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Monthly Archives: December 2014

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

(ELBLĄG, Poland) — Comedian Norm Macdonald was fond of pointing out that Germans love David Hasselhoff. As true as it may have been (and may still be), Germany’s infatuation with “The Hoff” pales in comparison to Russia’s admiration of Vladimir Putin, that archaeology-loving, race-car-driving, tiger-tranquilizing, bare-chested survivalist known affectionately to some former world leaders as Pooty-Poot. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The bacterium that causes bubonic plague or Black Death, Yersinia pestis, is a relatively new species. Research suggests it diverged from its nearest living bacterial ancestor no more than 6,400 years ago. During this transition, the genetics of Y. pestis changed. Most notably, it acquired genes that helped it survive inside fleas. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

Contrary to the imaginations of most Americans, Europe is not a socialist utopia — mainly because it’s neither socialist nor utopian. Yes, Europeans favor bigger government and more generous social safety nets, but (depending on the country) they can be surprisingly conservative, particularly on the issues of abortion and immigration. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

When people think of radioactivity, many imagine it converting cute, fluffy animals into scary, green, glowing mutants. But, that’s just a myth. Radioactivity is invisible. The reason we associate radiation with “glowing green” is because many types of instrument dials (such as a clock face) were painted with radioluminescent paint, a mixture that contained a radioactive isotope (often radium) and other chemicals that would emit green light in response to the radiation. Similarly, while it is true that some nuclear power plants produce a hauntingly blue glow, this is not because the radioactive fuel itself is glowing, but because of a strange phenomenon known as Cherenkov radiation, in which particles moving faster than the speed of light emit photons, generally in the UV to blue light range.

However, this is not the whole story. The great radiation/color narrative has taken yet another twist. A team of scientists led by Zbyszek Boratyński has reported in the journal Scientific Reports that Chernobyl radiation has changed the hair color of local rodents. Read More »