Science & Society

U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials have announced the destruction of 60 percent of the U.S. declared stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This milestone was achieved Saturday, April 25. CMA reached the 50 percent milestone in December 2007 and is poised to destroy its two-millionth munition in the coming months. 
Professor Maria da Graça Bicalho, head of the Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility Laboratory at the University of Parana, Brazil, told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics that people with diverse major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) were more likely to choose each other as mates than those whose MHCs were similar, and that this was likely to be an evolutionary strategy to ensure healthy reproduction.

Yes, opposites attract.   Even genetically.  

The MHC is a large genetic region situated on chromosome 6, and found in most vertebrates. It plays an important role in the immune system and also in reproductive success. Apart from being a large region, it is also an extraordinarily diverse one. 
Harry Benjamin Syndrome, at first a uncontroversial and innocuous idea that transsexual brains are different from other brains, has morphed into a platform for some to denigrate others under a cloak of true pseudoscience proposed by laypeople and supported by not one reputable sexologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.  What some of them have done is take to attacking anyone who does not fit with their ideal of what a real "woman born transsexual" is (Like a transsexual who does not want sexual reassignment surgery.All they while complaining about how oppressed they feel.  This is just a little snapshot of the bigotry, hy
Being Unfair

Being Unfair

May 20 2009 | 2 comment(s)

In case you thought I was being unfairly hard on the leaders of the Catholic Church here and here, take a look at the results of an investigation into church run reform schools in Ireland:
A fiercely debated, nine-year investigation into Ireland's Roman
Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of
boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades — and that
What happens when a guy married to an art historian who dislikes religion writes a book using science?   "Angels&Demons", that's what.   It's the book Dan Brown wrote that made even less sense than "The DaVinci Code", because it was written before that blockbuster hit, even though the new movie seems like a sequel.  

Because it was written three years earlier, he had yet to refine his craft of jumbling vaguely non-specific pop social science with revisionist history - though he still knows he dislikes Catholics enough - and basically works in the expected conspiracy theory with some science as the weapon.
What is Language ?

We are tool-using social  animals. The most powerful tool known is the one we use to build every other tool: language - spoken or written. But tools can be used with little or no skill to turn out mundane artifacts and garbage. By honing your skills with language you - yes, you - can craft masterpieces. A study of linguistics can help you acquire such skills, but be warned: the pursuit of linguistic knowledge is highly addictive.
Georg, over at Lattice Points noted a piece about open science in Physics World:

The adoption and growth of scientific journals has created a body of shared knowledge for our civilization, a collective long-term memory that is the basis for much of human progress. This system has changed surprisingly little in the last 300 years. Today, the Internet offers us the first major opportunity to improve this collective long-term memory, and to create a collective short-term working memory — a conversational commons for the rapid collaborative development of ideas.

Jorge Cham of PHD comics absolutely nailed the science news cycle .
PHD Comics by Jorge Cham
Personally, I think he may have let the University PR Office off a bit lightly.
*Hat tip to Skepchick Rebecca Watson, because I clicked on that RSS feed before the PHD feed.
We Love Jenny

We Love Jenny

May 14 2009 | 2 comment(s)

There is something odd about the effort to make a pro-vaccination go viral; but, this one is worth the cognitive dissonance headache. 
The American Civil Liberties Union action in filing a lawsuit yesterday against Myriad Genetics is going to lead to one of the most important legal battles in the history of biotechnology, asserts Genetic Engineering&Biotechnology News(GEN).   The ACLU charged that the patenting of two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer will inhibit medical research.   The organization also claims that the patents are invalid and unconstitutional, though the ACLU didn't disclose which clause of the Constitution it violates.