Assad’s Death Warrant

Assad’s Death Warrant:

The war in Syria did not begin when the government of Bashar al Assad cracked down on protestors in the spring of 2011. That version of events is obfuscating hogwash. The war began in 2009, when Assad rejected a Qatari plan to transport gas from Qatar to the EU via Syria.

science news Continue reading Assad’s Death Warrant

World’s most valuable dye existed in Peru 1,800 years before anywhere else

Indigo, the dye in blue jeans, was being used 6,200 years ago in the Andes. sci tech news Continue reading World’s most valuable dye existed in Peru 1,800 years before anywhere else

Who Are the Crazies on Korea?

Who Are the Crazies on Korea?:

The North Koreans are not dumb. They know that regime change has been a core element of the U.S. national-security establishment since its inception in the 1940s. They saw the U.S. regime change operation in Iraq. They’re familiar with the CIA’s regime change operation in Iran in 1953… They are fully aware of the fact that insofar as North Korea and Cuba (and Russia) are concerned, the Cold War has never ended for the U.S. national-security establishment. They know that U.S. national-security state officials have never given up their Cold War hope of achieving regime change in North Korea and Cuba (and Russia).

So, what’s the only thing that would keep the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking and invading North Korea? Nuclear weapons!

science news Continue reading Who Are the Crazies on Korea?

How Big Sugar Paid Harvard Scientists to Influence How We Eat

How Big Sugar Paid Harvard Scientists to Influence How We Eat:

It’s no secret that industry funds such efforts today: An investigation in June, for example, showed how the National Confectioners Association worked with a nutrition professor at Louisiana State University to conclude that kids who eat sugar are thinner than those who don’t.

An article by University of California-San Francisco researchers, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows how far back such efforts go: In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation, the precursor to today’s Sugar Association, paid Harvard scientists to discredit a link now widely accepted among scientists – that consuming sugar can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, the industry and the Harvard scientists pinned the blame squarely, and only, on saturated fat.

science news Continue reading How Big Sugar Paid Harvard Scientists to Influence How We Eat

The Forgotten Woman Who Made Microbiology PossibleLab work can…

The Forgotten Woman Who Made Microbiology Possible

Lab work can be a lot like cooking. You have to follow directions to measure, mix, and heat different chemicals to the right temperature to get the desired result. For some experiments, the desired result is actually something that can be eaten by a range of different organisms. In microbiology labs, feeding bacteria is a major preoccupation, and preparing the proper growth medium in a lab’s “kitchen” is often the first step of any experiment. Petri dishes are filled with a sort of savory Jell-O, a nutrient-filled semi-solid matrix that creates a cozy home for bacteria to grow. Without the solid-yet-moist surface of the gel where the bacteria can cling to and reproduce, there’s little hope of separating a bacterial cell from its environment in order to study it.

In the earliest days of microbiology, scientists were stumped about how to isolate bacteria. That is, until the family cook—a woman named Angelina—changed everything by bringing her culinary insight into the lab. Before Angelina, the work of classifying different bacteria seemed hopelessly complex. Unable to differentiate them, Linnaeus classified all bacteria in the order Chaos in 1763. (Today, Chaos is a genus of giant amoebae.) In the 1800s, scientists studying the spots of fungus growing on moldy bread and meat began to realize that each spot was an individual species of microorganism, which could be transferred to a fresh piece of food and grown in isolation. Inspired by these early food-based studies, Robert Kochused thin slices of potatoes as naturally occurring “Petri dishes” when he began his studies of bacterial pathogens.

New techniques to isolate, grow, and study the behavior of individual species of microorganisms were developed in Koch’s lab in the last decades of the 19th century. In a 1939 article, Arthur Hitchens and Morris Leikind described the history of these crucial microbiological techniques and the development of the solid medium still used in labs today. They begin by writing that Robert Koch’s “genius lay in his ability to bring order out of chaos. Starting as it were with a box of miscellaneous beads, varying in size and shape, each bead a scientific fact, he found a thread on which the beads could be strung to form a perfect necklace.” But they continue to highlight not only the genius “bead stringers” but also the numerous and talented “bead collectors” who help to build the tools and collect the data that the bead stringers use. For Koch’s legendary discoveries of the bacteria that cause diseases like tuberculosis and cholera to be possible, he needed new techniques to effectively isolate bacteria beyond carefully sliced potatoes. He needed the tools that were developed by his less-celebrated laboratory assistants, like Julius Richard Petri’s dishes and Walther Hesse’s solid growth medium.

But behind the talented laboratory technicians that supported Robert Koch’s genius was an even more unsung heroine of microbiology. It was Walther Hesse’s wife (who was often an assistant and scientific illustrator for the lab) Angelina Fanny Hesse who made the isolation of bacteria possible. In the early 1880’s, Walther was struggling to find the right sort of gel for Petri’s dishes. He was experimenting with using gelatin to congeal the nutrient broth that the bacteria ate, but bacteria also liked to eat the proteins that congealed the gelatin, chewing through the gel and ruining the experiments. Gelatin also had another major drawback: it would soften and begin to melt at the incubation temperatures required for growing the bacteria.

Angelina, who cooked both the family’s meals and the beef stock that the bacteria ate in her kitchen, suggested that Walther use agar-agar, which is more heat-stable than gelatin and used to make soups, desserts, and jellies, particularly in Asia. (She had learned about it from Dutch friends who had lived in Indonesia, which was a colony of the Netherlands at the time.) Agar is a sugar polymer derived from algae that most bacteria can’t digest. Once it’s boiled and cooled, it forms a tough matrix that stays solid at much higher temperatures than gelatin.

With agar, many of the technical problems hindering Hesse’s—and therefore Koch’s—experimental progress were solved. Koch briefly mentioned the development (though he fails to mention either Walther or Angelina) in his 1882 paper announcing the identification of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis: “The tubercule bacilli can also be cultivated on other media…they grow, for example, on a gelatinous mass which was prepared with agar-agar, which remains solid at blood temperature, and which has received a supplement of meat broth and peptone.”

Angelina Hesse’s creative insight was thus written out of history with the ever-present passive voice of the scientific literature. Even today, the Wikipedia article about Robert Koch masks Angelina’s contribution to microbiological history, simply stating that Koch “began to utilize agar to grow and isolate pure cultures.” In the late 19th century, the use of agar to isolate bacteria was initially referred to as “Koch’s plate technique,” but since the early 1900s only Petri’s name remains in common use. In their article, Hitchens and Leikind suggested (seventy five years ago) that “plain agar” be referred to as “Frau Hesse’s medium” to acknowledge her forgotten “service to science and to humanity.” Perhaps it’s finally time that we remember Frau Hesse and celebrate all the ignored “bead collectors” working in the laboratories and kitchens that make science possible.

Syndicated from Mind Blowing Science! Continue reading The Forgotten Woman Who Made Microbiology PossibleLab work can…

Are You a Mind-Controlled CIA Stooge?

Are You a Mind-Controlled CIA Stooge?:

Do you smirk when you hear someone question the official stories of Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris or Nice? Do you feel superior to 2,500 architects and engineers, to firefighters, commercial and military pilots, physicists and chemists, and former high government officials who have raised doubts about 9/11? If so, you reflect the profile of a mind-controlled CIA stooge.

science news Continue reading Are You a Mind-Controlled CIA Stooge?

Mark Zuckerberg Accused of Abusing Power After Censoring ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo

Mark Zuckerberg Accused of Abusing Power After Censoring ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo:

Norway’s largest newspaper has published a front-page open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, lambasting the company’s decision to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnam war and calling on Zuckerberg to recognize and live up to his role as “the world’s most powerful editor”.

science news Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg Accused of Abusing Power After Censoring ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo

The Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

The Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”:

As several writers have noted – before and after the furor surrounding quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” – the national anthem is racist….

Even less well know, the song originates in slaveowner Francis Scott Key’s “When the Warrior Returns” – which was set to the same tune.

science news Continue reading The Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

How history forgot the black women behind Nasa’s space race

How history forgot the black women behind Nasa’s space race:

Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Margot Lee Shetterly was surrounded by brilliant female scientists and mathematicians who, like her father, worked for Nasa. “I would see them in the context of community organisations or church, or you’d run into them at the grocery store – they were my parents’ friends,” she says. It didn’t seem unusual to her that, within her community, so many women had enjoyed long careers at Langley, Nasa’s research centre – and so many of them were black women. It was her husband, on a trip back to visit Lee Shetterly’s parents, who pointed out how remarkable it was.

In 1940, she points out in her book, Hidden Figures, just 2% of black women got a university degree and more than half became teachers. But a few defied all expectations and obstacles and joined Naca (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which would become Nasa). Their work underpinned some of the biggest advances in aeronautics, during some of the most defining moments of the 20th century – the second world war, the cold war, the space race, the civil rights movement, and the adoption of electronic computing.

While some of this generation of female black scientists were recognised – in 2015, Katherine Johnson was awarded the US’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential medal of freedom for her work, which included calculations that helped the moon landing – the fact that there was a crack team of all-female, all-black maths whizzes is largely unknown. “For a long time, African Americans were not allowed to read and write,” says Lee Shetterly. “We forget but it was not that long ago. Women were barred from studying at many colleges. If you are not able to read and write, then you are not going to be able to tell your own story. There haven’t been critical masses of women, minorities, whatever, and I think that’s something that is changing now.”

Lee Shetterly’s book, and the story of how a group of African American women – transcending racism and sexism to embark on some of the most important scientific work in the world at the time – has been turned into a film, starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji P Henson and Janelle Monae. Henson plays the brilliant mathematician Johnson. It was the real Johnson, now in her nineties and whom Lee Shetterly knew, who first told her about Dorothy Vaughan (played by Spencer).

Continue Reading.

Syndicated from Mind Blowing Science! Continue reading How history forgot the black women behind Nasa’s space race

Why are There Not Taco Trucks on Every Corner?

Why are There Not Taco Trucks on Every Corner?:

When Marco Gutierrez, a founder and spokesman for the little-known and sparsely populated advocacy group “Latinos for Trump” recently tried to warn America of the grave dangers of open borders and free migration with the image of “taco trucks on every corner,” most views, Latino and Anglo alike, seem to have experienced a vision of a possible new utopia….

What people do not know is how hard government has worked for years to prevent this from happening. The War on Street Food been going on for more than 100 years.

science news Continue reading Why are There Not Taco Trucks on Every Corner?