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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes. Probably no one ever said the WWW or Science... Read More »

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It's been a good decade for "The Wizard of Oz" - much better than the Oz books merit but in that one story there is the kernel of something terrific that has resonated with people for decades.   There was a time when it was less cool - anyone watching "The Wiz" had to wonder what they were thinking but re-tellings of the story in more recent years have been terrific.

"Wicked", for example, tells the story of the Wicked Witch and she ends up being a lot more sympathetic.   The core storyline of "The Wizard of Oz" pops in and out but it is her story - and the musical is terrific. 
I took a moment to look at Ray Kurzweil's response to PZ Myers' second-hand dissection of his talk at the Singularity Summit(1) I attended last weekend (see The Singularity Stole My ATM Card) because Andrea Kuszewki is on the case and trying to keep things on track (like, can we reverse engineer the brain?
A few days ago, while talking about mundane business issues, I learned that today, August 19th, was the birthday of that famous childhood delight, the 'black cow', what would later be called a root beer float.

If you are not up on your carbonated beverage lore, root beer hails from the root of the sassafras tree or the sarsaparilla vine.  When the root mixture is mixed with water, sugar and yeast, it is sweetened and the yeast generates carbon dioxide and carbonates the water.
Despite being one of psychology's most memorable concepts and a genuinely good idea, Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, immortalized in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" and later Motivation and Personality, needs a makeover, say some researchers.  

Maslow's hierarchy says humans will fulfill basic needs before moving on to higher level ones.    If you're unemployed and losing your house because fuzzy 'jobs saved or created' statistics have no real value to you, for example, global warming will not be your biggest concern.   
Anthropology rules!   

If a physicist tried to do a research study playing "World of Warcraft" for 3 years his peers would say, "Don't try to church it up, Tommaso, you're just playing World of Warcraft" but when an ethnographer does it, they get funding from the National Science Foundation, Intel, and write a book about it.
Researchers at Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Research Centre have done something unthinkable - they have used Scotch to fuel cars instead of violence-filled weekends.

Well, not Scotch specifically, rather whisky manufacturing waste from Glenkinchie Distillery (The Edinburgh Malt). Whew, the culture dodged a bullet there.     But it's also a good idea.  Scotch is a $5.5 billion industry in Scotland and Edinburgh Napier hit on the idea that whisky by-products could be an excellent resource for developing biobutanol, a next-generation biofuel with 30% more output power than ethanol. 

To understand how it works, you need a quick primer on whisky.