Monthly Archives: August 2009

You can’t see atomic bonds. Or can you?

Atomic bonds are too small to see, right? Well, what do you suppose THIS is a picture of!?!?!?

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That B&W structure is an actual image of a molecule and its atomic bonds. The first of its kind, in fact, and a breakthrough for the crazy IBM scientists in Zurich who spent 20 straight hours staring at the “specimen”–which in this case was a 1.4 nanometer-long pentacene molecule comprised of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms.

You can actually make out each of those atoms and their bonds, and it’s thanks to this: An atomic force microscope.

Details here

hat tip: Ben

Is it a Falsehood that Humans Evolve from Apes?

This is another falsehood, but a tricky one. Remember the point of falsehoods: They are statements that are typically associated with meanings or implications that are misleading or incorrect, and in some cases downright damaging. “Humans evolved from apes” is an excellent example of a falsehood because it is technically correct, yet the implied meanings that arise from it are potentially wrong. Even more importantly, you can’t really analyze the statement “Humans evolved from apes” without getting into an extended analysis and discussion of what an ape is and what a human is.
Continue reading Is it a Falsehood that Humans Evolve from Apes?

Your psychologist could be an Intel chip….

Well, not really, but if on line CBT takes off, how will we know when they make the switch?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) seems to be effective when delivered online in real time by a therapist, with benefits maintained over 8 months. This method of delivery could broaden access to CBT in primary care. These are the conclusions of an article in this week’s Global Mental Health special edition of The Lancet, written by Dr David Kessler, NIHR National School for Primary Care Research, University of Bristol and colleagues.

source

How do you tell when a bird is really extinct?

BirdLife International is launching a global bid to try to confirm the continued existence of 47 species of bird that have not been seen for up to 184 years.

The list of potentially lost birds is a tantalising mix of species ranging from some inhabiting the least visited places on earth – such as remote islands and the western Himalayas – to those occurring in parts of Europe and the United States.

“The mention of species such as Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Jamaican Petrel, Hooded Seedeater, Himalayan Quail, and Pink-headed Duck will set scientists’ pulses racing. Some of these species haven’t been seen by any living person, but birdwatchers around the world still dream of rediscovering these long lost ghosts”, said Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s chief executive.

“History has shown us that we shouldn’t give up on species that are feared to have gone to their graves because some, such as Cebu Flowerpecker, have been rediscovered long after they were feared extinct, providing hope for the continued survival of other ‘long-lost’ species. Cebu Flowerpecker, of the Philippines, was only rediscovered at the eleventh hour just before the last remnants of its forest home were destroyed.”

“The extinction crisis is gathering momentum, but that’s no excuse for humanity to allow even more strands from the web of life to disappear, especially without giving them a final chance of life.”

The announcement of the quest to find lost species is being made at the launch of the 21st British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water. The event, which continues over the weekend, is expected to attract in excess of 20,000 birdwatchers from across the UK. Funds raised from this year’s event will go to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme to help fund these searches.


Read the rest here

Falsehood: Nature maintains balance.

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There is a lot of evidence that nature is in balance. An invasive species throws off the balance of nature in a given region by out-competing some similar indigenous form. When something destructive happens there is a return to status quo, eventually. A few cold years are followed by a few warm years, or a few dry years are followed by a few wet years. So, why is “Nature maintains a balance” a falsehood?
Continue reading Falsehood: Nature maintains balance.