Some great stuff out there in science blogland, once again confirming that spring is a time of spirit renewal and expanding thoughts. In the esoteric realm, Chad Orzel over at Uncertain Principles offers a hilarious dialogue with his dog – who claims to be able to sniff out extra dimensions with her canine nose – about alternate universes, the meaning of quantum superposition and decoherence. Many Worlds, Many Treats gives us a dog’s grasp of quantum mechanics, which is more than enough for me! Besides, Orzel’s dog is very pretty even though he says she is rather silly. I can pretend he’s talking about me…
Orac of the blog Respectful Insolence takes us out of esoteric physics and into flat-out New Age quackery with a nifty breakdown of Woo-ese in Neo-Homeopathic Magneto Geometric boners. Here is the maximum amount of Woo anyone has yet been able to cram into a sub-microscopic dose of homeopathic ‘medicine’ for sale to Woo-ites everywhere who suffer that most ubiquitous of modern televised complaints, Erectile Dysfunction.
After linking us to sites selling such goodies as the Ultra Advanced Psychotronic Money Magnet Professional Version 1.0 [TM] and the Tesla Purple Energy Shield, Orac cites some impressive Woo-ese for the ED cure…
…The proprietary Neo-Homeopathic synthesis utilises aspects of traditional homeopathy, Malcolm Rae’s Magneto Geometric methods and Scalar Neo-Radonic Cloning. Vir-X is in effect a super potentised Neo-Homeopathic preparation which contains a potent energetic signal which stimulates the human vital force. It is the strength of the vital force that ultimately determines a man’s sexual potency. Vir-X stimulates the overall vital force of the organism.
Well, that’s enough Woo for a whole lifetime right there! Not a single active ingredient, so this stuff turns out to be your basic 13th century witch’s love potion. I’d guess it’s about as effective, too, so maybe this is something that would work to get some really disgusting representatives of the male sex (like Rush Limbaugh) off the dating circuit long enough to eat themselves all the way to 500 pounds! At that point they couldn’t even find the organ, much less worry about how well it’s performing. The female world will be thankful, I’m sure.
And while we’re on the subject of obesity, Jake Young of Pure Pedantry asks, How genetic is obesity? Citing an article from the NYT about a book titled Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss…, Young take firm aim at the framing of the entire issue. On the matter of either-or for whether genes or environment causes bad behaviors, I too think the spinmeisters of slant tend to overplay their hands way, way too often.
Behaviors – including the bad ones we used to call “sins” (this one would be gluttony) are neither all-genetic or all-environmental. And one could question – as Young does – the sample populations. The conclusions were in the all-genetic vein, and Young correctly calls the author on her interpretations of the data. We should know that there are things we can do environmentally to control our weight. I’m all for not forgetting this in favor of blaming heredity and doing nothing but living fat.
More on the genetic disease front comes from GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life, with Genetic Roots of Bipolar Disorder. Here we get an honest overview of the complexities involved in assigning a disease to genetic influences, as in bipolar disorder there are so darned many genes involved. Yet researchers seeking a molecular target for developing treatments were able to identify a single enzyme that strongly affects the severity of this condition. The description is interesting and the possible new applications exciting.
On to life in the real world, with Mark Hoofnagle’s post on the denialism blog, Myths about Divorce. While we all know divorce is common, Mark believes it’s a total urban legend that 50% of marriages end in divorce. This is something useful I can use for counseling my daughters if they ever decide to get married. There is also data showing that college educated atheists have fewer divorces than Baptists and Evangelical Christians, though Muslims and Catholics still tend to marry for life. All in all, a worthy taste of Cosmo-style lite reading during a leisurely evening of net-surfing.
Environmental issues get some traction in this Earth Month with contributions from Enrique Gili of commonground blog and FCD at Afarensis. Gili’s take on biofuels examines the shortcomings of putting huge tracts of agricultural land out of food service with Is Putting a Plant in Your Tank the Answer? Grrl offers linky goodness with Trashing Tara, about plans to put a highway right through the Irish archeological site of ancient Tara. She even includes a link for donations to stop this from happening, so being certifiably Irish by way of ancestry, I dutifully sent my ten bucks in.
Finally, for your dose of psychological researches that seem dumb but turn out not to be, try Does Ceiling Height Affect the Way You Think? by Chris over at Mixing Memory. I guessed the correct answer on this question before I started reading, since I live in a house where low, dark wood ceilings were raised a couple of decades ago to lofty cathedral height and painted white, and the difference between the way the library ‘feels’ with its still-low overhead and the living room ‘feels’ with its full 12 feet is very dramatic. Seems us high-ceiling lovers also value freedom more than low-ceiling cave-dwellers. Not surprising, of course, but if you like higher ceilings you should read the post anyway, just to get your deserved scientific pat on the back for being so cool.
That’s all for this installment, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a whole new collection of interesting science talk from those ever-intrepid science bloggers hoping to make the world a smarter place. Stay cool!