From commentary

THE RNA TIE CLUB AND LESSONS TO BE LEARNED IN HOW TO WIN A NOBEL PRIZE

– FROM THE ARCHIVE – (It’s Nobel season! Please enjoy a few from our archive on this topic) As of November 2005, 776 Nobel Prizes have been awarded (758 to individuals, 18 to organizations) in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economics. In that same month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, there were an estimated 6,469,818,677 people alive in the world. Consequently, the average person (or even the average scientist) has a very small chance of winning a Nobel Prize or even ever knowing anyone who has done so. However, there is a very small group of people…

ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF EFFICIENCY

(This is the fourth installment of the The Wasteful American series. To read the others, click here, here and here) – – – How much energy is wasted as a result of fortifying foods with vitamin D instead of giving everyone a short bath of scrumptious sunlight during the day? Vitamin D3, added to most dairy products to prevent rickets and (incidentally) reduce the risks of osteoporosis, other bone disorders, and several types of cancer, surely costs something to manufacture and distribute industrially, while the human body synthesizes it naturally when skin meets sunshine. (Moonshine, on the other hand, causes…

THROWING MONEY AWAY (A MODEST PROPOSAL)

(This is the third installment of the The Wasteful American series. To read the others, click here and here) – – – In America, it is a relatively common bit of trivia that producing a penny costs more than one cent (its street value).[1] Someday, we will likely follow Canada’s syrupy example and make coins out of iron-based metal blends so that their value at the checkout counter always exceeds their value when they are melted down (illegally) for the amusement of middle schoolers or the profit of bored, pyromanic cartel heads. But really, why make Mounties of ourselves with…

HOW DO I HATE THEE ALZHEIMERS?

How do I hate thee Alzheimers? Let me count the ways. Confusion, anger, memory loss – it’s like a giant maze. Twists and turns in emotional sorrow that will still continue on tomorrow. For some very unfortunate people this is the way of life, for how would you feel if this was you or someone you love as if your wife? Such a horrible thing to come across you’re so lucky to avoid such a loss. – – – This piece was composed during the May 14th session of the Science Creative Literacy Symposia. During this day, students were given…

BIOSPHERE REPORT CENTRE

This page is the report centre for three biopsheres set up with a class from Vancouver’s Admiral Seymour Elementary School. This is part of the pilot run for the Science Creative Literacy Symposia. Full details for setting up the biosphere can be found at Martin John Brown’s website (direct link pdf of article published in MAKE magazine found here). – – – DAY 01 NOTES:(From left to right), [1] “Shrimpy’s New Home”; (shrimp names) Flipsy, Zippy; (smail names) Floaty, Gary, Boulder. [2] “Biosphere EJKKPPLF”; (shrimp names) Thumper, Jumper; (snail names) n/a; [3] “Schnomadome”; (shrimp names) John Doe, Boe Doe; (snail…

THE HMS BEAGLE PROJECT – A SCIENCE CREATIVE QUARTERLY PIN UP (NO. 3)

(CLICK HERE FOR PIN-UP POSTER – pdf file ~200k) – We suggest photocopying at 129% – LTR to 11×17 – My wish was to be buried in the Churchyard at Downe. Now I find Mr Huxley, thumbing his nose at the Queen for refusing me a knighthood, arranged to have me planted in that mausoleum Westminster Abbey. He knows I hated London. And burying an agnostic in such a place is carrying whimsy just a little too far. So I was delighted when a mob of angry biologists and historians broke into the Abbey one night and removed my remains…

TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS EXPLAINED WITH SMURFS

Our Earth is filled with finite resources that we, as the Human Race, exploit for personal gain. Oil, Fish Stocks, Forests, Clean Air, and water are just a few of the resources that nobody “owns,” but everybody needs in order to survive. However, in our current system, nobody who is taking away these natural resources from the whole of us has to pay back into the natural system. Thus, there is a great incentive to consume all of the available resources before somebody else gets to them, Garrett Hardin called this nuance the “Tragedy of the Commons.” Let’s take Smurfs…

SCIENCE FICTION VS FANTASY: AN OPINIONATED GUIDE

I Fanboy: Hey gang! Did you read The Sword of Shanara? The characters traveled hundreds of miles described in excruciating detail for hundreds of pages, until they reached the ultimate battle between good and evil! Cool huh? Scientist: Whatever. The characters in Red Planet traveled 48 million miles to Mars, while those in 2001 traveled 369 million miles to Jupiter. Characters in Asimov’s Foundation books travel millions of light-years all over the Milky Way galaxy in routine manner. Isn’t it amazing what people can accomplish when they don’t have to walk everywhere? Thank a scientist for your planes, trains, automobiles,…