Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Dogs Can Smell Lung Cancer

leave a comment »

A new study by German researchers apparently shows that “sniffer dogs” can reliably smell lung cancer on the breath of patients. The finding could significantly improve early detection methods of the disease, which is the deadliest form of cancer worldwide.

via Freakonomics » Dogs Can Smell Lung Cancer.


Written by breckfield

August 20, 2011 at 9:11 am

Posted in science, technology

Tagged with , , ,

Fear vs. Facts: Why Japan Is Not Another Chernobyl

with one comment

You’ve no doubt heard, read, or felt the panic that has been triggered by the Japan earthquake’s damage to nuclear reactors. Those who oppose nuclear energy have seized upon the tragedy to predict “another Chernobyl”, to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), and to lecture us on why nuclear energy is unsafe.

Before you lose yourself in nightmares of The China Syndrome, you should take three minutes to read William Tucker’s piece in the Wall Street Journal. Tucker calmly explains the difference between the Japan and Chernobyl incidents, and also reminds us that “The China Syndrome” was a fictional hypothesis that was disproved at Three Mile Island.

If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact.

As the author of a pro-nuclear book, Tucker undoubtedly has a vested interest in this debate. But his explanation is rational and backed up by facts, not driven by the media’s need to sell more advertising, or Rep. Ed Markey’s need for more publicity.

What has happened in Japan is a tragedy of epic proportions. But, as Tucker writes:

With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.

Let’s focus on the real problems, not the fictional ones.



Written by breckfield

March 14, 2011 at 8:36 am

Ducks On The High Seas: An Epic Adventure

leave a comment »

In January 1992, a shipping crate containing thousands of plastic ducks fell off a ship in the Pacific Ocean. Since making their bold escape from captivity, the ducks have split up and gone their separate ways. Sailing the world’s oceans, they have occasionally been spotted on beaches from Hawaii to Scotland. Their global galavanting has provided useful information to those studying the world’s ocean currents.

From The Independent:

Now the creatures, nicknamed the “Friendly Floatees” by various broadcasters who have followed their progress over the years, have been immortalised in a book titled Moby-Duck. It not only chronicles their extraordinary odyssey, and what it has taught us about currents…

Authorities refuse to disclose if any of the missing ducks are being held for ransom by Somali pirates, but they do suspect fowl play.


Written by breckfield

February 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Posted in news, science

Tagged with , , ,

Why You’re Probably Less Popular Than Your Friends

leave a comment »

Mathematician and bestselling author John Allen Paulos explains why you’re probably less popular than your friends:

Are your friends more popular than you are? There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason to suppose this is true, but it probably is. We are all more likely to become friends with someone who has a lot of friends than we are to befriend someone with few friends. It’s not that we avoid those with few friends; rather it’s more probable that we will be among a popular person’s friends simply because he or she has a larger number of them.

Read the entire brief article. And if such topics are right up your alley, check out Paulos’ books, especially Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper.

Written by breckfield

January 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

%d bloggers like this: