Who knew bugs could be beautiful? Bug Safari is one of the most enjoyable blogs in my reader. Cindy has a fine eye for a world that is invisible to most of us - head on over and see for yourself.
Over at Staring at Empty Pages, computer scientist Barry Leiba takes on New Scientist's Eight Things You Didn't Know About the Internet with a fascinating eight-part series of his own. (Be sure to check out all eight parts - links are here.) Barry says that asking 'how big is the internet?' is "like asking how big outer space is," and that not even the UN Security Council could shut down the net. (Can the Security Council shut anything down?)
Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) is being sued for writing a piece about vengeance killings in New guinea; the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival has something to say about the controversy. You can also read about 35,000 year old porn (or at least that's what it's been called in the news), Neanderthals eaten by humans, and how to change the shape of your head.
The economy sucks, but there is a big job opening: Creator of the Universe. "Is modern science in the process of rendering belief in God logically unnecessary? Does the success of science at explaining the world mean that it is no longer reasonable to believe in God?" The Internet Infidels have the answer. Personally, I don't put much stock in any of these debates; let's just work on the science.
"Consider the face on Mars, the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, satanic messages in rock music." Humans love ascribing patterns to intelligent designers. Michael Shermer says that we failed to evolve a proper BS detector when it comes to discriminating between natural and designed patterns - it was probably safer to assume that invisible spirits are everywhere, watching our lives more closely than Dick Cheney. Apparently, a fear of supernatural, evil influences makes "adults typically refuse to wear a mass murderer’s sweater..." My question is, where the hell do you find a mass murderer's sweater to test this?
This is the best invention of all time, but I'm not sure how to get one for my home: "a medical device consisting of a colorful, toy-like headset that connects to a game component... Once the child places it on his or her head and swings the snorkel down from its resting place atop the head, PediSedate transparently monitors respiratory function and distributes nitrous oxide, an anesthetic gas. The child comfortably becomes sedated while playing with a Nintendo Game Boy system or listening to music."
Evolution defender Nick Matzke has come in from the front lines of the evolution-creation battles, and has settled into the life of a graduate student. Science snagged an interview, and Matzke talks about the behind-the-scences work that led to the "ultimate defeat" of intelligent design advocate Michael Behe in the 2005 Dover, PA intelligent design trial. Behe was hammered by the plaintiff's attorney for his contrary stance on the evolution of the immune system; he ran out of arguments and was reduced to simply insisting on his personal disbelief of evolution.
And finally, for those of you who have already read A Brief History of Time, physicist John Baez has A short history of the earth, including four major earth disasters: "the Big Splat about 4.55 billion years ago, the Late Heavy Bombardment about 4 billion years ago, the Oxygen Catastrophe roughly 2.5 billion years ago, and the Snowball Earth events about 1 billion years ago." Hopefully things have settled down. Major climate change (a rise of say, 6 degrees in the global average) would be really miserable, but it's nothing compared to the Oxygen Catastrophe. Which is good, because we wouldn't survive something that severe (although of course the Oxygen Catastrophe was a great thing, from our persepctive several billion years later).