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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0® in 2006 and, since July of 2015, the President of the American Council on Science and Health.

Revolutionizing... Read More »

Conspiracy theorists love photo effects.   If you want to see a man on Mars, you will eventually find it.  But if NASA cleans up an image and then posts it, and then a high-contrast photo makes the rather weak lighting look like some anthropomorphized UFO, well, it's a conspiracy.

Face on Mars. Viking mission 1976
"Anti-science" or "cautious" ... how you regard skeptics of positions that are ethically or scientifically subjective is often a matter of how you already believe.   If you are a Republican concerned about the ethical implications of human embryonic stem cell research, whole books can be written on how Republicans hate science.   But if you are in astronomy and have watched every program started during the Bush years get gutted since Democrats took control of Congress, you might think Democrats hate Congress(1) more.  In reality there are legitimate issues involved and it is up to policy makers to navigate them.
Say you have a curious kid and you want to confirm the planet is round to, you know, show off how experimental results can verify mathematical ones.    If you are with the Brooklyn Space Program group, you build your own spacecraft, of course.

But it isn't that easy.    You can put a camera on a balloon, sure, but your camera needs to survive 100 MPH winds, temperatures of -60, speeds of 150 MPH and maybe a water landing.  To find it if it does land safely, you need to have a GPS attached that transmits coordinates to a cell tower.

Here is their story:
A persistent hypothesis is that perhaps life did not 'originate' on Earth at all, perhaps its building blocks came from space.

In April, the public, fed by astronomy's runaway hype train, were excited by the discovery of water on an asteroid - but it was exciting, it was just the conjecture that followed was a little cloying.
Publishing is evolving and, of the big publishers (The Lancet, Cell, etc.), no one is more forward-thinking than Elsevier.   

They recently announced Article-Based Publishing, their new way to  publish articles as final (and citable) without needing to wait for the full journal to be complete.  Article-Based Publishing is the assigning of final citation data on an article-by-article basis, separate from production of the journal issue.
The discovery of Gliese 581g was cause for rampant hype almost everywhere but here, along with some rather ridiculous claims that there was a 100% chance of life there.

The actual paper authors were more reserved, though astronomy is far bolder than biology in terms of its participants hyping findings and generally physics is pretty reserved (exception: LHC claims when it was being funded and built - now that the marketing is over, the call for perspective has set in) outside dark matter and dark energy, where anything goes.