David Almandsmith

Facts and the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Reasonable and Science Accepting Folks,

Is it still 2020?  Is this the 42nd of December?  It has been a rough start to the new year that everybody was so hopeful about. 

Here at the SciSchmooze we focus on science, reason, and critical thinking.  Many people are struggling with what happened last week in Washington DC.  I think we have been watching a corollary of what happened for years and denying the importance of it.  The "freedom" to deny facts has morphed into something really crazy.  Many people have been able to deny facts and let that affect other people's lives to the detriment of us all. 

Consider our own home, Earth.  Over 2000 years ago Pythagoras and Aristotle figured out that the earth must be round. Eratosthenes even came up with a reasonable estimate of the circumference of the earth!

Something Old, Something New with the SciSchmooze

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Let me welcome you to 2021, dear Reader,
(In case you were wondering, 2021 is not a prime. It is the product of 43 and 47.)
I cannot welcome you to the “present” however, because as soon as i greet you at the present, it is already in the past. ¿Sophistry? Perhaps, but perspectives of time are inspirational among poets, numerous among philosophers, and contentious among physicists. (That was Sabine Hossenfelder’s video. Because i lived in Germany, my mnemonic for her surname is “Hasenfelder,” which means “fields of rabbits.”) If you really want to take a deeper-dive on this topic, check out this article or

Happy Convergence with the Sci Schmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Science Aficionados and General Lovers of Science as well,

I don't really need to say anything about what an incredible year this has been.  It has been so incredible that this will be the last SciSchmooze of the year!  (We are going to take a break the week after christmas since there is only one event listed between then and next year!)

Normally I would go on about science and society laced with lots of links.  I'm going to be a bit more straightforward this time.  Needless to say bioscience has lead the way this year and we are now hopefully on the brink of winning the Covid wars

There are five events left on our calendar, four are about astronomy, and two are about the Great Conjunction!  First off, watch 

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down with the SciSchmooze

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Greetings fellow travelers,
Thumbs Up
From the DNA sequence for building a protein, we know exactly what the amino acid sequence of the protein will be. However, it is largely the shape of the protein that determines its functionality with all its hydrophobic, hydrophilic, electron-rich, and electron-poor sites - and the functionalities of proteins are truly amazing. The problem of predicting the protein shape from its amino acid sequence has stymied scientists for decades. Starting twenty years ago, the effort to predict how proteins ‘fold’ (or ‘misfold’ leading to disease) as they are assembled from the ribosome was handed over to the public - to anyone who agreed to share time on their home computer to help. The Stanford-based project is named

Giving Thanks and Vaccine Explainer in SciSchmooze

from the desk of Meenakshi Prabhune

Hello Sci-Schmoozers,

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Holidays are unusual this year, to say the least. It sucks to be away from family and avoid those big get-togethers we yearn for all year but there is also a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for the efforts of frontline health care workers who have been tirelessly treating patients this year. The resilience that people have shown in these trying times is laudable; no matter how bad the situation, there are those few people around us who keep going and motivate you to keep going. Last, but not the least, I am grateful for the hard work that scientists put into research to develop vaccines in record time—exactly the positive news we needed to end the year.

The results of Phase 3 vaccine trials from Pfizer and

Thanksgiving, Rock and Roll, and the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again Science fans!

There's quite a variety of things to talk about today.  Let's start with Rock and Roll! 

Well, not exactly, but indirectly. Climate change is having an effect on guitars.  You probably never think about the wood that's used in making musical instruments, but climate change is causing a shortage of swamp ash, the type of wood used in Fender guitars.  Rock and Roll will never sound quite the same, all because of more historic flooding along the Mississippi River.

You should not take anything for granted these days.  Take north.  Yes, the direction north.  The magnetic north pole is moving quickly, and has left Canada, headed for Siberia!

In the cont

The SciSchmooze Wants To Know

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Fans of Data and Evidence, aka Science and Reason,

Just to remind you and make sure that new readers know…   I am not a trained or certified (whatever that means) scientist.  I grew up in a time when science was the ultimate arbiter of truth for most people I knew and is for the people I know now.  Nor am I a historian or philosopher.  I'm just someone who is trying to make sense out of how we know and celebrate what we know about this amazing universe.  The philosophy of science keeps many of us grounded in understanding many things.

SciSchmoozing with Uncertainty

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Water availability on the Moon?

It has been known for years that water ice exists in polar craters on the Moon. Sunlight never reaches some places in those craters and (surprisingly to me) ice there has not sublimated away into space. Now a study from the University of Colorado posits that ice could exist all over the surface in tiny nooks and crannies. And then, a NASA study confirmed finding water on the Moon on sunlit surfaces. Uh. Allow me to introduce a skeptical take on this. Phil Plait of “Bad Astronomy” suspects that the spectral signature of water found by the NASA study is best explained by

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