May 18, 2010

Culpability of Juveniles
Juveniles who have not committed murder should not be locked up for life, according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In the case of Graham v. Florida, the court says it considered brain and behavioral science in deciding that life sentences for most young criminals amount to cruel and unusual punishment. (Greg Miller, ScienceInsider)

Does Anyone Really Believe in an Afterlife?
The point is not that atheists are any more eager to shuffle off this mortal coil than religious believers are; it is that religious believers are no more eager for bodily death, even though they claim to believe in an afterlife, than atheists are. (Susan Jacoby, On Faith, Newsweek/The Washington Post)

Cambrian Creatures Didn’t Abruptly Disappear
A treasure trove of fossils in Morocco prove that the famously bizarre creatures of the Cambrian (542 million to 488 million years ago) didn’t die out at the end of that period—something that fossil hunters had suspected, but could not back up with evidence until now. (Nicola Jones, Nature News)

Why Do We Exist?
Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: why the universe is composed of matter and not its evil-twin opposite, antimatter. (Dennis Overbye, The New York Times)

The Theory of Everything
Michio Kaku: Personally, I believe that the theory of everything will essentially provide the rules of the chess game. The chess game is life, it is the universe and we will begin to know how the pawns, bishops, and knights move. These are the rules by which universes evolve. To be a Grand Master! That’s the goal. (Big Think)

Don McLeroy’s Last-Minute Amendments to the Proposed New Social Studies Standards in Texas
In much the same way as he handled revisions to the reading and science standards, Don McLeroy has waited until the large crowds and TV cameras have dispersed to offer some of his most shocking submissions. (Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle)

Religion at the Center of Another Custody Case
Laura Derbigney of Chicago has found herself in the middle of a custody battle between her Catholic husband and his Jewish ex-wife over how their 7-year-old son is cared for during paternal visits. (Natalie Martinez, NBC Chicago)

BOOKS
The Rational Optimist

The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley, does much more than debunk the doomsaying. Ridley provides a grand unified theory of history from the Stone Age to the better age awaiting us in 2100. (John Tierney, The New York Times)

Category: Field Notes

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