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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

We were very encouraged by the rapid development of the vaccines, and everybody really thought we were going to vaccinate our way out of this,” he said.  “But then we had people that wouldn’t even take the damn vaccine.”
“We know vaccines work.  We know masks work.  We know social distancing works, and we know crowd control, limiting crowded spaces, works.  This is like a no-brainer, but we cannot seem to do it.”
    —     Dr. Robert Murphy
Executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health
Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine
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On This Day In:
2021 I’ve Still Not Found #45’s One Thing
Chewin’ On A Piece Of Grass
2020 Listening To A #IncompetentDonald COVID-19 Press Briefing
2019 I Am Doubtful
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2018 True Measures
2017 Hoping For Tapes
In It Now
2016 On Viewing This Mudball
2015 It Takes A Village
2014 In God’s Eyes
2013 We Root For Ourselves
2012 Like A Shark
2011 Discernible Virtue

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History is not an exact science.  And ‘the historian of the future’ is as much artist as scientist or academic.  But the futurologist cannot be taken lightly.  He bases his conclusions on perceived trends, and his predictions themselves may possibly have some effect on the future:  in helping either to prevent his predictions coming true or to realize them.
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From:  “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
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2020 Imagine Existence
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2019 Voices Of The Past
2018 Sunrises, Rainbows And Newborn Babies
2017 Untold Agony
2016 Just Borrowed
2015 Warning
2014 Always More Productive
2013 Is Not
2012 Loosely Translated
2011 Your Opinions Are Not My Facts

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The central contention of physics has it that the building blocks of the universe will endure even if, or even when, the humans who tally them, and the planet we live on, all die.  To see into the deathless universe is to try to see nothing so flamboyant as [William] Wordsworth’s favorite daffodils and walnut groves, but to peer into the coldest spaces, the black holes and the fractional electric charge of theoretical subatomic particles.  These entities have no blood flow, of course, but also no DNA;  they’re not susceptible to pandemics, however virulent, or the dividends and ravages of carbon.  They don’t live, so they don’t die.  To model the universe as precisely as possible is to try to see the one thing that even the strictest atheist agrees is everlasting — to try to achieve, in a lab, an intimation of immortality.
Back to the living world that’s under our feet.  [Carlo] Rovelli is right to caution against the potential delusions of those who are greedy for eurekas.  But, as a fellow physicist with a radical streak, he is also sympathetic to their ambitions, a drive to “learn something unexpected about the fundamental laws of nature.”  To Rovelli, whose latest book describes quantum mechanics as an almost psychedelic experience, a truly radical discovery entails the observation of phenomena that fall outside three existing frameworks in physics:  quantum theory, the Standard Model of particle physics, and general relativity.  Only by blowing up one of those frameworks can one achieve the kind of immortality that scientists get, the glory of someone like Einstein or Heisenberg.
But to keep looking, as Rovelli has, as Fermilab has with this study on the muon’s magnetism, is also to apprehend hints.  To follow hints.  In that way, the physicist’s work and the poet’s are the same.  And if Wordsworth is right, immortality can be found, of all places, in the hint — the staggering proposition by nature itself that, in spite of all the dying around us, something of all we love might be imperishable, might still flicker or shine or wobble when the rest of our world is gone.
    —     Virginia Heffernan
From her article:  “Muonstruck
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  June 2021
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On This Day In:
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2019 Beautiful Rules
2018 Skepticism
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2015 When It Is Darkest
2014 Knowledge And Doubt
2013 Three Thoughts
2012 Gentle Reader
2011 Leave The Light On For Me Anyway

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The limit of your present understanding is not the limit of your possibilities.
    —    Guy Finley
In these times – where social appearance is more important than spiritual substance – what has become our longing to change is really the unconscious desire to control not just the shape of our bodies (according to prevailing values) but to dominate our environment as well, regardless of the cost.
    —    Guy Finley
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On This Day In:
2021 I Should Have Started Earlier
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2020 Let’s Make It So
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2018 A Moment Of Union
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2015 Hunger
2014 Outside Dependence
2013 Doing Right
2012 A Short Course In Human Relations
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2011 I’m Working For A Living

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Consider again that dot.  That’s here.  That’s home.  That’s us.  On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.  The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.  Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.  Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life.  There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.  Visit, yes.  Settle, not yet.  Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.  There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.  To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
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2019 Only One Direction
2018 Respect Is Long Gone
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2016 Dear Automakers
2015 And Some Not So Brave Too
2014 In My Lifetime…
2013 Democracy
2012 Borrowed Expectations
2011 Not Necessarily True

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THE IMPORTANCE OF PERIODIC REVIEW
For precisely the reasons I’ve just outlined — that science is a process, not a set of accepted facts — it’s a good idea (and very common) for scientists, whether professionals or students, to review for themselves both how the scientific web of knowledge was assembled historically, and how it holds together nowadays.  This kind of exercise is a sort of brain calisthenics;  it keeps the mind fresh and clear.
Every time I reconsider what I know from scratch, I learn something new.  Typically I find connections between well-known facts that I hadn’t previously recognized.  Sometimes I discover gaps in my own logic, and a couple of times in my career I’ve even discovered gaps in the scientific community’s logic.  So it’s well worth going through this kind of introspection, even starting at the beginning with basic astronomy.
    —     Professor Matt Strassler
[Found at one of the blogs / websites I follow:  “Of Particular Significance“, at:  https://profmattstrassler.com/
The specific post is:  https://profmattstrassler.com/2022/02/11/why-simple-explanations-of-established-facts-have-value/
Please visit the original site if you have a few spare moments.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
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2015 Not Today
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2014 …Am Too
2013 Credible?
2012 Both
2011 Risking Hidden Linkage

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Who are we?  We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 Put ‘Er There
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2020 And In The Back
2019 Sunlight Stream
2018 Wars Without Taxes
2017 Multiplication And Division
2016 I Went To The Woods…
2015 I’ve Got To Run
2014 Which Is It?
2013 Making You Stronger
2012 Sick Of Being Sick
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2011 Clear, Specific And Measurable
2010 The Runner’s High
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Science is … a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.  If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
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2014 To The Nines
2013 Higher And Truer
2012 Life’s Last Question
2011 A Single Heartbeat
A Little Male Humor – WHY MEN SHOULDN’T RETIRE

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The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.
    —    Robert M. Pirsig
From his book:  “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
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On This Day In:
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2017 My Fear For America
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2014 The Law Of The Perversity Of Nature
2013 One Standard Deviation
2012 High Anxiety
2011 And I’m Taking Me There
2010 1,000

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Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome Universe that utterly dwarfs — in time, in space, and in potential — the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.  We gaze across billions of light-years of space to view the Universe shortly after the Big Bang, and plumb the fine structure of matter.  We peer down into the core of our planet, and the blazing interior of our star.  We read the genetic language in which is written the diverse skills and propensities of every being on Earth.  We uncover hidden chapters in the record of our origins, and with some anguish better understand our nature and prospects.  We invent and refine agriculture, without which almost all of us would starve to death.  We create medicines and vaccines that save the lives of billions.  We communicate at the speed of light, and whip around the Earth in an hour and a half.  We have sent dozens of ships to more than seventy worlds, and four spacecraft to the stars.  We are right to rejoice in our accomplishments, to be proud that our species has been able to see so far, and to judge our merit in part by the very science that has so deflated our pretensions.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 A Weary Rehearsal?
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2019 At Least Mostly On Purpose
2018 Only One You In All Time
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2014 Finding Beliefs
2013 Pretty Confident
2012 Effective Ranges
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Space & Time

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There is no other species on the Earth that does science.  It is, so far, entirely a human invention, evolved by natural selection in the cerebral cortex for one simple reason:  it works.  It is not perfect.  It can be misused.  It is only a tool.  But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything.  It has two rules.  First:  there are no sacred truths;  all assumptions must be critically examined;  arguments from authority are worthless.  Second:  whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised.  We must understand the Cosmos as it is and not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be.
     —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
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2011 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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The opposite of a true statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a profound truth can be another profound truth.
    —   Niels Bohr
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On This Day In:
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2010 Giants Win Games 3 & 4 – One Away From World Series!!

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It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery.  But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red?  It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
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2013 Walking The Walk
2012 Legacy Of Star Trek (TOS)
2011 Tolerating The Intolerant
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2010 Giants Win Game 1 In Philly (4 to 3)!!

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Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold.  What have we to offer in exchange?  Uncertainty!  Insecurity!
    ––     Isaac Asimov
Quoted by:   John Allen Paulos
From his book:  “Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
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On This Day In:
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2019 Mutually Exclusive
2018 Basic Rights
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2016 The Bell Tolls
2015 It Is What It Is
2014 What Have You Learned (Gently) Lately?
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2013 Ignore The Man Behind The Curtain
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2012 What Are Your True Measurements
2011 What It Is All About
2010 The Magnificent Seven
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Like the choice between competing political institutions, that between competing paradigms proves to be a choice between incompatible modes of community life.  Because it has that character, the choice is not and cannot be determined merely by the evaluative procedures characteristic of normal science, for these depend in part upon a particular paradigm, and the paradigm is at issue.  When paradigms enter, as they must, into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular.  Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense.
     —     Thomas S. Kuhn
From his book:   “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
[Unfortunately for Democracy, Trumpers STILL choose lies…    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
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2013 Doin’
2012 A Lover
2011 What Have We Found Here
Words

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