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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the President of the American Council on Science and Health and founded Science 2.0® in 2006.

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Last month, an article that had caused something of a buzz in science circles since November was published in the journal Icarus.   John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, physicists at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, wrote a paper(1) speculating about the existence of an unknown planet, a monstrous binary companion to our Sun bigger even than Jupiter.

The problem, other than the usual hype by places like Huffington Post along with mainstream media outlets, was this planet would have to be in the Öpik-Oort Cloud , which is itself a hypothesis.   
Tsunamis are big news for the last few days and there may be an ancient reason along with a current one.  A group of researchers are saying a tsunami likely destroyed the fabled lost city of Atlantis...and it is underneath mud flats in southern Spain. 

The team's findings are the subject of "Finding Atlantis," a National Geographic Channel special that aired this weekend (and you can watch again tomorrow evening).
The 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan was a devastating event and did unknown amounts of damage.    There is risk of fire, water shortages, power outages and radiation leaks, not to mention 1,000 dead.   (To separate mass media hype from fact, see Patrick Lockerby's comprehensive and frequently updated Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods and also Japan Quake - Media Up To Mischief)
There are expensive gambles we can make and none are in the forefront of cultural thought more than penalizing current businesses and subsidizing 'green' ones to protect the environment.   California, with a deficit that can basically never be repaid and $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, still subsidizes hundreds of millions in green tech companies with no benefit to-date.

Pres. Obama thinks we should subsidize green companies also, to the tune of $2.3 billion in Recovery Act tax credits for green manufacturers. 
Astrologers are feeling pretty good today.   Because it's made up and not science, anything happening anywhere near a date they predict can be attribution, so talk of a 'supermoon' - a new or full moon at 90% of its closest perigee - followed by an earthquake in Japan makes them seem prescient.

Well, are they?   The supermoon which will occur March 19 will be at its closest to Earth in elliptical orbit (lunar perigee) and closer to Earth than it has been in 18 years.    How close is that?  Only about 2 degrees so unless astrologers have the kind of measurement instruments no one outside NASA has, they can't detect it.   Which means it isn't causing huge waves or earthquakes.
In case you were living under the science equivalent of a rock, the Journal of Cosmology published a study by a NASA researcher stating, essentially, that fossilized bacteria had been found on Earth, but originating from outer space.

That was a bit of a stretch to anyone who thought about it.   Holes in rocks can look like lots of things.