Teaching Angela to Appreciate History
We give some feedback on the telescope exhibition we went to last week, Scopex 2011. It isn’t pretty.
The WHO will this week decide whether or not to destroy the last two remaining samples of variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox in humans. This disease has been extinct in the wild since 1979. The WHO had initially decided that these samples be destroyed in 1993. Not so good at sticking to deadlines…
Nick Risinger released a 5,000 Megapixel Sky Survey which he created by taking and then combining 37,440 high definition photos of the sky. The photographs were taken from the Western US and the Western Cape in South Africa, during new moon. The picture is zoom-able and interactive (with constellation maps laid out over it in one section). It’s not for science, but it is serious geek porn!
We discuss a proposed NASA mission to land a boat on Titan, Saturn’s methane-rich moon. The boat will be aimed at a lake on Titan, with a launch date (possibly) as early as 2016. The boat will carry a bunch of instruments, including a mass spectrometer (to characterize the lake’s chemistry), sonar (to investigate the lake’s physical features), and various cameras. The boat will be powered by the still-in-development Advanced Stirling Radioisitope Generator.
An international study, funded by the United States National Institutes of Health, has found that early anti-retroviral treatment for HIV can cut infectiousness by as much as 96%.
Daniel Favre of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has released a study in which he tests the hypothesis that electromagnetic signals released by cellphones have an impact on honey bees.
Harold Camping of Family Radio in the USA has been on a massive crusade to warn us that the world will end on the 21st of May, 2011. Camping has spent five decades studying the bible and he has decided that the Rapture will happen on the 21st. This is not the first prediction of the Second Coming of Christ, and it is not Campings first either. We take a look at some of the reasons why this is such an important part of the Christian mythology, and give a run-down of previous predictions of the date of the Rapture (there have been LOTS!).
Big History: Abiogenesis
The origin of life from non-life, Abiogenesis is one of the most important open questions in science. We take a look at the different theories to explain how life arose on Earth and what we have learned from experiments such as the Miller-Urey experiments.
Feature: A Tribute to Douglas Adams
The 11th of May marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Douglas Adams, the British writer who is best known for writing the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy“. We pay tribute to Adams and his wonderful writing by remembering some superb quotes from his books.
This week we launched the Gauteng Skeptics website, a resource for all the activities of the scientific skepticism movement in Gauteng, South Africa. The site is still in it’s early days, please contact us if you have any suggestions or additions for the site. http://www.archive.org/download/ConsilienceEpisode10/Consilience10.mp3