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Large Hadron Rap September 2, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Future, Music, Science, Technology.

The first attempt to circulate a beam through the entire Large Hadron Collider is scheduled for next week on September 10, 2008.  While you’re waiting with bated breath, you can enjoy the Large Hadron Rap, which I discovered via the latest Science Friday.

“The LHC is super duper fly.  You know what I’m saying?  Check it.”


Impossible to see, the future is July 16, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Berea, Cleveland, Family, Future, Parenting, Personal, Star Wars.

Anna and I went to a “Q & A” meeting last night regarding the Berea City School District’s plan to renovate and/or replace five of seven elementary schools and to close the remaining two elementary schools.  Enrollment in the district has declined about 7% over the past 10 years, and it is expected to fall another 8% in the next 10 years.  In addition, operational costs for these seven 40+ year old schools continue to rise due to their less energy efficient structures as well as increasing energy prices.

Closing two of the elementary schools (one of which Rosie attends) is a very emotional issue.  They are at the heart of two communties where our children are growing and learning everyday.  No one wants their school to be closed.  We don’t want to lose our teachers, principals, custodians, and our connectedness with them.  In an ideal world, there would not be these difficult situations.

The real world (and all that goes with it) is where most of us live, and it requires us to make tough choices and decisions.  Anna and I have seen this with our congregation’s recent vote to accept Baldwin-Wallace’s proposal to buy First Church.  Although the sale is contingent on approval from the City of Berea, it does look as though the sale will proceed.  There is much uncertainty on what will happen next because there are a number of options that our church has been investigating.

As Yoda once said, “Always in motion the future is.”  That’s one of the problems with the future.  We haven’t figured out how to predict it yet.  And that ambiguity can be scary because many times our thoughts gravitate to the worst possible outcomes.  In actuality, those very rarely come to pass, and often we are surprised with what does happen as well as how we respond to it.

Climate Security Act May 29, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Environment, Future, Politics, Science, Technology.
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Members of Congress are scheduled to begin debate next week on Senate bill 2191 “America’s Climate Security Act of 2007,” which was introduced by Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA).  The two purposes of this Act are:

(1) to establish the core of a Federal program that will reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough between 2007 and 2050 to avert the catastrophic impacts of global climate change; and

(2) to accomplish that purpose while preserving robust growth in the United States economy and avoiding the imposition of hardship on United States citizens.

I’m sure we’ll hear the same old arguments from “global warming” deniers such as the economy will suffer, temperatures are actually cooling, and carbon dioxide is good for plants.

As a scientist, it’s frustrating to see when the waters are being muddied to produce doubt in the minds of people.  If the data for global warming and subsequent climate change were shown to be incorrect, then I would gladly acknowledge that our science is wrong.  But science seeks to explain how things happen in the universe, and science is self-correcting.  The evidence is overwhelming, and as the IPCC has previously said, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

Read Chris Mooney’s new article The Price of Planetary Gambling for a more in depth analysis of the upcoming debate.

Who’s looking in your genes? April 25, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Future, Politics, Science, Technology.

Have no fear!  Only you and your doctor will be able to know what’s hiding in your genes.  The U.S. Senate has finally passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), approving by unanimous vote an amended version of H.R. 493, which passed the House a year ago today by a vote of 420-3.  As I previously blogged, the Senate debate had been on “hold” by Tom Coburn, Republican U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.

The act, once signed into law, will protect Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment.  The long-awaited measure, which has been debated in Congress for 13 years (my emphasis), will pave the way for people to take full advantage of the promise of personalized medicine without fear of discrimination.

Start studying for that genetic test now!

“Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” April 1, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Environment, Future, Politics, Pollution, Science, Technology.


Even though it’s April Fools’ Day, this is no joke.  Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann introduced H.R. 5616, the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,”

To provide for the repeal of the phase out of incandescent light bulbs unless the Comptroller General makes certain specific findings.”

Those findings are that:

  1.  Consumers will save money on the combination of electric bills and expenses for new fixures.
  2. Overall carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 20% in the US by 2025.
  3. The phase-out will not pose any health risks, including those associated with mercury containment in certain light bulbs.

This coming about two weeks before the Bush Administration appealed a federal court’s decision throwing out an EPA regulation to control mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.  They argued that the ruling requires EPA to set “inappropriate and unnecessary emission standards for power plants.”

So, mercury may not be okay in certain light bulbs, but it’s okay in coal-fired power plants?  And, what about mercury in dental fillings?  Hell, we’re Americans, and we can damn well choose what type of light bulbs we want, what sort of fillings we get, and what type of big ass cars we drive!

Note: I don’t like it when science gets distorted by politics on either side of the spectrum.  /off soap box

The Doomsday Vault February 26, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Environment, Future, Science, Technology.
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The Doomsday Vault sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones movie or a Harry Potter novel, but it isn’t.  That’s merely the nickname the media has given to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened today in Longyearbyen, Norway.  Think of it a backup to the 1400 other seed banks scattered throughout the world.  Those seed banks are subject to natural and manmade disasters, whereas the Doomsday vault was built to survive an earthquake or a nuclear strike.  War has destroyed seed banks in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a 2006 typhoon caused another seed bank to be flooded in the Philippines.

The vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples, which is equivalent to about 2 billion individual seeds.  The giant air-conditioning units keep the temperature at -18 ºC or about 0 ºF, which experts believe is cold enough for many seeds to last 1000 years.  Even if the power systems failed, the permafrost surrounding the vault would help keep the seeds at a temperature to last 200 years in the worst case scenario.  Let’s hope the Global Crop Diversity Trust only has to worry about the polar bears there.

Kids & Computers February 14, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Future, Parenting, Personal, Technology.
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LilyMouseWhen I was a kid, who could’ve predicted all of the amazing technological advances that have come in the past few years?  My family got an Atari 2600 when I was 9 and a Commodore 64 about two or three years later.  I remember being excited when we bought our first modem (300 Baud) and were able to use Quantum Link, the precursor to American Online.  Fast forward 20+ years…

Both Rosie and Lily were born in the 21st century, and they’ve been exposed to computers and technology from an early age (well before either Anna or me).  After seeing us use a digital camera for so long, Rosie didn’t understand at first why you couldn’t see the picture right away on a film camera.  She also frequently wants to upload videos we make to YouTube, so she can see herself online.  The other day, she searched for the iChat icon and added it to her dock under her Mac user name!  I watched her do it, and I’m still trying to figure out how she did it so quickly!  Lily doesn’t have a user account on our computer (yet), but she will pick up one of our cell phones, hold it to her ear, and say “bye-bye.”

I guess once kids today are born and the cord is cut, they’ll be Wi-Fi for the rest of their lives.  “Hang on lady, we go for ride!!!”

One story, 140 authors December 17, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Blogging, Books, Future, Pop Culture, Technology.
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Imagine writing a story with 139 other people where everyone can only use up to 140 characters each.  The entries are submitted via Twitter and compiled into an evolving tale.  That’s the idea behind Twittories, which was started last Tuesday with Twittory 1: The Darkness Inside.  It flows pretty well for having plot twists every few sentences, and I’m still unsure what to make of the story itself as well as the method for creating it.  The conception technique makes me think of the “process” used to produce the mystery film footage in William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition (2003).

I’ve signed up for Twittory 2, which has no title yet and still needs about 40 more people to begin.

ScienceDebate2008 December 14, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Environment, Future, Politics, Pollution, Science, Technology.
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Right now we have a confluence of issues facing candidates: embryonic stem cell research, global warming, science and technology education, biotechnology and energy policy — it’s just becoming an avalanche,” says Lawrence Krauss, a physics professor at Case Western University, and author of the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek. “I think at some level, you have to get some insight into what the candidates know, or what they’re willing to learn.”

Since its launch earlier on Monday, there has been has been a fair amount of attention surrounding ScienceDebate2008 (at least in the science layer of the blogosphere and MSM) and it’s continuing to grow.

What is it? According to GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted), it “is focused on clarifying how each presidential candidate plans to deal with scientific and technological research, and how they plan to integrate their personal philosophies into a workable public policy, and how they plan to direct and support (or interfere with) scientific and technological progress in this country.”

Given the way science has been suppressed during the current administration, we need to move forward on both sides of the aisle and bring science and its objectivity back into the decision and policy making processes in our government.

In addition to the ScienceDebate2008 site, you can join their Facebook group or become their Myspace friend.

Things to do once you’re dead December 12, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Future, Personal, Religion, Science, Technology.

Back when I did the Crazy 8s meme, I said that I wanted decide how to use my body for science after oxygen failed to reach my brain for at least five minutes and/or brain death occured.  Here’s a list of fun things to do when the Grim Reaper comes knocking:

  • Become an organ donor.  This can be as easy as getting a driver’s license.  You too can donate your eyes (or corneas) to Stevie Wonder just like Ferris Bueller would have.
  • Plant yourself on a body farm, which is used in the study of forensic anthropology: the study of human decomposition that occurs after death.  Currently, there are two facilities located in the United States: the original “Body Farm” is at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and the more recent one is at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.  Find out more here and here.
  • Give up your old bones.  Instead of or in addition to the body donation, you can bequeath your skeleton for education as well.