Category Archives: Science

Global brands lied about toxic ‘forever chemicals,’ new study claims

CBS News reports: Companies making so-called “forever chemicals” knew they were toxic decades before health officials, but kept that information hidden from the public, according to a peer-reviewed study of previously secret industry documents. The new study in the Annals of Global Health concluded that 3M and DuPont, the largest makers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl… Read More »

Lessons from the Laschamps Excursion 42,000 years ago

Dirk Schulze-Makuch writes: After studying the reversal of Earth’s magnetic pole known to have occurred 42,000 years ago, a science team led by Alan Cooper from the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, Australia concludes that the event had significant environmental repercussions, especially at lower and mid-latitudes. That time period, known as the Laschamps Excursion, had… Read More »

A new idea for how to assemble life

Philip Ball writes: Assembly theory makes the seemingly uncontroversial assumption that complex objects arise from combining many simpler objects. The theory says it’s possible to objectively measure an object’s complexity by considering how it got made. That’s done by calculating the minimum number of steps needed to make the object from its ingredients, which is… Read More »

Reality has no ultimate building blocks

Tuomas Tahko writes: Philosophers and scientists alike often talk about “fundamentality” or the “fundamental level”. We might say that, fundamentally, everything is made of waves or that quantum field theory is as close to a fundamental theory as we currently have. More colloquially, we might say that ultimately everything is made of the fundamental “building… Read More »

Accidental lab leak more likely than other possible causes of Covid pandemic, Energy Department now says

The Wall Street Journal reports: The U.S. Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress. The shift by the Energy Department, which previously was undecided on how the virus emerged, is… Read More »

The birth of the scientific method

Tim Adams writes: Something very startling happened in Miletus, the ancient Greek city on the modern Turkish coast, in about 600BC. That something, physicist Carlo Rovelli argues in this enjoyable and provocative little book [Anaximander and the Nature of Science], occurred in the interaction between two of the place’s greatest minds. The first, Thales, one… Read More »

Pliny the Elder’s radical idea to catalog knowledge

By Tom Siegfried, Knowable Magazine, February 2, 2023 Among the achievements of the ancient Roman Empire still acclaimed today, historians list things like aqueducts, roads, legal theory, exceptional architecture and the spread of Latin as the language of intellect (along with the Latin alphabet, memorialized nowadays in many popular typefaces). Rome was not known, though,… Read More »

What ChatGPT and generative AI mean for science

Nature reports: In December, computational biologists Casey Greene and Milton Pividori embarked on an unusual experiment: they asked an assistant who was not a scientist to help them improve three of their research papers. Their assiduous aide suggested revisions to sections of documents in seconds; each manuscript took about five minutes to review. In one… Read More »

How quickly does Covid immunity fade? What scientists know

Nature reports: Three years into the pandemic, the immune systems of the vast majority of humans have learnt to recognize SARS-CoV-2 through vaccination, infection or, in many cases, both. But just how quickly do these types of immunity fade? New evidence suggests that ‘hybrid’ immunity, the result of both vaccination and a bout of COVID-19,… Read More »