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A Rubber Duck's Journey

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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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If you lived in Hilazon Tachtit, near  the Hilazon river of Israel 12,000 years ago, you might have borne witness to a world first; the earliest known religious ceremony.
Underneath the ancient royal buried ground of Saqqara in the Egyptian desert lies something even creepier than mummies that might come back to life - mummies that might come back to life and be adorable.

The Sacred Animal Necropolis, as it was called after being discovered by archaeologists last century, was dedicated to Anubis - that is the one with the head of a dog/jackal - and is believed to contain up to 8 million animals, most of them small dogs. It's hard to be sure because the animals were not mummified the way royal members were so they have just basically decomposed into heaps of DNA. Most were placed there in the Late- (747-332 B.C.) and Ptolemaic (332-30 B.C.) Periods.

You may not have realized it, but women's voices are a big topic. For women, at least. 

I suppose it may be true. If someone asks me to describe the characters in television comedy "The Big Bang Theory", my natural response would be 'the guy that matches the stereotype of how people think physicists are, the actual physicist, the engineer, the psychologist, the girl who looked a lot better with longer hair and the girl with the squeaky voice.'

See? 16% of my responses were related to female voice. She did better than the Indian guy, I forgot him completely, but whatever her science degree is was completely left out, the voice sticks out.


Right now, the police can't do much to help you until after a crime has been committed. In a science-fiction tale about free will and psychological determinism, Philip K. Dick's "Minority Report" detailed a world where PreCrime officers stop acts before they happen. They know who is going to do it.

But psychic mutants are a simplistic convention, criminologists have instead been trying to do it in the real world.


Voodoo Dolls, Gambling Monkeys and Zombies in Love sounds like a 1980s B-movie title, along the lines of "Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town", but it's actually part of the latest Wastebook from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

If you didn't know that NASA built a $350 million launch pad tower even after the the rockets it was designed to test were scrapped, well, Coburn is here to help. They also spent $390,000 on a cartoon about global warming and $3,000,000 to try and figure out how Congress works.

Those and 97 other funny or outrageous bits of spending waste are documented.

Imagine we lived in a world where spontaneous mutations were caused by radiation and then released on an unsuspecting public without any testing.

Well, we do. It's called nature

High-energy cosmic rays have been breaking chromosomes into pieces that reattach randomly, and sometimes creating genes that didn't previously exist, for as long as some thing has eaten some other thing.