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Commercial beekeeper Lee Townsend of metropolitan Edmonton found out Club Sierra - I mean Sierra Club (if you've been to their offices you know why it is easy to conflate the two) - was stopping by on its “Protect the Pollinators Tour“.

He wanted to know their thoughts on pollinator awareness so he stopped in. The scientist speaking was not an expert on bees but checked off the correct neutral boxes ('complex issue', 'multi-factorial') but it was Sierra Club of Canada Executive Director John Bennett would really got him wound up.
Evolution is messy, it happens in bursts some of the time and is painfully slow at others. On occasion, it is brilliant but sometimes, like in the human male reproductive layout, you have to wonder if it was drunk.

Dr. Carin Bondar shows both in a video about evolution, to the tune of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus. It is at times hilarious, poignant and informative - just like biology itself. Kudos to Carin, Emily Hammel-Brisson (vocals) and Jordan Oram (everything else) for making natural selection fun.


During World War II, the Nazis built hideouts all over friendly territories, in hard-to-find places like deserts, mountains and jungles. One such jungle was Teyu Cuare in Argentina and scholars recently explored it.
The International Astronomical Union has been critical of groups that allow you to name asteroids or planets, insisting that it was only their realm as self-appointed gatekeepers.

Now they seem to have changed their minds and recognize that getting the public involved is the only way the public will care - people like cute robots on Mars because NASA makes them feel involved. Ironically, the IAU are doing it with the planet that got the public most dismissive of the IAU - Pluto, where 237 members outvoted a few others and decided was not a planet at all before it became one of about 50,000 dwarf planets.

New York Times Style columnist Nick Bilton worries the Apple Watch might give you cancer, so he consulted...Joe Mercola.

Yes, that Mercola, the famous homeopath who has been fined by the federal government for making bizarre unsubstantiated medical claims that probably sound legit to osteopaths and residents of Marin County, California, but make no sense in the evidence-based world.
Michael Hofmann Winer just won a $150,000 first-place prize for innovation, based on quantum condensed matter physics work he did in collaboration with U-Md. physics professor Victor Galitski and graduate student Justin Wilson - and he hasn't finished high school yet.

Winer is the winner of this year's Intel Science Talent Search. Obviously he did a lot of work but he also credits the math, science and computer science magnet program at Montgomery Blair, as well as teacher James R. Schafer, whom he called “one of the best teachers in the universe.”
Pity poor Albert Einstein. He is on more Facebook posters endorsing more causes and claims than he could ever have dreamed possible; sometimes he even uses modern colloquialisms in the quotes.

He's Einstein - if he said it, it must be smart.

There is just one problem, aside from the fact that he never said most of the things those glorified infographics claim he said - he was only smart about one thing. If you are taking his word about anything else, you are no different than if you take a Starbuck's barista's word on bST in milk. 
Do you want to inhale your whisky rather than drink it, or maybe print a smell? Harvard professor David Edwards can make it happen.

More intriguingly, he has created an edible skin meant to replace traditional food packaging, as part of his Wikifoods effort.  Skin on ice cream sounds kind of gross, except an apple has skin, a banana has a skin, an orange has a skin. He is just replacing regular packaging with an edible container.


When the traditional American mafia was at its apex, they would 'launder' their money through legitimate businesses. If a mafia drug lord wanted to have anything approaching a worthwhile life, cars and rings and goomahs, but did not want to go the route of Al Capone and be busted for tax evasion, he had to find a way to make enough money appear to be legitimate that the illegal money can be used. So they would invest in businesses that provided them with income that could be taxed and explain their lifestyles, allowing them to use the much greater illegal money.
If you make an arbitrary decision not to vaccinate your child, and a bunch of people get sick, should you go to jail, just like if you starve a child or let them live in feces?

Though we once got a promise to restore science to its rightful place, instead it looks more and more of the same anti-science mentality we got from President Clinton in the 1990s: Catering to environmental fringe groups - even going to far as declaring a small oyster farm "heavy industry" in order to shut them down.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, as staunch a liberal as we can get, tried to take a stand for science and small business but was unable to prevent the Department of the Interior from "using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go."
Science media is a tough place to be independent and it just got tougher. Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, the part of the family company that owns Nature and Scientific American and others, with  Springer Science+Business Media, investment banked by BC Partners. Macmillan Science and Education, namely Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan and the global businesses of Macmillan Education will all be under the same banner.

Spores on the conidiophores of the fungus Penicillium notatum. Dr. Fred Hossler/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

We used to recycle patient urine - to get penicillin.

Why? Because in 1940, during a World War, it was an intensive process. Getting usable penicillin from Penicillium notatum mold was no easy feat, says PBS: “In spite of efforts to increase the yield from the mold cultures, it took 2,000 liters of mold culture fluid to obtain enough pure penicillin to treat a single case of sepsis in a person.”
Real Clear Science editors curate science stories from all over the world so they read outside the lines of corporate or government-controlled science media. 

That means they are going to find things we may not find on our own. 

To close out 2014, editors collated the most intriguing articles, on everything from ball lightning to DNA, and gathered them into one piece. So you won't have to read for 365 days to learn what happened, you can read for one.

Top 10 Science Stories of 2014


The Food Babe, Vani Hari, recently got renewed attention for a post she wrote in 2011 about the perils of air travel. Like much of what she says, it was unmitigated nonsense except for obvious stuff, like 'drink water' and move around every 30 minutes. Those are fine, though 150 people getting up in a tiny walkway every 30 minutes because they drank all that water is going to be nothing short of hilarious.

California is no stranger to anti-science beliefs; from anti-vaccine to anti-agriculture to anti-energy, you can stick a pin in a map of the coast and find alarmingly one-sided views on politics, medicine and science.
California has a lot of quirks that outside people jeer at. There is no defending it, when people ask about California, I simply tell them 'all of the weird things and the good things you hear are true.'

One of the biggest cultural disconnects is that Californians will promote tolerance and diversity and choice by banning everything. This downward spiral did not happen in the 1960s - the hippie movement was mythologized but it was more of a New York thing than a San Francisco one, Frisco just had better public relations. 
The precautionary principle has been around in all countries and for centuries, it seems. 

The ancient temple of Perperion, south-east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, contains a vampire burial site containing skeletons which all have an iron rod impaled through their bodies where their heart would have been - further evidence that people really did believe that vampires could rise from the dead if they were not buried properly.

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov, called Bulgaria's Indiana Jones, has also found 700-year-old corpses ‘nailed to the ground with iron staples driven into the limbs’.  There have been two vampire burials found around there in the last two years.
On September 29th, 1954, Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), commonly known as CERN, came into existence.

It's had some high-profile achievements. In 1978, they circulated antiprotons for 85 hours in the Initial Cooling Experiment. In 1983, the Super Proton Synchrotron discovered the particle carriers of the weak force, the W and Z bosons.  They even tried to take credit for the top quark in 1984, but that was incorrect and it would be 11 years until the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory would actually discover it.
Over 40 years ago, President Richard Nixon authorized a War On Cancer, with the goal that cancer could be conquered with the right amount of money and ingenuity.