Friday, June 14, 2013

Kansas introduces modern science standards

The educational system in Kansas, USA, is getting a well-needed update. As of June 11, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 8-2 to approve of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which treats both evolution and climate change as ...scientific fact.

As would be expected, this move was met with hostility from religious Conservatives, who continue to openly and shamelessly deny science. A member of the KSBE, Ken Willard, wrote in the Lawrence Journal - World, that "both evolution and human-caused climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically," and that the standards amount to "little more than indoctrination in political correctness." Willard, along with John Bacon, were the two lone souls who voted against implementation of the NGSS.

Science educators, on the other hand, were thrilled. Julie Thwarting, a biology teacher and president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers, was quoted as saying, "When I first read the NGSS, I was very excited to see it was just a clear description of what I've been striving toward for the past 10 years..."

This is wonderful move for Kansas, following in the steps of Rhode Island, and away from the dingy darkness that is Louisiana's LSEA.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Evolution Is True

That is the name of the Facebook page that I have been graciously granted administrative access to, surprisingly alongside biologist and veterinarian Amiee Miller, and physicist and mathematician W. Steven Schneider.  What a privilege! 

You can find the page, tarnished with my first couple posts here. 

Creationist anti-science bills shot dead

Over the past few months, ten anti-evolution and anti-climate change bills have been introduced into the legislatures of nine different states in the US (including two in Missourri). Most of these bills echoed traditional Creationist subterfuge in the form of "teach the strengths and weaknesses", and "academic freedom", style arguments. A couple, however, were shamelessly explicit in their aims. Missouri's House Bill 291, for example, would have required "the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design".

But the highlight of this story?  All ten bills either died in committee, or shortly after on the floor.  

Unfortunately, not all afflicted states were able to cleanse themselves of toxic legislature. In Louisiana, an attempt to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act was recently tabled.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A field of frost flowers

Thousands of cheeky little frost flowers formed on this pond just beside one of my wells. Warm, supersaturated water vapour created when the pond ice sublimates (becomes a gas) meets the colder atmosphere above the ice, and condenses into crystals. Pure natural complexity :-)

Curiously,  some of the hoar frost-like structures even formed on parts of the well itself. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Design", by Robert Frost

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,

On a white heal-all, holding up a moth

Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth –

Assorted characters of death and blight

Mixed ready to begin the morning right,

Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth –

A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,

And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,

The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?

What brought the kindred spider to that height,

Then steered the white moth thither in the night?

What but design of darkness to appall?–

If design govern in a thing so small.

A fascinating critical analysis of "Design" can be found here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Is Creationism?

It should be added that its modern manifestation is better known as, "Intelligent Design". 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bilateral what?

Bilateral assymetrical gyndromorphism.  The phenomenon where one half of an organism's body is male, the other half is female.

A gynandromorph Papilio glaucus
The condition typically occurs early in an organism's development, when a cell fails to divide it's sex chromosome properly, resulting in, for example, one XXY-Y cell and one Y cell, as opposed to an XX and a YY.  These ... confused... cells will continue to reproduce, and as the affected creature grows, will end up with equal half-male and half-female tissues.
More information can be found here