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Monthly Archives: July 2015

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The deadliest tsunami in world history struck southeast Asia on Boxing Day 2004 following a behemoth 9.1-magnitude earthquake. Several years later, in March 2011, another tsunami hit Japan, again following a 9.0-magnitude quake. It is not a surprise, then, that geophysicist Gerard Fryer considers earthquakes to be the most common cause of tsunamis. But, they are not the only cause. Landslides are the second most common cause, such as the ones that generated tsunamis in Lake Geneva and Doggerland, a now submerged region of land in the North Sea that once connected Britain to mainland Europe. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Immunologists are fond of making analogies with law enforcement to explain how the immune system works. Macrophages, cells which gobble up invading microbes, are often compared to beat cops, patrolling the neighborhood for any signs of trouble. Neutrophils, which my former graduate school advisor likens to “little hand grenades,” are like miniature SWAT teams, rushing in with guns blazing, shooting first and asking questions later. T-cells, which coordinate the immune response, are akin to intelligence officers, while the antibody-producing B-cells, which target highly-wanted suspect pathogens, are similar to the FBI. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Here at RealClearScience, we pride ourselves on five things: (1) Explaining the science behind complex topics; (2) Debunking bad science or pseudoscience; (3) Endorsing policies and opinions that we feel are best aligned with scientific evidence; (4) Having the site operated by people who were trained in science, not journalism; and (5) Remaining politically agnostic and as transparent as possible. Read More »

THE coffee-berry borer is a pesky beetle. It is thought to destroy $500m-worth of unpicked coffee beans a year, thus diminishing the incomes of some 20m farmers. The borer spends most of its life as a larva, buried inside a coffee berry, feeding on the beans within. To do so, it has to defy the toxic effects of caffeine. This is a substance which, though pleasing to people, is fatal to insects—except, for reasons hitherto unknown, to the coffee-berry borer. But those reasons are unknown no longer. Read the rest at The Economist.

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Migraines are just awful. It is very difficult to express in words to non-sufferers what a migraine is like. However, if you could imagine a vice rhythmically squeezing your brain every second for several hours (or days), that is roughly what a migraine feels like. For some migraine sufferers, such as your humble correspondent, it is even possible to feel your heartbeat in your brain, with each pulse bringing a throbbing pain. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Americans think fruits and veggies suck. That, essentially, is the conclusion of a new CDC report which finds that the average American simply does not eat enough of the healthy stuff. And it’s not like the federal dietary recommendations are particularly burdensome; merely 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day are considered adequate for a healthy diet. Despite this, the vast majority of Americans fall short, preferring instead to lick donuts like Ariana Grande. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

In every single country on the planet, women live longer than men. In response to this unpleasant fact, men are fond of replying, “That’s because we have to put up with women.” Humorous though it may be, that’s not the actual reason women live longer than men. In fact, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th Century that the “mortality gap” between men and women became so striking. Read More »