Relativity of the Velocity of Light

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This paper was published in the journal Physics Essays on March 19, 2012. Here is a link to the paper.


Obama Wants 3% of GDP to Science

Monday, April 27, 2009

Absolutely love this.

Absolutely right.


EPA Declares Carbon Dioxide a Threat to Public Health

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here.

Gee, I hope they’ll let me breathe.


Older Men, Reproduction, and Resentment

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It’s a beautiful day in New York so I’m not going to write a long (or, many will argue, well thought-out) post for this issue, but I will just say I am consistently amazed at the resentment among privileged, educated women at men generally, and, I’m guessing, at their husbands specifically.

Reading the New York Times Magazine and a piece within by Lisa Belkin, essentially calling for men to be riven by the same age and time pressure as women when in comes to reproduction. She cites several studies that promote the idea that older men have children with more problems – lower IQs, autism, etc. Assuming that the studies rigorously controlled for other factors (which is always a legitimate concern in studies of this kind) like environment and mothers’ age, correlation doesn’t imply causation.

It seems more likely to me that older dads are simply too tired to supply the extra stimulation to boost their childrens’ IQs by two or three points.

In any case, Belkin goes off on an embittered riff about men having “sell by” dates and hoping that women will now begin to judge them in the same way women are judged.

Good luck, sister.

And while you’re at it, quit complaining. The choices of the modern woman are what women have been fighting for for decades, right? Furthermore, she isn’t really at war with men or the culture, she’s at war with biology, but doesn’t seem to realize it.

Reproduction is the purpose of life. If you don’t want to have kids, don’t have them. But if you do, quit complaining. The world has had enough of these latter-day feminists whining about the burdens of motherhood. She writes of the stereotype of “women eager to settle down and men as reluctant” as though their were no truth in it; as though women are not the primary drivers of our reproductive dyad. It’s just silly.

Lisa, women – you want babies and are anatomically constructed to grow and nurture them. Get used to it already. In fact, revel in it. It’s the point of your existence – not, and this is true of men as well, whatever pathetic career you pursue until you die and everyone forgets you ever existed.

Even if it turns out to be true that sperm loses some potency as men age, it does not change the sexual dynamic. Men can reproduce well beyond the age when women can. Fecundity is sexually attractive. Ipso facto, men are attractive to the opposite sex for longer than women are. That’s why women go for the “silver-haired sex symbols,” and why old ladies can’t get a date.

What can you do? Life sucks.

One can only imagine what its like to live with a woman like this. Carefully charting up chores and duties to make sure they’re split 50/50 and resenting it the whole way; seething about breastfeeding and having the primary role as the caregiver because she is “mommy.”

Eeesh. I pity her poor husband.


Tunneling Nanotubes

Friday, November 21, 2008

From New Scientist:

HAD Amin Rustom not messed up, he would not have stumbled upon one of the biggest discoveries in biology of recent times. It all began in 2000, when he saw something strange under his microscope. A very long, thin tube had formed between two of the rat cells that he was studying. It looked like nothing he had ever seen before…

…At the time, it was not clear whether these structures were anything more than a curiosity seen only in peculiar circumstances. Since their pioneering paper appeared, however, other groups have started finding nanotubes in all sorts of places, from nerve cells to heart cells. And far from being a mere curiosity, they seem to play a major role in anything from how our immune system responds to attacks to how damaged muscle is repaired after a heart attack.

Essentially, these nanotubes allows animal cell interiors at some distance to “communicate” so that they act can in concert. This had previously been thought nearly impossible as cell communication seemed to occur almost entirely by releasing chemicals that can be detected by receptors on the surface of other cells.

There are potentially enormous implications for this discovery, not least in immunology. For instance, there is speculation that HIV may avoid an immunological response by traveling through nanotubes. Another fascinating aspect is this:

Using fluorescent proteins, the team also discovered that relatively large cellular structures, or organelles, could move from one cell to another through the nanotubes.

You have to understand the basic structure of a cell to grasp what this means. The human cell is a like micro-machine that generates it’s own energy and functions like a little organism, producing proteins to perform all sorts of activities including making new cells. To be able to pass an organelle from one cell to another is something like (but not quite) one human being being able to pass a kidney to another human being without the fuss of surgery.

Cell biology and immunology are among the most fascinating areas in science. I am not practiced enough to write about these topics at length, but if you want to understand how beautifully strange and complex life is, cell biology and immunology is a great place to start.


Understanding the Large Hadron Collider

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This op-ed from Brian Greene is about as close any mere mortal is likely to get to understanding the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider.

The bottom line is that scientists may be able to resolve some of the deepest mysteries of the universe.

And that’s a good thing.


Palin, GOP Exploit Child with Special Needs

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Right-Wing Nut blogosphere and the McCain campaign is lit up because Biden suggested that if they really cared about children with a “developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect” they’d support stem cell research.

Continuing the Christianist crusade against science, Sarah Palin does not.

And this after Sarah Palin dragged her four month-old up on stage at the Republican National Convention under the hot lights and amidst a deafening din. That child, special needs or not, should have been in bed. Period. But the opportunity to show Palin as a tough mother was too good to pass up. Would anything have been lost except a photo op if, say, Trig and Todd were back at the hotel?

Of course not. They probably would have gained something by explaining why he wasn’t there.

Beyond that, among the first words out of her mouth were a pander to the parents of special needs children. Like McCain milking his POW experience to such a degree that it makes my ex-Marine father cringe, Palin/McCain will exploit any shameless opportunity for an advantage.

These people mean not only to stand in the way of scientific progress, but they are actively working to put America at a competitive disadvantage in one of the most important fields of the 21st century – biotechnology – all while exploiting a little boy with Down’s Syndrome for political advantage.

The new low in politics is Sarah Palin and the Palin/McCain ticket.