On Books, #12

“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy.”

— James Madison

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Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Pet and Your Health

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More than 60 percent of all American households have at least one pet. And the evidence to date indicates that caring for a pet can lower your blood pressure, encourage exercise and improve your psychological health. In A Pet in Your Life Keeps the Doctor Away, Science Daily briefly explores these points, and reports on the upcoming Human-Animal Interaction Conference to take place in Kansas City (Missouri) from October 20th to the 25th.

Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Chatspeak & Spelling Ability

The headline on the article reads RU Kidding? Research Finds That Chatspeak Has No Impact on Children’s Spelling Ability — but that’s not quite accurate with respect to the more subtle evidence that emerges from a recent study reported by the University of Alberta.

For instance, “while the researchers expected there to be some correlation between poor spelling and chatspeak, [Connie] Varnhagen [author of the small, class-based study] said they were pleasantly surprised by the results.

“‘Kids who are good spellers [academically] are good spellers in instant messaging,’ she said. ‘And kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging.’

“What was surprising, though, was how chatspeak use and spelling played in the battle of the sexes. Girls used more chatspeak than boys, who preferred to express themselves through repeated use of punctuation. However, the study found that boys who used chatspeak and abbreviations more frequently were poorer spellers. Conversely, girls who used more abbreviations were better spellers than girls who did not use many abbreviations in their messages.”

For more of interest, see the brief writeup in Science Daily.

Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Hurricanes More Frequent, Not More Intense

A statistical study of hurricane frequency and intensity by Clemson University researchers has concluded that, contrary to testimony in recent Senate hearings, there is no evidence that Atlantic hurricanes are increasing in intensity – but that there is evidence to the effect that they are occurring with greater frequency.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ozone Depletion Countered

The collateral damage that human technology periodically wreaks upon our home planet can successfully be countered given the will and determination to do so. Such is the message of the latest report on ozone recovery in the upper stratosphere.

The evidence indicates that ozone continued to decline at a high rate from 1979 until 1997, despite the adoption of stringent limits on manmade gases synthesized from bromine and chlorine in the Montreal Protocol of 1987. But for the last decade, the level of ozone has stabilized or increased slightly. Scientists now anticipate a long-term recovery, and ultimate success in stemming the damage.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Estimating the Number of Habitable Planets

Microbes Living on Antarctic Sandstone (Europlanet Outreach)

Microbes Living on Antarctic Sandstone (Europlanet Outreach)

We are certainly beginning to learn that life is more ubiquitous, persistent and diverse than previously imagined.

In Adding Up the Odds for Life, Astrobiology Magazine briefly discusses a proposal launched at the European Planetary Science Congress this past week to develop an equation that will allow astrobiologists to quantify an estimate of habitable planets, based on specific, measureable criteria. A similar analysis appears in Science Daily. For the original European Planetary Science Congress press release, see New Drake Equation to Quantify Habitability? at EuroPlanet Outreach.

In an item of related interest, see also Exotic Life Beyond Life? Looking for Life as We Don’t Know It.

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

. . . and Continues

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Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Citizenship Day Continues

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Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Haysville Citizenship Day In Progress

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Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 11:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Mapping Ganymede

Jupiter's moon Ganymede, largest moon in the solar system

Jupiter's moon Ganymede, largest moon in the solar system

Larger than the planet Mercury, Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system – and now, it’s just the third moon in the solar system to be mapped in detail. For more information, see the two-page abstract Global Geologic Mapping of Ganymede. There’s also a report at Science Daily.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Faking History

Lenin Harangues Petrograd Crowd (As Altered)

Lenin Harangues Petrograd Crowd (As Altered)

Time Magazine features a very interesting (but hardly definitive) selection of altered photographs they characterize as the Top 10 Doctored Photos, including one of Lenin haranguing a revolutionary crowd in Petrograd (with Trotsky and Kamenev expunged), one of William T. Sherman and his staff by Matthew Brady with Francis Blair pasted in, a shot of Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl with Joseph Goebbels deleted, and several more curious historical examples of revisionism.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Andromeda in Ultraviolet

Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in Ultraviolet (NASA/Swift)

Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in Ultraviolet (NASA/Swift)

NASA’s Swift satellite has secured a new high-resolution ultraviolet image of the Milky Way’s sister Andromeda galaxy, exposing some 20,000 ultraviolet sources such as hot young stars and star clusters. Compare the image above with the visible light image below.

At 2.5 million light years distant from our own galaxy, Andromeda is more than 220,000 light years across. For more details on this image and its implications see this item at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center website or this summary at Science Daily.

Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in Visible Light (NASA)

Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in visible Light (NASA)

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment