The Economist has an interesting graph of cocaine prices around the world. It hits a high of nearly $715/gram in New Zealand, $110/gram in the USA, and only $2/gram in Columbia where most of the world's cocaine is grown.
But in case you're tempted by the high market value of this illegal drug, Gene pointed out another revealing economics/statistics story a couple months ago about, the worst job in America. Drug dealing makes Alaskan crab fishing seems safe.
The Memorial Day weekend is pretty predictable in the news cycle. Lots of attention, and rightfully so, is provided about the military men and women who’ve given their lives for our country. Then there are the usual stories about the start of summer. And don’t forget the travel delays and stories on high gas prices.
But coming from out of right field this year was Monday’s opening of the new Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio. The $27-million facility had 4,000 visitors on its opening day. Its state-of-the-art animatronics were designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director. It shows dinosaurs co-existing with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and also riding aboard Noah’s Ark.
With this museum opening, I’ve been amused reading letters to the editor on both sides of the world debate in the local newspapers, particularly in the deep passion expressed by all writers.
My question: is there room at the table for having a museum dedicated to presenting the creationism viewpoint?
Regardless of my personal opinion on the origins of life, I have to give credit to the creationists for putting their money where their mouth is in finding a popular way to express their view. And we all have the option on spending our money and time visiting such a place.
Professionally, I work at the Science Museum of Minnesota which hosts this website. It’s only fair that I let you know where I’m coming from on this. Here’s a link to this museum’s official position on the origins of life.
As a person of faith who does believe our Earth’s origins came several billion years ago, it amazes me that most people find this issue as a non-compromiser. Creationists have an absolute trust in the science they interpret from the Bible, even though through history, Biblical interpretations on things like the shape of the Earth (flat) and it’s position in our solar system (the center) have been proven wrong. Conversely, science does an excellent job of explaining how things work, like the biology of human bodies. But it does a miserable job of explaining how and why we interact with each other: our emotions and feelings.
So let’s have a discussion here on if it’s possible to have intersections between the trajectories of faith and science. Be forewarned, moderators of this blog will not permit long diatribes on one particular point of view. Stick to the topic and your viewpoint will be heard. Let’s explore where there might be common ground between science and faith.
"Numb3rs" is currently the most-watched program on Friday nights, attracting nearly 12 million viewers. Now in its third season, Numb3rs, along with the program's co-creators, Nick Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, will receive a National Science Board group Public Service Award for 2007 "for their contributions toward increasing scientific and mathematical literacy on a broad scale".
The annual Public Service Award recognizes individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to increase public understanding of science. Recipients are chosen for their contributions to public service in areas such as: increasing the public's understanding of the scientific process and its communication; contributing to the development of broad science and engineering policy; promoting the engagement of scientists and engineers in public outreach; and fostering awareness of science and technology among broad segments of the population. NSF
Cryptanalysis, probability theory, game theory, decision theory, principal components analysis, multivariate time series analysis and astrophysics are just some of the many disciplines employed in the series thus far. If you have not seen this show I recommend that you check it out.
A researcher in England has determined that astrology is “useless when it comes to sizing up a mate.”
No kidding. I could have told him that for free.
Dr. David Voas of the University of Manchester looked at the latest British census and compared the birthdates of 10 million married couples. He found there was no correlation between spouses’ signs. Says the doctor:
"When you have a population of 10 million couples, then even if only one pair in 1,000 is influenced by the stars you would have 10,000 more couples than expected with certain combinations of signs. “
The US version of the comedy series, "The Office" featured a funny little nanotech reference on a recent episode.
The setup: The always ridiculous Dwight is trying to pick a health care plan and everyone is doing their best to sabotage their efforts with false medical claims....enter nanobots.
Nanotech is breaking its way into pop culture more and more every day. Its good to see someone lampooning the grey goo nano robots.
With this year's round of state quarters entering circulation, it's enlightening to see how many of the new coins focus on science and nature. The first three quarters of 2007 place wildlife in the spotlight, with a bison head on the Montana coin, a salmon on Washington state, and a peregrine falcon on Idaho. The menagerie of state coins also entails buffalo roaming on Kansas, wild mustangs running across Nevada, and full-bodied bison on North Dakota.
An oak tree takes center stage on the Connecticut currency, and there's plenty of plant life on other coins too. There's a Mississippi magnolia and a Georgia peach—just to name a few. Wisconsin pays tribute to its agricultural heritage, and it's hard to overlook the Rocky Mountains on the Colorado coin. Nature scenes decorate several other state quarters as well.
The 10,000 lakes on Minnesota's quarter have lots of company, with Crater Lake on Oregon, and the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan. Coining itself "The Ocean State," tiny Rhode Island pays homage to the enormous Atlantic, and water scenes flow over more state coins too.
Of the handful of state quarters highlighting people, California singles out conservationist John Muir, while the Missouri coin shows the Lewis and Clark expedition. Two states put money on the Wright Brothers' success, with North Carolina featuring the historic Kitty Hawk flight, and Ohio honoring the birthplace to Orville and Wilbur—along with astronaut Neil Armstrong. Transportation technology travels across many other state quarters, with Indiana giving credit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Just about every state quarter can have a scientific slant, with a little homework. That one-room schoolhouse on the Iowa quarter comes from an "Arbor Day" painting by Grant Wood. The U.S. Mint launched the first five coins in the 50 State Quarters Program in 1999. The final five coins will enter circulation in 2008.
Jon Miller, a professor at Michigan State University, has been tracking scientific literacy for nearly 20 years. He presented his latest findings recently at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The good news: the percentage of Americans with basic scientific literacy has almost tripled in the last two decades. We are now second in the world, ahead of Japan and most of Europe. Only Sweden beats us out.
The bad news: it's not so much that we're so good, but that the rest of the world is so bad. Only 28% of Americans have basic science literacy. As the article points out, citizens are asked to make decisions on issues such as nanotechnology, stem cell research, climate change, etc. We need a basic understanding of the science behind these topics.
However, I must take issue with the last point the professor makes:
Surveys he did starting a year before the 2004 election found that the frequent debates about [stem cell research] ... actually left more voters undecided than they had been before the campaigning began.
I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, I believe there's a very simple explanation: politicians often take complicated issues and boil them down to simple "soundbite" solutions, designed to get people to agree (and vote) with them. Learning more about any subject makes you appreciate how complex it is, and how very often there are no clear-cut answers.
Watch this funny video to learn about where you should be coughing. Just say no to using your hands.
I have to say that I've started coughing and sneezing into my sleeve in the recent years and discovered that the only side effect is that every once and a while I get a little glob of snot on my sleeve. GROSS! But hey, who really washes their hands every time they cough, sneeze, or touch their face? So sacrifice a little snotty fabric and cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
You can design the next hazard symbol for nanotechnology. The entries will be judged by the ETC, a group interested in sustainable development of new technologies. You can see some of the initial entries in their hazard symbol gallery.
I don't want to get stuck on talking only about the potential negatives about nanotech. Whether we proceed safely or not there will be hazards that need to be addressed. I thought this was a fun way of thinking about involving the public.
University of Minnesota scientist David Y.H. Pui teamed up with Andrew Maynard, the Science Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, to call for more research into the safety of those who work in the field of nanotechnology. Their comments were published in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research.
Nanotechnology allows us to manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular scale, a billions of times smaller than a meter. But what does this mean for the lab and factory workers who will build these new materials? "Workers are society's canaries-in-the-coal mines when it comes to the environmental, health and safety effects of new materials--and nanoscale materials are no different," said Maynard.
People are researching the safety of nanotech manufacturing, but it isn't enough. According to Maynard, "little is known about potential risks in many areas of nanotechnology--and funding for risk-focused research is a small fraction of the nearly $10 billion spent annually by governments and industry on nanotechnology commercial applications."
This article is a good step in prodding the industry and our government to put more money toward nanotech risk research. However, I wonder at what point these calls for more focus will result in more action. We have seen some advances in 2006 with the city of Berkeley, California creating municipal regulations on nanotech. And, the EPA decided to regulate the use of nano silver in the environment.
It remains to be seen if this will continue to be a trend. So when you hear about a new nanotech breakthrough, continue to ask: Will it be safe?