December 9, 2010

The Faith of Elizabeth Edwards
Whatever Elizabeth Edwards believed at the hour of her death is known only to God, and is beyond the scope of our ability to judge or to affect. But her honesty in posing hard questions that most leave unasked—or simply gloss over with biblical bromides—seems like a legacy equal to the joys and griefs of her life. (David Gibson, Politics Daily)

Lead Author of the Controversial Arsenic Paper Speaks
A firestorm has erupted over the online publication in Science of the discovery of bacteria that use arsenic instead of phosphorus in their DNA. In response, the paper’s lead author, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, based at the U.S. Geological Survey, has put a statement on her website. (Elizabeth Pennisi, ScienceInsider)

Mapping the DNA of Fetuses
Researchers hope the new test will provide a better and risk-free alternative to the current invasive tests which increase the chance of the mother suffering a miscarriage. However, it also raises ethical concerns that it could eventually be used to select “designer babies” and screen out offspring with less serious abnormalities. (Richard Alleyne, The Telegraph)

Read My Voice
Two high school juniors from Oregon have won 100,000 dollars, taking the top team prize in the 2010 Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. Their research project has to do with computers that are able to analyze audio from a human voice and figure out the emotional state of the speaker. (Melissa Block, NPR)

Zombie Theology
For some time now, horror has been the focus of academic study, especially within religious studies. Turns out the final episode of Walking Dead was a case study for the intersection of zombies and theology, and a pointer toward the evolution of both scientific and popular thinking on the soul. (John Morehead, Religion Dispatches)

“Faith Healing” Case in Pennsylvania
The Schaibles are members of a church that preaches forgoing medical care in favor of prayer and faith healing. Authorities allege that when their son became ill with fever, cough, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, the Schaibles cared for him at home for almost two weeks, praying for him to get well as he died. It’s a case in which the jury must discern the boundaries of parental responsibility, religion, and the law. (Joseph Slobodzian, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Category: Field Notes

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