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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I founded Science 2.0® in 2006 and since then it has become the world's largest independent science communications site, with over 300,000,000 direct readers and reach approaching one billion. Read More »


Is something better than nothing while society adjusts to the impact of pollution and climate change? Or is a "band-aid" approach just making people feel better and wasting time? It depends on which environmental group you ask.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds issued a withering attack on the British government, calling its policy on tackling climate change too myopic to be effective after the publication of another Westminster report detailing additional restrictions that should be in place.

The report, by the Joint Scrutiny Committee, said aviation must be included in climate change planning.

Every 62 million years there is a mass extinction on Earth. No one is sure why but, since the solar motion through the Milky Way has been computed for the past 600 million years, we know it is too long a cycle for it to be a product of our solar system. A new paper theorizes this is because the earth begins to ... wobble ... due to solar oscillations and that wobbling happens on a predictable timetable.

They call it galactic shock due to cosmic ray modulation and its presence at those times impacts biological diversity - that means extinction and origination. The physicists, Mikhail V. Medvedev and Adrian L. Melott of the University of Kansas, say this has happened for the last half billion years. How much impact? As much as 10% of life on earth.

Why a wobble?

A recent UN study, Livestock's Long Shadow, basically says you can help the environment more by driving than walking.

A long-held belief in theories of human behavior is that people want to feel good and avoid feeling bad.

Nothing in that principle explains why people enjoy horror movies or, additionally, why they pay for the privilege of being scared.

Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies:

1. It's excitement, not fear. People aren't actually afraid, they get a surge from the action and suspense.

2. Terror now brings euphoria later. Think you had a bad day at the office? Imagine being chased by zombies. It always feels better to know someone else is being chased by zombies.

It's fun to be scared, as long as there's a TV between you and him.

You don't need a big brain, or a high IQ, to have a comfortable life and a good family.

Witness the case of this French civil servant, written about by Dr. Lionel Fuillet in The Lancet. At age six months he was treated for hydrocephalus (water on the brain) with a shunt in his head to drain away the fluid. At age 14 he complained of unsteadiness and left leg weakness, which cleared up after the shunt was adjusted. Beyond that his neurological development and medical history were normal.

At age 44 the leg weakness returned and he was treated by Dr. Feuillet and colleagues of the Hôpital de la Timone and Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.

Are we creating too many species?This editorial, New Taxonomy and the Origin of Species, says we are and I think they're right.