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This photograph of the Trinity Test fireball was taken on 16 July, 1945 16ms after detonation.
Trinity Test Firebal 16ms After Detonation
Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie or crippling student loans. Seemingly rational individuals are, it turns out, able to hold completely irrational beliefs that can be remarkably resistant to objective reality. We never really landed on the moon. [science_finding_i_don’t_like] is just a scam so scientists can get more grant money. Aliens live in a base underneath Denver International Airport. Psychologists (possibly under orders from a shadowy cabal of New World Order officials and cyborg Pharma executives) suggest that a combination of cynicism and a feeling of powerlessness in the face of events, combined with a little added low self worth, makes the most fertile minds for conspiracy theories to take root in.
So, for those ripe to believe, Ars presents a few favorite conspiracy theories for your Memorial Day consideration:
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I love reading about conspiracy theories, especially the ones from out of the blue.
We Just Passed the Climate's "Grim Milestone" -- MotherJones
Over the last couple of weeks, scientists and environmentalists have been keeping a particularly close eye on the Hawaii-based monitoring station that tracks how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere as the count tiptoed closer to a record-smashing 400 parts per million.
Last week, we finally got there: The daily mean concentration was higher than at any time in human history, NOAA reported. So what does that mean for life on Earth?
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CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield performed a simple science experiment designed by grade 10 Lockview High School students Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner. The students from Fall River, Nova Scotia won a national science contest held by the Canadian Space Agency with their experiment on surface tension in space using a wet washcloth. Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA
Science is cool!
The Crisis in American Walking: How we got off the pedestrian path -- Tom Vanderbilt / Slate
A few years ago, at a highway safety conference in Savannah, Ga., I drifted into a conference room where a sign told me a “Pedestrian Safety” panel was being held.
The speaker was Michael Ronkin, a French-born, Swiss-raised, Oregon-based transportation planner whose firm, as his website notes, “specializes in creating walkable and bikeable streets.” Ronkin began with a simple observation that has stayed with me since. Taking stock of the event—one of the few focused on walking, which gets scant attention at traffic safety conferences—he wondered about that inescapable word: pedestrian. If we were to find ourselves out hiking on a forest trail and spied someone approaching at a distance, he wanted to know, would we think to ourselves, “Here comes a pedestrian”?
... The United States walks the least of any industrialized nation. Studies employing pedometers have found that where the average Australian takes 9,695 steps per day (just a few shy of the supposedly ideal “10,000 steps” plateau, itself the product, ironically, of a Japanese pedometer company’s campaign in the 1960s), the average Japanese 7,168, and the average Swiss 9,650, the average American manages only 5,117 steps. Where a child in Britain, according to one study, takes 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day, a similar U.S. study found a range between 11,000 and 13,000.
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The field of study called population genetics has played a critical role in the development of modern biology, helping unite Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution into one coherent framework. In most genetics classes, though, it typically gets plowed through in a simplified form in a single lecture. I suspect this is because it involves a lot of math, and most biologists like being in the field precisely because it's generally possible to avoid all but the simplest math.
Nevertheless, population genetics has some critical insights to offer in the area of modern genomics, as evidenced by a paper that appeared in this week's edition of Science. Some population geneticists have looked into the results of the search for mutations in genome data. Their conclusion: the human population explosion has led to the appearance of many new, rare mutations in the human population, and it's throwing all the math off, which has some serious implications for medical research.
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Six Ways Investments in Space are Paying Technology Dividends on Earth -- Popular Science
Each time NASA gets a new budget from Congress, a recurring debate takes a spin through a media cycle or two. At its simplest this conflict of opinion is a split between people who think Americans give NASA too much money and those who think it’s not enough. There are the more nuanced arguments too, those that hinge on specific line items and whether or not a specific program or ambition is worth it (or not worth it). But all the noise can largely be distilled into a question that looms ever larger in the current age of austerity: is what we’re getting out of NASA worth what we’re putting in? Is space science a good investment?
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If you ever sit back and wonder what it might have been like to live in the late Pleistocene, you’re not alone. That's right about when humans emerged from a severe population bottleneck and began to expand globally. But, apparently, life back then might not have been too different than how we live today (that is, without the cars, the written language, and of course, the smartphone). In this week’s Nature, a group of researchers suggest that we share many social characteristics with humans that lived in the late Pleistocene, and that these ancient humans may have paved the way for us to cooperate with each other.
Modern human social networks share several features, whether they operate within a group of schoolchildren in San Francisco or a community of millworkers in Bulgaria. The number of social ties a person has, the probability that two of a person’s friends are also friends, and the inclination for similar people to be connected are all very regular across groups of people living very different lives in far-flung places.
So, the researchers asked, are these traits universal to all groups of humans, or are they merely byproducts of our modern world? They also wanted to understand the social network traits that allowed cooperation to develop in ancient communities
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The National Center for Science Education has been defending the teaching of evolution since before Edwards vs. Aguillard, the 1987 Supreme Court decision that declared the teaching of creationism an unconstitutional promotion of religion. Although its primary focus is on supporting teachers and students by helping them handle public controversies caused by science education, the organization played a critical role in the Dover case, which blocked the teaching of creationism's descendent, intelligent design.
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