News From Around The Blogosphere 01.07.09

Oklahoma has put up the first anti-evolution bill for 2009 -

Senate Bill 320 (document), prefiled in the Oklahoma Senate and scheduled for a first reading on February 2, 2009, is apparently the first antievolution bill of 2009. Entitled the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” SB 320 would, if enacted, require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” The only topics specifically mentioned as controversial are “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Yeah, Oklahoma is dead to me. I highly recommend making it the punchline to your every joke about stupid people. Which reminds me: How many Oklahomans does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They thought the first bulb was an evil spirit and tried to kill it. Then after it all gone dark, they became convinced God was angry with them and are praying for the light to return.

Meanwhile, Indiana just went up a notch -

The Indianapolis Star has been running a pointless little prayer on page A2 of the newspaper for years. Not any more; the editor has decided to discontinue it.

Of course this decision received complaints like the hilarious one PZ Myers cites that compares prayer to astrology ironically trying to persuade them to keep the prayer in. Well I’ll say one thing, the comparison is apt.

HIV/AIDS Deniers, the Ministry of Truth, and the failure of memory holes in the Internet Age – A fantastic look into the deceptive nature of denialism.

Senator Oddball has died - Former Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell, best known for the student grant program that bears his name,  died on New Year’s Day. But there was another side of him. Time magazine, called him “Senator Oddball” because of his strong interest in the paranormal, such as remote viewing, UFO’s, and Uri Geller, who he invited to Washington, where Geller claims to have bombarded a Soviet arms control negotiator with “intense images of peace.” Yeah, apparently we had a U.S. Senator living in the 20th Century who urged a “psychic” to cast a magic spell on our enemies. Chew on that one for awhile. And then freak out. Imagine how much fun it’d have been if he’d become president, huh?

Paul Offit, Charlotte Moser, and Steve Novella refute Robert Sears – A seriously awesome and epic take-down of another antivaccinationist proponent of the myth that vaccines cause autism.

Porn industry wants a bailout now? What?! – Yeah, I hope this is just Larry Flynt’s attempt at satirizing the absurdity of the government bailouts.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyTestes Stem Cells Change Into Other Tissues – “Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and at UC-San Francisco have succeeded in isolating stem cells from human testes. The cells bear a striking resemblance to embryonic stem cells — they can differentiate into each of the three main types of tissues of the body — but the researchers caution against viewing them as one and the same.”

Black Holes Lead Galaxy Growth – “Astronomers may have solved a cosmic chicken-and-egg problem — the question of which formed first in the early Universe — galaxies or the supermassive black holes seen at their cores.”

Levitation Created At Microscopic Scale – “Magicians have long created the illusion of levitating objects in the air. Now researchers have actually levitated an object, suspending it without the need for external support. Working at the molecular level, the researchers relied on the tendency of certain combinations of molecules to repel each other at close contact, effectively suspending one surface above another by a microscopic distance.

Researchers from Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have measured, for the first time, a repulsive quantum mechanical force that could be harnessed and tailored for a wide range of new nanotechnology applications.”

Physicists Squeeze Light To Quantum Limit - “A team of University of Toronto physicists have demonstrated a new technique to squeeze light to the fundamental quantum limit, a finding that has potential applications for high-precision measurement, next-generation atomic clocks, novel quantum computing and our most fundamental understanding of the universe.”

Researchers Create Car Parts From Coconuts -“A team of Baylor University researchers who have identified a variety of low-cost products that can be manufactured from coconuts in poor coastal regions have now developed a way to use coconut husks in automotive interiors.”

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