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Monthly Archives: March 2014

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

There’s a controversy surrounding breastfeeding. No, not the controversy about whether it’s appropriate for mothers to breastfeed in public, say, in front of a class of college students. Science can’t help with that one.

I’m talking about the other breastfeeding controversy: How do babies get milk out of those things, anyway? Apparently, the answer to that question has been the subject of a century-long debate. Who knew?! Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Since 1979, China has engaged in a gigantic social experiment the likes of which humanity has never seen. Stemming from fears of overpopulation and an inability to feed its own people, the communist Chinese government imposed a one-child policy. Recently, China announced an end to the policy; any couple can now have two children, provided that one of the parents is an only child. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Through movies and other forms of popular culture, everybody knows that suppressing memories of tragedies is bad for your mental health. Completely unbeknownst to you, those tragic images that are buried deep inside your unconscious can fester for years — decades even — affecting everything from your behavior to your innermost thoughts.

Or maybe not. New research published in PNAS suggests that this commonly held belief from pop psychology may not actually be true. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

A relatively simple DNA test can be used to diagnose infectious disease. The technique, called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), makes use of what we know about the genome sequences of disease-causing microbes.  Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

As a general rule-of-thumb, eukaryotic cells (e.g., amoebae or human body cells) are about 1,000 times bigger than bacteria, and bacteria are about 10-100 times bigger than viruses. But in biology, there is rarely such a thing as an inviolable rule. For example, two types of giant amoeba-infecting viruses, known as Megaviridae and Pandoravirus, are so large that they are comparable to bacteria in terms of physical size and genome length.

Now, after poking around in the Siberian permafrost, a team of French and Russian scientists have reported the discovery of a third. The virus, which they named Pithovirus, resembles a mishmash of the two previously known giant viruses. And remarkably, it is 30,000 years old!

Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Godwin’s Law ought to be enshrined next to Newton’s Laws or Kepler’s Laws for all posterity. For the uninitiated, Godwin’s Law states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” The concept was devised by Mike Godwin in 1990 and officially codified into law in a Wired article in 1994. Since then, the evidence for this law has only gotten stronger.

Because of the unquestioned veracity of Godwin’s Law, it is perhaps inevitable that a journalist will, eventually, be compared to a Nazi. We could even formulate a corollary called Godwin’s Law of Journalism: “As a journalist’s career grows longer, the probability he or she will be compared to Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

And I have evidence. Read More »