Well here we are on the verge of our shortest day of the year. Of course the day remains essentially the same but the period of daylight is what is really getting to the minimum! I think we all think about time, one way or another. It's sort of like money, there's never enough! Set aside so
My dad remembered when folk in his town got around on horse-drawn wagons and young men would gather for ‘drag races’ - astride their favorite horses. A couple of richer folk bought unreliable automobiles that reliably got stuck in the mud on the unpaved roads. “Get a horse!” was the taunt of everybody else. The last 110 years has brought nearly incomprehensible changes - at least to first-world countries.
Did you know that today is the anniversary of the first publication of "On The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin? It was published in 1859. Still controversial in some circles today, it presented the theory of evolution. Today it is often misused by those who don't understand how the word theory applies to scientific research.
I have a lot of articles to point you towards, but first let's look at my picks for this week:
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the need for museums (I would include schools in this as well) to stand up to bad, fake, false, or pseudo-science as well as support, promote, and teach real science. I did get some responses to what I mentioned. I received one in particular that really hit home. It was from the son of Tom and Marlene Dickerman, both docents at the California Academy of Sciences that I was privileged to work with. I think it is a better statement than any I have made. So here it is…
I had discussed with both my parents, for quite some time, how the CAS (California Academy of Sciences) needs a permanent exhibit explaining how discern provable fact from conjecture, fable, and (for fans of the musical The Book of Mormon) metaphor. With mom on the evolution cart, and dad discussing climate change, each saw their share of debate on topics which are widely considered indisputable.
There is a resistance to scientific acceptance which is worryingly strong in the US compared to other parts of the world, but is hardly new. Great researchers have been jailed, tortured, and killed over concepts we accept as obvious today. Worse, many today begin biased against science, viewing it as the anti
Robots and drones are perennially in the news. Two of them caught my interest this week. This video of a person-sized robot has been viewed about 8 million times. This microswimmer is smaller than a human cell and is remotely controlled; it is aimed using a magnetic field and is propelled by ultrasound. Impressively, technology marches on.
If you watch TV, you’ve seen slick ads by Big Pharma and by the fossil fuel industry priming us to be more forgiving of their avarice. I stumbled upon this slick ad while browsing the Internet, but it is from NASA. I’m guessing they are preparing us for upcoming higher taxes for
This past week has brought us another reminder of our fragile existence here on the planet. The Sonoma County fires and the PG&E blackouts should serve as a reminder that we should all have disaster kits that are up to date. Our thoughts are with those affected by the fires, blackouts, and evacuations. Several events, including the North Bay Discovery Days event for the Bay Area Science Festival were canceled because of the fires. Always check the weblink in our listings for any last minute changes or cancellations.
I've got a lot of interesting articles to share with you, but first, here are my picks for events this week:
There are not one but two festivals this coming week for your enjoyment.
The first is the Art + Tech Festival which combines art and science for a variety of events and workshops held this coming weekend. See our listings for pricing and 20% off discount codes.
The second is the annual Bay Area Science Festival, with over 40 different events taking place starting Friday and running through the grand finale Discovery Days at Oracle Park on November 2.
While we're big fans of the Bay Area Science Festival, I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed in the event schedule this year. Almost all of them take place in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley. Only one is in San Jose. The number of lectures is quite limited and most of those are regular series events that seem to be re-branded for the Festival instead of being something special. As usual there are many tours, but the majority of them only deal in the biological and genetic sciences. Gone are the trivia contests and comedic events of past years (they weren't part of last year's festival either). The number of adult-oriented events is limited, which is great for kids, but not so great for adults. I'm not saying you should not go, just that I hope
There is increasing evidence that a ninth planet existsway out there orbiting our Sun. (Apologies to Pluto, formerly the ninth planet but now considered to be a Kuiper Belt object.) Even if Planet 9 were five times the mass of Earth, as is estimated, it would be very difficult to find with our telescopes. Were it the same density as Earth, its diameter would be 1.7 times that of Earth, or 21,800 km (13,500 miles). A pair of astronomers suggest that we should not rule out the possibility that Planet 9 could be a primordia