New From Around The Blogosphere 8.19.08

Blogger Bitch Ph.D. has provoked the wrath of Bill Donohue – by apparently being pro-choice and for finding the use of balloons to indoctrinate children repulsive:

Monsters, ghosts, and gods: why we believe

History of Science - Elizabeth Green-Musselman writes on podcasting about the history of science. Her podcast Missing Link was recommended by Amanda from Skepchick so I’ve subscribed but haven’t listened to it yet myself.

There is accounting for musical taste afterall- Professor Funk explains what the Star Wars Imperial March tastes like if you have synesthesia:

Mmm, symphonic! Baroque again? We just had that last night!

Now Peruvian hampsters are evidence of vaccine/autism link? – ¿Qué? ¿El estudio está solamente en español? ¡Hijo – de – a – perra! Sorry about that. Anyway, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Divine Intervention in trauma patients? – 57% of a random set of adults say they believe it happens. Unfortunately, studies show that prayer does NOT work.

How dare you treat atheists like the rest of us! – Another classic case of over-privileged Christians who’ve never been marginalized minorities in their whole lives calling the mere reduction of their privileged status out of fairness in our more diversified world an infringement on their rights.

And now for a moment of science:

Can Facial Structures Help Detect Autism? – “Recently, Harvard researchers reported that children with autism have a wide range of genetic defects, making it nearly impossible to develop a simple genetic test to identify the disorder. Now, University of Missouri researchers are studying 3-D imaging to reveal correlations in the facial features and brain structures of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which will enable them to develop a formula for earlier detection of the disorder. The researchers anticipate their work also will reveal genetic clues that can direct additional research. Autism is a brain disorder characterized by a complex of social, communication and behavioral difficulties.”

Algae: Biofuel Of The Future? – “In the world of alternative fuels, there may be nothing greener than pond scum. Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.”

New Denizen Of The Solar System Discovered – “A “minor planet” with the prosaic name 2006 SQ372 is just over two billion miles from Earth, a bit closer than the planet Neptune. But this lump of ice and rock is beginning the return leg of a 22,500-year journey that will take it to a distance of 150 billion miles, nearly 1,600 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, according to a team of researchers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II).”

Mirror Self-recognition In Magpie Birds – “Self-recognition, it has been argued, is a hallmark of advanced cognitive abilities in animals. It was previously thought that only the usual suspects of higher cognition—some great apes, dolphins, and elephants—were able to recognize their own bodies in a mirror. Psychologist Helmut Prior and colleagues have shown evidence of self-recognition in magpies—a species with a brain structure very different from mammals.”

‘Molecular Fossils’ Tracked Through Ribosome – “A new study of the ribosome, the cell’s protein-building machinery, sheds light on the oldest branches of the evolutionary tree of life and suggests that differences in ribosomal structure between the three main branches of that tree are “molecular fossils” of the early evolution of protein synthesis.”

Bacteria Fingered As Killer In 1918 Flu Pandemic -“What killed tens of millions of people around the world in the 1918 flu pandemic actually might not have been a flu virus. A new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases blames different agents: bacteria.”

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