Cool Links

Why would a bill in Hawaii ban GMOs, except for the GMO Rainbow papaya crop, which is credited by scientists and independent experts for rescuing the papaya on Hawaii from extinction threatened by the ringspot virus?
Alejandro Jodorowsky, a cult Franco-Chilean film-maker (an "acid western" - so think back to 1970 and picture that) and science-fiction comics writer who later became a spiritual guru (psycho-shamanism - just jumble together tarot cards, alchemy and Zen Buddhism together), has been honored by The Minor Planets Centre, a branch of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

They have listed asteroid 261690 Jodorowsky at the request of the French astronomer who spotted the five-kilometer-wide object almost eight years ago. 261690 Jodorowsky orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, at an average distance of 470 million kilometres from the sun.
Want to create an online video course that will be successful and make a ton of money? 

The Synchronous Massive Online Class (SMOC) by two psychologists at the University of Texas - Austin may be it. It's an introductory class in psychology so anyone can participate and they are charging $550 per viewer.  Unlike the better-known MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), you have to watch the class live. 

"We're not business people, we're not entrepreneurs, but we know we have a first-rate class that works, and now the question is how do we go out and sell this mousetrap," said Prof. James Pennebaker, the chairman of the UT psychology department.
William Stein, an associate professor of mathematics at University of Washington, has taken his advocacy of free open-source mathematics software to the next level. 

Stein is the director of the SAGE Project and this new web-based LaTeX editor is client-side CoffeeScript, HTML, and CSS. It's free, it's unlimited!

Check it out at the SageMath Cloud.

3-D printing is cool, just a little gimmicky. 

But NASA took 3-D printing to a whole new level; they created an injector fabricated from layers of a nickel-chromium alloy powder  and then hot-fired it in a rocket engine.

The injector component is part of the rocket engine that allows the hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen to pass through to the combustion chamber, where the thrust is produced, notes Jason Paur at Wired. The engine tested with the 3-D printed injector developed 20,000 pounds of thrust, about 10 times more than any previous engine that’s used a printed part.

In April of last year, two Jordanians died of a mysterious respiratory illness, followed by another man with similar symptoms in Saudi Arabia. Scientists and public health experts were surprised to identify the cause as a novel coronavirus, like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002, that had been caused by a coronavirus that originated in China. 

A peaceful protest of 30,000 turned violent when young people wearing masks opted to show their support for farmers by throwing bombs and bricks in city streets. At least four people were arrested and 12 police officers injured in the melee in downtown Bogota. Red Cross officials said 10 civilians were hurt.

The 45,000 farmers, coffee growers and truck drivers who have blocked highways and battled with riot police since last week say their business is simultaneously hurt by protectionist tariffs on fertilizer, which make their product expensive compared to other countries, and free trade promoted by their government. 

A writer at Breitbart has referenced a study done by Harvard in 2007 debunking the claim that banning firearms would reduce murder or even suicide.

Suicide is the far and away leader in handgun deaths while rifles, including the confusingly-termed 'assault' kind, are barely a blip in murders or suicides, a few hundred per year.

This sort of analysis has been done multiple times and get done each time a shooting tragedy happens. When 'shooting sprees' were blamed on American gun culture last year, it was quickly noted that the rate of shooting sprees in countries where guns are outlawed are not lower.
Yesterday, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program moved Verlasso farmed salmon from Chile to its "yellow list" as a good alternative. 

It marks the first time an ocean-farmed salmon has gotten a nod from an influential "eco-friendly" fish list.

The Seafood Watch list is one of several that assign seafood a red, yellow or green rating, based on their sustainability and environmental impact. Red is "avoid," yellow is "good alternative" and green is "best choice."
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are called new innovation so disruptive for academia today that they will do to higher education what the Internet has done to newspapers or what Napster did to music. There's only one problem with this bold hypothesis: It's simply not true.

MOOCs are not a transformative innovation that will forever remake academia. That honor belongs to a more disruptive and far-reaching innovation – "big data," a catchall phrase that refers to the vast numbers of data sets that are collected daily, big data promises to revolutionize online learning. Big data in the online learning space will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for individual students.
6,100 hundred people applied to become astronauts - with its rather fuzzy, non-specific meaning compared to when I was a kid - for the candidate class of 2013. 8 have been chosen.

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here -- developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. 
Since the dawn of time [citation needed], mathematicians have been fascinated with what prime numbers are, how many there are (see below), tests for primality, and crucially, finding a pattern in which numbers are prime and which aren’t. So far, the answer to that one has eluded us.

I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that prime numbers are the building blocks of numbers. They’re the atoms of maths. They are the beginning of all number theory...

Open Season: Prime Numbers (Part 1) By Katie Steckles Aperiodical.com
Commercial genetically modified crops are commonly optimized to be resistant to glyphosate, which most people know as Roundup. 

Glyphosate inhibits plant growth by blocking an enzyme known as EPSP synthase, which is involved in as much as 35% of a plant’s mass. The Monsanto GMO technique, for example, involved inserting genes derived from bacteria that infect plants into a crop’s genome to boost EPSP-synthase production.  They quite cleverly used nature to make crops pesticide-resistant, so farmers can wipe out weeds from the fields without damaging their crops, which means better yields, more food at cheaper prices and a lower environmental footprint, including global warming emissions.
During the days of rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, the military decided to try a science approach to working with the residents there.

Unfortunately, they picked an American anthropology field that is at war with itself over whether or not it wants to be scientific or advocacy-based. It was the wrong solution at the wrong time - as Israeli leaders have long told American presidents when being patronized, the Middle East is not the Middle West.
Battleships are so World War II. And while aircraft carriers have ruled since then, naval air power relying on them is primarily effective against targets that are decades behind. So while Raytheon is developing a missile killer to knock out China's DF-21D "carrier killer" cruise missile, DARPA is looking for ideas to replace aircraft carriers themselves, before they are obsolete.
In the ongoing culture war, where various groups jockey over studies to create some confirmation bias for their readers, some of the silliest claims have been that there may be brain differences between 'conservative' and 'liberal' people.

Never mind that this would have to mean Americans have evolved to be a separate species, engendering all kinds of supernatural epigenetic and logical backflips, the reason it casts doubt is that all those studies claiming to be science used fMRI and/or surveys of college students to bastardize biology. 
Alex Wild at Myrmecos has shared a picture from visiting scholar
We see it happen all of the time - a paper is produced saying something is either bad or is a Miracle Vegetable of The Week, it gets worldwide mainstream media attention, and then a bunch of other people jump on to do more studies. Then people jump in to do studies debunking them. Rinse, repeat

If you have witnessed the hysteria regarding BPA, for example, you have seen we are in the piling on stage, while white rice has overcome the 'it is not as healthy as brown rice' stage and is gaining ground in neutral science.
Heinz Endowments, a charitable arm of Heinz separate from its consumer foods business, has relieved Caren Glotfelty of managing its Environment Program, which is a significant part of the endowment's overall grants. Her last day will be Thursday.

In recent years, Heinz Endowments had given a great deal of its money to environmental groups opposed to natural gas extraction. Then more recently, it joined a consortium with major drilling companies like Shell and Chevron to create stricter energy industry standards, which annoyed environmental groups.