Monday, June 29, 2015

Evolution isn't controversial for scientific reasons, but it is controversial, in part, for psychological reasons

The theory of evolution by natural selection is among the best established in science, yet also among the most controversial for subsets of the American public.
For decades we've known that beliefs about evolution are well-predicted by demographic factors, such as religious upbringing and political affiliation. There's also enormous variation in the acceptance of evolution across different countries, all of which suggests an important role for cultural input in driving beliefs about evolution. A child raised by Buddhists in California is much more likely to accept evolution than one raised by evangelical protestants in Kansas.
But in the last 20 years or so, research in psychology and the cognitive science of religion has increasingly focused on another factor that contributes to evolutionary disbelief: the very cognitive mechanisms underlying human cognition.
Researchers have argued that a variety of basic human tendencies conspire to make natural selection especially aversive and difficult to understand, and to make creationism a compelling alternative. For instance, people tend to prefer explanations that offer certainty and a sense of purpose when it comes to their lives and the design of the natural world and they have an easier time wrapping their heads around theories that involve biological categories with clear boundaries — all of which are challenged by natural selection.
These factors are typically taken to hold for all humans, not only those who reject evolution. But this naturally raises a question about what differentiates those individuals who do accept evolution from those who do not. In other words, if the California Buddhist and the Kansas protestant share the same cognitive mechanisms, what accounts for their differing views on evolution?
In fact, there's evidence that individuals vary in the extent to which they favor purpose and exhibit other relevant cognitive tendencies, and that this variation is related to religious belief — itself a strong predictor of evolutionary belief. But there's a lot we don't know about how differences between individuals drive different beliefs about evolution, and about how these individual differences interact with cultural input.
A new paper by psychologist Will Gervais, just published in the journalCognition, sheds new light on these questions. In two surveys conducted with hundreds of undergraduates attending a large university in Kentucky, Gervais found an association between cognitive style and beliefs about evolution. Gervais used a common task to measure the extent to which people engage in a more intuitive cognitive style, which involves going with immediate, intuitive judgments, versus a more analytic cognitive style, which involves more explicit deliberation, and which can often override an intuitive response. npr

Why Are So Many Shark Attacks Happening in North Carolina?

Two more swimmers have been bitten by sharks off the North Carolina coast. That makes six shark attacks in the state in the last three weeks.

From 2005 to 2014, there were a total of 25 shark attacks in North Carolina. This year's incidents are part of a rising trend in the U.S. and much of the world over the past century (learn more about attacks). Overall, however, they remain relatively rare; an ocean swimmer has only a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Why are so many recent attacks happening in North Carolina?

The Tarheel State typically gets one to two shark attacks a year but has had four this year, says Frank J. Schwartz, a shark biologist with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There were four bites there last year and 55 documented shark attacks in the state since 1905.

The incidents are heavily dependent on weather and currents and are much more likely when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and when strong currents flow north along the coast, bringing bait fish. This year, those conditions appeared in April, and sharks soon followed, coming from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Why are shark attacks rising?

The most likely explanation is the “ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties,” according to the Florida museum. A steadily rising human population is also a big factor.

Is climate change to blame?

Schwartz says it’s unclear, since water temperatures and currents tend to show a high degree of flux from year to year. The numbers of attacks are also so low that statistical analysis is dicey.

Are children more at risk of shark attacks?

The child bit on Wednesday wasn’t necessarily at any more risk, says Schwartz. Although splashing can attract curious sharks, most bites are simply results of someone “being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he says.

“Usually there is bait nearby and someone just gets in the way,” says Schwartz.

What kinds of sharks attack humans?

A number of sharks may be involved, including tiger, bull, great white, mako, nurse, black tip, white tip, lemon, and spinner sharks.

A sand tiger shark in North Carolina.

Why do sharks attack people?

The majority of incidents are “provoked” attacks, in which someone is bitten while spearfishing or while trying to catch a shark or release it from a line or net. Among unprovoked attacks, the fish are most often confusing people with their normal prey, often due to poor visibility. Surfers are most often attacked (as happened in Australia this week), most likely because they spend long periods of time in the water and often splash around like prey.

What should I do if a shark starts attacking me?

Hit it in the nose, which is often enough to end the attack, says the museum. Then head for shore.

If that doesn’t work, claw at its eyes and gill openings, two sensitive areas. “One should not act passively if under attack,” the museum says, because “sharks respect size and power.”

How do I reduce the odds of an attack?

Avoid swimming in known shark nursery areas, where bait is dropped (like piers or near bait shops or restaurants), and swimming at night or during or after storms, which can make the water cloudy and churn up the bait fish that lead to shark feeding frenzies.

Avoid swimming with open wounds or shiny objects, and don’t go too far from shore or out alone.

fucking ted cruz

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Sunday in New York City, the GOP presidential hopeful Texas Sen. Ted Cruz doubled down on his belief that the court had overstepped its bounds in both the marriage decision and in upholding Obamacare. And as a result, Cruz said the justices should be subject to elections and lose their lifetime appointments.
"This week in response to both of these decisions, I have called for another constitutional amendment — this one that would make members of the Supreme Court subject to periodic judicial retention elections," said Cruz.
Cruz said that 20 states have a system in place where voters can choose to either keep or remove their judges if they "overstep their bounds [and] violate the constitution."
"That is very much front and center something I intend to campaign on," said Cruz. "And marriage and religious liberty are going to be integral, I believe, to motivating the American people to come out and vote for what's, ultimately, restoring our constitutional system."
Cruz's vigorous response and call to action separate him from many of his other 2016 GOP rivals in the wake of the two landmark decisions last week. Some Republicans were quietly happy that the court did not strike down the state exchanges in question in King v. Burwell, fearing that many would be kicked off their plans and putting the onus on Republicans to come up with a quick fix.
Cruz instead took to the Senate floor on Thursday to blast the court's decision in no uncertain terms: "These robed Houdinis have transmogrified a federal exchange into an exchange 'established by the state.' This is lawless."
On Friday, he bemoaned on Sean Hannity's radio show that, "Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history."
Other Republican White House hopefuls had more muted responses. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that while he believed whether to legalize same-sex marraige should have been left up to the states, "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments." Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said "while I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law." And neurosurgeon Ben Carson said that "while I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, their ruling is now the law of the land."
at least some republicans were a little respectful of the ruling. fucking ted cruz, you're just awful. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

a lot of great tattoo artists

gustav klimt style by candelariacarballo

Chaetopoda by Ernst Haeckel


Evolution of whale tails. Follow the whale. 1956

Jacopo Berengario da Carpi

Jacopo Berengario da Carpi: Isagogae breues, perlucidae ac uberrimae, in anatomiam humani corporis a communi medicorum academia usitatam

dinosaur sand drawing

A tyrannosaur on Shanklin sands. Completed in about five minutes byNiroot Puttapipat. More pictures at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs.

salamanders need your help

early scoliosis treatment

Fig. 132. Scoliosis treatment. Mechanotherapie: ein Handbuch der Orthopaedie, Gymnastik und Massage. 1894. 

science puns

the white house goes rainbow for the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage

People gathered near the White House on Friday (6/26/2015) evening to see it lit in rainbow colors as a commemoration of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.

zookeepers recreating Jurassic World dinosaur training

After literally the biggest opening weekend ever, Jurassic World fever has taken over, well, the world. Everyone wishes they could hop on a motorcycle and hang out with some dinosaurs, right? Sadly, we can’t grab a frosty beverage and enjoy watching pterodactyls flapping around an atrium quite yet. I know, we’re sad about it too. But, we have uncovered some real life Chris Pratts working hard and joining in on the Jurassic World hype.
Keepers and trainers at aquariums and zoos all over are announcing their membership in Pratt’s raptor squad. Starting on Twitter, keepers have been posting photos recreating the famous shot of Pratt’s character Owen Grady taming the velociraptors. I love a good meme, and these photos are amazing. What better way to spread the word about zoos and aquariums?

Friday, June 26, 2015

foram park in Zhongshan Guangdong China

China has another first: a park dedicated to some 114 large sculptures of foraminifera! These marine unicellular microorganisms mostly secrete a calcium-carbonate shell and live at all depths in the ocean. Their stable isotopes are widely used by paleoclimatologists to reconstruct past global climates and ice volume (sea-level changes). They are also important paleobathymetric indicators and indispensible in the field of paleoceanography.

The germ of an idea for a sculpture park first began some ten years earlier when marine geologist Bilal Haq of the National Science Foundation visited the lab of marine biologist and academician Zheng Shouyi at the Institute the Institute of Oceanology in Qingdao. A prolific taxonomist and one of the world’s leading foraminiferalogist, Zheng had meticulously produced palm-size models of over a hundred of these submicroscopic species of both benthic and planktonic foraminifera for educational purposes. Haq was struck by their aesthetic beauty and almost abstract quality that suggested Henry Moore sculptures in miniature. He proposed to Zheng that some of them could be enlarged into sculptures. He also ventured a suggestion that perhaps a whole park populated by such sculptures could be a great outreach project for the general public. Zheng, a woman of action and a politically influential scientist, took the suggestion seriously and was able to convince the authorities in her hometown of Zhongshan (also the hometown of Sun Yat-Sen) in Guangdong Province to do just that. Thus, 114 sculptures of over a 100 different Paleozoic to modern species were carved out of marble, granite and sandstone by artisans under the exacting eye of Zheng Shouyi over a period of five years.

supreme court legalizes gay marriage nationwide!

The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said that the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court's four liberal justices. "The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society," Kennedy wrote. His opinion included a history of how ideas of marriage have evolved along with the changing roles and legal status of women.

octopus heels; shoe game by fleek

Thursday, June 25, 2015

make lava, not war


Calcite after Ikaite (CaCO3·6H2O) var. Glendonite concretion.The rock was found at Kola Peninsula, Russia. Ikaite is a rare mineral that occurs in nature at temperatures up to 7°C in alkaline, phosphate-rich marine and continental waters. Although ikaite has generally been replaced by calcite (this replacement is called glendonite), it has preserved its original crystal shape. Because of the rather restricted conditions under which ikaite/glendonite forms, it serves as a marker for near-freezing water temperatures. Hydrohalite, a form of salt, precipitates at low temperatures from highly saturated brines. It is not well-preserved in sediments because of its high solubility, but its former existence can be inferred from the presence of halite or other minerals that preserve the shape of the original crystals. Minerals are just one of many proxies used by geologists to reconstruct past climates. Some minerals like ikaite define a very narrow set of conditions, while others, like the clays, appear in a number of geologic and climatic settings. Minerals along with other indicators — fossils, tree rings, pollen, ice cores, geochemistry or isotopes — provide tantalizing clues to ancient climates.

How To Get More Nutrition By Pairing Foods

You'll get more plant-based iron from black beans if you eat them with something rich in vitamin C, like red pepper.

Eating eggs with your salad helps boost absorption of carotenoids — the pigments in tomatoes and carrots. It's the fat in the egg yolk that is responsible for upping the nutrient intake. And, as we've reported, oil-based salad dressing helps accomplish the same goal.

Turmeric is loaded with an anti-inflammatory and anticancer compound called curcumin. To reap all the curcumin you can get, mix turmeric with black pepper.

If you want to take advantage of all that calcium in yogurt, you're going to need some vitamin D. So why not step outside to enjoy the creamy snack under the UV rays of the mid-day sun?

 Why is this combo a vegetarian staple? Because hummus made with sesame seeds (in tahini) slathered on whole wheat bread gives you all the amino acids to form a complete protein.

After corn is soaked in lime and water, then ground up, all kinds of nutrients in the corn are released and made available for absorption — calcium, iron, niacin and minerals. This is why corn tortillas have been one of the bedrocks of Mesoamerican cuisine for millennia.

Of course, not all pairings are beneficial. It turns out that phytates — a kind of acid — in things like tea and coffee may decrease the absorption of iron and zinc. So if you're having bacon with your morning coffee, you're not going to pick quite as many nutrients out of breakfast as you might otherwise.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Geologic Mapping of Mars

Geologic mapping is an integral part of exploration and understanding a planetary landscape, because it shows the relationships between geologic units and helps delineate the history of a surface. New orbiting spacecraft are obtaining data with progressively higher resolution, and as a consequence maps constantly need to be updated and improved. Moreover, as researchers' various needs and areas of focus change, maps of different areas and scales are required.
Dr. Grant and colleagues are currently mapping the geologic history and landscape evolution of portions of Margaritifer Terra at a scale of 1:500K1-3 (Figure 2). The map areas in the west are characterized by the large, multi-ring Ladon and Holden impact basins, channels comprising the Uzboi-Ladon-Morava outflow system, highland intercrater plains, late valley network activity, and a range of structural geology such as minor compressional and extensional faults. To the east, the map areas are dominated by Samara, Parana, and Loire Valles, some of the best integrated and largest valley network systems on Mars This region is of particular interest because two of the four final candidate landing sites that were considered for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, Holden and Eberswalde craters, are located within the mapping areas.

Figure 1. Geologic maps of sections of eastern (top) and southwestern (bottom) Margaritifer Terra, Mars1-2, at a scale of 1:500,0001. Maps shows a variety of geomorphic units including one of the highest densities of preserved valley network drainage systems on the planet. Maps were published in 20091 and 20132 (left and right, respectively).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kennewick Man

New genetic evidence suggests that Kennewick Man, an 8,500-year-old skeleton found in Washington state, is related to members of a nearby Native American tribe.

"We can see very clearly that Kennewick Man is more closely related to present day Native Americans than he is to anybody else," says Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen. He specializes in the study of ancient DNA and led the research.

Willerslev's team extracted DNA from one of the skeleton's hand bones. They compared it to DNA from various groups around the world, including Native Americans from North and South America.
They found that Kennewick Man is not related to the Ainu of Japan or Polynesians. But he does share a close genetic affinity with members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. These tribes stem from the Pacific Northwest, and are among several Native American groups that demanded custody of the skeleton.
These results were published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.
But if that sounds like "case closed," it isn't.
Willerslev acknowledges that there is very little genetic information about modern Native Americans to make comparisons. There might be other tribes more closely related to Kennewick Man. And it also could be that Native Americans are descendants of some relative of Kennewick Man who lived 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.
"We probably will never be able to say who is, in fact, the closest living relative of Kennewick Man," Willerslev says.
And there's at least one scientist who isn't convinced by the genetic evidence. Physical anthropologist Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution has edited a 700-page study of the skeleton.
Owsley can read the bones like we might read a book. He looks for ridge lines that indicate which muscles Kennewick Man used the most, and what he was doing with them. First off? He had muscular legs like a soccer player — likely from running, trudging and hunting.
"In his leg structure, he's certainly accustomed to very rapid movement, quick movement, and you can read that in those muscle ridges," says Owsley.
He also likely had killer arms from throwing a tricky kind of spear. Owsley says Kennewick Man was so strong in his right arm, he was like a pro baseball pitcher, and the bones show he got today's equivalent of a career-ending sports injury.
"If it happened to a contemporary baseball pitcher, they'd need surgery," says Owsley. The injury, he says, "took off a piece of bone off the back side of the shoulder joint."
Owsley says Kennewick Man stood about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 170 pounds. And he wasn't any stranger to pain. K-Man, as he's known in eastern Washington, got hit on the head a few times and was stabbed with a basalt rock point that got stuck in his hip.
Owsley's research includes these big revelations about the Paleoamerican's origins. For one, Kennewick Man lived on the coast, not inland along the Columbia River where his bones were found. The scientists can tell from tiny bits of his bones and the enamel on his teeth that he ate mostly marine animals, like seals.
At his laboratory, he displays a cast of Kennewick Man's skull — alongside skulls of three Native Americans. Clearly, Kennewick Man does look different.
"It is a much narrower and longer — relatively longer — cranium, and the way the base of the cranium is configured," he says. "It is different from what we see in Native Americans."
Owsley doesn't dispute that Kennewick Man, or his people, passed on genes that now show up in Native American populations. But he doesn't think the evidence is sufficient to satisfy the repatriation law that requires Native American remains to be turned over to tribal authorities. npr 2

awesome shirts, shower curtains, duvets, pillows and more by sharp shirter

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

what you need to know about sunscreen and skin cancer

Do you know what broad spectrum means? What about SPF? No need to be ashamed if you can't answer those questions, because you're not alone.
In a survey of 114 people, a mere 7 percent knew that "broad spectrum" on a sunblock label means it defends against early aging.
And only 23 percent understood the SPF (sun protection factor) signifies the level of protection against sunburns. The findings suggest that despite recent efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to clarify sunscreen labels, they remain a mystery to many.
"There are hundreds of options when [people] go in front of an aisle, so it's hard to know what's best," says Roopal Kundu, a dermatologist at Northwestern University who led the study. It was published Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology.
But a large portion of those surveyed had a family member with skin cancer — and they still lacked understanding. "I thought they would be more knowledgeable," Kundu told Shots.
Tip: To know if a sunscreen helps ward off skin cancer, look for the term 'broad spectrum' on the label. That means the product offers protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays — two types of radiation that are both associated with cancer. An SPF of 15 or higher is recommended, but the FDA says there's no evidence that SPFs of higher than 50 provide additional protection.
So what do consumers spring for when buying a sun lotion?
Nearly half of those surveyed said a high SPF value is most influential while browsing. That's important, Kundu says, but just not enough.
"This tells us there's a heavy reliance on SPF values, which only account for UVB rays; it has no affect on UVAs," she says. And UVAs Kundu argues, are possibly more worrisome than UVBs. UVAs can penetrate clouds and windows. They are present year round and throughout the day, and they penetrate the skin more deeply than UVBs.
Exposure to UVAs is a major cause of skin aging, wrinkling and tanning, while UVBsare the chief culprit behind sunburns. However, both types of radiation play roles in the development of skin cancers including melanomabasal cell cancer and squamous cell cancernpr

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The giant cow that swam the ocean

Not so long ago, a sailor navigating the cold waters of the northern Pacific Ocean might have had every chance of been confronted by a giant cow.
This cow would have measured 10 metres long, and weighed between five and ten tonnes.
And it would have been the most adept swimmer, spending its days cruising the seas, grazing on fields of grass growing underwater.
The cow in question was known as Steller’s sea cow. It is now extinct, having left this earth almost 250 years ago.
A depiction of the now extinct Steller's sea cow (credit: Richard Ellis/SPL)

But many people are unaware that such a huge and extraordinary creature once existed, or know its incredible story.
And even today, scientists are still discovering fundamental insights into the life and history of this huge, lumbering, but almost mystical animal.
It belonged to a group of mammals, known as the Sirenia, named after the mermaids of Greek mythology that were known as sirens.
Today, four species of Sirenia still exist, grouped into two distinct families.
One, the dugong (Dugong dugon) of south-east Asia, measures some 3 metres long, weighing around 400 kg.

The dugong (Dugong dugon) of south-east Asia (credit: imageBROKER/Alamy)
There are also three species of manatee; the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). These can grow to 4 metres long and weigh almost 600 kg, and the three species of manatee are more closely related to each other than the dugong.
Amazonian manatee

West Indian Manatee

West African Manatee
All have large rotund bodies, downturned snouts, short rounded paddle-like flippers, and a horizontal tail fluke that they use to move around.
But Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was much, much bigger. It reached a length of 10 metres and different sources suggest it could have weighed anywhere between 4,000-11,000 kgs.
It also lacked teeth, surviving by using a pair of broad horny pads to chew kelp.
Surprisingly perhaps, the first recorded sighting of a Steller’s sea cow didn’t happen until 1741, when a sailing expedition led by Captain Vitus Bering of the Russian Navy was marooned on an desolate, treeless uninhabited island, later named Bering Island, in what is today known as the Bering Sea.
Those sailors that escaped Bering Island spread word of the bounty of meat to be found off its shores. Each year new expeditions hunted the animals.
One report stated that one sea cow could feed 33 men for a month, and it was thought sailors stored the meat on ships to feed themselves on voyages lasting up to a year.
Incredibly, the last sea cow was reported killed in 1768, just 27 years after the island and species had been discovered by modern man.
Scientists have since tried to establish whether these hunting expeditions killed off the sea cow, or whether other factors played a role.
A new genetic analysis, published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, has now established which animal still living today is the closest relative of the Steller's sea cow.
A survey of the genes held in the nucleus of the animals’ cells confirms that dugongs, rather than manatees, are more closely related to Steller's sea cows.
The dugong now survives as the only truly herbivorous marine mammal, as manatees often frequent fresh water. bbc