The Sun's Shadow

Stumbling to find a light switch in the dark

The Dying Process

Sounds a little morbid I must admit, but in reality it some really cool research that is being under taken. There is a new study being conducted called AWARE, doctors will examine patients who are in state of cardiac arrest… why cardiac arrest well as it turns out death is not one single moment but a process.

“Contrary to popular perception, death is not a specific moment,” said leader of the study Dr. Sam Parnia of the University of Southampton in the U.K. “It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning — a medical condition termed cardiac arrest, which from a biological viewpoint is synonymous with clinical death.”

Clinical death is basically when the blood stop circulating in the body and everything afterwards shuts down, so it makes sense then to study cardiac arrest patients, they are having heart attacks and their hearts have stopped.

This will help to provide further insight as to what is happening to us (our brain) as we die, and this is important due to the reports that people bring back from the “other side” or what they possible imagine the otherside to be

Previous research suggests about 10 to 20 percent of people who live through cardiac arrest report lucid, well-structured thought processes, reasoning, memories and sometimes detailed recall of events during their encounter with death.

One study found that people who reported peaceful feelings, bright light and out-of-body experiences during a brush with death are more likely to have had difficulty separating sleep from wakefulness in their everyday lives. Both before and after their near-death experiences, these people often have symptoms of the rapid-eye movement (REM) state of sleep while awake.

Death is the natural end to our natural lives, and as our brain struggles in the final moments it is comforting to think that it can be akin to having a dream so long as that dream doesn’t become a nightmare… I wonder if this research will turn up any interesting correlations on the type of people who see positive or negative things during a near death experience.


September 18, 2008 Posted by | life, Medicine, Science | , , , | Leave a comment

World Not Wiped Out of Existence

The Large Hadron Colliderhas been fired up and the planet still exists! They have not started smashing particles yet but even then the planet will still exist. The collider has been designed in the hope of capturing the after image of the Higgs Boson. Which would be a major discovery for the standard model of physics…the scientists involved in the project project having the results once they begin the collisions in 2009.
What I find really interesting is that Stephen Hawking is betting against finding the Higgs boson

“The LHC will increase the energy at which we can study particle interactions by a factor of four. According to present thinking, this should be enough to discover the Higgs particle,” Hawking told BBC radio.

“I think it will be much more exciting if we don’t find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of 100 dollars that we won’t find the Higgs,” added Hawking, whose books including “A Brief History of Time” have sought to popularise study of stellar physics.

I think it will be exciting either way… we either learn something fundamental about the universe or we get to go back to the drawing board and come up with new hypothesises to build in to new theories… in either case it is likely that our under standing of the universe and its origins will grow. We are now on the edge of science looking as far in to the past as we can and hoping it will give us a better understanding of today going in to tomorrow.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Academic, Astronomy, History, Opinion, Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah Palin is a Creationist ID Supporter

It has begun, the google search of Sarah Palin turns up some interesting information about John McCain’s new VP running mate aside from her being currently under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power. She also thinks that creationism should be taught along side evolution in school… that in my book disqualifies her from my personal vote. This shows a lack of critical thinking on her part, as it is clear in the article she does not understand what a scientific theory is.

Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night’s televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.”

Is she also in favor of teaching that the Earth is really flat as some people believe?
She has already been taken to task on these comments back when they were made over at the science blog Afarensis

It seems the assault on science is to continue.

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Creationism, Freedom, Opinion, Science, United States | , , , , | 22 Comments

Science Does What Only Ancient Gods Were Able Too

Make a Paralyzed man walk again… Israeli scientists have developed a Human exoskeleton that allows a person to walk again.  The Device is called Rewalk invented by Israeli engineer Amit Goffer who is the head of a Argo Medical Technologies.

This is simply amazing, this is a technology is in its infancy and it can only help those who are paralyzed from the waist below, you do need use of your arms to make this work. It does offer hope to those people who may have never thought they could walk again or too look a person eye to eye in conversation, but don’t take my word for it.

“I never dreamed I would walk again. After I was wounded, I forgot what it’s like,” said Kaiof, who was injured while serving in the Israeli military in 1988.

“Only when standing up can I feel how tall I really am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below.”

Its not just the restoration of a person ability to walk but article also point out the additional health benefits for a paralyzed person to be able to stand up and walk again.

Kate Parkin, director of physical and occupational therapy at NYU Medical Centre, said it has the potential to improve a user’s health in two ways.

“Physically, the body works differently when upright. You can challenge different muscles and allow full expansion of the lungs,” Parkin said. “Psychologically, it lets people live at the upright level and make eye contact.”

Iuly Treger, deputy director of Israel’s Loewenstein Rehabilitation Centre, said: “It may be a burdensome device, but it will be very helpful and important for those who choose to use it.”

Wait, what’s that Iuly it is a burdensome device?

The system, which requires crutches to help with balance, consists of motorized leg supports, body sensors and a back pack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries.

Sure the suit is bulky at this point and requires specific control to make maneuvering easier, but to make a person walk again means the technology is here, Iron Man cannot be too far behind. This technology will be further developed and you can be sure it will be made smaller, lighter, and more user friendly.

Science Amazing!

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Medicine, Science, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth Come Back

Fox news has an article up regarding the resurgence of people who believe the Earth is flat. However before we dive in to the meat of this just look at how the article begins.

Global warming? Somewhat controversial. Evolution? Even more so. Still, there’s one well-founded scientific notion that everyone can agree upon: The Earth is round, like a ball.

Global warming somewhat controversial not to science, the controversy is if man is the main cause of the warming or to a lesser degree are we contributing to accelerated warming. There is no real controversy on if the planet is getting warmer.

Evolution is only controversial to those who reject science altogether. Poor reporting to start out, but they get the Earth is a sphere correct.

“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-Earthers,” Tennessee-based computer scientist and society member John Davis tells the BBC. “Many use the term ‘flat-Earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Maybe that is because the term does imply blind faith, ignorance, and anti-intellectualism, the notion is absurd. The article does point out the response from the flat earth believers to evidence that the Earth is a sphere.

The moon landings? Faked, say the flat-Earthers. Satellite images of the Earth? Fake, fake, fake.

Ah yes its all a fake, they believe the lunar landings were a hoax… come on… and satellite images are fake too, this is nothing short than alleging a world wide conspiracy of governments and scientists… COME ON. Of course we treat these ideas with scorn they are ridiculous, absurd, laughable.

SO what does the earth look like?

This is how a flat earth believer thinks the world looks

This is how a flat Earth believer thinks the world looks

Folks this is not a joke, I wish it were, but people are serious in the belief that the Earth is flat, I want to laugh but this is just too sad.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Nonsense, Science, Skepticism | , , , | 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

Aliens Have Made Contact

At least that is the claim that has been made by Dr. Edgar Mitchel former NASA Astronaut. Dr. Mitchel was being interviewed on a radio show and made the following assertions.

“I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we’ve been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real,” Dr Mitchell said.

Then he can identify them why refer to them as UFO’s, they are no longer unidentified they are then alien spacecraft capable of interstellar travel. Does he have any technical information he can share of their more advanced technology?

“It’s been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it’s leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.

“I’ve been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes – we have been visited. Reading the papers recently, it’s been happening quite a bit.”

It’s a massive worldwide cover up among many nations to conceal the truth that immensely more advance alien species has been visiting earth, but why the cover up? Isn’t this the plot to the X-Files? You can read the full article of what Dr. Mitchel said here

This not the first time Dr Mitchel has made this claim regarding UFO’s or even a pseudoscientific claims. He claims that the Roswell crash really happened meaning it was not project mogul He is also an avid ESP researcher and he privately conducted ESP expirements on the moon.

Dr. Mitchel is long on hypothesises but short on the evidence… he clearly claiming to have been brought in on the supposed UFO cover up. He surely should be able to identify other members of the conspiracy something other than we just have his word for it if he was on the inside who else was on the inside. I don’t mean to totally discount his word but I would prefer something to corroborate it or supported with some evidence. Perhaps a few more NASA personnel and astronauts coming forward with a similar experience. I would love nothing more than to find out about the existence of alien life outside earth, I think that for many people it would be a monumental point in the history of humanity to know there is other intelligent life and we are not alone wow that would just be awesome. Unfortunately all we have here is the claims of one man and nothing to support them.

July 25, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Science, Skepticism | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Chelation a Cure?

The words people choose to use are sometimes if not often very telling. Controlled studies are to be done on the use of Chelation Therapy as an autism treatment, now there is some controversy over this, as chelation is a treatment for heavy metal poisoning, which has not been linked as a cause for autism except in the mind of the anti-vaccination crowd.

I support this research for the reason that parents are desperate to do something with their autistic child that some parentsif not many will likely engage in chelation therapy. We should study it to be better inform these parents, however there are people who think the risks in conducting a study are too great.

Others say it would be unethical, even if it proves chelation doesn’t work.

Federal research agencies must “bring reason to science” without “catering to a public misperception,” said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of an upcoming book on autism research. “Science has been trumped by politics in some ways.”

We demand evidence to base claims and treatment on and  we must be held to the same standard when we discount a treatment. Yes, I grant the unstated major premise for this is heavy metal causes autism and the medical community sees chelation as something that should not be used unless you have heavy metal poisoning and there is no link to this and autism, but that will not stop parents from trying this to with their children. Many parents have already bought in to the the idea that vaccines have caused their child’s autism. Parents have become mistrusting of the medical community and are willing to try anything. This study needs to be done to help combat the problem of anecdotal evidence and confirmation bias where parents only hear the positive reports or see the improvements they are looking for. We need to do this study to determine any efficacy chelation therapy has on an autistic child even if it is none, but certainly there will be side effect and what those side effects both short and long term.

That brings me to how I find the choice of words telling… no one to my knowledge is claiming chelation is curing autism, they will say things like it “saved” my child… but it didn’t cure them, I find this telling in that if it didn’t cure them it means their autism symptoms were somewhat relieved and some parents even claim to a great degree but their child is still autistic, so how much did they actually improve and how much is this just parents seeing what they want to see.

I support this research, I don’t have high hopes that this will be shown effective but that is exactly why we need evidence based treatment because we need to be certain and have the evidence to show parents that this is effective or not and what the risks are, even when the premise for this treatment is as faulty or unfounded as it is here… people by our nature want to believe in miracles they want the anecdotal evidence to be true. We have a responsibility through evidence based medicine to provide those answers and the details that support it the conclusion of the research.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Medicine, Science | | 3 Comments

Time to Terraform Mars

Should the next mission to Mars include seed packets? The analysis of the soil from the phoenix lander showed it has the nutrients to grow plants

“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past, present or future,” said Samuel P. Kounaves of Tufts University, who is leading the chemical analysis, during a telephone news conference on Thursday. “The sort of soil you have there is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard.”

Its like the soil in the back yard… well how do you do! We need to take Mars from red and make it green! Unfortunately even though the soil may have nutrients that could support plant life the rest of the planet is not so hospitable to life…

Mars today is cold and dry, and the surface is bombarded by ultraviolet radiation, making life unlikely, but conditions could have made the planet more habitable in the past.

There is hope because as they note life is unlikely but not impossible, it may have existed earlier in martian history and maybe with our intervention if can exist again in its future… The biggest issues is that Mars is a dead planet and what I mean by that is it has a solid iron core that has cooled and hardened, unlike the earth with a molten iron core. Mars could still be in the so called “goldilocks zone” as it has the conditions that could potentially support life. The problem is since the core is cold, there is no magnetic field to protect the planet which left it at the mercy of the solar wind the UV radiation. The magnetic field for Earth for comparison is generated by our molten iron core, which because of the size of the planet creates the internal pressure and heat to keep the core molten(note massive over simplification)… Mars was not so lucky it only has one tenth the density the of Earth does and half our equitoral diameter. Basically due to its small size the planet cooled too rapidly. 

How can we then terraform the planet, is it even possible on a theoretical level? Here are just some un-supported idea’s in the big sense not a practical one.

  • Total Recall type reaction to reactivate the core of Mars
  • Restore the magnetic field
  • Plant, Plant, Plant, Plant….

I know right now this is more science fiction than anything especially since my basis is a 1990 Sci-Fi classic, but just imagine if we could bring Mars back what it would be like to be able to go and walk about an alien world, and that world would be within our reach, not across the stars light years away but the very next planet in the solar system.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Sci-Fi, Science | , , | Leave a comment

Creationists Get 2 More Gaps

Creationists often love to say that no transitional fossils have ever been found, of course they are wrong. Just today the news came out of the earliest tetrapod fossil having been found, this is the most primitive 4 legged creature yet unearthed by science. It is another piece in the puzzle in how fish evolved in to animals that walk on land.

The 365 million-year-old fossil skull, shoulders and part of the pelvis of the water-dweller, Ventastega curonica, were found in Latvia, researchers report in a study published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. Even though Ventastega is likely an evolutionary dead-end, the finding sheds new details on the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods. Tetrapods are animals with four limbs and include such descendants as amphibians, birds and mammals.

While an earlier discovery found a slightly older animal that was more fish than tetrapod, Ventastega is more tetrapod than fish. The fierce-looking creature probably swam through shallow brackish waters, measured about three or four feet long and ate other fish. It likely had stubby limbs with an unknown number of digits

This is just adding to our knowledge about life and the origin of species… creationists as I mentioned often claim there are no transitional fossils and will never concede that this is a transitional fossil which is just absurd. Instead they will insist that we show them the exact uninterrupted progression of one species to the next, so now that we’ve filled in this gap we’ve only created more to be filled in by other fossils. The ultimate in silliness are creationists for they demand unequivocal proof of evolution, while believing things came to be by magic…

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Creationism, Nonsense, Science | , | 1 Comment