The Sun's Shadow

Stumbling to find a light switch in the dark

Sarah Palin’s 17 yr old Daughter Pregnant News Released as Hurricane Pounds Gulf Coast

News broke today that Sarah Palin the Republican Nominee for Vice President 17 year old Daughter Bristol is 5 months pregnant, she is to wed the baby’s father at time still to be determined in the future.

There are a couple interesting things in this story, one is that they are releasing this information to correct a rumor. That rumor was that Sarah Palin’s youngest child (the one with Down Syndrome) is actually Bristol’s (17 yr old Daughter) and Sarah Palin faked the pregnancy. This is not true according to the Palin Family, and I would accept them at their word on that.

There is another interesting aspect to this story.

Republican presidential candidate McCain was aware of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he chose her mother for his running mate, the aide said.

“Senator McCain knew this and felt in no way did it disqualify her from being vice president,” said the aide. “Families have difficulties sometimes, and lucky for her she has a supportive family.”

They have known about this pregnancy and choose to release the information as Hurricane Gustav is pounding the gulf coast. Fox news was the first to break this story at approximately noon today, followed by the other news outlets.

Is it a coincidence this information is released at the same time a massive hurricane dominates all news? We certainly can consider that it’s just a coincidence, but it’s just not sitting well with me that the campaign knew this information and choose today during the height of the storm to release the information. It just smells of an attempt to bury the headline. On this one I think I have to call shenanigans on the McCain Campaign.

Your thoughts?


September 1, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Opinion, Personal, politics, TV, United States | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yahoo News Headline Wrong

I have to take yahoo news to task for their shoddy headline writing today. On the yahoo main page they have current headlines. The one that caught my eye was the article regarding deadly rouge waves.
Rogue wave can come from nothing, really?

Rogue waves can come from nothing, really?

      I take one look at this and all sorts of bells start going off in my head, research find the waves come from nothing, on it face I find this incredibly hard to believe. I clicked the link  trying to imagine how a huge wave would just form from nothing. The link opens and what do you think the title of the article is Secret to Towering Rogue Waves Revealed I am willing to bet that the secret is not nothing.

For centuries these killer waves had been dismissed as myths – towering walls of water blamed for mysterious disappearances of ships. But on New Year’s Day on 1995, a wave that reached more than 80 feet high was detected with scientific instruments at an oil platform in the North Sea, confirming the existence of these legends.

The waves are real and not just a myth and seemingly unconnected to the surface weather. What does the research say on how these waves come from nothing?

Previous work had suggested that it requires hundreds of miles of open sea for the waves to appear and disappear. Now scientists find that such waves could rapidly form without such buildup.

To investigate these waves, the researchers experimented with liquid helium in a cavity just an inch wide, whose fluid properties they could readily tinker with, far more so than attempting to do the same at sea. “The basic principles remain the same with both,” said researcher Peter McClintock, a physicist at the University of Lancaster in England.

Normally a large wave breaks up into smaller and smaller waves over time, until the viscosity of a fluid damps out these small waves. Now the scientists demonstrate the opposite can happen in fluids – tiny waves can concentrate together to become abnormally large waves “that emerge surprisingly quickly,” McClintock told LiveScience. “I’m pretty sure this is how rogue waves come about.”

Notice here where they reported the scientist believes the waves come from nothing? yeah I didn’t see it either, so how could the headline writer get this completely wrong to claim the research is saying the waves come from nothing? Well for both answers we only need to look at the first line of the article which is possibly the only thing the headline writer did.

Deadly rogue waves 100 feet tall or higher could suddenly rise seemingly out of nowhere from the ocean, research now reveals

Seemingly (emphasis added in quote) out of nowhere and actually out of nowhere mean two different things, as do nowhere and  nothing… but I am not sure the headline writer knows the difference. The basic model for rouge waves is that smaller waves basically combine and form the larger rouge wave. This is not nothing, it is in fact something.

 What bothers me here is that in science reporting this is how people get confused, between the headline and body their is a blatant contradiction. The research is clear and according to the researcher they have a good model by which these rouge waves could arise.  If only yahoo could have a model by which accurate headlines arise.

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science, Skepticism | , , , | Leave a comment

Oil From Bacteria

I just stumbled upon this article and it really goes to how awesome biology, life, science, humans are! The current price of oil and the fact that it is a limited resource got some people thinking and they seem to have found a way to make renewable oil, it is the exterition of Bacteria

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as wood chips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

By bugs he is talking about microscopic bacteria and how cool is that, through our understanding of molecular biology they altered the gentic code to excrete oil. That is pretty sweet science if you ask me.

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

Wow that is impressive, this still needs to be thoroughly explored and verified but if it is true it is just really amazing… We also have consider if we want to continue with oil as a fuel the article notes this creation as being carbon neutral or negative I would like to see more data on that.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science | , | Leave a comment

My Little Predators

     I have two cats and like most pet owners I enjoy them for their company and petting them is extremely relaxing. However one of the other great aspects of owning a dog or a cat is deep down they are still predators and I love to watch that instinct come out in them.

      The other night my girlfriend and I are sitting around our apartment watching TV, when she suddenly notices our female cat acting strange… and then my girlfriend sees it a big old NYC cockroach and the cat is tracking it. She freaks, I freak and the cat is still tracking it… it doesn’t care that its a bug it got that hunters look in her eyes… the roach quickly scrambles under the sofa and gone… the female cat has lost the trail, but now with the bug under the sofa we can not sit comfortably wanting not to be startled by the sudden reappearance of the roach.

      We move the sofa and try to cause a little commotion in an attempt to draw out the roach… it didn’t work but it got our male cat curious enough to get up and see why we are making a fuss and then he sees it crawling under the sofa… and with a look of determination he has now joined the hunt. The female then returns and the two of them create a perimeter around the sofa… this roach is now on a death clock the cats are locked in and seem to be enjoying this rarely used aspect of their lives… hunting… the male cat patiently stalks the bug flushes it out from under the sofa chases it under a chair and ultimately in to a corner under a table… he’s got it!

      Unfortunately for the cat this where we as owners come back in to finish the job… after all its a NYC roach filthy and disgusting and I don’t want the cat to begin toying with it and I certainly do not want either of them to eat it… We finish off the roach and the cats get treats for being good little predators.

     When you read about the history of cats and dogs and how they became our companions one of the top reasons universally given is pest control and still to this day its a service my cats are happy to perform.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Nature, New York, Personal, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

With All the Sex When Do They Do The Science

The Antarctic science team has received their yearly supplies which included 16,500 Condoms I have long known that when the lights go out the love talk starts, but it sounds like there might be a little piece of hedonism on the barren continent. I guess since the sun won’t rise again till August 20th they need something to keep their spirits up. The base is comprised of 125 scientists and workers during the dark winter months so that works out to average of 132 Condoms per person. Wow I don’t know when they will have time do the science but it does sound like they are prepared for fun in the dark!

June 9, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science, Sex | , , | Leave a comment

45 Trillion!

I know we have to do something for the environment/planet and the scientific consensus is that global warming is real and here to stay. Then this morning comes the price tag for us to deal with the situation 45 Trillion Dollars, that 45 with 12 zeros after it! Who came up with this number Dr. Evil?

The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a “energy revolution” that would greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.

I have no dispute here that something needs to be done, however the current cost estimate is staggeringly high even when spread out over time. Obviously there are the little things we all can do to help slow down the warming and reduce our individual contributions too it. However in addition to all these things we need some ingenuity and to use the cliche “outside the box” thinking. To continue the cliches necessity is the mother of invention and we humans are clever and crafty especially when the chips are down… wow if only we could use cliches to reduce global warming.

This is the world we have made and it is up to all of us to do what we can to take care of it and preserve it for future generations, but when I see numbers like $45,000,000,000,000 I cannot even wrap my mind around that amount of money let alone accounting for it, do they factor in how much of that 45 Trillion will be lost/stolen/wasted… what the next number after a trillion? Is there even 45 trillion dollars in the world?

Science Save us…

June 6, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science | | Leave a comment

Texas Marching Towards the Darkness

Today’s NY Times has an article regarding the new face of creationism,intelligent design nope its not either of those which have been given the smack down from science already the latest tactic of the religious movement is strengths and weaknesses language to be put in to the HS biology text books.

“ ‘Strengths and weaknesses’ are regular words that have now been drafted into the rhetorical arsenal of creationists,” said Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that promotes religious freedom.

The chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist in Central Texas, denies that the phrase “is subterfuge for bringing in creationism.”

This is where the creationist/intelligent design/cdesignproentists are at since they have no actual science to support anything they claim. They are using semantic arguments  without clearly defined meanings as a way to mislead the public and ensure children and teenagers do not get a good science education. Dr McLeroy say this is not subterfuge for creationism, however why is evolution the only theory they what to teach the strengths and weaknesses?

   So what’s wrong with teaching the strengths and weaknesses for evolution or any topic? Really, there is nothing wrong with it, however prior to discussion or teaching of strengths and weaknesses a person should have an appropriate background in the science itself, that doesn’t mean you have to be a scientist.  HS Biology’s course of study is an overview of the general science and not an in depth study of it. Strengths and weaknesses of evolution are taught in higher level college courses where you have the background to properly address the material. I have no problem with the discussion of the limits of evolution and identifying the areas that need further study. The weaknesses part of strengths and weaknesses are the areas where our understanding of science have yet to explain some part of nature this makes science exciting this where new questions and ideas come from this is how science makes progress everything is provisional based on new and verifiable information. The implication as I understand it in the strengthens and weaknesses is that due to the weaknesses of evolution the theory is invalid (god of the gaps) or to be looked upon as flimsy instead of what it is really is which the unifying theory of Biology .

The constant issue creationists never address… regardless of any criticism that they generate for evolution (which have been refuted) they never put forth a positive theory that would better explain the evidence. They tried to masquerade Intelligent design as such a theory but is was refuted shown decisively in the Dover Trial. Instead of a positive theory or an attempt at science what you find are often lies an example of which is no transitional fossils have ever been found which is a joke since there have been many transistional fossil discoveries most recently the frog-amander. It is just demonstrably false.

I don’t want to wander off in further refuting the long refuted creationism(and various forms). This has been done over and over, my point for this post is how Texas is allowing not only their schools but there entire state to be high-jacked by religious fundamentalist who wish to impose their religious views on all people and this could have a further negative effect for the rest of the United States due to the purchasing power of text books that Texas has, this will undoubtedly weaken our already weak science education if it takes hold. If there is valid criticism bring it on lets get to the bottom of it, if you have an alternative hypothesis that better explains all the evidence and is supported by the evidence then please present it.

Any appeal to magic need not apply.

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Creationism, Education, Nature, Science | , | 2 Comments

Hot Lesbian Moms

Is that title misleading? I recently blogged about how the NY Govenor has directed NYS to recognize same sex marriage, and as it turns out mother nature has already recognized same sex couples of another variety. That being a colony of Laysan albatrosses I wonder if these beautiful birds made a “life” choice.

This is just another example of how homosexuality can be found in nature and it also shows that homosexuals in committed relationships raising offspring is not unnatural, unheard of or even uncommon. Here is a picture of that Hot mom from the title

June 2, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science | , , , | 2 Comments

Sharon Stone is a Boob

Top news on yahoo this morning Sharon Stone thinks that Karma might be the reason China recently suffered a massive earthquake that has killed tens of thousands of people, the last figures I saw had the death count over 50,000 and it could still be much higher… and here is what Miss Stone had to say “And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?” why not just say God did it, was Karma or god punishing New Orleans with Katrina? What utter nonsense is this? This was not and I repeat not a supernatural disaster, it was a natural disaster.
I am trying to wrap my mind around this warped logic and magical thinking… let me take a stab at it. The Chinese government will not allow the Tibetan people independence/freedom and so Karma to balance out the universe unleashes a massive earthquake against innocent Chinese citizens? If I was the Chinese people I would be pissed off and again to make another Katrina reference I was pissed off at the holier than thou preachers who blamed Katrina on the sinful ways of New Orleans. This is all nonsense, and perpetuating such false ideas is not only irresponsible but reprehensible. There has been a disaster and people need help, they did nothing to ask for this and to make this some how political is truly despicable on her part. If it was just an off the cuff comment (which I doubt) she needs to think before she speaks.

Just to note this is not about the Tibetan people and their struggle against the Chinese government for independence and freedom. This is about the fact that natural disasters can happen anywhere and at any time and to blame it on Karma, God, Satan, or anything other than awful things happen is just foolishness.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Nonsense, Science, Superstition | , , | Leave a comment

Amazing Frozen Waves

     Wow so this looks really amazing, according to the website what happens here is the water below the surface crashes through and forms a wave but the air temperature is so cold if freezes the wave thus creating frozen waves you can check the link for some really cool pics of this phenomenon.

However this does leave me some questions, like how cold is it in antartica to freeze water in mid air? This does seem a bit improbably but I am sure it is pretty cold in antartica… hmm I dunno I will have to look in to this a little bit more… ok I am back and it kind of bogus… the pictures are certainly real but it not really a frozen wave snopes has all the details. However this is still really cool and it a result of melting not freezing.

Who knew global warming would create such beauty.

Note: I have no idea if this is anyway related to global warming


May 27, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science | Leave a comment