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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 »

The 4th of July is a holiday in the United States because it's the day a group of British citizens decided to throw off the shackles of tyranny and go out on their own, and they inspired a nation to join them.   Or, if you are one of those self-loathing cynical Americans who don't realize how lucky you are to be born in a wealthy western country, it is a day when a bunch of rich guys decided they didn't want to pay their taxes(1).

But the 4th of July is not just history, it's also apple pie, motherhood and ... chemistry.   
Total Football Versus The Beautiful Game

Anyone who predicted Brazil would not be the World Cup winner, much less get beaten in the quarter-finals, was just being contrarian.  Virtually no analysis that went beyond hope had Brazil running through this event.  When Adriano and Ronaldinho are not good enough to be on your team, you know you have a great team.
Homeopathy's origin should be a clue to why there is no evidence to show it has ever worked.  In the words of Samuel Hahnemann, the German physician at a time when being an M.D. was not a mark of respect, believed
"The vital force that animates the healthy body, rules with unbounded sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation . . . so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purpose of our existence."


"when a person falls ill, it is only this spiritual vital force, everywhere present in his organism, that is primarily deranged by another dynamic influence hostile to his life." 
It's World Cup time and that means sports fans worldwide are focused on important issues, like complaining about vuvuzelas and this year's soccer ball, the Jabulani, which will push fan and player hatred of the 2006 ball, Teamgeist, into the background.

Why does this happen (the ball complaints, not the vuvuzelas) every World Cup?  FIFA, governing body of Big Football, loves controversy, that's why. So FIFA has strict regulations on the size and weight of the balls but makes no regulations at all about the outside surface of the balls.  Thus, we go from an inordinately smooth ball one World Cup to one with ridges the next.
As a younger, unmarried man I wanted to visit Sweden, but more for the volleyball team than for the science(1), but since I don't want to find out if there 'are other fish in the sea' these days I might instead like to go to Kosterhavet Marine National Park.
If you've watched any World Cup games so far (and a record 15 million in the US watched Saturday's match versus Ghana, so statistically, ummm, 50,000 people in our audience have watched at least one) you may have heard an omnipresent buzzing sound and assumed it was a horde of mutant bees in the broadcast booth or a defect in your television.

It was neither.  Instead, it was a vuvuzela ("lepatata"), a B flat plastic horn that is loved by South African sports fans and hated by everyone else.  Seriously.  During that first World Cup match I watched it was so annoying I was convinced that if the people at Abu Gharaib had access to these things, terrorists would have caved in long ago.