Daily Bulletin for 05/22/2017

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5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Aliens

Robby Berman, Big Think

As we perhaps draw thrillingly/terrifyingly closer to discovering life elsewhere in the universe, the chorus of people warning us to be careful what we wish for is growing louder. Most famously, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has argued for hitting the brakes, reiterating as recently as 2016 his concern about seeking alien contact in his comments about possibly life on Gliese 832c: “One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this.

Why Occam’s Razor Doesn’t Apply to Physics

Ross Pomeroy, RealClearScience

Occam’s razor is one of the most useful tools for logic and problem solving ever devised: When examining competing hypotheses to explain phenomena, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Simpler is better.

What If Whole Foods Was Science-Based?

Jenny Splitter, Science of Us

Whole Foods used to be my idea of grocery heaven. Once upon a time, I shopped at the California Street location in San Francisco it was light and airy with produce for miles. I knew the cheesemonger. I had philosophical conversations with the butcher. I stared longingly at the Le Creuset bakeware. The soap aisle smelled like lavender. Heaven.

Medicine May Return to the Dark Ages

Ed Whiting, The Guardian

When Prof Sally Davies published The Drugs Don’t Work in 2013, it wasn’t some allusion to a Verve number from the 1990s, but a sombre warning of the growing threat posed by bacteria evolving resistance to life-saving antibiotics. If this were left unaddressed, she argued, it would lead to the erosion of modern medicine as we know it.

Why Humans Should Be Called Homo Prospectus

Tierney & Seligman, NY Times

We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the wise man, but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? Various answers have been proposed language, tools, cooperation, culture, tasting bad to predators but none is unique to humans.

The Sea Cucumber That Became a Jellyfish

Jennifer Frazer, Sci American

H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the infamous Cthulhu mythos, said his dread tentaculate creature slumbered in a sunken city in the South Pacific Ocean. In that very spot (and in other spots around the world) may live a creature with a striking resemblance: the world’s only full-time swimming sea cucumber.

Hoax Paper Says Penis Is “Social Construct"

Lindsay & Boghossian, Skeptic

“The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial."That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a paper consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

How a Black Hole’s Singularity Evaporates

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

It’s hard to imagine, given the full diversity of forms that matter takes in this Universe, that for millions of years, there were only neutral atoms of hydrogen and helium gas. It’s perhaps equally hard to imagine that someday, quadrillions of years from now, all the stars will have gone dark.

Space Exploration Is the Best Way to Bring Hope

Earle Kyle, Aeon Magazine

I am one of the few African-American aerospace engineers who helped design the Apollo spaceships that took men to the Moon. My great-grandfather was a slave in Claiborne, Alabama, who used primitive tools to work the land. My father was born in Alabama before the Wright brothers made mankind’s first flight.

Coral Found That Doesn’t Mind Climate Change

Ashley Taylor, The Scientist

As global temperatures rise, coral bleaching events, in which ocean temperature hikes cause corals to expel their algal symbionts, are happening again and again (reefs worldwide are in the midst of one). Symbiont loss deprives the corals of the pigments that give them both nutrients, via photosynthesis, and color.

A Grand New Theory of Life’s Evolution

Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic

The modern world gives us such ready access to nachos and ice cream that it’s easy to forget: Humans bodies require a ridiculous andfor most of Earth’s historyimprobable amount of energy to stay alive.Consider a human dropped into primordial soup 3.8 billions years ago, when life first began. They would have nothing to eat.

Why Lots of Scientists Are Heckling Bill Nye

Hilary Brueck, Forbes

It happened in the wee hours of the morning Friday on Twitter: A group of scientists started introducing themselves to science superstar Bill Nye with a brand new hashtag: #BillMeetScienceTwitter.Dani Rabaiotti who studies the effects of climate change on wild dogs in Africa at University College London, was the first to say hello to Nye:

A Radical New Approach to Treating Infection

Usha Lee McFarling, Stat

LA JOLLA, Calif. As her father lay dying of sepsis, Janelle Ayres spent nine agonizing days at his bedside. When he didn’t beat the virulent bloodstream infection, she grieved. And then she got frustrated. She knew there had to be a better way to help patients like her dad.

Global Seed Vault Floods From Melting Permafrost

D. Carrington, Guardian

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

Scientists Study Glass Spheres From Volcanic Lightning

D. Berndtson, PBS

Studying volcanic eruptions in person can be dangerous, and scientists have died trying. Volcanic lightning yes, volcanoes make lightning! by contrast offers a safer opportunity to examine what happens inside a volcano. But these bright bolts still occur in vicious environments, plus the thick, dense plumes of ash can obscure lightning strikes.

“Combustible Ice" Extracted From Seafloor

Matthew Brown, The Independent

Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as combustible ice has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor off their coastlines.

Creationist Geologist Sues U.S. Park Service

Amanda Reilly, Science News

The Interior Department is facing a lawsuit from a Christian geologist who claims he was not allowed to collect rocks from Grand Canyon National Park because of his creationist beliefs.In the suit filed earlier this month, the Australian geologist, Andrew Snelling, says that religious discrimination was behind the National Park Service’s (NRS’s) decision to deny him a permit to gather samples from four locations in the park.

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