Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Hello and a belated Happy Trip Around the Sun,

I was thinking how much I was looking forward to the end of ’23 and having a fresh start on a new year. Well that didn’t bring a noticeable change in how things look around the world. Many innocent people are dying at the hands of nature or at the hands of other people. The horror of the capacity of humans to do so much harm and inflict so much suffering on others will never do anything but bring sorrow to me.

I’ve been away from the keyboard and the SciSchmooze for for longer than usual and there is so much to share. The coming year will be full of new discoveries, challenges, and achievements. One thing about science is it is never really done. It seems that science and technology (applied science) never rest and constantly offer new insights and solutions to questions and problems. They often bring new questions and problems as well.

Consider the The Story of Plastic. It’s a pretty new material in our world, it has been around less than 150 or so years. It was first intended to replace the ivory in billiard balls. Nylon was first used a few years before WWII. During WWII the use of plastic increased more than 3 times. When I was born it was the new wonder material to be used in the home as well as industry. Those seem like pretty naieve days. Now we not only seem to have too much of it, Humanity can’t recycle its way out of consumption problems. Though very small, microplastics is really getting much attention and it does seem like we have a severe problem. One might say plastics are everywhere! Five new places scientists have uncovered plastics. It will take an immense effort to get them under control if it is even possible and the worst of predictions become reality. Meet The Plastic-Eating Worms

One of many more challenges we seem to be having to face are The Dangers Of Ultra-Processed Foods. I can’t stress enough how important science education is becoming for everyone to be able to understand and address the challenges ahead. I hope many more opportunities like this become common… If you are a Marin County student in grades 9-12 If you know of similar opportunities in the area or elsewhere please share them far and wide.

I think the opportunities we have here are often taken for granted. Bob Siederer keeps on loading up the Bay Area Science calendar with great opportunities we have in the bay area. Here are a few that I think are worth your attention in the next week or so…

Are we really that different from other living creatures we share the planet with? Where Do Living Creatures Get Their Sense Of Rhythm? Here’s A Compelling Theory to Explain a Key Trait of Modern Humans as well. We humans could learn a lot from paying attention to how and what we do while sharing with some of the other creatures. Consider these…

Evolution Led Humans into a Trap

The Nuclear Energy Dilemma: Climate Savior or Existential Threat?

“Mother nature isn’t messing around.”

Climate Change Lessons From 2023

I’m sorry that the word didn’t get out enough for this but hopefully there will be more chances. I can’t recommend Citizen Brain with Josh Kornbluth enough. It was shown this week only, at Club Fugazi in San Francisco. It was a great take on brain health and should be seen by many more people. You should also check out Creative Brain Week Dublin 2023. It was “a heady mix of World-Leading Neuroscientists, Educationalists, Health Policy Makers, Artists and Innovators exploring the brain and creativity.” There are a lot of resources and presentations to be relished.

Here’s a bit of info to think about if you are concerned about avalanches in Tahoe or elsewhere: What causes innocent-looking snow slopes to collapse? A physicist and skier explains, with tips for surviving

Iceland has been “hot” lately. Check out Reykjanes multiview – Live from Iceland This is from 2 years ago but it is beautiful and terrifying at the same time… Geldingadalur’s Fagradalsfjall volcano

Since we have all survived 2023 and some are “drying out” a bit, I offer this up to all of you.
Anuses are like martinis. Some like ’em dry and some don’t.

Have a great week learning more cool new stuff and working towards a better 2024.
herb masters

Nothing could be more obvious than that the earth is stable and unmoving, and that we are in the center of the universe. Modern Western science takes its beginning from the denial of this common sense axiom.”

I beg this committee to recognize that knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up, it increases by diffusion, and grows by dispersion. Knowledge and information cannot be quantitatively assessed, as a percentage of the G.N.P. Any willful cut in our resources of knowledge is an act of self-destruction.”

Daniel J. Boorstin

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