Sunday 19 February 2012

Weekly Round-Up w/e 19/02/2012

Image: Tom Whyntie/CMS/CERN
Quarksgluonsred giantswhite dwarfs, big bang. There are eight billion stories in the naked universe, here are a just a few of them in the Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub Weekly Round-up; trawling through space and time but mostly the global system of interconnectedness so you don’t have to.

Have you watched our Andy McIntosh talk on DVD yet? If you want to get hold of your own shiny boxed-up copy let me refer you over to the DVD page where Chris has handily laid out the contact and purchasing details. We’re still interested in your reactions and opinions so keep sending us your feedback.

Did you see that particularly snazzy looking solar system t-shirt Alice Sheppard was sporting for the last Sitp Talk? Well, here's another astronomical representation, except this is a box of chocolates, and it costs a hefty 3800 Yen; that’s £30GBP to you and me. Go on; indulge yourself with some chocolaty goodness and giggly Uranus puns. More space calories here and here. Resistance is Delicious.

Sticking with space stories: A Martian meteorite , an incredibly rare object, has been given to science to help unravel the Red Planet's secrets; Rock star Sting narrowly misses out on a having a Meteorite on his doorstep; and, with no need to reach for the Google incognito window, some elliptical dwarf on dwarf action.

Back on terra-firma, I don’t know how I missed this, call myself a Brummie! Apparently there’s something called The Dudley Bug. No, it’s not a virus that makes you talk funnaay, sorry, erm, funny; it’s a Trilobite, which also features on the original Dudley coat of arms. These critters can be found in the sedimentary rock exposures left over from old mine and quarry workings in the West Midlands; hard to imagine that this area was once covered by warm tropical shallow coral seas. (Tip o’ the hat to Birmingham University’s Mark Pallen for this nugget from The Rough Guide to Evolution.

If you’re an avid book reader then you may sympathise with Julian Smith’s obsessive feelings.

Studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Coffee enema vs. chemotherapy study and Energy Chelation are dubbed “brain-meltingly bad.", "magic, faith healing," and laughable.

Physicists have come up with an equation that explains and predicts the shape of a ponytail.

This is enough to make your blood boil:-

We’re a romantic lot here at Brum SitP (even though we know it’s really just a heady cocktail of chemicals at work) so we couldn’t let Valentine’s Day pass us by, especially when there’s some cool science references thrown in. Have a look at what CERN, The Bad Astronomer  and DNA Lab have lovingly put together. Click through on the CERN link to Suzie Sheehy’s excellent Valentine’s poem with an equation from SitP favourite Matt Parker.
Oh, the agony of de feet… Study debunks ionic footbath detox claims.

A faith healing television channel has been fined £25,000 by media regulator Ofcom over a series of breaches, including a televangelist who claimed that he could help individuals with serious illnesses using "miracle olive oil soap".

Well if we’re going to have a magic soap story then it’s only right that a magic water link should follow: Water twiddlers micro blog too - Free Homeopathy consultations on twitter. Hmm, can you recommend something for a severe case of RFI - Repetitive Face-palm Injury?

A couple of stories from over the pond: In an article from the Financial Times, Julian Baggini takes a look at Atheism in America, while in Texas, ex-Christian Matt Dillahunty from The Atheist Experience gives an impassioned response to a caller during a live discussion on The Real Cost of Religious Faith.

Get your irrational proposals here: An Irish Parliamentarian has proposed a change in the law regarding car registration plates, to allow motorists to avoid license plates that contain the number 13.

It’s only been a short while since my last tour of Nam, though looking at the line-up of speakers at this year’s Science Festival , Cheltenham is going to be worth a second visit between the 12th and 17th June. This year’s theme is ‘X’, from X-Men to X chromosomes. Download the comprehensive festival guide for more details.

From the Council for Secular Humanism: Hitchens from beyond the grave, in defense of Richard Dawkins.

Brain Pickings is an excellent resource for extraordinary and interesting articles. Here’s a lovely collection of six vintage-inspired animations on critical thinking aimed at children aged 8-10. The films are designed to promote a set of educational resources on critical thinking by TechNYou, an emerging technologies public information project funded by the Australian government.

Warning! Graphic depictions of morally reprehensible acts ahead. An amusing piece on why god hates checkered whiptail lizards.

An 83-year-old Belgian woman is able to chew, speak and breathe normally again after a machine printed her a new jawbone which has proven to be as functional as her own used to be.

Religion is being "side-lined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere", Conservative co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph. Crispian Jago and the Daily Mash fire off a couple of satirical broadsides while Polly Toynbee and Martin Robbins respond from the pages of The Guardian.

Time to cosy up: Sam Harris-The Fireplace Delusion & Hate mails with Richard Dawkins.

From Sci-ence: Which embryo is human?

Iranian women ninjas:: In a society that treats them like children, sports and especially martial arts offer a way to express strength and independence.

Bringing this week’s Round-up to a close there’s just space to remind you that Deborah Hyde will be with us on March 14th where the theme will be Unnatural Predators, the malign supernatural and the folklore of fear. Don’t forget, we’ll also be clinking our skeptical glasses together for Galileo in the Old Contemptibles at our February Social.

Here’s a trio of movies to send you on your way: The excellent  Helen Arney with You and me and Walt Disney ; like a surreal Busby Berkeley movie, some quite bizarre formation dancing; and from KMel Robotics, a swarm of Nano Quadrotors.

This week’s Round-up was compiled by SitP regular Roy Beddowes.

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