Science & Society

It is the most common thing to hear people to refer to philosophy as uesless. There is even a joke about it. What's the difference between a pizza and a philosopher? A pizza can feed a family of four. Apparently the joke would suggest that society seems to have no need for philsophy, and perhaps you might hear this answer for why: most of the questions philosophy asks can't be proven one way or the other anyway, so why even bother?  But we are quickly approaching an age where we are acquring the technological means to answer that biggest question of all, which we have been putting off for so many years of human history. What is consciousness?

I base my beliefs and any predictions of off two assumptions:

I discovered the Scientific Blogging site while preparing the next episode of my Books and Ideas Podcast , which is going to be a discussion of Dr. Lee M. Silver 's excellent book Challenging Nature . Therefore, I must admit that I am more of a podcaster than blogger.

New research has examined the usefulness of bone marrow stem cells for treating male infertility, with promising results. The related report by Lue et al, “Fate of bone marrow stem cells transplanted into the testis: potential implication for men with testicular failure,” appears in the March issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

When a couple experiences infertility, the man is just as likely as the woman to be the cause. Male infertility may arise from failed proliferation and differentiation of the germ cells (precursors of sperm) or from dysfunction of the supporting cells. New research is looking to stem cells as a means of replacing nonfunctioning cells, whether germ cells or supporting cells.

Researchers, directed by Dr. Ronald S.

 
String theory is a leading candidate for a "theory of everything", but there is not a scrap of experimental evidence for it and no obvious way of getting any, either now or in the foreseeable future.

Daniel Holz, one of the guys at Cosmic Variance, raises interesting questions about art and science, arising from a talk he attended by Felice Frankel, a photographer who produces stunning scientific images.

He was surprised and disappointed, he says, by her insistence that she is not an artist and her photos are not to be considered art. He quotes her as saying: "This is why I am not an artist: I am deeply committed to maintaining the integrity of the science."

It's a bad day for ghost research, though you can be sure Discovery or History Channel will fill in the gap when they run out of Shroud of Turin articles.

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program at Princeton University, which attempted to discover if there was any way the mind could influence physical reality, closing its physical facilities at the end of February.   Well, they can just ESP the research, they don't need physical facilities.

The longest-running search for radio signals from alien civilizations is getting a burst of new data from an upgraded Arecibo telescope, which means the SETI@home project needs more desktop computers to help crunch the data.

Since SETI@home launched eight years ago, the project based at the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory has signed up more than 5 million interested volunteers and boasts the largest community of dedicated users of any Internet computing project: 170,000 devotees on 320,000 computers.

Yet, new and more sensitive receivers on the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and better frequency coverage are generating 500 times more data for the project than before.

We haven't come that far, baby. In the 1970's male cartoon characters outnumbered female cartoon characters by a ratio of almost four to one. Research presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 105th Annual Convention in Chicago reveals that male cartoon characters still outnumber female cartoon characters almost four to one. Male characters are also still portrayed as dominate, powerful and aggressive. Female characters don't have any "character" at all.

Despite TV watchdogging, Cynthia Spicher, B.A., and psychologist Mary Hudak, Ph.D., from Allegheny College have found little change in the gender stereotypes that America's young minds are spending two to four hours a day viewing.

To see what progress has been made in portraying gender stereotypes in cartoon characters, Dr. Spicher and Dr. Hudak videotaped and categorized 118 cartoon characters from a single episode of each of the following Saturday morning cartoons: The Bugs Bunny/Tweety Show, Aladdin, Ninja Turtles, The Mask, Eek!stravaganza, Spiderman, Tick and Life with Louie. Characters were rated on sex, prominence, gender stereotyping, aggressive behaviors and occupational roles.