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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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I happened to be reading Howard Bloom's book The Genius of the Beast when I saw something odd happening in social media - there was a minor blow up on a science blogging site called Scienceblogs.com over a new column that would be written by people from Pepsi, which threatened to become a major blow-up because of social media, and it got me thinking about re-purposing and symbol stacks.
If you follow social media, you may have been alarmed by claims that today is the day Doc Brown traveled to at the end of Back to the Future, that comedy classic from 1985, approaches.

To sum up the plot, Doc Brown has created a time machine (out of a DeLorean, of course, given its all-steel construction and convenient space for a flux capacitor) and, by accident, Marty goes back to 1955.
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.