May 29, 2010

From Joy Breeze:

Re: Garden birds found to shun organic (May 18): I found the article interesting but couldn’t help wondering if the birds simply prefered the taste of the food they were used to. Humans brought up on white sugar don’t find brown sweet. Given brown long enough they find they can’t stand white which then tasts unbearably sweet.

From J. Patil:

Re: Scientists report first cell controlled by artificial genome (May 20): The first cell made from artificial gene can potentially be a blessing or a curse to humanity. One must remember that this innovation can help countries who want to develop germ based weapons of mass destruction. In the 1940s it was the atomic fission and in 2010 it is a partially man made bacteria. Fooling around with your girl friend can result in unwanted pregnancy but fooling around with mother nature can be potentially dangerous. We are still not sure where the virus of HIV came from.

From Sharon Ellis:

Re: Scientists report first cell controlled by artificial genome (May 20): The synthetic genome is the 1st step to evolving our human species or destroying it. I hope that care is taken with the several probable outcomes of this work. There are those who wish to advance our species preventing disease and eventually creating immortality but there are those who could use this knowledge to inflict pain and death on all living things. When the power of love overcomes the love of power then we will know harmony and evolve as we should. In my opinion this work is of great value and I only look on the bright side of an ideal outcome.

From Edgardo Maffia:

Re: Mysterious ball lightning may be brain illusion (May 19): Ball lightning are self contained Nitrogen plasma and Rusian scientific Piotr Kapitza reproduced them in laboratory. Could be the brain created some form of illusion; but there are a lot of witnesses and evidences about the real phenomena. A ball lightning can break through a glass window and travel inside chimneys. There are vitctims too. The electronic excitation for common dimension balls lay betwen 300 to 900 Mhz, easily detected with a patch antenna and a diode.

Edgardo Maffia
Buenos Aires – Argentina
maf fia AT ie

From Danny (dan nyj cris AT engi ne m):

Re: Can a mother’s voice spur coma recovery? (May 11): I read the subject article and thought that not only mother’s voice can be effective. Other sources may prove to be even better. Older people do not have anymore that close bond with parents. They are more attached to what they currently love to do.

I am a music lover and sometimes my favorite song melody lingers in my mind (brain). A rock guitarist in trauma may be able to distinguish the guitar sound his mind is accustomed to and may react quickly. Similarly, car racer may react to the sound of strong engine revolution or when placed in a machine that simulate G-forces.

How about the smell theraphy? The favorite perfume, coffee aroma (if he is a coffee lover), favorite alcohol drink (and should try to let him sip a little)

Just my thoughts. Thanks.

From Johnny Peacock:

Re: Mysterious ball lightning may be brain illusion (May 19): Apparently the American Meteor Society hasn’t seen the variety of ball lightning that I have, and as I am woefully behind scientific evidence via observation, I’d like to pull my hair out now for not having a video camera last year when I witnessed it for approximately 30 minutes. Large luminous balls, basically the same color as forked lightning, were exploding about every 5th lightning strike.

Once I got a good look, when it was directly above my home, I noticed something even more unusual. When the balls exploded, numerous miniature forks of lightning exited the explosion. And it wasn’t red or orange, it looked identical, to the white blue color of large forks of lightning. Kendl and Peer may be great physicists, but to be so bold about their assertions, with only a caution that they may be incorrect, is ridiculous to say the least. I can readily appreciate the human mind’s susceptibility to optical illusions, but the phenomena I witnessed at least ten times was no illusion!

Send Them Back To The Drawing Board!

From William Silvert:

Re: Study: Fishing fleet works 17 times harder than in 1880s for same catch (May 4): It is unfortunate that you bolster the story with reference to Boris Worm’s 2006 paper which has been widely repudiated, even by some of his co-authors. This unfortunate reference really negates the impact of the study.

William Silvert, PhD

From Paul Stancioff:

Re: Scientists explore whether some apes shake heads for “no” (May 5): Implicit in this article is the assumption that head shaking by humans universally denotes negation, further implying that it is somehow instinctive or evolutionary. This assumption is certainly wrong, as a simple counterexample will show. In Bulgaria for example a head shake always means yes, while a nod is a definite “NO”.

From David Robson:

Re: Mice show pain in their faces, study finds (May 9): So we can conclude that mice do, indeed, feel pain.

I am not a Scientist but am a Chartered Engineer usually dealing with all things electrical. Without any science at all, I concluded, (probably when I was around the age of 5 or 6 since this is my earliest memory of anything), that animals are not that far removed from humans, (although I have to say I have a far greater respect for animals).

It staggers me to think that scientists are often paid large salaries and are awarded huge amounts of money by way of a grant to draw such conclusions.

It’s high time we were using the lower end of the human scale for experimentation. I hasten to add that I am NOT associated with any animal liberation group.

May 28, 2010

From Jim P. (jam bo 315 9 AT ea rt hli

Re: Scientists explore whether some apes shake heads for “no” (May 5): So from the last sentence of this article, the most recent “edition” I received, most of the head shaking is not “negatory” (my neologism), but some scientists want to speculate that it might be, anyway, connected to “no no no!”

Very odd. But then, everything in my memory and surrounding world seems to be against logic and odds. So, I am just a befuddled or addle-pated old man of 60.

From Catherine Vosper:

Re: Mice show pain in their faces, study finds (May 9): The only surprise here is that anyone should be surprised by this news. Anyone who has loved an animal knows their faces express many things including pain but not exclusively pain. You can read confusion, excitement, fear, anger etc. in an animal’s face whether it be mouse, cat, dog, ferret or whatever. I think reptiles and snakes may be a little difficult.

From Charles Douglas Wehner:

Re: Scientists explore whether some apes shake heads for “no” (May 5): The story that Bonobos might mean “No” when they shake their heads is dubious. The reason is that the behaviour of shaking the head to say “No” is cultural, not genetic.

Eastwards of eastern Europe, it is usual to lift the chin to say “No”. This is like a reversed western “Yes”. To say “Yes”, the person repeatedly tilts the head from left to right - almost like the western “No”. These behaviours are common in Bulgaria, Albania, the Arabic countries, India and China.

My father went into a Turkish Bath in Bulgaria. After the heat, he had cold water thrown over him. The assistant offered more cold water. He shook his head and got another dousing. This went on until he understood that the “body language” had a reversed meaning in Bulgaria.

From J. L. Briem:

Re: Frosty asteroid hints at origin of oceans: scientists (April 28): We should give credit where it is due. Published 1990; The Big Splash, by Dr. Louis A. Frank. ISBN 1-55972-033-6. Or maybe a newspaper article in the Orange County Register, Thursday May 29, 1997, page 1, and news page 9. P1 title “House-size comets quench Earth’s thirst”. P9 news title, “Years of ridicule yield to astral vindication”.

From Will Leong:

Re: Can’t go paperless here: demand for soft toilet paper getting (April 22): The cause of the shortage of office paper to recycle - e-mail - is questionable. It may be more a consequence of the recession. I’ve seen a report that the prices paid for newsprint & cardboard to recycle has dropped significantly. The reason given was that there is less demand for cardboard containers for consumer goods due to the drop in demand for those goods.

From Ted Sedman:

Re: Mostly-male book images may reduce girls’ science scores (April 23): This article would be much more interesting if it discussed the actual scores achieved instead of only referring to the differences between boys and girls. The implication of the article seems to be that it is more important to “eradicate the gender gap” than it is to maximise the learning that takes place.

From Robert Arking:

Re: Pressure to publish may bias scientists (April 24): Your recent story on publish or perish summarized a study which concluded that scientists in “productive states” more often verified their working hypothesis that did scientists in “non-productive states”. One conclusion offered by the author was that the productive scientists might have tweaked or otherwise manipulated the data. The apparent working hypothesis for the study is that verification should be independent of geography; I find this hypothesis to be suspect since demography is not independent of geography, and there is likely a link between demography and verification. An alternative interpretation of the study’s results is simply that scientists in productive states have selected hypotheses better suited to test by their approaches than did those in non productive states, possibly because of geographic differences in laboratory tools and/or diverse people nearby with which to talk about future experiments. If this possibility was not considered in the original paper, then perhaps there was a rush to judgement because of the publish or perish rule?

Robert Arking, Ph.D.
Professor & Undergraduate Officer
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Contract Implementation Officer, AAUP/AFT
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202

From Christopher R Lee:

Re: Mostly-male book images may reduce girls’ science scores (April 23): When I was at school, science textbooks didn’t have pictures of scientists. They were rather dry, but perhaps it was better like that, and the school didn’t have to buy a new set every time the social fashion changed. Textbook writers should be preoccupied by other matters than the right gender and racial mix in their illustrations. Soon they will have to worry about who is looking at or sitting next to who in their illustrations.

Nowadays, budding chemists are no longer expected to have blown up their garden shed, and the current practice of including safety information in books is a good idea. However, if you add to that all the political correctness stuff, a book that has little room left for the science is hardly likely to inspire.

That doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t a place for library and personal books of a more relaxed style. However, even here, a less hamfisted approach would be more appropriate. For example, in the biography of a famous male scientist, an author could indicate which schools and universities he attended, with just a mention of the arrangements available for girls at that time.

Finally, it would be totally stupid to refuse to discuss the possibility that there may be gender differences with repect to some kinds of scientific abilities, and in th attitudes needed to make the best of these abilities.

From Sasha (sa sha AT sc arl etre

Re: “Last Supper” got ever bigger in paint: study (March 24): To base one’s evidence largely on a collection of paintings isn’t really evidence. One could argue that people only wore red and yellow colored robes based on those two painting; problem is that painters before the 16th century only had 3 tot 4 main colors to paint with. Or, that everyone walked around with halo’s in that time. Secondly, before the renaissance, painters didn’t understand proportion, this is the fruit of the renaissance. As you can see in most paintings from before the renaissance, the proportion of evertyhing is skewed, large heads and small bodies, etc. Thirdly, the food depicted in religious paintings is largey symbolic and also for decoration. It often is no way near an actual representation. I am a painter myself, and studied the history of painting. Biologically speaking, every organism tends to eat what it finds, thereby increasing food portions, which makes much more sense to me. Increase the overal well being and you will find that people tend to eat more, simply because there is more.

From Yvonne King:

Re: Mostly-male book images may reduce girls’ science scores (April 23): A long time ago when I was an undergraduate (late 1970s), we undertook some research on the effects of introversion and extraversion when it came to using mental imagery to aid short term memory recall. This was published in the Journal of Mental Imagery because the research came up with some odd result which seemed to indicate that the sex of the researcher actually affected the results when correlated with the introversion and extraversion factor and this was more important than the ability of introverts and extroverts to use mental imagery.

This would seem to support the evidence provided by the above research and suggests, as the research on science books does, that the sex of your teacher and the sex of people in images shown, really do have an affect on educational outcome.

From Alec Melvin:

Re: Pressure to publish may bias scientists (April 24): Is this new study news? Does it come as a surprise to anyone that career progression in universities depends on the number of papers published? One can quote examples going back to the 1960’s - and these are not exceptions. In that decade a chemistry researcher in the UK decided that he wanted to be a professor. His battle plan was to recruit a number of lieutenants, each of whom had 3-4 research students. He put his name on every paper his battalion produced and in no time had 200 papers. His professorship followed automatically. Another UK chemistry researcher in the same period decided that, if he was to become a professor, he would have to publish a paper every three days. His chosen topic allowed him to do this and in no time he had amassed 500 papers. He was still going strong in the 1980’s. How many papers did Einstein produce in the period 1905-1921 (when he received the Nobel prize)? Surely the criterion for scientific career progression should be the significance of the papers produced, not their number? But are university administrators capable of recognising significance?

May 27, 2010

From Toby Katz:

Re: “Other half” of Darwin’s theory passes test (Oct. 13, 2008):

Quote: 'Sex­u­al se­lec­tion is an in­tri­guing as­pect of ev­o­lu­tion be­cause it drives the ev­o­lu­tion of traits that on their face, seem less than clearly ben­e­fi­cial, said Dun­can Greig of Uni­ver­s­ity Col­lege in Lon­don, one of the pa­per’s au­thors “For ex­am­ple a pea­cock’s tail might be con­spic­u­ous to preda­tors,” he not­ed in an e­mail. Or for a hu­man equiv­a­lent: “Fer­rari drivers might be more likely to end up splat­ted against a tree than Buick drivers.” For both ex­am­ples, “the sim­ple ex­plana­t­ion is that the cost is more than bal­anced by the ben­e­fit of ex­tra mat­ing.”'

From an evolutionary standpoint, how would it make sense for a female to be more attracted to a mate with worse survival potential?!

From Harry Clift:

Re: Did Native Americans contribute to global warming? (April 15): Cap and Trade will end Global Warming for ever. Thanks to US Congress!!! All scientist agree and All evidence proves without question that global warming was caused by the Industrial Generation. For global warming, Now NASA experts want to blame Native Americans that lived 100 Before Christ because the native diet included nuts?

Overly educated idiots. How did humans cause the recent earthquakes and volcanoes?

From Michael Dowling:

Re: Can’t go paperless here: demand for soft toilet paper getting (April 22): Why not skip the paper issue altogether? If every toilet was equipped with a bidet, it would save countless trees. Inexpensive bidet kits are available online.

From Meg (cf eb sle b AT a ol.c om):

Re: Ladies second: are we sexist in writing? (March 16): I’m female and find I am almost always listed second since I married. I kept my last name and my husband kept his. I have ordered museum/zoo passes with my credit card. They were sent to our house with my husband’s name. . a totally different name than mine since we don’t share a last name. He was not involved in the purchase at all and I am unsure why this happened. I sent them back. The woman on the other end was very understanding. I take care of our bank accounts but often find his social security number is the default security number. I end up getting locked out of my own account. I pay all the bills but often find that my name can’t be found until they type in my husband name and then find my name. Our property contact for our county was automatically listed with his name. I did all the paper work for the property although we both own it. My husband is almost always the person that is contacted for billing and property stuff even if that involves calling him at his place of employment.

It is not just which name comes first. It is everywhere in how business is conducted and has driven me crazy since I married. It’s as if I became a non person. I did not take my husbands name when I married. Women became the property of a man in the past... they became Mrs. Male name Whomever... like Mrs. Fred Jones. I’ve talked to many well educated women that changed their last name and thought nothing of it. They have also said they thought their husbands would have been very upset if they had kept their last name. The thought of asking their husband to take their last name is way to far from the average thinking in the US or probably most places in the world to be considered. My children born to my husband and me have my last name. I only know of two other women who have passed on their last name to their children while married to the children’s father. One is my sister. The only time children get the mother’s last name would be if they are not married with an uninvolved father.

Anyway, the problem is way more insidious than just the traditional listing of males before females. It how business in conducted in my experience throughout the US. One more story. A good friend of mine had a teaching position and ready to buy a home. Her husband was still in school not earning an income. They would not give her the loan. Her husband not earning an income had to be listed first on the loan even thought he had no ability to make the payments. It goes on and on.

From Michelle Silip:

Re: “Artificial leaves” could help power machines of future (March 26): What about incorporating the carbon dioxide as well into this artificial leaf like the natural photosynthesis to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

From Karl J. Hansen:

Re: Did Native Americans contribute to global warming? (April 15): It is an interesting, but not surprising result. Although I have not read the actual study, I believe it is all sound science up to the point where they conclude that the added CO2 caused global warming. What basis could they probably have to conclude this?

We know today, that at current levels a 10% increase in CO2 is roughly causing (4, 7 ln(427/388) ) / 9 * 5 degree Celsius, namely about 0. 25 degree Celsius. However, this is a bit extreme and the question is if burning the forests in a controlled fashion would have caused a 10% CO2 increase, is plausible.

We have to remember that with all the human activity we have today, we still only contribute 5% of the CO2 according to the IPCC and a wild guess would suggest that we all-in-all produce more CO2 today, compared to native Americans a few thousand years ago.

It is important to browse the proportions: Yes, CO2 has the capability of causing warming, but the little we add to it, will be completely hidden in variations caused by other sources.

From bij orian an gel@sbc global. net:

Re: Family tree research can open “Pandora’s Box” (April 9): I don’t know about others but when I am stressed or have some issues in my life I can get out my genealogy and lose myself in the data and know that the dead can’t hurt me like the living can.

I guess I am different from others. I don’t care what my ancestors did I am a part of them and they are a part of me. Things happened in the past that was “normal” why be ashamed of something you had no part in?

When I started my tree I was looking for information on my family. This was in 1976 I am now 60 and with the internet I have been able to amass a great deal on my family. I never thought about being kin to royalty but sure enough I am --- but to balance that out were scoundrels in my line also. Am I ashamed of that no--- I laugh about it.

One thing I really like about genealogy is the mysteries that need to be solved. Take for instance one set of gr-gr-grandparents were on a trip went by their daughters house then camped somewhere along the Trinity river basin where they died of typhoid fever (1865). OK--- I tried to find the place where they were born and found that the trinity river basin covers 710 miles from N Tx to the gulf. OK--- hmmm harder job then I thought.

I started looking where the daughter lived and found that Eagle Mountain lake in Tx was formed from the Trinity. I can not prove it for I can’t find records back that far when they made the lake-- but I think my ancestors are buried under the lake or was removed to someother place.

That kind of mystery will take your mind off of other things.

To my genealogy is my salvation sometimes.

From Annie Thomas:

Re: Surprising relationship between chaos, order (April 26, 2006): For a very long time now I have not been able to shake the following question from the forefront of my mind. If you could be so kind to shed some clarity I will be ecstatic!

If out of chaos comes order, would it be feasible to then suppose out of order comes chaos? Given Einstein’s E=mc2

Would this apply to every day action?

From Arne Smith:

Re: Possible new human ancestor revealed (April 8): The discovery of the SA fossil confirms exactly my speculation about the loss of estrus and the evolution of Man.

The TEETH reveal that the creature lived in a promiscuous chimp-style group, where the females mated with all males when the females ovulated.

Then, when estrus was lost, with the “Eve”, the way was opened for monogamy and all other of the things which make us human, including language.



From Jackenson Durand:

Re: It seems we’re all more human than average (March 14): Earth born with different continents and sizes. All Earth nature products or biodiverties are inequal distance trigonometrically. Animals and minerals are inequal in lenght and weight. Some part of Earth hemisphere receiving snowfalls others Sunshine. Nature allows our eyes to enjoy multitude colors Earth nature. Green is the best one by reacting on human daily living. Painters using different colors together to produce one special attractive. Analyser would be thinking about Earth has always been human home by eating Earth natural food productions as animals do. We understand that we are born with reason over animals. Unfortunately, all continents are not be able to receive snowfalls in other that we can better resolve problematic. I will be waiting that space, time and gravity will converge continents together. I admit that butterflies are the most attractive, spiritual, inspirer and beautiful creature on Earth. This beauty would come from different wind layers color composites. Would differents generations be able to produce one more human? I agree that we will never stop eating and drinking same nature fruits as animals.