Category Archives: Science

Gold Leaf

In this article from Science Daily, we learn that eucalyptus trees are pumping gold out of the ground.

Let P Be A Constant

Another item from the frontiers of science: the Law of Mammalian Urination.

Wake Up And Smell The Lowered Mortality Rate

With a hat tip to our man Mangan, here’s some good news: coffee helps prevent liver disease. The more you drink, the more it helps.

Dying By The Seat Of Your Pants

With a hat tip to our friend Mangan: sitting will kill you.

Head Start

Interesting item here: the human population may have undergone significant expansion far longer ago than we’ve thought up till now — not ten millennia ago, but sixty to eighty. How, I wonder, does this fit in with the “Toba bottleneck” theory, in which the entire breeding population of humans is thought to have crashed to […]

Whom The Gods Would Destroy

Sometimes, scientific research leads to conclusions that are starkly at odds with ordinary experience, with common sense, and with the received wisdom of the ages. Not so here, however: a new study from the UK finds a correlation between ethnic diversity (“lower own-group density”) and psychosis. From the abstract: Results For every ten percentage point […]

Steven Pinker On Scientism

Steven Pinker has just published an article that seemed to be getting a lot of attention earlier today. His essay is a rejoinder to the claim, made by many in the humanities, that scientifically minded secular types are besotted by “scientism”, which is nothing more than a new form of faith masquerading as pure rationality. […]

Small World

Note: I’ve taken down this post for now, in order to rewrite it. Feel free to email me about it: malcolm [at] malcolmpollack.com.

Hawkmoths Jam Bat Radar With Bursts Of Ultrasonics From Their Genitals

Here. Hat tip: John D.

Unity And Diversity

Here’s a paper worth reading carefully, from Frank Salter and Henry Harpending: J.P. Rushton’s theory of ethnic nepotism In brief, the paper argues that in ethnically diverse settings, the statistical advantage conferred by intra-ethnic altruistic cohesion is sufficient to create significant group-level selection pressure, even when the actual kin relations are fairly weak. Related content […]

Speak Of The Devil!

In recent days we’ve linked to an assortment of comments on the public flaying and excommunication of Jason Richwine. (The linked items have all been supportive; had I found anything from the other side that I thought was intellectually respectable enough to offer our readers, I would have done so. If you readers have anything […]

The Greatest Of Heresies

Despite the multiple eruptions of scandal threatening to engulf the Obama administration (a dazzling constellation of embarrassments that I would normally be commenting on with gusto), it’s the Jason Richwine affair that has my attention. It is the best and most public example, so far, of the pathological cognitive dissonance required to sustain mainstream multiculturalist […]

This Just In!

Now here’s an interesting item: it seems that upper-body strength in males correlates positively with opposition to redistributive economic policies. We read: “Our results demonstrate that physically weak males are more reluctant than physically strong males to assert their self-interest — just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation […]

Casting Out The Devil, Cont’d

Michelle Malkin has now joined the small chorus of writers protesting the ruination of Jason Richwine for crimespeak (see our previous entry, just below). She writes: Richwine’s 166-page dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy,” is now being used to smear him – and by extension, all of Heritage’s scholarship – as “racist.” While the punditocracy and […]

Casting Out The Devil

The Heritage Foundation’s recent immigration study, mentioned in these pages just the other day, has now attracted the attention of the Inquisition. In particular, one of the study’s authors, Jason Richwine — who made the serious mistake of making public certain well-researched psychometric data of a profoundly heretical nature — today finds himself, in conformance […]

Stop The Presses!

What’s just fantastic about living in these exciting times is that just about every day, Science turns up amazing facts that nobody could ever have imagined possible. (Nobody, that is, who received his or her education in the liberal West of the past few decades; these things would of course have been blindingly obvious to […]

Lest We Forget

All right, I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, sure, all this ‘civilization’ stuff you’re always on about is probably kind of important, I guess… …but what about knotted vortices?” Right you are. And here you go. Related content from Sphere

NSFW

From Norway: an uncommonly open-minded video about race. Here.

The Next Cold War?

A young researcher in China has begun a project to find the genetic basis for the heritable components of human intelligence. We shouldn’t be surprised to see that this is happening in China, and not in the West, where most of the academics I know are of the opinion that there’s no such thing as […]

Chasing Rainbows

A vexing feature of modern physicalistic non-theism is that, followed to its logical conclusion, it leads to moral nihilism. (I realize that theistic attempts to put morality on an objective basis also face serious challenges, but that’s not the point tonight.) Moral nihilism being, to most folks, bad, there’s been a rash lately of books […]

Spot The Bug

Here’s an clever idea: crowdsourcing of malaria diagnosis, using a simple video game. Have a look.

Competition For Excrement Is Fierce

If you’re like me (of course you are!), you’ve been lying awake at night, asking yourself: “How the hell do South African dung beetles roll their balls in a straight line? Sure, polarized light from the Sun works fine during the day (duh!), but what about at night, when many of them do their best […]

Hard Science

Here’s another shocker from the frontiers of medical research: Slimmer Women’s Waist is Associated with Better Erectile Function in Men Independent of Age IIEF scores don’t lie, folks. Story here. Related content from Sphere

Air-Ball

On February 15th, the asteroid 2012 DA14 will be passing by at the rather intimate distance of 21,500 miles. That’s mighty close: it’s actually within the Clarke orbit used by geosynchronous communication satellites, which circle the planet 22,300 miles up. It definitely will not hit us, say the boffins, and when it comes to this […]

Constructor Theory

From a fascinating interview with physicist David Deutsch: There’s a notorious problem with defining information within physics, namely that on the one hand information is purely abstract, and the original theory of computation as developed by Alan Turing and others regarded computers and the information they manipulate purely abstractly as mathematical objects. Many mathematicians to […]

In The Beginning…

If you’re like me, you’ve been asking yourself lately: when did people first make cheese? Here’s your answer.

Born That Way

Writing at The Thinking Housewife, Laura Wood examines an article, by one Alice Dreger, about the sexuality of two African tribes, the Aka and the Ngandu, in which both masturbation and homosexuality are absent. Mrs. Wood writes: Dreger says that the absence of homosexuality does not conflict with the prevailing belief in the West that […]

Two Steps Forward, …

Here’s a website that will appeal, I think, to at least a few of our readers, for various reasons: Retraction Watch.

Party Animals

It’s been known for a while that extraversion — one of the “Big Five” personality traits — is positively correlated with longevity in humans. (Pessimism, on the other hand, is negatively correlated, so I’ll take this opportunity to say that it’s been nice knowing you, readers.) It now appears, perhaps unsurprisingly, that this extraversion-longevity relation […]

Jews, Genes And Intelligence

I haven’t much time for writing today, so for now, here’s Steven Pinker on the genetic basis of the high IQ of Ashkenazi Jews. Pinker is one academic who, despite being a fairly high-echelon member of the Cathedral staff, apparently has an office with a window, and flirts openly with apostasy. Among the apostatic asseverations […]

Chomsky, Prediction, and Polls

An interesting item from Dan Foster. Here.

Not Politics!

From Edge.org, here’s a fascinating article about human athleticism, and how it compares to that of other mammals.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

Some house-guests arrived sometime after midnight Thursday night  —  the night of the bizarre VP debate  —  and of course before anyone could go to bed we had to spend an hour or so arguing about politics. (They’re liberal sorts.) Healthcare came up. So did the alleged “fact” that the healthcare system of the  U.S.A. […]

Entropy and Ethics

Last year I wrote a little post about visiting Google’s lavish offices in Manhattan to see my friend Greg, who had recently joined their engineering staff. Here’s a longish excerpt: It being a mild day, Greg and I dined al fresco on a high terrace with a sweeping view of Midtown. (I had a delightful […]

New York To London In 0.00186 Seconds

Here’s another edgy little item: warp drives might be feasible after all. Sharpens up the Fermi paradox even more, if so.

BZR

If you’re a “reactionary” like me, then you’re sure to enjoy this.

Middle Of Nowhere

Here’s a stunning 360-degree panorama from Mars, courtesy of the rover Opportunity.

Why Explore Space?

With a hat tip to reader JK: In 1970, a Zambia-based nun named Sister Mary Jucunda wrote to Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, then-associate director of science at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in response to his ongoing research into a piloted mission to Mars. Specifically, she asked how he could suggest spending billions of dollars on […]

Red Rover, Red Rover

All eyes on Mars tonight! I’ll bet the thing lands on a cat. More here.

Then And Now At NEJM

Here’s an interesting item from the New England Journal of Medicine on the “changing task of medicine”. It looks back at NEJM’s pages from a century ago and more to see how both the technical and social aspects of medicine have changed. (The article cites hopeful remarks, for example, about how eugenics would someday supersede […]

More From James Lovelock

Scientist James Lovelock, best known for his development (with Lynn Margulis) of the “Gaia hypothesis” and for his ardent advocacy of radical measures to prevent global warming, surprised us all a little while back when he told MSNBC that in retrospect he thought he had been too “alarmist” about climate change. (It is no small […]

Bokanovsky’s Process

Today’s Times reported that it is now possible to read almost all of a fetus’s genome simply by taking blood from the mother and saliva from the father. Lurking behind the headlines is an idea, once heartily embraced by Progressive intellectuals: eugenics. Thanks to certain mid-20th-century events, eugenics nowadays is generally thought of as entirely […]

Taubes On Salt

Here’s Gary Taubes in Sunday’s New York Times, writing about the flimsy case for restricting dietary salt. (Mayor Bloomberg, take note.)

Photo-cells

Our reader The Big Henry has been sending along some engaging science-related links lately, and he’s just sent me another. This one has to do with the possibility that “biophotons” — light quanta emitted within living cells — may be a channel for some sort of information transfer. I’ve never heard anything about this until […]

Lower than 100%?

Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Risk of Death, Study Suggests

HDL Loses Its Halo?

Here’s an interesting item: “Good” Cholesterol Not So Good After All, New Study Shows The revelation that high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good cholesterol” has suffered a major blow. A meta-study involving over a hundred thousand participants used two different strategies to see if genetic mutations that increased levels of HDL also decreased risk […]

Oh, Canada!

Attention, teens: if you need some help answering the call of the wild, then make your way to Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition, now running at Ottawa’s Museum of Science and Technology. The exhibit includes floor-to-ceiling photos of nude toddlers, children, teens and adults, and an array of heated, flavoured and textured condoms rolled over wooden […]

No Skyhook, But A Damned Fine Crane

Our reader Henry has sent along a thought-provoking item about a mechanism by which complex systems can bootstrap themselves into existence: autocatalytic sets. The idea is particularly intriguing in its metaphorical generality, and its applicability may well extend beyond chemistry to social and political domains as well. Have a look. An explanatory article is here, […]

Any Questions?

Here’s Richard Feynman explaining, with trademark clarity and simplicity, how science works. (Would that the video clip were as clear, but it’s worth watching anyway.)

Here Comes The Sun

It seems old Sol has just launched a gigantic flare our way — the biggest in seven years — and we will notice its effects on Tuesday. While you’re waiting, here’s a fantastic gallery of solar images. My favorites: numbers 15 and 16. Related content from Sphere