amredthelector: (Default)
Dear Social Scientists,

Just because you're out actively working against discrimination policy and similar things, and "hard scientists" (chemists, physicists, etc) are working in a lab, that does not mean that they don't care about the ethics and moral implications of their work.

- Amred



Soooo, yeah. My Sociology prof said in class today, and this is word for word: "Sociologists have to decide if they have a moral and political obligation, and what that is. That's what separates us from the hard sciences - a chemist sitting in a lab mixing chemicals doesn't have any sort of moral or political obligation."

Okay. There is all kinds of wrong in this statement. My dad is a research chemist. He works for the government, in a renewable fuels lab. His lab has been doing all kinds of research and testing on ethanol fuel since the 70s, as well as other fuel types that could reduce America's dependency on foreign oil. And you best be-fucking-lieve that his work has moral and political implications, and that he cares about them. In fact, ALL scientists have to deal with the moral implications of their work.

Think about it: If a chemist working in, say, a cosmetics company didn't have any moral obligations, they could just put, say, lead in foundation cream, and not care about what happens to the people that use it. But (for the most part), they don't, in part because of the moral obligations they have (don't poison people) and their company needing to keep a good image (this company doesn't poison its customers, so it's a good company).

Scientists in real life are not like the mad scientists of movies. They do care about how what they're doing may change the world. The work they do is just as important as policy change - if there were no geologists, for example, we wouldn't have earthquake engineering (the field that studies how earthquakes effect structures and tries to figure out how to build things that won't topple over in a quake).

So no, just because the hard scientists are not in the public eye very much, campaigning for social change, does not mean that they don't care about the public.

Sorry for the rant, this just reeeeeally annoyed me. I didn't say anything when it happened, but if it's brought up again, I will fucking call that prof out on their bullshit.
amredthelector: (Default)
Day 08 - A show everyone should watch

Time Warp

I think this show has been canceled, which is a shame. I really do think that everyone should watch it. It's one of the best things Discovery has ever shown (although, that's not saying much, as I feel Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters are the only decent things they show). It takes lots of every day things like skateboarding, popping a balloon, etc, and films them with a high speed camera, then shows it to you in super slow motion. Then they actually talk about the physics involved.

I think this should be shown in high school science classes, actually. It's engaging and cool, showing the physics behind normal things (and some awesome things, like fire breathing) and breaks it down to show the science behind it in a way that's easy to understand. It's a truly educational show, but done in a captivating way.
amredthelector: (ozzy bucket)
Dear writers of CSI:NY;

Just because a specific breed of shamrock is indigenous to Ireland, that does not mean that there is no way it could be in New York, or that it's something to get all shocked about. People can have plants in their garden, or potted plants their homes. Besides, there are a LOT of plants in America that aren't indigenous. I'm willing to bet that half the types of grass people tramp into your crime scenes come from another country.

Please, I know you guys don't really know that much about science, but at least have some common sense yeah?

- Amred

...Yeah, I don't know why that set me off. Maybe it's because my mom grows shamrocks in pots at home, and they are indigenous to Ireland, and it would be really silly if they got tracked into a crime scene to assume they could only have been tracked in by someone who'd been to Ireland.
amredthelector: (WTF!Sokka)
Today was... an interesting day. Or at least one part of it was.

I go to school on an open campus. Anyone can come on campus and do stuff there. We get a lot of people registering students to vote; people will try to get students to sign petitions; and every so often, religious people will come on campus and either a) hand out pocket bibles or pamphlets or b) shout at students. Today we had one of the shouty people.

I passed by this guy three times during the day. Once on my way to public speaking, once on my way into the student union building to kill some time between classes, and again on my way back to my lab class. The first time I went past him, he was screaming about how pre-marital sex is a sin. No one was really paying attention to him, as is usually the case with these nutjobs. The second time, he'd drawn a crowd of about 20 people who were all there to heckle him. He was ranting about how smoking marijuana was a sin, and he had a sign that said 'YOU ALL DESERVE TO GO TO HELL'. At this point, people were just playfully egging him on. One stoner was talking about how he 'sees God when [he's] high', so Shouty McPious should shove off and let him practice his faith. Another guy started making fun of him by preaching the "Gospel of Harry Potter", talking about how Dumbledore died for our sins. That guy was made of win. Third time I walked past him, things had gotten tense. He was ranting about how all the students at the school would burn in hell, and that we were Satan's children and whatnot. A group of students were holding a big hand-made sign that read 'FUCK THIS GUY' and had an arrow pointing to him. A lot of people were shouting at him, and a few were verbally ripping him apart, quoting the bible and pointing out how this guy was a bad Christian. There were some campus security members hanging near by, and honestly? It felt like a riot was going to happen soon. I'd estimate by that point (it was 4, he'd gotten started around noon) there were about 50 students watching and jeering.

It was interesting, to say the least. And I saw some people taking photos of the crowd with really nice cameras, so I'm wondering if they were staff from the school newspaper.

Day 14: A non-fictional book

Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait.

This is a great read. This book is a sound debunking of various astronomical conspiracy theories, from the Moon Landing to the face on Mars. Plait keeps things simple, and doesn't bog everything down with scientific jargon. He's also very professional in his writing, never personally attacking the people behind these theories. (Which is really amazing, since you can read transcripts of radio shows he's appeared on with these people on his website, and they are always launching personal attacks against him) It's an interesting read, and I encourage it to everyone, since there really are a lot of misconceptions about astronomy.
amredthelector: (MomoTendou)
This is just cool.

From the article: Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago. [...]

The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. [...]

Ardi instead shows an unexpected mix of advanced characteristics and of primitive traits seen in much older apes that were unlike chimps or gorillas [...]

All previously known hominids—members of our ancestral lineage—walked upright on two legs, like us. But Ardi's feet, pelvis, legs, and hands suggest she was a biped on the ground but a quadruped when moving about in the trees.

Her big toe, for instance, splays out from her foot like an ape's, the better to grasp tree limbs. Unlike a chimpanzee foot, however, Ardipithecus's contains a special small bone inside a tendon, passed down from more primitive ancestors, that keeps the divergent toe more rigid. Combined with modifications to the other toes, the bone would have helped Ardi walk bipedally on the ground, though less efficiently than later hominids like Lucy.


Check out the rest of the article, too - it's really interesting. There's also some artistic interpretations of Ardi, and an interactive page about some of Ardi's specific skeletal features.

Way, way cool.
amredthelector: (11th doctor)
So this is one of the coolest fucking things I have ever seen or heard.

A fossilized dinosaur (a hadrosaur, to be exact) was found with it's skin fossilized and intact. This is something that is very rare - skin decomposes, so it's not likely to fossilize. It takes just the right circumstances - in this case, being quickly covered by water and silt - for skin to fossilize right along with bones. This is a huge, HUGE discovery in paleontology, because up to this point, we haven't been able to tell what a dino looks with skin. All the models, drawings, etc where guess work, with some cues taken from impressions of skin found in fossilized rock. Unfortunately, that article has very few pictures of the fossil itself, though it states that the whole body was intact.

I'm sure this isn't as exciting to everyone else, but I love dinosaurs. Like, seriously LOVE dinosaurs. When I was a kid, I had a tape of songs about dinosaurs that I listened to so much that the ribbon shredded. I had a tone of dinosaur toys. I even got the book Dinotopia, and read it religiously. Not because the story was any good (it was crap, really) but because of the rich illustrations of dinosaurs living along side man. Hell, when I heard about the dino skin on the radio, I knew exactly what a hydrosaur was.

And for the record, my favorite dinosaur is deinonychus, a small raptor with a large, nasty claw on its feet.

*blabber*

Apr. 18th, 2008 02:37 pm
amredthelector: (Default)


Ideas for the banner of the lj space pirate rp I'm going to be making very soon. I still need to hash out some detail and, most importantly, come up with a name for it.

Long post about my day yesterday...in lj-cut for your convenience! )

On another note, Masi Oka and Zachary Quinto are going to be at a local sci-fi convention tomorrow. D: I wish I had known sooner! I would have loved to throw together a Hiro costume and then ask the two to sign my copy of Watchmen. (Because the plot for Heroes season 1 is totally Watchmen) Maybe I'll try to get in anyways. I don't think I have the cash to cover the ticket to get in, though.

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