Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

thenewenlightenmentage:

Mysterious new man-made gases pose threat to ozone layer
Scientists have identified four new man-made gases that are contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Two of the gases are accumulating at a rate that is causing concern among researchers.
Worries over the growing ozone hole have seen the production of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases restricted since the mid 1980s.
But the precise origin of these new, similar substances remains a mystery, say scientists.
Continue Reading

thenewenlightenmentage:

Mysterious new man-made gases pose threat to ozone layer

Scientists have identified four new man-made gases that are contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Two of the gases are accumulating at a rate that is causing concern among researchers.

Worries over the growing ozone hole have seen the production of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases restricted since the mid 1980s.

But the precise origin of these new, similar substances remains a mystery, say scientists.

Continue Reading

All The Best, Scientifically Verified, Information on Fukushima Impacts

With all the misinformation around the internet here are links to articles that we trust. The following provide credible information about what is actually occurring and/or dispel myths about Fukushima radiation that are prevalent on the internet. I will not link to pseudoscience, misinformation, or outright lies in this post or allow them in the comments below. These posts and ideas have received far more attention and links than they deserve already. I provide the author, their credentials, a statement of the misinformation if applicable, the take home message, and my favorite quotes…

skeptv:

Cactus “Flesh” Cleans Up Toxic Water

University of South Florida engineering professor Norma Alcantar and her team are using the “flesh” from Prickly Pear cacti, called mucilage, to clean up oil and other toxins from water. With support from the National Science Foundation, Alcantar has spent the last few years confirming something that her grandmother told her years ago — that cacti can purify water.

"This research is a good example of the NSF’s investment in sustainable chemistry which promotes the replacement of expensive and/or toxic chemicals with earth-abundant, inexpensive, and benign chemicals," says Debra Reinhart, program director in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division of the NSF’s Engineering Directorate. The research is currently funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) through the Consortium of Molecular Engineering of Dispersant Systems (C-MEDS).

The objectives of this research are to develop a water purification system based on an economically feasible method of water purification using cactus mucilage for low-income inhabitants of rural communities that are sensitive to existing economic, social, and cultural patterns. This project transcends national boundaries as it includes collaborations between investigators at the University of South Florida, two leading Mexican public universities, and the National Institute of the Environment in Mexico.

The cactus project has been assessed for the rural communities of Temamatla in central Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Haiti post-2010 earthquake, and for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011.

Temamatla is located 25 mi / 40 km southeast of Mexico City and was critical for this study owing to its proximity to volcanic soils where the concentration of heavy metals such as cobalt, mercury, nickel, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, chromium, iodine, arsenic, molybdenum, and lead in local water supplies may be higher than recommended values.

In Haiti, the outcomes of the project were to determine the composition of the ground water beds after the earthquake and evaluate the feasibility of implementing a low cost technology for disaster relief based on cactus mucilage. The cactus mucilage is also able to disperse crude oil efficiently at much lower concentrations than synthetic dispersants.

The broader implications of this project include the multidisciplinary participation of American and Mexican researchers in issues that are relevant to both countries owing to their proximity and preexisting ties. Such collaboration will promote mutual opportunities and infrastructure for research, education, training, networking, future partnerships, and most importantly, the proposed technology will improve current water-related issues and problems in areas of extreme need.

via Videos at NSF.


The Fermi Paradox and Human Affairs

Basically the Fermi Paradox is the problem of how few civilizations (0) we can see in the universe given its size, age, and that planets seem as common as stars. One possibility offered up is the idea that intelligent, techno-capable life forms such as ourselves are very likely to accidentally destroy ourselves, or to at least suffer catastropc set backs.

From the Wikipedia article:
“[Could it be] that technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves before or shortly after developing [advanced] technology? Possible means of annihilation include nuclear war, biological warfare or accidental contamination, climate change, nanotechnological catastrophe, ill-advised physics experiments,[Note 4] a badly programmed super-intelligence, or a Malthusian catastrophe after the deterioration of a planet’s ecosphere. This general theme is explored both in fiction and in mainstream scientific theorizing.[53] Indeed, there are probabilistic arguments which suggest that human extinction may occur sooner rather than later. In 1966 Sagan and Shklovskii speculated that technological civilizations will either tend to destroy themselves within a century of developing interstellar communicative capability or master their self-destructive tendencies and survive for billion-year timescales.[54]

From a Darwinian perspective, self-destruction would be an ironic outcome of evolutionary success. The evolutionary psychology that developed during the competition for scarce resources over the course of human evolution has left the species subject to aggressive, instinctual drives. These compel humanity to consume resources, extend longevity, and to reproduce—in part, the very motives that led to the development of technological society. It seems likely that intelligent extraterrestrial life would evolve in a similar fashion and thus face the same possibility of self-destruction. And yet, to provide a good answer to Fermi’s Question, self-destruction by technological species (or any sociological explanation) would have to be a near universal occurrence. Otherwise, the few civilizations to which it does not apply would colonize the galaxy.”

There are many possible answers to this riddle, but this particular one holds an important warning; add rampant superstition and tribalism to the mix and it’s a possibility that all humans, especially those in power, should be acutely aware of.

neuromanticism:

typette:

dreamsofinkandlies:

sagginpants-singlemamas:

jungz:

forcesofnature:
reblog please…the media is asleep
"A puddle of the contaminated water was emitting 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation, Kyodo news agency said.
Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco, told Reuters news agency: “One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.”
..and 300 tons of that same water has been pouring into the ocean everyday for God knows how long.


Reblog reblog reblog

Just to put a bit of a recap for those who haven’t heard or don’t know what’s happening: 
Basically, the core of the plant has melted into the ground. They have two options: Keep trying to cool it and prevent it going further, which they are doing with seawater. However, this now contaminated seawater is leaking into the ground- the water table and the groundwater, and is spreading. Probably into the ocean, or, into farmland. It’s impossible to know where it’s heading right now. The other option is to dig it up, but that would release a very very dangerous amount of radiation, both in gas/dust form, and to the workers. It would be another suicide mission and contaminate the air ever worse.
Their options right now are being weighed, as to what can be done. As it stands.
as of today, this disaster has surpassed Chernobyl in terms of airborne radiation:

These are far larger amounts than those released into the atmosphere in gaseous form: for example, more than 27 times the amount of cesium-137 released into the air in the first three weeks, or about 2.5 to 3.3 times, depending on the estimate, the total amount released into the environment from the Chernobyl accident.

the official press release source is here, with their proposed outline of action.
I don’t want to turn this into a major nuclear discussion but… well, you already know. 

What monstrous creatures we are, and so foolish, too, to hold any sort of optimism in the future.


Its like a radioactive Deepwater Horizon. It’s indeed hard to be optimistic about the mid to long term future of our environment.

neuromanticism:

typette:

dreamsofinkandlies:

sagginpants-singlemamas:

jungz:

forcesofnature:

reblog please…the media is asleep

"A puddle of the contaminated water was emitting 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation, Kyodo news agency said.

Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco, told Reuters news agency: “One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.”

..and 300 tons of that same water has been pouring into the ocean everyday for God knows how long.

Reblog reblog reblog

Just to put a bit of a recap for those who haven’t heard or don’t know what’s happening: 

Basically, the core of the plant has melted into the ground. They have two options: Keep trying to cool it and prevent it going further, which they are doing with seawater. However, this now contaminated seawater is leaking into the ground- the water table and the groundwater, and is spreading. Probably into the ocean, or, into farmland. It’s impossible to know where it’s heading right now. The other option is to dig it up, but that would release a very very dangerous amount of radiation, both in gas/dust form, and to the workers. It would be another suicide mission and contaminate the air ever worse.

Their options right now are being weighed, as to what can be done. As it stands.

as of today, this disaster has surpassed Chernobyl in terms of airborne radiation:

These are far larger amounts than those released into the atmosphere in gaseous form: for example, more than 27 times the amount of cesium-137 released into the air in the first three weeks, or about 2.5 to 3.3 times, depending on the estimate, the total amount released into the environment from the Chernobyl accident.

the official press release source is here, with their proposed outline of action.

I don’t want to turn this into a major nuclear discussion but… well, you already know. 

What monstrous creatures we are, and so foolish, too, to hold any sort of optimism in the future.

Its like a radioactive Deepwater Horizon. It’s indeed hard to be optimistic about the mid to long term future of our environment.

youngprogressivevoices:

I second that! We’re apart of the environment, we depend on the environment, so lets save the environment!
Find us on Facebook, Young Progressive Voices.


I’ve been saying it for ages.

youngprogressivevoices:

I second that! We’re apart of the environment, we depend on the environment, so lets save the environment!

Find us on Facebook, Young Progressive Voices.

I’ve been saying it for ages.

But I have bad news about pyjamas. Because I’m afraid your cotton pyjamas take 9,000 litres of water to produce. And it takes 100 litres of water to produce a cup of coffee. And that’s before any water has actually been added to your coffee. We probably drank about 20 billion cups of coffee last year in the UK. And – irony of ironies – it takes something like four litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle of water. Last year, in the UK alone, we bought, drank and threw away nine billion plastic water bottles. That is 36 billion litres of water, used completely unnecessarily. Water wasted to produce bottles – for water. And it takes around 72,000 litres of water to produce one of the ‘chips’ that typically powers your laptop, Sat Nav, phone, iPad and your car. There were over two billion such chips produced in 2012. That is at least 145 trillion litres of water. On semiconductor chips. In short, we’re consuming water, like food, at a rate that is completely unsustainable.

skeptv:

Mining minerals from seawater - Damian Palin

The world needs clean water, and more and more, we’re pulling it from the oceans, desalinating it, and drinking it. But what to do with the salty brine left behind? In this intriguing short talk, TED Fellow Damian Palin proposes an idea: Mine it for other minerals we need, with the help of some collaborative metal-munching bacteria.

via TED Education.


After recently reading about a new electromagnetic desalination technique I was wondering about what they’d do with all the brine. This is very interesting.

mothernaturenetwork:

You’re looking at the most toxic place in America, according to the EPA.Picher, Oklahoma, was once the most productive lead and zinc mining area in the world, but today it’s full of abandoned buildings and enormous piles of mine waste. In 1967, contaminated water from the mines turned the local creek red, the giant chat piles were found to be laced with lead, and Picher’s cancer levels skyrocketed. The city was declared too toxic to clean up, and a federal buyout program began paying residents to leave. Picher’s post office, city hall and high school closed in 2009, and the city ceased operations as a municipality on Sept. 1, 2009. In January 2011, Picher’s remaining commercial structures were demolished, with the exception of the Old Miner’s Pharmacy. Its owner, Gary Linderman, refuses to leave his home, and his business survives only because he serves customers in surrounding areas, many who have respiratory problems linked to the toxic environment.Read more.

mothernaturenetwork:

You’re looking at the most toxic place in America, according to the EPA.

Picher, Oklahoma, was once the most productive lead and zinc mining area in the world, but today it’s full of abandoned buildings and enormous piles of mine waste. In 1967, contaminated water from the mines turned the local creek red, the giant chat piles were found to be laced with lead, and Picher’s cancer levels skyrocketed. The city was declared too toxic to clean up, and a federal buyout program began paying residents to leave.
 
Picher’s post office, city hall and high school closed in 2009, and the city ceased operations as a municipality on Sept. 1, 2009. In January 2011, Picher’s remaining commercial structures were demolished, with the exception of the Old Miner’s Pharmacy. Its owner, Gary Linderman, refuses to leave his home, and his business survives only because he serves customers in surrounding areas, many who have respiratory problems linked to the toxic environment.

Read more.

The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change

“The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me.” —Kerry Emanuel, former Republican

…“There is a divide within the party,” says Samuel Thernstrom, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality and is now a scholar of environmental policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “The position that climate change is a hoax is untenable.”

“The country’s going to become more educated, and that’s not going to break our way, as a party, if we are denying what 90 out of 100 scientists say,” Croswhite argues. “If the scientific community is generally accepting of something, you need to trust that.”…

christiannightmares:

Pastor Mark Driscoll at the Catalyst conference: ‘I know who made the environment. He’s coming back. He’s going to burn it all down. I drive an SUV.’ (For more info, click image or here; Found at Stuff Christian Culture Likes; For a related post, click here http://christiannightmares.tumblr.com/post/41589853499/another-way-to-look-at-global-warming-for-a)

Let’s burn this muthafucka down!

christiannightmares:

Pastor Mark Driscoll at the Catalyst conference: ‘I know who made the environment. He’s coming back. He’s going to burn it all down. I drive an SUV.’ (For more info, click image or here; Found at Stuff Christian Culture Likes; For a related post, click here http://christiannightmares.tumblr.com/post/41589853499/another-way-to-look-at-global-warming-for-a)

Let’s burn this muthafucka down!