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The 3% of studies that reject global warming are filled with errors
A new study has found they’re riddled with cherry picking, curve fitting, and disregarding known physics.
By Bec Crew

By now, most of us are aware that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are most likely due to human activities. But what about the remaining 3 percent that reject this conclusion based on their own scientific investigation? How did they come up with such different results, and do their analyses render the climate consensus incorrect?

To answer these questions, an international team of scientists has attempted to replicate the findings of a selection of climate contrarian papers. Publishing in the journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology, they report that these papers are riddled with false dichotomies, inappropriate statistical methods, and misconceived or incomplete physics, and displayed much the same methodological flaws, with cherry picking - selecting and omitting evidence to suit a bias - as the most widespread.

“We found that many contrarian research papers omitted important contextual information or ignored key data that did not fit the research conclusions,” one of the team, Dana Nuccitelli from Skeptical Science in Australia, writes at The Guardian.

Continue Reading.

Carbon capture is an idea that’s been around for a while, but it’s always seemed like a bit of an afterthought, a way to slightly slow the pace at which we’re pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if we could do at a scale that would suck all the carbon we’ve emitted since the industrial revolution right out out of the atmosphere, and turn it into something incredibly useful?

This is the claim being made by Stuart Licht, a professor of chemistry at George Washington University, who earlier this month published a paper in Nano Letters demonstrating a method of turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon using concentrated solar power, with only oxygen as the byproduct. The process, called Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo (STEP) carbon capture, is highly efficient, as it uses both the visible light and heat of the concentrated solar radiation.

They also claim this will reverse climate change. Will it work?

Scientists identify schizophrenia’s “Rosetta Stone” gene

Scientists have identified a critical function of what they believe to be schizophrenia’s “Rosetta Stone” gene that could hold the key to decoding the function of all genes involved in the disease.

The breakthrough has revealed a vulnerable period in the early stages of the brain’s development that researchers hope can be targeted for future efforts in reversing schizophrenia.

In a paper published today in the journal Science, neuroscientists from Cardiff describe having uncovered the previously unknown influence of a gene in ensuring healthy brain development.

The gene is known as ‘disrupted in schizophrenia-1’ (DISC-1). Past studies have shown that when mutated, the gene is a high risk factor for mental illness including schizophrenia, major clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

The aim of this latest study was to determine whether DISC-1’s interactions with other proteins, early on in the brain’s development, had a bearing on the brain’s ability to adapt its structure and function (also known as ‘plasticity’) later on in adulthood.

Many genes responsible for the creation of synaptic proteins have previously shown to be strongly linked to schizophrenia and other brain disorders, but until now the reasons have not been understood.

The team, led by Professor Kevin Fox from the University’s School of Biosciences, found that in order for healthy development of the brain’s synapses to take place, the DISC-1 gene first needs to bind with two other molecules known as ‘Lis’ and ‘Nudel’.

Their experiments in mice revealed that by preventing DISC-1 from binding with these molecules - using a protein-releasing drug called Tamoxifen at an early stage of the brain’s development – it would lack plasticity once it grows to its adult state, preventing cells (cortical neurons) in the brain’s largest region from being able to form synapses.

The ability to form coherent thoughts and to properly perceive the world is damaged as a consequence of this.

Preventing DISC-1 from binding with ‘Lis’ and ‘Nudel’ molecules, when the brain was fully formed, showed no effect on its plasticity. However, the researchers were able to pinpoint a seven-day window early on in the brain’s development - one week after birth - where failure to bind had an irreversible effect on the brain’s plasticity later on in life.

“We believe that DISC-1 is schizophrenia’s Rosetta Stone gene and could hold the master key to help us unlock our understanding of the role played by all risk genes involved in the disease,” said Professor Fox.

“The potential of what we now know about this gene is immense. We have identified a critical period during brain development that directs us to test whether other schizophrenia risk genes affecting different regions of the brain create their malfunction during their own critical period.

“The challenge ahead lies in finding a way of treating people during this critical period or in finding ways of reversing the problem during adulthood by returning plasticity to the brain. This, we hope, could one day help to prevent the manifestation or recurrence of schizophrenia symptoms altogether.”

Professor Jeremy Hall, an academic mental health clinician and director of the University’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, said:

“This paper provides strong experimental evidence that subtle changes early on in life can lead to much bigger effects in adulthood. This helps explain how early life events can increase the risk of adult mental health disorders like schizophrenia.”

Schizophrenia affects around 1% of the global population and an estimated 635,000 people in the UK will at some stage in their lives be affected by the condition. The projected cost of schizophrenia to society is around £11.8 billion a year.

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be extremely disruptive, and have a large impact on a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks, such as going to work, maintaining relationships and caring for themselves or others.
Scientific Study Shows Meditators Collapsing Quantum Systems At A Distance

Numerous scientists over many years have studied the role of consciousness and how it can directly influence our physical material world. A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality.(1)

“Observation not only disturbs what has to be measured, they produce it. We compel the electron to assume a definite position. We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.” (1)

Source Document

The second experiment was conducted at a Zen Buddhist temple, which was a great place to recruit meditators for the experiment. This time:

“For audio feedback, during attention-away periods the computer played a soft, continuous drone tone, and during attention-toward periods it played a musical note that changed in pitch to reflect the real-time value of R (perturbations in wave function). Participants were instructed to direct their attention toward the double-slit device as in the initial experiment. If they were successful, then the double slit spectral power was predicted to decline, and in turn the pitch of the musical note would also decline.”

A fundamental conclusion of new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality.

(R.C. Henry, “The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005) (source)

(excerpt - click the link for the complete article)

Scientists Uncover New Crocodile in Africa

(Jan. 2014)

by Jeremy Hance

Scientists working in Africa have uncovered a new crocodile species hiding in plain site, according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 

Looking at the molecular data of the slender-snouted crocodile, the researchers discovered two distinct species: one in West Africa and another in Central Africa. Although mostly lumped together as one species (Mecistops cataphractus) for over a hundred and fifty years, the scientists found that the two species have actually been split for at least seven million years, well before the evolution of hominins.

Lead author Matthew Shirley says the discovery of the new crocodile was “simply a matter of going to places people before us never wanted to go or thought possible to go.”…

(read more: MongaBay)

photograph by Matt Shirley, UF/IFAS

Why do experiments touting positive results make up 70 to 90 percent of all published scientific papers? Are modern scientists mutants with the power to generate facts? Well, the majority of papers contain positive results because that’s what publishing companies want. No one wants to read about dozens of weight-loss drugs that made test subjects gain 10 pounds and a third nipple – they want to read about the one that will get them back in their swimsuits.

This incredibly common practice is called publication bias, and like trained mice, some scientists have adapted to it with “p-hacking.” That sounds gross, but it’s essentially testing one hypothesis over and over again until you get a positive result. It’s dishonest and irresponsible, but the more papers you publish the more likely you are to get grants, jobs, tenure, and science groupies.

6 Reasons You Can’t Trust Science Anymore

bookoftheazuresky asked:

In honor of Fanfic Author Appreciation day, I feel like I have to dedicate a shout out to one of my favorite brickspace authors, no less fond for being discovered so recently. But since this is about your fanfic, thank you for your dedication to one of my oldest loves, Sailor Moon. I feel like you treat it in the same spirit, if not the same manner, as the original author, and I praise you highly for it. Thank you very much.

Aw, thank you!

I am a child of the fanfic mines: that’s where I grew up, where I trained, and where I learned how to tell a story.

Gull taught me about how different people will see your characters in different ways.  She was my ElfQuest OC, written for a fan Holt that was still published on paper (and whose editor taught me how to take editorial notes with grace, something that none of my English teachers had had the time or resources to do).  She was beautiful and broken by circumstance, although she never saw herself that way, and I loved her.  I had someone else who wrote for the ‘zine refer to her as “a Mary Sue” and baffle me, since I thought Mary Sues were all self-insert, and all flawless, and Gull was neither.  I still miss her.

My Harry Potter musical (a filk of Once More With Feeling) taught me that even if you do good work, sometimes name recognition will mean someone else gets more applause: someone who worked consistently in HP did the same thing about six months after I did and was lauded, even though their scansion was terrible.  (I am a snob about scansion.  I admit that.  If you can’t make the syllables fit the song, you need better syllables.)  I had always thought that quality of work mattered more than familiarity of name before that.  It stung.  A lot.  I never did HP again.

The Buttonwillow Chronicles taught me about stringing a theme and an idea across a sequence of stories.  Post-Chosen, pre-comic, with the survivors of B:tVS in a little motel in a middle-of-nowhere town, trying to put their lives back together.  Prior to that, I had been pretty cool with stand-alones (except for Gull, again, who was part of an ongoing story largely driven by other people).

My Shakespearean Veronica Mars taught me that people will come along for the weirdest shit, once they trust you, a lesson that was reinforced by my Veronica Mars/Josie and the Pussycats crossover.

And finally, my novel-length Halloweentown fic taught me that I give no fucks at all if anyone else wants to read something: what matters is that I want to read it.  It will be a better story if I want to read it.

I have tried to cling to this lesson in everything I do.

Oxymoronic Black Hole Provides Clues to Growth by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the 6.5-meter Clay Telescope in Chile have identified the smallest supermassive black hole ever detected in the center of a galaxy. This oxymoronic object could provide clues to how larger black holes formed along with their host galaxies 13 billion years or more in the past.

Astronomers estimate this supermassive black hole is about 50,000 times the mass of the sun. This is less than half the mass of the previous smallest black hole at the center of a galaxy.

“It might sound contradictory, but finding such a small, large black hole is very important,” said Vivienne Baldassare of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, first author of a paper on these results published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “We can use observations of the lightest supermassive black holes to better understand how black holes of different sizes grow.”

The tiny heavyweight black hole is in the center of a dwarf disk galaxy, called RGG 118, located about 340 million light years from Earth, and was originally discovered using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Researchers estimated the mass of the black hole by studying the motion of cool gas near the center of the galaxy using visible light data from the Clay Telescope. They used the Chandra data to figure out the X-ray brightness of hot gas swirling toward the black hole. They found the outward push of radiation pressure of this hot gas is about 1 percent of the black hole’s inward pull of gravity, matching the properties of other supermassive black holes.

Previously, scientists had noted a relationship between the mass of supermassive black holes and the range of velocities of stars in the center of their host galaxy. This relationship also holds for RGG 118 and its black hole.

“We found this little supermassive black hole behaves very much like its bigger, and in some cases much bigger, cousins,” said co-author Amy Reines of the University of Michigan. “This tells us black holes grow in a similar way no matter what their size.”

The black hole in RGG 118 is nearly 100 times less massive than the supermassive black hole found in the center of the Milky Way. It’s also about 200,000 times less massive than the heaviest black holes found in the centers of other galaxies.

Astronomers are trying to understand the formation of billion-solar-mass black holes from less than a billion years after the big bang, but many are undetectable with current technology. The black hole in RGG 118 gives astronomers an opportunity to study a nearby small supermassive black hole.

Astronomers think supermassive black holes may form when a large cloud of gas, with a mass of about 10,000 to 100,000 times that of the sun, collapses into a black hole. Many of these black hole seeds then merge to form much larger supermassive black holes. Alternately, a supermassive black hole seed could come from a giant star, about 100 times the sun’s mass, that ultimately forms into a black hole after it runs out of fuel and collapses.

“We have two main ideas for how these supermassive black holes are born,” said Elena Gallo of the University of Michigan. “This black hole in RGG 118 is serving as a proxy for those in the very early universe and ultimately may help us decide which of the two is right.”

Researchers will continue to look for other supermassive black holes that are comparable in size or even smaller than the one in RGG 118 to help decide which of the models is more accurate and refine their understanding of how these objects grow.

A preprint of these results is available online. The other co-author of the paper is Jenny Greene, from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, manages Chandra’s science and flight operations.

An interactive image, podcast, and a video about the findings are available at:

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

Waiting for pleasure

In a paper recently published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, they demonstrated that the hippocampus (associated with memory) and the nucleus accumbens (associated with pleasure) work together in making critical decisions of this type, where time plays a role. The researchers showed that when these two structures were effectively ‘disconnected’ in the brain, there is a disruption of decisions related to delayed gratification.

It is a discovery which has implications not only for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADHD, eating disorders and anxiety disorders, but also for more common problems involving maladaptive daily decisions about drug or alcohol use, gambling or credit card binges.

How the work was done

The researchers discovered the importance of this connection by working with rats trained to make choices between stimuli that would result in their receiving different amounts of rewards, after varying periods of time. The rats were asked to choose between two identical visual shapes by pressing their nose against one of them on a touchscreen (similar to an iPad), in exchange for rewards in the form of sugar pellets. Like most humans, rats have a sweet tooth.

With time, rats learned to negotiate a trade-off between a small reward (1 sugar pellet) delivered immediately and a large reward (4 sugar pellets) delivered after a delay. The researchers discovered that the average rat, like the average human, is willing to wait a bit for a larger reward, but only for a certain period of time, and only if the reward is large enough.

However, following disruption of the circuit connecting the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens, the rats became impatient and unwilling to wait, even for a few seconds. They always selected the immediate reward despite its smaller size. Importantly, lesions to other parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, known to be involved in certain aspects of decision-making, did not cause this behavioural change.

Implications and next steps

“This is a type of decision-making that many of us grapple with in daily life, particularly the very young, the very old, and those with brain disease,” said Prof. Yogita Chudasama, of McGill’s Psychology Department and the lead researcher on the paper. “In some ways this relationship makes sense; the hippocampus is thought to have a role in future planning, and the nucleus accumbens is a “reward” center and a major recipient of dopamine, a chemical responsible for transmitting signals related to pleasure and reward, but we couldn’t have imagined that the results would be so clear. In addition to providing a deeper understanding of decision-making, our results highlight the potential of this circuit, involving the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens, to be a therapeutic target in human patient groups.”

Ah, the white man rescuing the brutal savages from their primitive ways!

In 1956, American Anthropologist published a paper called Body Ritual among the Nacirema, which is arguably the most important anthropological paper ever published, at least for beginners. At the risk of SPOILER ALERT, the point is that human animals share some basic psychological characteristics, including language, social organization and religion. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that the crazy ways of the savage tribes are, in fact, our ways.

For a similar violent jolt of perspective from an Austrialian perspective, I can highly recommend 1986’s Babakiueria. It concerns the Australian colonial situation, but some of the themes are universal, and it’s very entertaining.

Seriously. Watch Babakiueria. Every single frame of it is genius. 


A Woodpecker Disguised as …  Another Woodpecker?

In this tale of three red-capped woodpeckers from Brazil, one is an impostor.

by Elizabeth Deatrick

Every kid knows that to avoid getting bullied, it helps to not stand out. Apparently woodpeckers know this, too: In a paper due to be published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, researchers reveal that the Helmeted Woodpecker mimics the plumage of other, larger woodpecker species in order to stave off harassment.

To the casual observer, the vulnerable Helmeted Woodpecker looks very similar to two more aggressive species with which it share the forests of Brazil: the Lineated Woodpecker and the Robust Woodpecker. In fact, the Helmeted Woodpecker looks so much like a smaller version of the Lineated Woodpecker that for decades, scientists assumed that the two were closely related. 

“Those two look so darned similar, with the black back and red crest and lined neck,” says Mark Robbins, one of the authors of the study and a biologist at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute.

But over the last few years, researchers began to suspect that the Helmeted Woodpecker wasn’t what it seemed. In 2010, when he was in Brazil for a conference, Robbins went birding and not only spotted a Helmeted Woodpecker, but also heard its call. That’s when he realized that the bird didn’t sound like its supposed relatives at all—instead, it sounded like a genus of drab brown woodpeckers known as Celeus woodpeckers…  

(read more: Audubon Magazine)

photos:  Octavio Campos Salles; Dario Sanches; David Schenfeld/Flickr Creative Commons; Kevin Zimmer 

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős -- great kids' book #1yrago

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős is a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated kids’ biography of Paul Erdős, the fantastically prolific itinerant mathematician who published more papers than any other mathematician in history.

Boy is written by Deborah Heiligman, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham, and the pair really worked to weave numbers and mathematics through the text, with lively, fun illustrations of a young Erdős learning about negative numbers, becoming obsessed with prime numbers and leading his high-school chums on a mathematical tour of Budapest. They also go to great lengths to capture the upside and downside of Erdős’s legendary eccentricity – his inability to fend for himself and his helplessness when it came to everyday tasks like cooking and doing laundry; his amazing generosity and brilliance and empathy in his working and personal life.

Ultimately, this is a book that celebrates the idea of following your weird, wooing the muse of the odd, and playing to your strengths rather than agonizing over your weaknesses. It’s an inspiring and sweet tale of one of humanity’s greatest mathematicians, and a parable about the magic of passion and obsession.

My daughter, who is five, demanded that I read it to her three times in a row, over three bedtimes, which is always a vote of confidence.  

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

The illustrations and layouts in Boy are fabulous, and Roaring Brook was kind enough to supply us with three spreads.

Battered Child Syndrome

In 1962, Dr Henry Kempe - pictured above - published a paper on the physical abuse of children and coined the term ‘battered child syndrome’. This syndrome describes injuries resulting from repetitive non-accidental trauma and maltreatment of children. The publicity that developed around the term managed to focus public interest on childhood physical abuse. 

In older children blunt force trauma to the abdomen is the most common injury in abuse cases, especially those that result in the death of the child. Fractures can also be part of the battered child syndrome. When evaluating fractures as part of abuse it is advised that one must look at whether the description of the trauma fits the type and severity of the fractures sustained. Burns, although not technically considered battering, can be part of battered child syndrome. Bruises tend to be the only physical evidence of trauma. Without intervention battery frequently escalates to the death of the child. 

Droughts happen.

They especially happen in California, where a long history of water crises inspired both innovative water conservation strategies and ongoing battles over the limited resource. This most recent megadrought, historic as it may be in length and severity, is by no means unprecendented; and it is, say the authors of a newpaper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, primarily the result of national weather variations.

Regardless of how much carbon we spew into the atmosphere, in other words, the drought was going to happen. But climate change, they found, made it measurably worse.

More irrefutable proof of climate change’s impact

The world could one day be powered by photosynthesis from artificial leaves, say researchers from Monash University in Melbourne. Their system to turn water into fuel, using nothing but solar energy, could be used to run cars, houses and even whole communities.

The ‘artificial leaf’ created by researchers is actually more of a solar-powered device that is able to produce hydrogen with a record-breaking degree of efficiency. The details of the technology, which marks a massive step towards simulating practical, artificial photosynthesis, have been laid out in a paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Does Neuroticism Spring from Overthinking?

Isaac Newton was a classic neurotic. He was a brooder and a worrier, prone to dwelling on the scientific problems before him as well as his childhood sins. But Newton also had creative breakthroughs — thoughts on physics so profound that they are still part of a standard science education.

In a Trends in Cognitive Sciences Opinion paper published this week, psychologists present a new theory for why neurotic unhappiness and creativity go hand-in-hand. The authors argue that the part of the brain responsible for self-generated thought is highly active in neuroticism, which yields both of the trait’s positives (e.g., creativity) and negatives (e.g., misery).

Read more:

Here are two things that cause a lot of controversy: Genetically modifying organisms and spraying pesticides. So of course some scientists asked, “What if we could do both at the same time?” The scientists in question are Keri San Miguel and Jeffrey G. Scott of Cornell University, who in June published a paper in Pest Management Science, describing how they successfully protected potato plants from the Colorado potato beetle by spraying them with a substance that interferes with the beetle’s DNA, through a process called RNA interference, or RNAi.

An “RNA interference” spray avoids regulations on GM crops

Penrose tiles

Penrose tiles—polygons that can cover a plane in a pattern that doesn’t repeat; more generically, “aperiodic” tiles.

In 1974 Roger Penrose published a paper in which he described a class of tiles that don’t repeat.  Most tiles with which we are familiar, such as square and hexagonal tiles on bathroom floors, repeat their pattern over and over.   

Covering the surface is called “tiling the plane.”  What is meant by “repeat” is having “translational symmetry.”  You can copy the original pattern and slide it and the copy will exactly fit over the original.  If you slide a copy of an a Penrose tiling you can’t get it to fit the original.  Locally there are repeating motifs, but overall, not.  

Regular, repeating, non-Penrose tilings:  Every triangle and every four-sided shape can tile the plane.  There are three hexagons that can tile the plane and that’s it….except for pentagons!  Three researchers at the University of Washington recently announced that they had found the fiftheenth pentagon that can tile the plane.  Plane tiling pentagons have been discovered periodically since the first five in 1918.   No polygons with more than six sides, heptagons, octagons, etc., can tile the plane.

Polygons that tile the plane:

Triangles…infinite number

Quadrilaterals…infinite number




Can you buy Penrose tiles to pave your bathroom?  No.  Apparently, Penrose enforces a copyright that has frightened off potential manufacturers of Penrose tiles.  But, see below for some examples of what people have done despite the copyright.

More, More & More:

New pentagon tile discovery

Beautiful Penrose Tilings in Architecture

Euclidean tilings of convex regular polygons