Q – Anon : patriots???

“Are Republican leaders really willing to throw in their lot with demented conspiracy theorists? “The answer, for the moment, would seem to be yes. President Trump tacitly endorsed the far-right QAnon cult the other day, saying its followers were patriots who “love our country” and, more importantly, “like me very much”. When a reporter pointed …

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Microplastics are everywhere

Tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the environment can be produced by simply opening a plastic bottle or tearing a food wrapper. Microplastics are between 0.001 and 5 millimetres in size and are usually either produced directly, or form when large plastic debris breaks up. We now know that millions of tonnes of microplastics are …

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Are there any available aliens out there?

Since E.T has yet to show up on our planet, estimating the number of alien civilisations in our galaxy might seem a premature – and rather futile – exercise. But that hasn’t stopped the authors of a new study from claiming that across the entire Milky Way, there are probably just over 30, each with …

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Background of a famous dispute (and murder)

Analysis of the ice in an Alpine glacier has shed unexpected light on the murder of Thomas Becket, Henry II’s “turbulent priest”, 900 years ago. Scientists from the University of Nottingham have been tracking historical levels of airborne pollution by analysing the chemicals that were trapped in layers of ice as the Colle Gnifetti glacier, …

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Rule by religious extremists? Bad for peace of mind!

The weekly Bible study arranged by Capitol Ministries for members of Congress and President Trump’s cabinet, illustrates how entwined Christianity is with our government.  Attendees include the vice president, secretaries of state for education, housing and urban development, agriculture, and health; the head of NASA; Trump’s chief of staff; former labor and energy secretaries; and …

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Fifty years of environmental regulations scrapped

The following are just a few of the reversals of environmental protection laws in the last three or so years. 1. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord. 2. Easing of the regulation of methane emissions. 3. Scale-back of requirements for storing and releasing waste from coal-fired power plants 4. Increase in allowable levels of …

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Breathing your way to better memory and sleep

More than half of us breathe the wrong way , missing out on better health and altered consciousness.  Here are some tips on how to breathe properly: Breathing exercise Pranayama – Alternate nostril breathing, often performed for stress and anxiety relief. (Microgen) It may be the most natural thing in the world, but breathing is …

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Mass displacement by climate.

3.5 m people forced to flee cyclone Fani in India and Bangladesh 1000 killed and 617,000 uprooted from their homes by cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe Bahamas were recently devastated by Hurricane Dorian The Amazon forest fires are mostly caused naturally (although no one knows how many were man-made). Fast ice melt in Greenland  …

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Artificial intelligence

The promise of artificial intelligence is that it will make decisions faster.  But what happens if it makes bad decisions faster?  We are trying to replicate human skills that have evolved for millions of years, and yet we cannot predict accurately what decisions AI will come up with.  Just say AI progresses to a point where …

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The threats to Greenland

We concentrate on the obvious places where dictators thrive and warfare kills thousands, but tend not to note the stress experienced by the people of Greenland, who are struggling to cope with global warming, which is totally altering their way of life.  More than 90% of Greenlanders accept that the climate is changing, while 76% are …

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Geography teachers do deal with population

From Tony Dale, Oxford, UK, in reply to a letter in New Scientist dated May 25 Contrary to what Graham Lawton seems to suggest, population isn’t a fringe or a taboo issue, at least not in schools in England. Geography deals with it in depth. It is discussed as “population change” rather than “population growth”. …

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The genius of Einstein

Walter Isaacson, biographer ofAlbert Einstein, writes the following (page 550): Perhaps the most important aspect of his personality was his willingness to be non- conformist. “The theme I recognise in Galileo’s work” , he said, “ is the passionate fight against any kind of dogma based on authority”. Plank, Poincare and Lorentz all came close …

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Climate change and the collapse of everything

Human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems. While many studies of environmental risk have examined threats in isolation – to the weather, to ecosystems, to …

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Epicurus and the universe

Epicurus believed that there were twelve principles of nature, provable through firm evidence and true reasoning, using our five senses, our faculty of perceiving “anticipations,” and our “feelings” of pleasure and pain. He believed in conclusions supported by clear and convincing evidence. No evidence, he said, is ever to be disregarded as worthless. Real evidence …

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Can a racist still be a great scientist?

James Watson was jointly responsible for one of the greatest triumphs of 20th century science: the unravelling of the DNA molecule. But today his reputation, he is now 90 years old, lies in tatters. He believes black people are less intelligent than white people, and he has repeated this a new TV documentary. The Cold …

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Practical Epicureanism: What you can do to combat global warming

The following is excerpted from the December 8-14, 2018 edition of the New Scientist, written by Graham Lawton, staff feature writer: Keeping global warming below 1.5°C will require behavioural changes – but that doesn’t mean you have to don a hair shirt. The cumulative effect of small, low-effort actions can be great, and the more …

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Artificial intelligence – in the right hands?

The Guardian Weekly of 4 January 2019 carried an article by Vivienne Ming about Artificial Intelligence. In theory, she says, poverty, mental health, climate change, inequality – almost everything – could be addressed by AI. The problem, she says, is not the concept of AI, but the people behind it. She points out that AI …

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Something really useful: How to save your battery’s life

In a healthy battery, ions flow freely between the anode and the cathode, and back again. Batteries degrade mainly because the surfaces of these electrodes become encrusted with oxidised electrolyte, and because other “parasitic” reactions follow on from that. Apple says that the lithium-ion batteries in its iPhones lose about 20% of their capacity after …

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Our oceans are dying!

The proportion of the world’s oceans defined as “dead” – containing such low levels of oxygen that very little marine life can survive – has increased alarmingly in the past 70 years, scientists have warned. The researchers, from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, among other institutions, studied dead zones both in open waters and around …

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Are the super-rich uncaring?

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the richest part of Europe, recently held elections for the borough council. The elections were believed to be unpredictable because of a terrible tragedy that had occurred last year, where a public housing tower block called Grenfell Tower burnt down, killing 71 people. The tower burnt because it …

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Wildlife crisis again: Arctic ice melt is killing birds and leaving caribou stranded

The ongoing loss of sea-ice cover is wreaking havoc on ecosystems across the Arctic, and may spell the end of more species than previously thought. Arctic sea-ice cover shrank last year to the second lowest summer level ever recorded, following an unprecedented winter low, threatening species that rely directly on sea ice, like ivory gulls. …

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