Monday, August 27, 2012
Here "The Science Guy" Bill Nye explains the dangers of denying the validity of evolution. Denying evolution clouds all scientific thinking at a time when scientific thinking has never been more needed in the world. "We need scientifically literate taxpayers and voters," he says, in reference to the younger generation. Listening to some of the recent scientifically ignorant statements coming out of Congress, I think "The Science Guy" is onto something.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Since their startling discovery in Peru’s coastal area during the 1920s, mystery still surrounds the so-called Nazca lines, depicting several massive images decipherable only from high altitudes.
The vast majority of the lines date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region. The earliest lines, created with piled up stones, date as far back as 500 BC.
According to LiveScience.com:
The purpose of the lines continues to elude researchers and remains a matter of conjecture. Ancient Nazca culture was prehistoric, which means they left no written records.
One idea is that they are linked to the heavens with some of the lines representing constellations in the night sky. Another idea is that the lines play a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place such as Cahuachi and its adobe pyramids.
Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert, and may have played a part in water-based rituals.
In the absence of a firm archaeological conclusion a number of fringe theories have popped up, especially several aligned with “ancient astronaut” theories. A less radical suggestion is that the Nazca people used balloons to observe the lines from high altitudes, something for which there still is no archaeological evidence.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Human pranksters are responsible for most crop circles in the world, but as with UFO phenomena, a certain number defy any logical explanation. One thing for certain, they're becoming more frequent, with at least one made every day somewhere in the world.
According to LiveScience.com:
Crop-circle enthusiasts have come up with many theories about what creates the patterns, ranging from the plausible to the patently absurd. One explanation in vogue in the early 1980s was that the circles were accidentally produced by the especially vigorous sexual activity of mating hedgehogs. As the patterns became more complex that idea was abandoned, but some of the theories that replaced it were equally outlandish. Some people have suggested that the circles are somehow created by incredibly localized and precise wind patterns, or by scientifically undetectable Earth energy fields and meridians called ley lines.
. . . While there are countless theories, the only known, proven causes of crop circles are humans. Many people believe that crop circles have been reported for centuries (for example mistakenly suggesting that a 1678 woodcut of a folkloric legend about Satan harvesting wheat is evidence of a crop circle); but in fact the first ones appeared only in the 1970s. Their origin remained a mystery until September 1991, when two men confessed that they had created the patterns for decades as a prank to make people think UFOs had landed. They never claimed to have made all the circles — many were copycat pranks done by others — but their hoax launched the crop-circle phenomenon. Most crop-circle researchers admit that hoaxers craft the vast majority of crop circles. But, they claim, there's a remaining tiny percentage that they can't explain.
The LiveScience.com article explores the attributes common to most crop circles and what are some of the suspected causes.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Here theoretical physicist Michio Kaku talks about the concept of dark matter being regular matter, just located in a parallel universe very near us. Plus, he briefly lays out several other current concepts regarding the origin of dark matter.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Biblical lying about Joseph's cloak.
Researchers recently determined that avoiding lying can make you healthier. (As a side note, previous research has shown that the average American lies 11 times a week.)
"It's certainly a worthy goal to have people be more honest and more genuine and interact with others in a more honest way," says psychologist Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts. "That would be ultimately beneficial.”
Each week for 10 weeks, 110 individuals, ages 18-71, took a lie detector test and completed health and relationship measures assessing the number of major and minor lies they told that week.
Researchers instructed half the participants to "refrain from telling any lies for any reason to anyone. You may omit truths, refuse to answer questions, and keep secrets, but you cannot say anything that you know to be false." The other half received no such instructions.
Over the study period, the link between less lying and improved health was significantly stronger for participants in the no-lie group, the study found. When participants in the no-lie group told three fewer minor lies than they did in other weeks, for example, they experienced, on average, four fewer mental-health complaints and three fewer physical complaints. Mental health complaints included feeling tense or melancholy; physical complaints included sore throats and headaches.
Painting depicts Biblical story of Joseph's brothers lying about his blood-smeared tunic, by Diego Velazquez, 1630.