Science & Society

A new paper believes that a record drought in Syria from 2006-2010 and the 2011 Syrian uprising is not a coincidence. The rebellion was stoked by ongoing man-made climate change, they write.

The drought, the worst in modern record-keeping, destroyed agriculture in the breadbasket region of northern Syria, driving dispossessed farmers to cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in spring 2011. The conflict has since evolved into a complex multinational war that may have killed 200,000 people and displaced many more. 
Synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"), with names like Spice, K2, Scooby Doo and hundreds of others, are often sold as a safe, "legal" alternative to marijuana but that is just marketing by drug dealers. Synthetic marijuana was linked to 11,561 reports of poisonings in the United States between January 2009 and April 2012. 

It's no surprise that it has grown popular among teens, that is why legal businesses like cigarettes and alcohol cannot market to kids. In 2011, synthetic marijuana was used by 11.4% of high school seniors in the US, making it the most commonly used drug - after real marijuana. 

Academia could take some lessons from Silicon Valley about diversity. Credit: Wikimedia

Last week, MIT released a report that closely examines the state of diversity within the university.

The report considers MIT’s diversity not just in terms of students and faculty, but also looks at the Institute’s non-faculty research staff who represent approximately 28% of the institution as a whole.

Exchanges between atheists and the “truly” religious seem pointless. Logic can’t win over a human who, as the result of personal experiences and genetics, can’t be an atheist any more than a heterosexual can “fix” a homosexual arguing about the reproductive illogic of homosexuality.


It’s quite revealing that Karen Kafadar and Anne-Marie Mazza (LiveScience Op-Ed on February 24, 2015, titled "Using Faulty Forensic Science, Courts Fail the Innocent") demand more research in forensic science while ignoring one of the most significant studies on forensic science and erroneous convictions ever conducted.
The Intrexon synthetic biology company announced today that it is acquiring Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the science start-up behind the non-browning Arctic apple, for $31 million in Intrexon common stock and $10 million in cash.
The National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2015 Public Welfare Medal to astrophysicist Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History, in recognition of his "extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science, from atoms to the Universe.”  
If you live in a city, some of your movement around town is social in nature.

But how much, exactly?

Around 20 percent, according to a new paper that used anonymized phone data to reconstruct both people's locations and their social networks.

By linking this information together, the researchers were able to build a picture indicating which networks were primarily social, as opposed to work-oriented, and then deduce how much city movement was due to social activity.

Before I get to the semi-creepy AI toy, let me say that my nearly 10 year old son got his first iPod two weeks ago. He is now less than 5 clicks away from watching ISIS behead children and burn people alive, pedophilia, pornography, religious bigotry, war, and all other manner of human ugliness and depravity. Thankfully he’s more interested in video games and funny YouTube videos, even in some science and technology videos. But three British teens fell for online traps, and traipsed through airport security on their way to Syria to marry ISIS animals. I guess beheading people is cool to some 14 and 15 year old girls.


By Emilie Lorditch, Inside Science
(Inside Science) – When I was in elementary school, I couldn't wait to get home to watch my favorite TV show, "3-2-1 Contact." Watching that show, I learned that science was fun and part of my everyday life. Seeing young women on the show – who were like older sisters that I wished I had – I believed that I could be a scientist too.