Science & Society

AirAsia QZ8501 - No Explosion

Air Asia flight 8501 did not explode: it burst open on impact with the water.

Many English language news outlets are reporting that the plane "exploded".  It appears that there has been a gross failure in translation.  The Indonesian word 'meledak' is ambiguous: it can mean 'explode', but it can also mean 'burst'.


Meledak sama pecah - 'explode' can mean 'rupture.

Solidarity with France and Charlie Hebdo in Taipei Pichi Chuang/Reuters

By Lucas Hollister, Dartmouth College

In his 1998 novel, The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq argued that Charlie Hebdo played a pivotal role in the redefinition of social values in post-1968 France.

The political football of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America is well-known but a new study has found that even immigrants with job offers are less likely to have those immigration requests granted - if they are from Latin America,



Abu Hamza addressing worshippers in London under police observation. Stefan Rousseau/PA

By Matthew Francis, Lancaster University

Abu Hamza has been sentenced to life in a US prison, after being found guilty of 11 charges of terrorism and kidnapping. The ruling was handed down as events unfolded in France, once again putting his role in inspiring jihadist sympathizers in the spotlight.

Air Asia 8501 - Tail Section Raised
Social attitudes are reinforcing the negative beliefs towards people who self harm, according to an analysis of the life stories of people who self-harm and who were also diagnosed with a personality disorder revealed that several spoke of being refused pain relief while being sutured by hospital staff. Others had met staff who thought they were immune to pain because they self-harmed.

An estimated 5% of adults have self-harmed with the aim of relieving psychological distress.

The was carried out by Dr. Jane Simpson from Lancaster University with Charlotte Morris, Mark Sampson and Frank Beesley from the NHS. The researchers said, “The responses of others had the potential to exacerbate distress and even trigger further self-harm.” 

David Pope's cartoon posted on Twitter. David Pope

By Robert Phiddian, Flinders University

Cartoonists and satirists in “the West” are confronted with the risks of their expressive freedom today as a consequence of the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The mythology among the people who really care about what is happening on the left or the right is that the people opposite them are uneducated and being exploited by elites.

The opposite is true: Polarized people tend to be highly educated. Sorry, Republicans, those Democrats did not register for the wrong party because they are dumb. and sorry, MSNBC viewers, Rush Limbaugh is one of the smartest people in America, whether you like his show or not. 

But that means some polarization is good. An educated public is a crucial element to a democratic society and educated people will have stronger opinions than those who always waffle and take the middle ground and say it depends on what the definition of something is.

To Tolkien, the machine represents a means to attain power over others. His orcs -- deformed and ugly creatures, whose hands are sometimes replaced with weapons -- embody this lust for power. LOTR Wikia

By Richard Gunderman, Indiana University-Purdue University

Air Asia 8501 - Some Factual Information

"Based on the available data regarding the location of the lost aircraft, weather is a factor in the triggering of the incident. The most likely weather phenomenon is cooling air which can cause engine damage due to icing. This is just one of the possibilities that arise based on the analysis of available meteorological data, and is not a final decision about the cause of the incident."
From the BMKG weather report, in full below.


Facts and Fiction