Don't count the West out yet
A red line deep in Europe's amygdala is waiting to be crossed.
r/K Theory, Liberals, and Conservatives
A microbiologist has succeeded in explaining why some people are conservatives and some are liberals.
Is Democracy Still Viable?
Two new libertarian authors think it's time to let a thousand nations bloom.
Greed is killing the American dream
Like our TV programming, politics in America is a race to the bottom. In politics, 'bottom' means the bottom line.
The idiocy of audacity
Whether you're crossing the street or voting for your leaders, one slip in judgment can create an irreversible catastrophe.
The Curse of Oslo
Giving the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize has ominous implications for its future.
Stress and Reproductive Fertility
A politician has created a furor by claiming the body has some protective mechanism to prevent unwanted pregnancy. But is that really true? What are the scientific facts?
How language contributes to corporate failure
Corporate Speak may sound silly, but it's actually a way of using language to hide the awful truth that your company is doomed.
Why you should feel bad for Big Pharma
Whether you love them or hate them, what's happening to the pharmaceutical industry these days is bad news.
Bad politics makes bad science
Bashing your political enemies without understanding them is not good politics, and it's definitely not good science.
The Price of Suppressing Ideas
By using the power of the State to suppress viewpoints that the majority do not want to hear, are European societies actually encouraging violence?
Another Day, Another Economic Catastrophe
Why does it feel like the world is coming to an end this week? Didn't we just get an end o' the world last week?
Don't Blame Science for Climategate
Global warming just might be the most important problem facing Western civilization since the cold war. Not because of anything the globe is doing, but rather because our politicians have all gone stark raving mad because of it.
Obama's Upcoming Inflation Crunch
It is a truism that government spending cannot create wealth. Yet some economists, following John Maynard Keynes, believe that government spending leads to disproportionately higher private spending--a so-called "multiplier effect" that creates wealth.
Why do people believe in God?
Where does the concept of God come from? Why do people believe in God? In this article, I will try to avoid political questions and simply speculate, from a scientific point of view, where the concept of a God might have originated.
Ben Stein's Curious Post-Modernist Adventure
Is the theory of evolution responsible for the Nazi Holocaust? To scientists, the idea is as ludicrous as the idea that Marie Curie is responsible for the atomic bomb, the idea that the theory of gravity is responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs, or the idea that "2+2=4" is responsible for four-wheel drive.
Politics in Nature Neuroscience
Another inflammatory political article has turned up. Not in New Republic or Weekly World News as you might expect, but in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience.
Intelligent Design: Is it a theory?
What is this all about? Is intelligent design really an alternative to Darwinian evolution? Is it a valid scientific theory? As scientists we must remain open to all new ideas, no matter how bizarre. Many scientists have strong religious beliefs. At the same time, if intelligent design is not a valid scientific theory we should be honest and say so.
The Precautionary Principle:
Common Sense or Sloppy Thinking?
In this article, I will discuss several situations that have been proposed as justifications for the so-called "precautionary principle", and show that in each case, a risk-benefit analysis produces a superior result. I will also show that, contrary to what has been claimed, the precautionary principle is not commonly followed by responsible public officials, scientists, or law courts, and argue that it should not be adopted as an element in decision-making.
Four Movies for Dorks
These movies contain clues to hidden meanings that seem to have been missed by everyone else.
The 13 Golden Rules of Mismanagement
I've developed thirteen golden rules that any manager can use to run his or her company into the ground.
The Future of TV
What will television be like 20 years from now? We think social changes will drive the technology, rather than the other way around.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Life in the Country
If this article can save just one person from the unending nightmare that is country living, it will be worth it.
The Ten Most Annoying Science Fiction Shows of All Time
Some science fiction TV shows succeeded at creating a rich, complex universe, and some ... didn't.
Fundamentals of Reindeer Aerodynamics
How did reindeer evolve the ability to fly?
Improved State License Plate Slogans
Most American states have pithy slogans printed on their vehicle license plates. But do the slogans truly represent the state? I think not.
The Al Gore Effect: Theoretical basis
Recent research has shown that the presence of Al Gore is able to reduce ambient temperatures by approximately 27.6°C. This phenomenon is termed the "Al Gore Effect." Various theories about the physical mechanism of this phenomenon, and its potential usefulness in fighting global warming, are discussed.
An Overview of Santa's Advanced Anti-Radar Technology
For years, radar operators at airports have complained about the difficulty of detecting Santa Claus on radar. But according to radar experts, the inability of our most advanced radar tracking systems to detect the red-suited Christmas icon is no accident.
The Cow Theory of Economics
Cow theory is a well-established tool for understanding basic economic concepts. There are many variations of this theory on the Internet. Here are some new ones.
The Tragic Story of Schrodinger's
Schrödinger's cat played a critical role in the early development of quantum mechanics. He is most well known for his famous thought experiment, in which he postulated that a measurement made by an observer could determine the outcome of a quantum event. His paper on the subject, published in 1935 in the prestigious journal Naturwissenschaften, established his reputation as a first-rate theoretical physicist.
What car would Jesus really drive?
An organization called the "National Religious Partnership for the Environment" has started a national campaign to make people feel guilty for driving SUVs. The centerpiece of this campaign is the slogan, "What would Jesus drive?". This, of course, has driven people into paroxysms of laughter.
Biochemistry as Portrayed in the Movies
Many people have pointed out that phenomena in the movies are unrealistic from a physics standpoint. However, as far as I know, no one has mentioned the movie stunts that break all the laws of biochemistry. If anything, these offenses against the laws of nature are even more improbable than the physics mistakes.
Physics envy among biologists: fact or fiction?
Physicists often state their belief that all biologists would rather be physicists, but became biologists only because they were not very good at math. Why, physicists ask, do biologists seem unable to utilize such simple concepts as the Riemannian-Christoffel curvature tensor or Galois fields in their work?
Introduction to Quantum Thermo-Epistemology
This manuscript describes some of our recent findings in the exciting new field of quantum thermo-epistemology, a branch of implausibility theory dealing with fundamental questions such as: Why does toast always land butter-side down?
Is Global Warming Over?
Yes, of course it is. Who's up for some cooling?
What Does Science Say About Life After Death?
The Buddhists had a lot to say about the afterlife, but science is starting to catch up.
Ten tips to writing
I am sometimes called upon to hire junior scientists, postdocs, and technicians. Here are some tips that I have discovered.
Why do so many drugs fail?
Nine of every ten new drugs fail in clinical phase II or III testing. Why is this?
Should you pursue a career in science?
Some advice from a professional scientist
Being a research scientist can be a highly rewarding career. What you discover could change how people make their toast in the morning, or it could change how civilization evolves--maybe even prevent the next Dark Ages.
Cold facts on global warming
Even though global warming has become mostly an academic concern now that the climate has moved into a cooling phase, it's still important to understand what is and is not factual about the climate.
Introduction to population dynamics
Population growth can be calculated by a number of mathematical models. The two simplest models are the Malthusian, or exponential model, and the Verhulst, or logistic model.
Quantum consciousness, quantum information,
The field of consciousness studies has become confused by the fact that many scientists, discussing consciousness from different angles, are really talking about other topics.
Little-known facts about the Moon
The Moon really does have a dark side. And an atmosphere ... sort of.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
Azheimer's disease is a devastating and mysterious illness that strikes people with increasing frequency as they age. In this article, I will discuss the current theories and epidemiological results that might explain the molecular basis of sporadic Alzheimer's disease.
Tinnitus: Causes and Treatment
Recent research suggests that tinnitus is easier to cure when treatment is given early. In this article, I will discuss what is known about tinnitus and what tinnitus sufferers can do about their affliction.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Loud noises can produce both temporary and permanent hearing loss. This article describes what types of sound constitute a hazard and what you can do to mitigate the hearing damage if you are accidentally exposed to a loud noise.
Cholesterol and alzheimer's disease
Almost all of the major risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, with the exception of head trauma, involve cholesterol in one way or another.
Photographing Radioactivity with a Webcam
Forget ultraviolet. You can use a webcam to photograph radioactivity. But you have to modify it first.
Everyone should witness this amazing phenomenon of nature at least once in their lifetime.
The ultraviolet world is gloomy ... and pink.
It's not difficult to modify a digital SLR camera to take pictures in the near-infrared.
Astrophotography Without a Telescope
You don't need a lot of equipment to take spectacular pictures of the stars.
Photographing Fluorescently-Stained 2D Gels
This article discusses some of the common fluorescent dyes and describes how to build a light source for photographing fluorescent 2D gels using a CCD camera.
How to Drive on Snow
Tips on driving on snow-covered roads and driving up hills in winter without getting killed.
How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers
Wodpeckers may be cute, but they make lots of noise and drill large, ugly holes in your wood siding.
Build an Air Variable Capacitor
Variable capacitors are useful in a lot of situations. But adjustable plate capacitors bigger than 1000 pF are difficult to find, and those that are available tend to be inconveniently large.
Dimming Fluorescent Lamps
Fluorescent lamps have many advantages over incandescents: they are available in a variety of color temperatures, they have a large surface area that creates a better architectural effect, they last longer, and they use less electricity. However, it is also a royal pain to get them to work with a dimmer.
Identifying Sources of Radio Frequency Interference
Around the Home
Eliminating RF interference is not just something you do for fun. Static on the radio could be a sign of faulty electrical wiring. Fixing it could save your life.
Silence of the Lamps: Reducing Radio
Frequency Interference From Small Fluorescent Lamps
Tubular fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts are very popular because of their instant-on characteristics, low audible hum, and compact size. However, many such lamps produce unacceptable amounts of radio frequency interference.
A Remotely-Tuned Loop Receiving Antenna for LW and MW
This article describes how to build a loop antenna for low frequency (LF) and medium wave (MW) reception with remote-controlled tuning. Like all loop antennas, it is highly directional, which allows you to null out unwanted noise sources.
A High-Gain 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi Helix Antenna
At microwave frequencies, many factors that are unimportant at lower frequencies influence how well an antenna works.
Digital vs. Acoustic Pianos: An Unbiased Comparison
A discussion of the relative merits of digital pianos and acoustics.
Software Installation Procedure For Fuji LAS-1000 Plus
Gel Documentation System
This article describes how to install the controller software for the Fujifilm LAS-1000 Plus Gel Documentation System, and how to disassemble the camera in order to repair the Peltier cooling system.
Repairing Spex Fluorolog 2 Fluorescence Spectrometer
This page contains technical information we discovered when repairing our Spex Fluorolog 2 spectrofluorometer (model no. CM1T11I) in room 341. It serves as a reference for when the chewing gum and twine wear out, and we have to repair it again.
Mercury cleanup procedures
Mercury is extremely toxic. When spilled, vapor accumulates and is absorbed by inhalation, causing long-term neurological and kidney damage.
Hazards of liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen is not just a frostbite hazard--sample vials stored in the liquid phase of liquid nitrogen can cause serious injury if improperly sealed.
The Prophecies of Bruce de Nostradamus
Bruce Nostradamus is not as famous as his older brother, partly because his quatrains were not very good (they didn't rhyme, did not always consist of four lines, and often didn't make sense), and also because he was not as skilled at astrology as his older and smarter brother.
Computer Predictions for 2006
A remarkable new computer program has been devised that can predict news events in the future. We use the program to predict future events about famous celebrities from Einstein all the way down to Jessica Simpson.
Scientific image analysis software for Unix / Linux (formerly tnimage)
Using Imal In Windows
How to run the imal image analysis software in Windows.
Linux installation notes
Miscellaneous tips in setting up linux.
Astronomy & Photography
Filler of the Week
Miscellaneous bits of totally useless information.