Daily Bulletin for 05/15/2017

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05/15/2017
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You Shouldn’t Tell People About Your Dreams

Jim Davies, Sci American

I had a friend who tried hard to remember more of her dreams. She’d write them down and then tell people about them. She stopped, though, because it started interfering with her social life. She’d start talking about her dreams and people would leave the room.

Bret Stephens Is Right About Progressives and Science

Rafael Salazar, RCSci

When Bret Stephens, former columnist at the Wall Street Journal before joining the New York Times, wrote his inaugural column on April 28th, he broke the Internet. His argument that global warming and the human influence on it are real and undisputable, but that many other facets of the climate change debate are a matter of probabilities, did not sit well with opposing pundits. Challenging the accepted orthodoxy on climate change, it seems, is verboten.

Wandering Moons Could Become Habitable

D. Schulze-Makuch, Air & Space

In a recent paper, Owen Lehmer of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues examined what would happen if a large, icy moon wandered out of its orbit around a giant gas planet to end up in the inner region of its solar system.

A New Theory for the Female Orgasm

Leah Fessler, Quartz

In his new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal WorldAnd Us, Prum, an evolutionary ornithologist at Yale, challenges the dominant narrative among evolutionary biologists: that beauty and sexual ornaments, such as a peacock’s plumage, a deer’s antlers, or the size of a man’s penis, evolve for adaptive reasons.

Why a Human Head Transplant Won’t Happen Soon

Neuroskeptic, Discover

Will the first human head transplant happen soon? According to Sergio Canavero, it will and he’ll be the man to do it.In 2015, Canavero announced his intention to carry out the pioneering operation, with the head being that of a Russian man, Valery Spiridonov, who has a muscle degenerative disease. The source of the donor body was never specified. More recently, Canavero has said that a Chinese patient will be the first to have their head transplanted.

Ancient Burial Chamber Uncovered in Egypt

Eli Rosenberg, New York Times

Archaeological workers in Egypt unearthed an ancient human burial site with at least 17 intact mummies near the Nile Valley city of Minya, according to news agency reports.

Teaching Robots Right From Wrong

Simon Parkin, 1843

More than 400 years ago, according to legend, a rabbi knelt by the banks of the Vltava river in what is now known as the Czech Republic. He pulled handfuls of clay out of the water and carefully patted them into the shape of a man. The Jews of Prague, falsely accused of using the blood of Christians in their rituals, were under attack. The rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, decided that his community needed a protector stronger than any human. He inscribed the Hebrew word for truth, emet, onto his creation’s forehead and placed a capsule inscribed with a Kabbalistic formula into its mouth….

Terawatts of Solar Power Are Within Reach

Prachi Patel, Anthropocene

Enough solar energy strikes the earth in two hours to power the entire world. But in 2015, solar photovoltaics generated only 1 percent of the electricity produced globally.A new study takes a look at the barriers that need to be overcome for the world to generate terawatts of solar power. Technical, infrastructure, economic, and policy hurdles are keeping solar energy from providing a substantial fraction of global electricity generation, a team led by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says in the Science paper.

Can the Universe Still End in a Big Crunch?

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

One of the biggest advances of the 20th century has been to identify exactly how rich, expansive, and massive our Universe actually is. With approximately two trillion galaxies contained in a volume some 46 billion light years in radius centered on us, our Observable Universe allows us to reconstruct the entire tale of our cosmic history, stretching all the way back to the Big Bang and even, perhaps, slightly before.

Researcher Faces Jail for Sharing Scientific Paper

Oransky & Marcus, Stat

Could a young scientist really be facing serious jail time for sharing a single article with his colleagues?If you’ve been following the case of Diego Gomez, you’ll know the answer is much closer to yes than you might otherwise have imagined. And if Gomez, whose multiyear legal battle is likely to reach a head later this month with a verdict expected on May 24, does land behind bars, the chilling effect on researchers will be of Ice Age proportions.

Killer Whales Eating Great White Sharks

Kimon de Greef, Hakai

She was nearly five meters long, weighed more than a tonne, and could fit an entire human torso between her jaws. But the great white shark that washed up on a beach outside Cape Town, South Africa, last Wednesday had met a powerful adversary. A large wound gaped midway down her belly, where her liver had been removed with exacting precision.

Why Are We Having Less Sex?

Simon Copland, BBC Future

We live in one of the most sexually liberated times of human history. Access to new technologies over the past 40 years, whether it is the contraceptive pill, or dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, have opened a new world of possibilities. As the sexual revolution of the 1970s matured, societal norms shifted with it, with increasing acceptance of homosexuality, divorce, pre-marital sex, and alternative relationships such as polyamory and swinging.

Nutritional Science’s Biggest Blunder

Geoff Webb, The Conversation

In the three decades following World War II it became an almost universal belief of nutritional scientists that protein deficiency was the most serious and widespread dietary deficiency in the world. Improving protein nutrition became a high priority for UN agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

What Are the Ten Dimensions of String Theory?

Philip Perry, Big Think

Does string theory excite you? Mathematically, it holds up. Aspects about it suggest not one but several different dimensions, ones we’re not generally privy to, though we may be interacting with some of them all the time, completely unaware. Were it true, what would these dimensions look like and how might they affect us? And what is a dimension anyway?

“Rational" Arguments for God Fail Miserably

Steven Novella, Neurologica

I honestly don’t care what people choose to believe about unknowable speculations outside the realm of science and human knowledge. As long as they don’t use such belief as justification for public policy or to infringe on the rights of others, believe whatever you want.

Gravity Caught Stretching Quantum Objects

Kendra Redmond, Physics Central

Black holes and quantum mechanics are two of the most intriguing physics topics. Their strange and exotic features certainty capture the imagination. Now, new research in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Letters brings aspects of the two together in an experiment that shows, for the first time, that gravity stretches and squeezes quantum objects through tidal forces.

Anti-Science Education Laws Find Success in U.S.

Erin Ross, Nature News

State and local legislatures in the United States are experimenting with new ways to target the topics taught in science classes, and it seems to be paying dividends. Florida’s legislature approved a bill on 5 May that would enable residents to challenge what educators teach students.

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