Tuesday 7 August 2012

The Round-up w/e 5/8/2012

We have to start this week with the winner of the 563 Billion Metre Dash, Mars rover Curiosity. (Joke unashamedly stolen from Twitter). There has been no end of coverage of this historic event, articles on the construction of the mobile laboratory with its many cameras and the first images came through almost instantaneously. But it was left to the Onion to provide us with some of the first in-depth analysis of those early pictures though!

Keeping with the space theme we’d like to pay our respects to physicist and astronomical pioneer Sir Bernard Lovell who died today aged 98. Founder and first director of the iconic Jodrell Bank which houses the telescope that bears his name amongst many other achievements

Another physicist honoured this week is good old Brian Cox who received his award from University Campus Oldham via the actor and sci- fi icon Patrick Stewart who made it so.

You wouldn’t think that water could be controversial, but then it depends on what you do or don’t put into it I suppose. Flouride is a good example, most people agree it strengthens the teeth, but does it lower your intelligence? Some think it does and some not.

In a sense water and intelligence are the theme of this amusing but sadly illuminating story too.

Homeopaths have been meeting increasing difficulties in acceptance within the NHS and the  MHRA framework, and now it seems that the private health insurers are following suit. Perhaps this is due to people finally accepting the evidence as laid out by the Rational Wiki. Simon Singh calls for a bit of praise for the BBC inSussex for making a stand on the subject.

If things get too difficult for the CAM merchants over here there are still some good positions going in the United States Army. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes.

The American Army isn’t the only one susceptible to a bit of hocus pocus. We’ve reported in recent round-ups on the declining fortunes of the magic bomb detectors company, but it seems that the Thai army are bucking that trend.

Don’t know about you but I’ve been having a great time watching the Olympics. Wired have been doing an excellent series on the science behind different events including pole vault, shot putt,  and many others.

There are less scientific aspects to the sporting arena though. We've had Power Balance bands then Kinesio tape questioned by scientists, and now protein and energy drinks come under scrutiny.

I remember proudly showing those Rorschach type images of the ultrasound scans of my children. “Is that an arm, is that a leg, where’s its head?” More accurate but also more disturbing is this alternative.

I love an interactive infographic me. I also love emergent technology. So I really love this.

It’s a good time in the UK to be watching the International Space Station at the moment. There are several ways to know when it’s coming over. I use an app on my phone, some people visit the website and this enterprising person created their own warning light.  New lights might be in order for the ISS itself to help the astronauts stay alert.

I really want to try this, superstitious investments for the lazy.

Bananas have great illustrative capabilities for science. Ray Comfort attempted to use it to show the creative power of God, but ended up showing his own scientific ignorance and Skeptical Raptor uses it to show some good skeptical processing.

Somebody has gone and built a to-scale Noah’s Ark. There is a bit of me that thinks this is very sad and another that it is very cool. You can make your own minds up. I’m not sure how they are going to get it moving but if they can fit the requisite number of species aboard then they are just as likely to be able to use this remarkable means of power.

Interesting article on the charitable (or not) status of some religious groups in the UK.

It’s a possible hit and run story that is millions of years old and had no witnesses. Scientists try to piece the clues together on how the moon was formed.

A bit of behavioural observation that us users of public transport will recognise here.

“Honour Killing”, only the latter of those words is in any way accurate in the terrible story of Shafilea Ahmed and its implications for the community.

Next an interesting article comparing climate change skeptics to conspiracy theorists. This first appeared on the Guardian site but I enjoyed the comments on this one more.

Whatever the state of the planet perhaps it is the neo-environmentalists that will save us all. If not them then it will have to be the superhero manatees.

The 8th of August is the wonderful Rebecca Stott author of Darwin’s Ghosts and other books. This is a skeptics in the pub premiere with a truly fascinating topic. On top of that this month we have the return of our social, an informal gathering to chat and socialise. This has proven popular for people that find  the  talk nights too busy to meet people properly.

As gay protestors oppose food outlet Chick-fil-A’s position on same sex marriages other people show that they too can make a stand for their beliefs on this. This man embodies for me the full value of the opposition with his dramatic demonstration of Mr Bean style bravado.

This round-up was put together by @paddyrex with the help of stalwart contributor Roy Beddowes

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