Science

Flu Vaccinations - Another example of group stupidity

Most people, when let alone, are not dumb. They can make reasonable decisions if given the right information. However, when people are part of large groups, somehow it seems, the IQ of an average individual, and even the effective IQ of the group as a whole, appears to decrease. Members of the group can then do really dumb things.

One such example of group stupidity is the case of Influenza vaccinations here in Israel.

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Earth's magnetic field protecting us from deadly radiation - A common misconception

From time to time, I hear the statement that Earth's magnetic field is important because it protects earth from "deadly" radiation, and that when the magnetic field will reverse, this lethal radiation will be... very bad. One such example is this promo for a NOVA program called "magnetic storm". Well, I have news. Nothing really bad will happen to us!

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No life on Earth either!

After finding out that Earth is not a planet (it didn't clear out its orbit...), I now learned that Earth's doesn't have life on it. Sounds strange? Well, Navarro-González et la., in a recent paper that appeared in PNAS, showed that the same tests used on the Viking program and that came out negative for life on Mars, showed negative results also in ...

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"SKY" experiment demonstrates link between cosmic rays and condensation nuclei!

After a long embargo, results from the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) Sky experiment were finally published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The results demonstrate a clear link between cosmic ray induced atmospheric ionization and the formation of condensation nuclei, thus strengthening the claims that cosmic rays affect cloud cover and climate (and consequently implying that a large fraction of 20th century global warming should be attributed to the increased solar activity).

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Comments on nature's "A cosmic connection"

Last week, a report by Jeff Kanipe appeared in nature. In it, Kanipe explains the solar → cosmic-ray → climate connection, and the planned CLOUD experiment in CERN, expected to finally resolve the issue. Given that my work is mentioned in the review, I through I should mention a few relevant points.

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Planet, Gone!

The Plutonian system: Pluto and two moons viewed from a third.
In the last general assembly of the international astronomical union, astronomers voted to demote planet Pluto, to strip it of its planetary status. The reasons for the reduced status are clear. (And it was coming for a long while!) The surprising bit, however, was the definition the particular astronomers concocted, eh, came up with. They were looking for a precise definition, and indeed found one, one which is precisely wrong. According to it, Earth is not a planet either!

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Recently Added Articles: (1) surpassing Eddington (2) Walking on Ice

Recently added material in ScienceBits includes:

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Jumbo Deluxe Hail

Here are some pictures and a physicists take of a fantastic hail storm which took place west of Jerusalem in October 2004. The largest stones were up to 5 cm in diameter and several car windshields were shattered!

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The coming of another ice-age?

A few days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article from Time magazine, entitled: "Another Ice Age?". No it is not a recent article. It is politically incorrect to talk about global cooling these days. The article appeared in 1974, after "three decades of cooling" prompted some to believe that an imminent ice-age may be coming. It is interesting to read it in perspective, and perhaps there is a lesson we could learn from it. Here are a few excerpts from it. Read and enjoy.

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Recently added articles: Stellar parameters, rowing boats, water propelled rockets.

Recently added material in ScienceBits includes:
  • Estimate the basic stellar parameters using the tendency for energy equipartition. In particular, the temperature at the center of the sun, the mass-radius relationship of white dwarfs and their Chandrasekhar limit are all estimated. These were taken from my order-of-magnitude course notes.
  • Row Row Row your boat, but at which maximum speed? This is a classic example of an order of magnitude analysis giving a lot of physical insight (and impressive predictive power).
  • Analysis of the classic homemade water rocket, taken straight out of my first year physics majors classical mechanics notes. There is even a rocket simulator with which the trajectory can be calculated and graphed.

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You are about as likely to die from a meteor as you are from a plane crash!

It may sound strange, but you are probably as likely to die from a meteor as you are from a plane crash. Think it's bizarre? Here is the statistics.

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The murky future of the human gene pool

A conversation I had with a friend made me realize something interesting. Modern medical technology is responsible for the constant degradation of the human gene pool. How? Simple, we allow bad genes to propagate.

Take me for example...

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Have you heard of the silent Earthquake?

Did you know that there are huge earthquakes which aren't felt? Did you know that similar waves appear everyday when two objects with dry friction between them start to move?

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Recently added articles: (1) On Global Warming (2) Snow above freezing

Recently added material in ScienceBits includes:

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Lightning Strikes without a storm!

When visiting the president, I learned about a strange event that was recorded by the Columbia space shuttle: A lightning flash without a thunderstorm! What could it be??

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