August 10, 2011

Statistical Numbing
David Ropeik: Numerous experiments have helped verify the truth behind what both the saint and the mass murderer knew intuitively, that we relate more closely to what happens to one person than to what happens to large numbers of people. (Risk: Reason and Reality, Big Think)

DNA Building Blocks in Meteorites Could Have Been Made in Space
“People have been discovering components of DNA in meteorites since the 1960s, but researchers were unsure whether they were really created in space or if instead they came from contamination by terrestrial life,” said Michael Callahan, lead author on a NASA-funded study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “For the first time, we have three lines of evidence that together give us confidence these DNA building blocks actually were created in space.” (Adam Clark Estes, The Atlantic Wire)

Clues to the Origin of Multicellular Life
Early single-celled life may have serendipitously transformed into multicellular forms to make the most of resources, suggests a lab study revealing that when brewer’s yeast cells clump together they can take in food more efficiently. (Wynne Parry, LiveScience)

“Rising Restrictions on Religion”
Religious tolerance is in retreat globally, with one-third of people facing increasing harassment when seeking to practice their faith, a new study reveals. Religious freedom has increased for only 1 percent of the world’s population as measured by declines in government restrictions or social hostilities that target particular religious groups, says the Pew Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. (Steven Edwards, Postmedia News)

VIDEO
“Curiosity” Conversation

Sean Carroll: Here is the video of the panel discussion from Discovery Channel’s Curiosity Conversation last Sunday. (Cosmic Variance, Discover)

Category: Field Notes

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