July 8, 2010

Big Problem With the Longevity Study?
Remember that Science study from last week linking a whole bunch of genes—including unexpectedly powerful ones—to extreme old age in centenarians? Newsweek reported that a number of outside experts thought it sounded too good to be true, perhaps because of an error in the way the genes were identified that could cause false-positive results. They’ve been trying to figure out what might be lurking in the data, and now there’s a suspect. (Mary Carmichael, Newsweek)

Putting Romantic Relationships to the Test
Researchers at the University of Rochester say they have devised a test to tell if a relationship is going to fall apart. The test involves uncovering what people really think of or feel about their partners. (Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times)

“Green Religion” and the Gulf
Religious leaders who consider environmental protection a godly mission are making the Gulf of Mexico oil spill a rallying cry, hoping it inspires people of faith to support cleaner energy while changing their personal lives to consume less and contemplate more. (John Flesher, Associated Press)

An Appeal for Protecting the Planet (20 Years Later)
Two years before the World Scientists’ Warning, astronomer Carl Sagan presented a remarkable appeal from scientists to religious leaders at the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival in Moscow. It was signed by 32 Nobel Prize-winning and other scientists and is well worth quoting at length. (David Suzuki with Faisal Moola, Winnipeg Free Press)

Studying Human-Animal Interactions
An emerging group of courses meld approaches and texts from law, religion, ethics, literature, visual art, ecology, sociology, and other fields to consider the role animals play in human culture. (Jennifer Epstein, Inside Higher Ed)

The New Leaders of Lourdes
Behind the scenes of adulation, cooler heads are wrestling with the fundamentals—the contradictions between Lourdes’ alleged healing powers and the realities of modern medicine. (Michael Johnson, The American Spectator)

“Forbidden Art”
One painting depicted Jesus Christ as Mickey Mouse, another as Vladimir Lenin. The 2007 exhibit was part of an effort to fight censorship of the arts, but the Russian Orthodox Church was horrified. Now, after a 14-month trial, the two prominent Moscow art curators who put on the show are facing the prospect of three years in prison. (Khristina Narizhnaya, Associated Press)

Q&A
Amy Gutmann

On the eve of the 13-member Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues’ first public meeting on synthetic biology, Nature spoke with its chair Amy Gutmann, who is also president of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. (Meredith Wadman)

BOOKS
The Fabric of Reality

David Deutsch has thought through what he wants to say about the nature of the reality we share, and he makes his points with patience and clarity. He wants not to explain the universe, but to understand it: to understand everything. And there are several eerie moments in this book when you think that he might, just might, be about to convince you that you, too, could follow his reasoning. (Tim Radford, guardian.co.uk)

Category: Field Notes

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