Cool Links

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.
Coca-Cola is apparently developing new beverage package made from citrus juices, fibers, and and peels. They filed a trademark September 16th saying it would call such packaging "Peelpack."

It's not their first bio-based packaging, they also make the PlantBottle

Coca-Cola picks citrus for new containers by David Allison, Atlanta Business Chronicle
In 2008, during the economic glory days of the Bush years, Californians did a number of crazy things - spending $3 billion for human embryonic stem cell research, which no corporation thought was even close to being ready - comes to mind. And they bought into an animal 'liberation' agenda, which had been talking about the minimum size of cages and passed Proposition 2, which mandated the size of chicken cages.
East Asians and Westerners tend to suffer the same types of food allergies in about the same proportions. But there is an exception. Westerners are roughly twice as likely as East Asians to be allergic to peanuts.

Why gives? And why are people allergic to peanuts at all? Writing in The Economist, Alex Berezow dives into clinical immunology and discusses a study finding that mice were also more likely to develop a peanut allergy - if the peanuts were dry-roasted.
Nothing says romantic nostalgia like the idea of riding a train - it's slow, it is serene. I'd do it more often but it takes 21 hours to go from my home in California to Seattle - and the last time I went the power outlets hadn't been updated since about 1975, so you could use an electric shaver but not a laptop.

That means 21 hours of doing nothing, unless you write longhand. Or you carry a manual typewriter and want to annoy the entire car. 
Neonicotinoid pesticides were invented because there was concern that they could have an effect on bees.

Colony collapses have happened all throughout recorded history, of course, but in an immediate news cycle when every blip leads to gigantic fundraising opportunities, it is customary to hyperventilate and mobilize the donor base against science. 

Yet despite the beliefs of environmentalists, a 1980 PC is not better than a PC made today and legacy pesticides are not superior to neonicotinoids.
It's no secret by now how prescient Science Left Behind was in noting the anti-science beliefs of the left, at a time when science media insisted being anti-science was solely an inherent trait of being a Republican, were going to become a huge problem for public acceptance of science.

On Twitter, you follow and are followed, so if you are going to create a list of most impactful science people, there is only one valid metric - the number of "followers" who are going to see what they write.
Proposition 65, which mandates warning labels on just about every product in every store in the state, insures that Californians have no clue what actually can be harmful or not. What doesn't 'cause cancer' if an epidemiologist can torture data long enough that it confesses?

Did you know that “nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians overweight or obese,” and that gay males are not? I confess I didn't, though it may be because, outside a relative, I am not sure I know any lesbian women, due to my "I don't give a crap" policy which causes me to forget to assume two women together are lesbians and wonder what it has to do with their waistlines. 

Dr. Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser to the president of the European Commission,  was a welcome event for the science community when she got that job. Perhaps Europe would finally revisit the Science Enlightenment, and stop finding experts to endorse whatever polls say science policy should be.

It hasn't been easy. She has been targeted by both Greens and her boss for supporting the overwhelming consensus on biology. Her boss even publicly said when it comes to science, she is speaking her opinion - it's weird when a scientist only has an opinion...unless it matches political beliefs.


You'd think Hawaii would be really supportive of science.

Without genetic modification and the GMO Rainbow papaya crop, papaya on Hawaii would be extinct due to the ringspot virus, but everyone in Hawaii hates science. Naked girls sell calendars of cheesecake under the pretense that it will save Hawaii from science, a politician drafted a bill to ban all GMOs except the GMO Rainbow papaya.


Pacific Research Institute Fellows Dr. Wayne Winegarden and Dr. Marc Miles have created the 50 State Index of Energy Regulation, which covers the various regulatory climates for energy consumption, production and distribution. 

It's no secret that energy is the great equalizer. We have written numerous articles showing that with clean energy - not by penalizing everything but the pet projects of politicians and the lobbyists paid to support some schemes - everything is possible. Cheap energy is the road from poverty and makes everything else possible.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to rage and has now claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people. Is that a lot? It depends. In context, that is 10 percent of the lives France lost during a heatwave in 2004 while they protested American foreign policy in the streets, so clearly it is a matter of priorities. Unlike France, Africa regards preventable deaths as a priority but there are lessons for developed nations in there also.

First, and most importantly, is that American health care is quite good. Yes, it's expensive, but this outbreak really can't happen here, no matter how much the instant news cycle wants to hype it up.