Posted on October 27, 2014 * Comments

Visualization of ozone hole, based on NASA data

Posted on October 27, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I presented you with a fossil—and very little information about said fossil. I told you it was found in modern day Nevada, and hails from the Miocene. But beyond that, you were on your own. Was it a piece of dino-poo? A strange and warty blowfish? An early gambling chip?

 No, it was a stromatolite! From the UCMP:

Posted on October 24, 2014 * Comments

A creationist group is organizing an event at a major university (unnamed, since I certainly don’t want to promote the event), and some scientists there wanted advice on how to respond. One approach we discussed was using humor to push back. I love the idea, but it's not as simple as you'd think. How can satire and humor work? And how can they backfire? Read on.

Posted on October 24, 2014 * Comments

(MotorBlog via Wikimedia Commons) A car company is not something I’d usually criticize for a lack of understanding evolution. But watching television last night, I saw an ad for the Mercedes GLA that made me yell, to no one in particular, “OH PLEASE!” It was just so bad I had to share.

Posted on October 24, 2014 * Comments

This week on Fossil Friday, I share another mystery fossil about which I’ll tell you very little. Hailing from the Miocene, this specimen was found in Nevada. It looks like a blob of some sort. Was it a single living blob or many smaller blobs, blobbed together? A piece of dino-poo? A very warty sloth foot? A deformed blowfish? Some of you will know right away. Can you identify what it was?

Posted on October 23, 2014 * Comments

In my last post, I told you that NCSE is collecting stories from scientists, elected officials, journalists, and anyone else whose interest in science, and commitment to great science education, was sparked by a terrific teacher. I began with the story of Stefano Bertuzzi, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). Stefano’s interest in science was sparked by Ms.

Posted on October 23, 2014 * Comments

James Ussher, 1641 portrait by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen, via Wikimedia Commons

I suppose, with my taste for gobbets of recherché historical trivia, that “Seven Myths about Ussher” is about as close as I can come to composing a headline with much in the way of clickbait appeal. But at least because today is October 23, 2014—marking the beginning of the 6018th year since the creation of the world, according to James Ussher’s estimate in his Annales Veteris Testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti, una cum rerum Asiaticarum et Aegyptiacarum chronico, a temporis historici principio usque ad Maccabaicorum initia producto (1650)—it’s a timely occasion to discuss seven myths about the chronology offered by Ussher (1591–1656; seen above).

Posted on October 22, 2014 * Comments

“I’d like a Biblical check on that.”

Those were the first words I heard upon logging into Monday’s working session of the Texas board of education. The board was meeting with publishers to discuss revisions to social studies textbooks, in preparation for the final adoption vote on November 21.

Posted on October 21, 2014 * Comments

Scene from Majomszínház (1925), via Wikimedia Commons

I’m in the middle, just about the exact middle in fact, of summarizing a Hungarian play, Ferenc Herczeg’s Majomszínház (1925), a comedy in three acts. Why? Because, as I noted in part 1, The New York Times for January 2, 1927, claimed that Herczeg “is probably the first playwright to utilize the celebrated Dayton trial as the theme for a play.” Under the title Monkey Business, a translation of the play was supposed to start rehearsal in New York shortly after the Times article appeared. But as far as I can tell, the play was never produced, and the translation was never published. So I obtained a copy of the play and, despite not knowing any Hungarian, managed to produce a rough translation that’s inelegant, occasionally mysterious, but overall comprehensible: certainly enough to give the gist of the events of the play.

Posted on October 20, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I told you nothing! Was it an animal, vegetable, or mineral? I asked. Was this even a fossil from a living creature or a drip of sloth snot? You had to tell me what genus it came from and whether we could find something similar today.

And it was….a needle from the genus Pinus (aka a pine needle). Though the specimen tag did not specify the specific species, the UCMP has an interesting blog post about the Monterey Pine which is found today too: