Science & Society

Across the world, fewer people are buying the "I have a glandular disorder" excuse for obesity.

As the average waistline increases but the numbers of obese people skew that result, society is getting less tolerant of heavier folk - even in cultures where being big is considered better, according to a cross-cultural study of attitudes toward obesity to be published in the April issue of Current Anthropology.

The study didn't test what is driving the shift in attitude, but the researchers say that "newer forms of educational media, including global public health campaigns" may be playing a role.

Imagine, if you will, a Borg cube from Star Trek humming along through space, part of a fleet of such cubes, each with millions of drones participating in a spatially non-localized brain of billions.

Now imagine that this collective Borg brain has a headache. The camera zooms inside one of the cubes and we see the source of the problem: a dreadlocked alien has awakened, and he’s raging through the ship, ripping up the neural wiring that connects the Borg drones to one another. Suddenly disconnected from the collective, the drones are waking up and finding themselves for the first time.

Although this rabble-rousing nerve-cutter might sound like the actions of a Klingon, as the camera gets closer we realize it’s actually a human.

I just stumbled across a list of favorite ocean flicks, posted at The Film Pilgrim. The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo make a necessary appearance, as do epic disaster shows like Titanic and The Perfect Storm.

Then there's Jaws, which (arguably) prejudiced a generation or more against great white sharks forever. Not a bright day for interspecies understanding.

And then there's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, to which the Film Pilgrim says: "I don't think there’s ever been a movie which greater depicts the ferocity of the giant squid." May I just say: the totally inaccurate, fictional, unsubstantiated ferocity!
Spend anytime in the online autism community, and you'll find a rich cast of characters offering a diverse perspective on what it means to be autistic. From clinically diagnosed autistics in early adulthood to late middle age to individuals who have self-identified as autistic, I've had the chance to read over 130 autistic bloggers on the directory, in addition to other autistics whose writings appear in print, on websites, forums, and facebook. 

Which science kills the most people each year?  Prompted by a quote-- "guns don't kill people-- physics kills people." ('3rd Rock from the Sun') -- it's time we look at which science really is the deadliest.

So let's set up the big three: Physics, Chemistry and Biology.  In a Hollywood movieland world, Physics would be the clear winner on early deaths.  Car crashes, gunshot wounds, bicycle accidents, falling down, people hitting each other, and that biggie called 'war' are all physics-driven deaths.
There has clearly been enough controversy around the risks and hazards created by the Fukushima reactor problems over the past days.  Part of the controversy seems to originate with the idea that if a risk to public health is being suggested, then this is scaremongering and clearly an anti-nuclear sentiment.  On the other hand, if the risk is downplayed, then this is viewed as being pro-nuclear and representative of industry favoritism.

I would suggest that when examining such risks that there are actually two perspectives that need to be considered and that we must be especially aware of the reliability of scientific data in reassuring the public.
Back in October I made my picks for the hotly contested Etsy/NASA contest.  And now the winners are announced.  Neither of my picks (stenciled glass bottles and wooden toy blocks for alien children) made it.  And, well, I'll say I'm not leaping up to buy any of the winners.  Still, it was a neat little contest with interesting implications.

DIY satellite news every Tuesday here and at Project Calliope
How The Media Has Hurt The Japanese People

First and foremost I have a personal message for the 180 or so heroes who have been working in shifts around the clock to save their nation from a worse disaster than the one that Japan has already suffered.

To the Heroes of Fukushima: 

May you each be most correctly and sincerely honored - not just by by your own nation, but by the whole world.  You have risked your lives to save others.  You are morally remarkable people who have actively taken part in serving our global society.  Through your diligence and perseverance you have become public role models.  You each deserve at least these three medals of honor:

In Nanjing, that is close to Shanghai, and I suppose also in other places around here*, you cannot buy salt anymore. Every last grain has been bought up. Why? Apparently, some evil guy started the rumor that table salt, which is sodium chloride (NaCl), can protect you from radioactivity. We are not talking about iodide salt here, nor even sea salt either, which has some iodide in it, but simple salt, which there is already way too much in the Chinese diet.

*(Update: In the whole of China, the first person died already from eating too much salt!)

So I check my blog comments this morning, and guess who the culprit is? IT IS ME! According to the comments to my last article, I am the one to blame! How so?