10 January 2006

Today in the Science News

Hyperspace engine redux:
New Scientist has a very good summary if you want more information on Heim theory, Droescher, and Heim's particle mass equation.

Bird flu not so deadly after all?:
The gist of the article is that bird flu may be going underreported due to mild cases that don't kill the patients, so that the overall mortality of bird flu is lower than it appears.

Here's something else to think about. Bird flu is in Southeast Asia (and now Turkey). I absolutely guarantee you that the mortality of severe cases would be significantly lower if it were in a thoroughly developed area like the United States (as was the case with SARS). I wonder why no articles ever seem to make this point.

India aborting females:
Going the way of China. What I hate about these stories is that they always have to include something along these lines:
But there could be other serious consequences, Jha speculates, such as an impact on the spread of HIV. “If there are fewer females to marry and form stable sexual partnerships then males may resort to the use of paid sex,” he suggests.

Alcohol serves as a date rape drug:

Air Force looking for a space war game:
This story reminded me that I've really got to read Ender's Game.

Scientists finally discover how bees fly:
The funny part of this story is the repeated references to ID, and the scientists being portrayed as saying smugly, "We do too know how bees fly! So there!" One is forced to wonder how many leading questions the reporter had to ask to get them to say anything on the topic.

(For the record: I think ID is pretty silly. My personal take on the evolution debate is that God created the heaven and the earth, but I don't care how He did it. To me, the important thing is to know that we are God's creation. But that obviously isn't appropriate for science class.)

Protesting New Horizons:
And no, not because the name is silly. NS and Space.com both have stories about a group of people (about 30) protesting at Cape Canaveral because we are about to launch New Horizons, which is going to Pluto, which is not a frickin' planet. The craft, appropriately enough, is fueled by plutonium. So protesters are concerned about the possibility of an incident during launch.

I like how New Scientist titles their article, "US warns world of Pluto probe's nuclear payload," which makes it sound ever-so-vaguely ominous.

But Space.com has the best scoop.
"We are few, but we represent many," said Peg McIntire, a 95-year-old woman with the group Grandmothers for Peace, who protested Cassini and other nuclear-powered space missions.
Grandmothers for Peace?!?

I couldn't resist. I googled them. Their home page has the following news items:
  1. Death toll in Iraq, complete with a reference to the war being "built on lies"
  2. How to make sure your child is never bothered by those damn dirty military recruiters
  3. Scholarship winners (From the guidelines for the scholarship essay: "3. Write a brief autobiography of your activities relating to peace and social justice, nuclear disarmament issues, and conflict resolution. ... 5. Describe how you will contribute to a peaceful and just society in the future.")
  4. A warning about Chimpy McBushitlerburton reinstating the draft, and how your child can register as a CO
  5. A tribute, written by the above-named Peg, to the founder of Grandmothers for Peace, which includes the following paragraph:
  6. She balked when the idea of starting a peace group was presented to her. However, her first arrest on Good Friday, April 20, 1982, at Mather Air Force Base, changed her perspective. “As a mother and grandmother, I could no longer remain silent as our world rushes on its collision course with disaster which threatens the lives and futures of all children, everywhere, and the future of this beautiful planet itself,” said Barbara. (Emphasis added.)
  7. "The Starfish Flinger," a tale about a young man chucking starfish that had been washed ashore back into the water. Let's hope he wasn't walking along the Great Barrier Reef.
You would think that some nice little old ladies could get together and be in favor of peace without getting arrested, but apparently not.

Personally, when I see military personnel, even the dreaded recruiters, I make a special point of thanking them for their service. And when I read about loonies and loony groups like this one, it only strengthens my resolve to continue doing so.

But I'm young yet. Perhaps my philosophy will change after my first arrest.


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