Sam Harris On Atheism

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“Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, ‘atheism’ is a term that should not even exist. No one needs to identify himself as a ‘non-astrologer’ or a ‘non-alchemist.’ We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”
~ Sam Harris, from “Letter to a Christian Nation”

Tropical Frogs

As is now fairly well known, tropical frogs are being devastated by the chytrid fungus. The Gamboa Reserve has an enclosed area where many poison dart frogs roam. (They are fed, so are probably no longer poisonous.) They are highly variable in their patterns. Here we have two versions of the green-and-black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus).

Also here are two individuals of the strawberry poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio). These are examples of the variety called the “blue jeans morph”

Spaghetti Nebula

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The Spaghetti Nebula is a Supernova Remnant (SNR) in the Milky Way. 3,000 light-years away from us straddling the border between the constellations Auriga and Taurus. Discovered in 1952 at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory using a 25-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, it is difficult to observe due to its extremely low brightness.

The nebulous area is fairly large with an almost spherical shell and filamentary structure.  The remnant has an apparent diameter of approximately 3 degrees, an estimated distance of approximately 3000 (±350) light-years, and an age of approximately 40,000 years.

It is believed that after its stellar explosion a rapidly spinning neutron star known as pulsar PSR J0538+2817 was left behind in the nebula core, emitting a strong radio signal

DNA Day

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It’s DNA Day by proclamation of Congress, celebrating the publication of Watson and Crick’s structure of “the molecule of life’.

On this day in 1953 that Watson and Crick published their groundbreaking paper in Nature suggesting the correct structure of DNA, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid“. The paper, the most influential in biology of the 20th century, was only a bit more than a page long. Here is most of the text above:

(Yes, I’m aware of the controversy involving Rosalind Franklin and others).

Sorghum Glazed Baby Carrots

1 cup hard apple cider
½ cup sorghum
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bunches baby carrots (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cider, sorghum, lemon juice, orange juice, and butter in a skillet. Bring to a simmer, then add the carrots in a single layer. You may need to cook them in batches, depending on the size of your pan.

Lightly season the carrots with salt and pepper and cook until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer the sauce until it is reduced to a thin glaze.

Before serving, put the carrots back in the pan and reheat them in the glaze.

 

World Day for Laboratory Animals

World Day for Laboratory Animals

It’s also World Day for Laboratory Animals, honoring those creatures who gave their lives and still do—often unnecessarily—in scientific research.

commemorates the suffering of animals in laboratories. Founded in 1979 by ADI’s campaign partner in the UK, National Anti-Vivisection Society, World Day for Laboratory Animals has been a focal point for educating the public and legislators about animal tests and the alternatives for  40 years.

Founded in 1875, the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) was the world’s first organisation campaigning against animal experiments, and established the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research (LDF) in 1973 to support and fund advanced non-animal methods of scientific and medical research.

Founded in 1990, Animal Defenders International (ADI) funds and promotes advanced scientific methods to replace the use of animals in research, the LDF transferred to its charitable foundation in 2017.

ADI, the LDF and NAVS work with government officials, licensing bodies, inspectors, scientists, academics, and a range of stakeholders to achieve progress for animals used in laboratories.

The little brown dog

On December 12th, 1985 the NAVS erected a statue of a little brown dog in Battersea Park, London, to commemorate the suffering of millions of laboratory animals worldwide, but also to ensure that the suffering of one dog is never forgotten. This was not the first such statue, but bears the same inscription as the original, removed in 1910. The issue of the brown dog was a key feature in the first undercover investigation of animal experiments by anti-vivisectionists, and the subject of the 1903 Bayliss-Coleridge libel case – Dr Bayliss of London University versus the Honorary Secretary of the National Anti-Vivisection Society.

 

“Scopes Trial” Evolution Speech

“If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.”
~ Clarence Darrow, “Scopes Trial” courtroom speech, July 13, 1925