Friday, August 15, 2008

go, Go, GO!!

That is the chant that's been going through my mind this week. It's the inner voice that is telling me that time is running out for real. This week, time has turned critical, and my inner voice is now so loud, I can no longer ignore it.
go, go, go!!

I walk through the hallways, to the greenhouse, up the driveway, in the parking lot. And every step my mind screams "go". The results of the experiments I'm setting up now will not come in time for the dissertation deadline. They are contingency experiments, in case the other ones don't turn out right. In case I can't make it on time for a December graduation. Time is really up. I can hardly believe it.

On the one hand, if I had worked at the rate I'm going now all along, I would have been finished a year ago. On the other hand, there is no way anyone can sustain this for any length of time. Every minute in the lab is spent near the greenhouse. Every one of my plant shelves will be filled to capacity after today. Every minute at home is spent either writing, or thinking about writing. It's this all-consuming drive that hopefully will provide the final push necessary. It will have to.

Anyway, enough time spent typing this blog post. It's been hard to take my raging mind away from work, but maybe it will refresh and reset me too. Another cup of coffee for the day, and the race continues. Hang on to your hats folks! The finish line is in sight.

Evidence for ID?

Of course not. But I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the ID crowd used this study, interpreted the data to fit their dogma, and declared it irrefutable evidence for intelligent design.

Picture credit

Apparently, a study done by the French physicist Dominic Vella, concluded that the legs of water striders (the little animals with long legs that walk on water) are just the right length. If they would be any shorter, the animal would not be able to utilize the surface tension of the water well enough and would sink, if they were any longer, the legs would bend and cause excessive drag. Water striders legs are exactly right. Needless to say that some higher power designed them just so. [end of sarcasm]

Contrary to conclusions I expect to be drawn by the ID crowd, Vella concludes that evolution has tested the limits of the leg length and stumbled upon the perfect balance.

Zelkowitz, R. (2008) Water striders put best foot forward. ScienceNow Daily News. 8 August, 2008.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How religion poisons everything

(Nod to Christopher Hitchens)

Now that my 15 minutes of fame are over, back to your regularly scheduled blogposts.

In today's Science an editorial (1) by Ismail Serageldin (director of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt) highlights (I don't know if this link will work for everyone, you might have to have a subscription if it doesn't work, try the link to the summary in the reference below) the strengths and weaknesses of science in Muslim countries. And is it ever clear that religion really does poison everything.

More than a trillion dollars in cash, a population of more than a billion people, but:
an increasingly intolerant social milieu that is driven by self-appointed guardians of religious correctness, who inject their narrow interpretation of religion into all public debates
is limiting investment in science, and more importantly scientific results.

Serageldin also states that:
We must be able to question convention and arbitrate our disputes by the rules of evidence. It is the content of scientific work that matters, not the persons who produced it, regardless of the color of their skin, the god they choose to worship, the ethnic group they were born into, or their gender.
Now, in a substantial part of the Muslim world a statement like this might be construed as apostacy, and Serageldin would be well-advised to watch his back.

How sad that intolerance is preventing so much brain capacity to go to waste. The world cannot afford to exclude scientists.

(1) Serageldin, I. Science in Muslim countries. Science 321:745.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Atheist state

In the comments section of the previous post, andrew stated that his grandparents remembered how horrible an atheist state was. There is nothing to prevent an atheist state from being horrible. That would depend on the individual leadership style (or lack thereof). I'd be the first to admit there are genuinely evil atheists. However, there is nothing inherent in being an atheist that guarantees evilness. There is, however, the inherent property of religious leadership that results in discrimination, forcing legislature on constituents based on imaginary friends, or so-called sacred books.

Nothing prevents atheist leadership from being bad, but religious leadership will always be biased to say the least.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I'm going to be famous!

This should attract some interesting comments, and maybe a few juicy christians for dessert too. I guess I'd better get some controversial posts up in a hurry.

Update: Hey, did anybody check to see what this did to my sitemeter? It's off the charts!!