The Week: Most Recent Science Posts recent posts.en-usWed, 23 Jul 2014 16:09:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Science Posts from THE WEEKWed, 23 Jul 2014 16:09:00 -0400A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p><em>2001: A Space Odyssey</em> gets high marks from cinephiles and scientists alike, with good reason: director Stanley Kubrick was just as obsessive about making a scientifically plausible film as he was about crafting an epic, mythopoetic narrative.</p><p>Kubrick and his crew "paid attention to science," Peter Norvig, formerly NASA's top computer scientist, told <em>SFGate</em>. "They didn't cheat and have instantaneous transportation all the way across the solar system. It still took them a couple of years to get to Jupiter, and it took 10 minutes for transmissions to get back and forth."</p><p>(<strong>More from <em>World Science...</em></strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerWed, 23 Jul 2014 16:09:00 -04009 things you probably didn't know about the moon<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p><strong>You probably know: </strong>Earth's moon likely formed after a planet-size object collided with Earth about 4.5 billion years ago.</p><p><strong>BUT DID YOU KNOW: The birth of the moon might have given us our 24-hour day.</strong></p><p>One lingering question scientists have about the impact-birth theory: Why are the Earth and the moon made out of the exact same stuff, geochemically speaking? Why doesn't the moon contain material from this mysterious impactor?</p><p>In 2012, Harvard scientists Matija Cuk and Sarah Stewart offered a new vision of the moon's formation with one new key element: a fast-spinning Earth. At the time of impact...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerMon, 21 Jul 2014 14:35:00 -0400This biological pacemaker is all muscle<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Scientists working in pigs have used gene therapy to convert a small area of heart muscle into a specialized group of cells that can initiate a heartbeat, essentially creating a biological pacemaker.</p><p>Normally, the heartbeats of pigs, as in humans, originate from a specialized clump of cells called the sinoatrial node. Sometimes diseases of the heart's electrical system can compromise this node and cause abnormal heart rhythms, which are often treated by implanting an electronic pacemaker to regulate the heartbeat. Some 300,000 electronic pacemakers are implanted in the U.S. alone every year...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerFri, 18 Jul 2014 08:35:00 -0400This is how we're going to land a spaceship on a freaking comet<img src="" /></P><p>Sunday is the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, and the hype is in full swing. You might even be tempted to think mankind's never done anything remotely comparable, or even important or valuable, since that day in '69 when we fired up a rocket and put a real human man person on the damn moon.</p><p>But consider this: <em>Later this year, we're going to land a spaceship on a moving comet.</em></p><p>No people, sure. Oxygen not an issue; granted. But you've gotta admit, in terms of the tech, this is beyond a new degree of difficulty. Comets whip around the solar system much much faster than bullets, and they spew...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/keith-blanchard" ><span class="byline">Keith Blanchard</span></a>Thu, 17 Jul 2014 06:06:00 -0400Nikola Tesla, father of the death ray<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>"A mass in movement resists change of direction," inventor Nikola Tesla once said. "So does the world oppose a new idea."</p><p>However, eventually good new ideas tend to win out over resistance. Tesla was a visionary of his time &mdash; though many of his great dreams for harnessing the forces of nature would be deferred past his death in 1943. Here, we review some of Tesla's grandest visions, some of which have come true, and others &mdash; thankfully &mdash; have not yet been realized.</p><p><strong>Vision: Alternating current for all</strong></p><p>The "War of Currents" between Tesla's alternating current model of electric...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerMon, 14 Jul 2014 16:45:00 -0400Are vitamin pills even necessary?<img src="" /></P><p><strong> Are vitamins good for you?</strong><br /> In natural form, they're essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. The term "vitamins" covers a diverse array of molecules that fulfill a huge variety of biochemical functions &mdash; helping human beings to grow, repair damaged tissue, and avoid such diseases as scurvy, rickets, and pellagra. In the modern world, the abundant supply of a wide variety of foods makes it possible to satisfy virtually all nutritional needs by eating a healthful, balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and protein sources. But based on the idea that more of a good thing is better...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 12 Jul 2014 08:00:00 -0400This is a perfect example of why Democrats aren't the party of science<img src="" /></P><p>This probably passed you by, but last October 7-13 was "Naturopathic Medicine Week," a distinction bestowed unanimously by the U.S. Senate recognizing "the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care." And if you missed it, fear not! Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has introduced another resolution to celebrate it this October, too. This is a baffling move for the so-called party of science.</p><p>For the uninitiated:</p><p >Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Josiah NeeleyFri, 11 Jul 2014 06:12:00 -0400The battle for hearts and minds on climate change will be fought across generations<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The Conversation<br /></p><p>Last week there was a bit of a hullabaloo when it was discovered that the international program director for Greenpeace, Pascal Husting, was flying to work from Luxembourg to Amsterdam a few times a month. Sensible arguments could be made for this arrangement and in the bigger picture this cannot be considered an important issue. And on some level, it just didn't seem fair to single out Husting in this way.</p><p>It wasn't fair. But politics and campaigning aren't fair.</p><p>You cannot have a senior member of an organization taking regular short haul flights for a group that has in the past asked its...</p> <a href="">More</a>By James DykeTue, 08 Jul 2014 13:26:00 -0400The useful versatility of the humble ant<img src="" /></P><p>For humans, ants are usually not much more than an annoyance, creeping into our kitchens or disturbing our picnics. But many ant species aren't to be trifled with. They're territorial. They're aggressive. They stick together in large groups. They have strong jaws and can deliver painful bites; take the bullet ant, whose bite is comparable to "walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel."</p><p>Many animals wisely avoid them, but others use ants to their own advantage. They exploit their ferocious traits and use them as disguises, protectors, mercenaries, and, as scientists...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-soniak" ><span class="byline">Matt Soniak</span></a>Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:04:00 -0400A graphic guide to all the garbage up in space<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Where humans go, garbage tends to follow &mdash; and space is no exception. And much like the buildup of trash on Earth, the accumulation of junk in space poses a problem for future generations. Orbital debris, or space junk, is already posing direct threats to satellites and spacecraft: The International Space Station already has to sidestep dangerous pieces of trash, and satellite launches already have to factor debris into their timetables. All the spacefaring nations are trying to find ways to clean up the mess before the ever-growing clutter makes launches impossible. Here's an introduction...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Julie Rossman and Roxanne PalmerThu, 03 Jul 2014 09:19:00 -0400