need for invasive implantation of embryonic stem cells as a treatment because the drugs would stimulate endogenous stem cells (those lying dormant in the brain) to jump into action. This then would probably reduce patients’ reliance on drugs like L-DOPA, which lose the efficacy over time. The researchers are looking for similar drug effects in other neurodegenerative dieases, like Alzheimers, as well.

It’s exciting to think that one day we may be able to reverse degenerative diseases by simply stimulating the appropriate receptor, and letting the body do the rest of the work naturally.

Happy 4th of July

July 4th, 2006

As everyone heads out to their barbecues and softball games, I’d just like to wish you a safe and happy 4th. Maybe we could all benefit from a moment of remembrance today: remembering in this time of war and revocation of freedoms the basic tenets on which our government was founded, and the life that was sacrificed for those freedoms once held so sacred to now be so taken for granted.

More writing…

July 4th, 2006

Here is the link to an article I had published this past month in ‘The Physiologist’, the American Physiological Society’s quarterly publication. It’s nice to see things in print. Hopefully, much more will be captured in ink as my career progresses.