ONTD Political

A Republican state senator running for governor of Pennsylvania shared some unusual views this week about what’s causing climate change.

Scott Wagner told a Harrisburg audience on Tuesday that the body heat from the planet’s growing population might be responsible for rising temperatures.

“We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off?” Wagner said, according to State Impact Pennsylvania, an NPR project. “Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”Read more...Collapse )

Source: HuffPost

This reminds me of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and his snowball stunt. This level of scientific illiteracy/sheer idiocy makes me want to laugh, cry, scream, and set things on fire, all at the same time.

BARRINGTON, Ill. (WLS) -- An otter was released into the wild in Barrington on Monday after it was implanted with a chip that allows for its activities and behavior to be tracked.

While otters have not been seen in the Chicago area for more than 100 years, this otter is significant because he is the third otter found in Illinois in the last year.

"It's an indication that the habitat has improved and that our environment is going in the right direction," said Chris Anchor, a wildlife biologist with the Cook County Forest Preserve.

The otter - a North American river otter -- was released at Crabtree Nature Center in northwest suburban Barrington where it was recently captured. Veterinarians at the Brookfield Zoo implanted the monitoring chip.

Source has video and slide show.

Sorry about all the edits. I was trying to do this on my tablet, and it wasn't working, so I'm on the computer now. *Crossing my fingers!*

Lawmakers in Texas are considering a bill that could make it easier for science teachers to present religious concepts alongside scientific theories like evolution.

The proposed legislation, introduced in February by Republican state Rep. Valoree Swanson, could allow public school teachers to present alternative theories to subjects that “may cause controversy,” including climate change, evolution, the origins of life and human cloning.

Read more...Collapse )

The bill is currently under committee review. If passed, it would go into effect for the 2017-18 academic year.

“Some teachers may be unsure of expectations concerning how to present information when controversy arises concerning a scientific subject; and the protection of a teacher’s academic freedom is necessary to enable the teacher to provide effective instruction,” HB 1485 states.

Swanson did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

The bill defines “academic freedom” as a teacher’s ability to present scientific information without discriminating in favor of or against any set of religious beliefs. It also notes that the legislation isn’t intended to promote religious doctrine.

But some Texas teachers say the bill could allow them to more easily blend science and religion in the classroom.

“I simply tell my students [that] as educated young adults they have a right ... to choose what they believe ,” high school science teacher Angela Garlington told AFP.

Similar bills have cropped up South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama, Indiana, Florida and Arkansas in recent months. Critics say these bills could make it easier for teachers to present creationism and other religion-inspired topics as scientific theories.

Glenn Branch, deputy director of the education nonprofit National Center for Science Education, said the Trump administration’s questioning and denial of climate change and evolution could encourage legislators around the country to push for new anti-science legislation.

“The prominence of science denial in the new administration may embolden creationists and climate change deniers to pressure their local teachers,” Branch told The Washington Post. “Even in the absence of such pressure, it may cause teachers to self-censor in order to avoid the possibility of conflict over these socially — but not scientifically — controversial topics.”

More than one-third of U.S. adults polled (34 percent) reject evolution and believe humans and other living things have existed in their current form since the beginning of time, according to Pew Research Center’s 2015 Religious Landscape Study. Sixty-two percent of Americans say humans have evolved over time, but just half of those respondents believe it was due to natural processes alone. Twenty-five percent say evolution was guided by a supreme being.

Source: HuffPost

Really, Texas? REALLY?


New York artist Ben Rubin and Tennessee high school teacher Jimmy Waters pose in front of
the Adobe headquarters building with Rubin’s San Jose Semaphore project that Waters solved.


The illuminated disks atop Adobe Systems’ downtown San Jose headquarters have transmitted a secret message since 2012. On Monday, Adobe revealed that Jimmy Waters, a high school math teacher in Knoxville, Tenn., had cracked that code. The semaphore had been transmitting the audio broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing in 1969. That’s right, not the text but the actual audio.

Waters discovered the project, San Jose Semaphore, last summer while he was looking up something about Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, “The Crying of Lot 49.” The text of that work was the code originally programmed by New York-based artist Ben Rubin in 2006. Seeing there was a new message, Waters began trying to decipher it while watching and writing down the sequences online from Tennessee.

He discovered a pattern that led him to believe it could represent a space — or a silence — in an audio file, and when he graphed the results it looked like an audio wave. He dismissed that as being too difficult but came back to it and eventually ran his results into a program that would convert his numbers to audio. The first results came back sounding like chipmunks squeaking.

So he tweaked things and found himself listening to the historic broadcast, which ends with Armstrong’s famous line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“There was a part of me that knew I solved it, but I wondered is that really it?” Waters said. “It seemed so simple once I did that. But how could I just end up by chance getting the audio for the moon landing?”

Instead of keeping his prize for solving the puzzle, Waters is giving it to his students — who didn’t know about his accomplishment before he flew out to California. Adobe is donating Creative Cloud software and two 3D printers to the school’s computer lab in his name.

The San Jose Semaphore was launched in 2006 as part of the first ZERO1 art and technology festival. The four 10-foot high, bisected yellow disks of LED lights that span 70-feet of the 18th floor of Adobe’s Almaden Tower don’t actually spin — they’re just programmed to appear that way. The disks seem to spin into different positions every few seconds, spelling out a message in semaphore, a communication method that relies on visual signals similar to flags or hand signals.

Two scientists, Bob Mayo and Mark Snesrud, took six weeks to figure out the original message, though it took months for the disks to spell out all 800 paragraphs. Rubin — who came to San Jose to congratulate Waters on Monday — said the second message was intended to be harder to solve, but he was relieved that someone finally did it.

With hackers and WikiLeaks in the news regularly, Rubin says the topic of cryptography has entered the public consciousness as never before. And, yes, he’s already at work on version 3.0, but he’s not saying much about it. “I have to come up with a new idea that takes this to a new level,” he said. “This time I want to make it a little bit harder and add — well, I shouldn’t say anymore.”

The Mercury News
Quantum computer learns to ‘see’ trees

Scientists have trained a quantum computer to recognize trees. That may not seem like a big deal, but the result means that researchers are a step closer to using such computers for complicated machine learning problems like pattern recognition and computer vision.

The team used a D-Wave 2X computer, an advanced model from the Burnaby, Canada–based company that created the world’s first quantum computer in 2007. Conventional computers can already use sophisticated algorithms to recognize patterns in images, but it takes lots of memory and processor power. This is because classical computers store information in binary bits–either a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers, in contrast, run on a subatomic level using quantum bits (or qubits) that can represent a 0 and a 1 at the same time. A processor using qubits could theoretically solve problems exponentially more quickly than a traditional computer for a small set of specialized problems. The nature of quantum computing and the limitations of programming qubits has meant that complex problems like computer vision have been off-limits until now.

ok but can you find waldoCollapse )

source is science mag

Meet the Math Professor Who’s Fighting Gerrymandering With Geometry

Chronicle of Higher Education · by Shannon Najmabadi · February 22, 2017

[OP note: This educator is setting up workshops in four states as well as online training to fight Gerrymandering!]

Moon Duchin, of Tufts U., has helped create a program to train mathematicians to serve as expert witnesses in court cases over redrawn electoral districts.

A Tufts University professor has a proposal to combat gerrymandering: give more geometry experts a day in court.
Moon Duchin is an associate professor of math and director of the Science, Technology and Society program at Tufts. She realized last year that some of her research about metric geometry could be applied to gerrymandering — the practice of manipulating the shape of electoral districts to benefit a specific party, which is widely seen as a major contributor to government dysfunction.

At first, she says, her plans were straightforward and research-oriented — "to put together a team to do some modeling and then maybe consult with state redistricting commissions." But then she got more creative. "I became convinced that it’s probably more effective to try to help train a big new generation of expert witnesses who know the math side pretty well," she says.

“It's clear that this is the right moment to do this kind of work. We want to harness all that energy.”
In part, she says, that’s because court cases over voting districts have risen since a 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Former President Barack Obama is said to be making redistricting a focus after his presidency, and the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. is leading a new Democratic group targeting gerrymandering ahead of 2021, the next time district lines will be drawn.

Before the Shelby decision, some states and localities with a history of racial discrimination were required to get federal clearance before redrawing electoral districts or making other changes in their election laws.

THis is why educated people are a danger to fascistsCollapse )

Shannon Najmabadi writes about teaching, learning, the curriculum, and educational quality.

Source thinks Science is Sexy
Black history month post: Hidden Figures, or how Nasa hired its first black women 'computers'

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The Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put a US astronaut into orbit in the 1960s. But the history of black women working for Nasa goes back much further - and they were still struggling to get the best jobs in the 1970s.

Trigger warning: racism...Collapse )
Editor’s note: This article has been significantly revised since original publication. Please see correction note below.*

One of the first measures that Republicans in the 115th Congress proposed was the “Heartbeat Protection Act.” On January 11, a group led by Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill that would require doctors nationwide to “check for a fetal heartbeat” before performing an abortion, and prohibit them from completing the procedure if they found one. In December, Republicans in the Ohio state legislature put forth a similar measure. Governor John Kasich vetoed it, observing that such a law would almost certainly be struck down as unconstitutional, but approved a 20-week abortion ban.

Opponents of the heartbeat bills have pointed out that they would eliminate abortion rights almost entirely—making the procedure illegal around four weeks after fertilization, before many women realize that they are pregnant. These measures raise even more elementary questions: What is a fetal heartbeat? And why does it matter?Read more...Collapse )

Source: The Atlantic

I found this fascinating. I did not know anything about the history of ultrasound and how it came to be used in obstetrics, much less how profoundly it seems to have affected peoples' perceptions of fetal development, and I feel like I have a whole new perspective now.
Scientists have confirmed a brand new form of matter: time crystals

For months now, there's been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals - strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy.

Now it's official - researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they've actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new form of matter.

The discovery might sound pretty abstract, but it heralds in a whole new era in physics - for decades we've been studying matter that's defined as being 'in equilibrium', such as metals and insulators.

But it's been predicted that there are many more strange types of matter out there in the Universe that aren't in equilibrium that we haven't even begun to look into, including time crystals. And now we know they're real.

unfortunately we will have to hold off on the time machine partCollapse )

soure is sciencealert
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry misunderstood the administration post that President-elect Donald Trump nominated him for, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

In a report getting attention on social media, the Times said that Perry accepted the nomination to be Energy Secretary "believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state."

"In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal" the Times continued.

But Michael McKenna, who at one point was part of Trump’s transition team for the Energy Department, told the newspaper Perry is educating himself.

Read more...Collapse )

SOURCE

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