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Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Astronomers reveal a new high resolution map of the magnetic field lines in gas and dust swirling around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The team created the map, which is the first of its kind, using the CanariCam infrared camera attached to the Gran Telescopio Canarias sited on the island of La Palma.
Categories: Science

Computer scientists and materials researchers collaborate to optimize steel classification

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Steel is used to build cars, wind turbines and bridges and there are currently about 5000 different types of steel available on the market. But how can steel producers guarantee that a particular steel will always exhibit the same high quality? Up until now experienced experts analysed material samples under the microscope and carefully compared the results against reference images. But classifying materials in this way is not free from errors.
Categories: Science

Computer scientists and materials researchers collaborate to optimize steel classification

Computers and Math from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Steel is used to build cars, wind turbines and bridges and there are currently about 5000 different types of steel available on the market. But how can steel producers guarantee that a particular steel will always exhibit the same high quality? Up until now experienced experts analysed material samples under the microscope and carefully compared the results against reference images. But classifying materials in this way is not free from errors.
Categories: Science

Microscopic solution prevents tip of scanning tunneling microscope from hitting surface

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Researchers believe they have addressed a long-standing problem troubling scientists and engineers for more than 35 years: How to prevent the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope from crashing into the surface of a material during imaging or lithography.
Categories: Science

Evolution plays many tricks against large-scale bioproduction

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Ultra-deep DNA sequencing of thousands of cells uncovers many competing mechanisms of evolution as a threat to efficient scale-up of biobased chemicals production. Evolution plays an underestimated role in bioprocesses and limits yields much more than previously anticipated.
Categories: Science

'Minimalist machine learning' algorithms analyze images from very little data

Computers and Math from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
Mathematicians have developed a new approach to machine learning aimed at experimental imaging data. Rather than relying on the tens or hundreds of thousands of images used by typical machine learning methods, this new approach 'learns' much more quickly and requires far fewer images.
Categories: Science

Roadmap to enhance radioresistance for space colonization

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
An international team of researchers has published a roadmap toward enhancing human radioresistance for space exploration and colonization.
Categories: Science

Fur real: Scientists improve computer rendering of animal fur

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:29am
The next computer-generated animals in King Kong or The Lion King could look a lot more realistic thanks to a breakthrough by computer scientists. The researchers developed a method that dramatically improves the way computers simulate fur, and more specifically, the way light bounces within an animal's pelt.
Categories: Science

Bringing high res magnetic resonance imaging to nanometer scale

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:24am
A new technique that brings magnetic resonance imaging to the nanometer scale with unprecedented resolution will open the door for major advances in understanding new materials, virus particles and proteins that cause diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Categories: Science

Macy’s sells hijabs; Linda Sarsour and Masih Alinejad debate the garment

Why Evolution is True Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:05am

In the article below, CNN reports on Macy’s (a department store’s) decision to sell fashionable hijabs. I don’t care whether they do or not, though it’s a bit incongruous (and oxymoronic) to talk of “modest, fashionable clothing.” As a veiled Muslim women, you’re not supposed to call attention to yourself, and a spiffy hijab (or makeup) will do just that, defeating the religious purpose of the veil—the “modesty” part. But Macy’s has a chance to cash in on Muslim women’s desire to look good, so why not?

Click on the screenshot to go to the piece.



What’s more interesting in this article is the debate it gives: a back-and-forth between Linda Sarsour, co-head of the Women’s March, professional victim, and rapaciously ambitious grifter, and Masih Alinejad, Iranian activist and founder of the admirable #MyStealthyFreedom campaign, which displays Iranian women illegally removing their hijabs.

I can’t quite make out what’s going on in the discussion, for it sounds as if Sarsour and Alinejad are talking past each other. Sarsour constantly wants to emphasize that her hijab is her personal choice, and she’s been the victim of “Islamophobia” for wearing it. In contrast, Alinejad calls attention back to the plight of women in Iran (and other countries) where veiling is not a choice.

Of course I’m biased in favor of Alinjad, and so my take may be colored by that, but it seems to me that Sarsour is, as she so often does, wallowing in her personal victimhood. In reality, Sarsour, while she may be vilified, is vilified more for her views on Islam, and her polarizing ideology—including favoring sharia law—than for being a Muslim.

That, at least, is what I get out of these exchanges, in which Sarsour reluctantly seems to decry oppression in the Middle East:

MA: I don’t see any Muslim communities in the West being loud and condemning compulsory hijab, especially you, when people of Iran are putting themselves in danger and risking their lives. I was loud enough to condemn both the burkini ban and travel ban, but I never saw the feminists in the West condemning compulsory hijab when they go to my country… They go to Iran and they obey it … All I see is double standards and hypocrisy.

LS: I will say on a personal level that I’ve been very vocal in support of Iranian women. For me, hijab is only a form of oppression when a government forces it on people, when a father forces it on his daughter or when a husband forces it on his wife. For me, as a woman who chooses to wear hijab, it is not a form of oppression and I will not be pushed into a position by anyone to say that hijab is a form of oppression.

Note Sarsour’s transition from saying that the hijab is often a form of oppression to asserting that she “will not say the hijab is a form of oppression.” That’s a movement from the personal to the general.

There’s this, too:

CNN: What are your thoughts on the current protests against compulsory hijab in Iran?

MA: Twenty-nine women who practiced civil disobedience, who peacefully took off their hijab, they are in prison. It’s a global issue and we should all condemn it. We shouldn’t let any feminists in the West downplay our cause and say this is a small issue, it’s not.

LS: Sister, I think I think the issue here is not whether or not we think it’s important … the issue is the narrative. In the United States, we as Muslim woman are attacked saying that we are upholding a system of oppression by wearing hijab. So we have a narrative we have to fight by saying we stand with women who choose not to wear hijab, and I will unequivocally say here that I stand with the brave courageous woman in Iran who are standing against compulsory hijab, but they also need us to create a narrative that says you also stand with my right as a Muslim woman in America who is having to endure Islamophobia.

Note that to Sarsour “the issue is the narrative,” not what counts as real and important oppression. Sarsour would rather maintain a “narrative” that gives lip service to the women in the countries of the Middle East (including the country of her parents’ origin, Palestine) but to always keep the narrative on Islamophobia, which of course Sarsour claims to be a victim of. That is what gives her credibility among feminists, even though Islam itself is one of the most anti-feminist ideologies I can think of.

There’s more, but I’ll add just one more exchange:

CNN: Why do you think hijab has become so politicized?

MA: I’m coming from a country where for four decades the Islamic Republic of Iran wrote its ideology message on our bodies. We won’t be able to get an education from the age of seven if we don’t wear it. We won’t be able to live in our own country.

LS: Hijab is solely a spiritual practice, but unfortunately there have been people who have taken it, including governments, to control women’s bodies. I hope we end this conversation by saying that you and I are actually a lot closer in what we believe that we think we are.

“Solely a spiritual practice”? I think Sarsour has it backwards. She wants it to be a spiritual practice, as that divorces the garment from its misogynistic origin, developed in post-Qur’anic Islamic theology. Every school of Islam, so far as I know, endorses the wearing of the hijab as a garment of modesty, so its wearing didn’t spread as a “spiritual practice.”

If wearing hijab was a “spiritual” practice by Muslims, then in the 1960s and 1970s, Muslim women in Iran, and Afghanistan would have been largely covered. But they weren’t, and protested when the theocracies made the hijab compulsory.  It has always been a “garment of modesty”, with some women choosing to abjure that modesty for choice and modernity. (Yes, I’ll admit that some Muslim women wear it not out of modesty considerations, but as a sign of their faith. But those motivations are deeply entwined.)

It is by wearing the hijab that Sarsour can claim victimhood. Yes, there have been cases in which bigots have ripped off hijabs or mocked their wearers to their faces. I find those actions shameful. Although that hasn’t happened to Sarsour, she claims the victimhood narrative of others, which she hopes to use as a crane to hoist her to Congress; and she’ll cry “Islamophobia” at every opportunity. Wearing the hijab is the best overt signal of your victimhood. In Iran it’s an unwanted one, but for Sarsour it’s a signal she embraces.

 

Categories: Science

Rock dusting on farms could cool the climate, so let’s try it

New Scientist Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 8:36am
Crushed basalt applied to agricultural land could soak up billions of tons of carbon dioxide and boost crops. Let's put it to the test, says Olive Heffernan
Categories: Science

There are six of them?

Pharyngula Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 8:28am

I saw the first Sharknado movie — it failed to reach the low, low standard of being so bad it was entertaining. But now I learn that there have been multiple sequels, and they’re working on a sixth? I think they’re reaching. I didn’t watch 2, 3, 4, or 5 — didn’t even know they existed — and the synopsis of #6 doesn’t appeal at all.

After losing his family to the deadly sharknados, Fin (played by Ian Ziering) discovers the ability to travel through time using the sharknados as a sort of portal. His mission is to bring his family back to life through the powers of time travel and/or prevent the threat of the terrifying fish funnels altogether. In a new spin on Sharknado 5‘s world-traveling plot, Fin’s time traveling will bring him in contact with all manner of legends and historical figures. You can read the full synopsis below:

“All is lost, or is it? Fin unlocks the time-traveling power of the SHARKNADOS in order to save the world and resurrect his family. In his quest, Fin fights Nazis, dinosaurs, knights, and even takes a ride on Noah’s Ark. This time, it’s not how to stop the sharknados, it’s when.”

The movie poster shows the hero holding a chainsaw. There must always be a chainsaw.

I hear there’s a Fifty Shades of Grey sequel. The concept makes my stomach churn, but I think I’d rather see that. Or maybe I’d rather give in to a masochistic urge to bleach my eyeballs. So many choices!

Categories: Science

Gun legislation turned down by Florida legislature; Dinesh D’Souza mocks students lobbying to get it passed

Why Evolution is True Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 7:20am

Over the past two days, the evening news has featured distraught, angry, and determined Florida students marching on the state legislature, stunned about the 17 students shot by Nikolas Cruz, but bent on ensuring that it won’t happen again. Many of the lobbyists were classmates of the slain students.  I thought to myself, “If anybody can change this country’s attitudes towards guns, it’ll be the young people who were the targets of those guns.” I hoped mightily that Florida, and then the country, would at last begin to respond. Dare I hope that this might be the turning point in the struggle against America’s senseless proliferation of weapons—especially assault weapons?

No chance. As I predicted, we’ll have a brief flurry of anger and calls for new gun laws, and then it’ll be business as usual. Far too many Americans see student lives as collateral damage to the necessary production and ownership of guns. That’s just sick.

Of course Florida turned a deaf ear to those students. As ABC 10 reports, just one day after the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School went to Tallahassee, Florida to lobby for gun control at the state capitol, the House voted down a motion to ban assault weapons like the AR-15 used by Cruz. The vote wasn’t even close: 36-71.  And it’s ASSAULT WEAPONS!  There is no reason to allow these even if you think that the Second Amendment should permit personal possession of weapons for self defense.

The students were devastated, as they should be, watching a bunch of Republicans vote down sensible restrictions on the very gun that had shattered the bodies of their friends. They watched and wept:

And Dinesh D’Souza, odious human being that he is (he’s supposed to be a pious Christian), brutally and cruelly mocked these students on Twitter:

How lame a human being must you be to say things like this? Reader Pliny the in Between adds a comment:

 

h/t: Grania, Hempenstein

Categories: Science

Billy Graham is dead

Pharyngula Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 7:06am

Y’all remember Billy Graham, right?

On the account of James Warren in the Chicago Tribune, who has filed excellent stories down the years on Nixon’s tapes, in this 1972 Oval Office session between Nixon, Haldeman and Graham, the President raises a topic about which “we can’t talk about it publicly,” namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media.

Nixon cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who was executive producer of the NBC hit, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” as telling him that “11 of the 12 writers are Jewish.”

“That right?” says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are “totally dominated by the Jews.”

Nixon says network TV anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite “front men who may not be of that persuasion,” but that their writers are “95 percent Jewish.”

“This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” the nation’s best-known preacher declares.

“You believe that?” Nixon says.

“Yes, sir,” Graham says.

“Oh, boy,” replies Nixon.

“So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”

“No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something,” Graham replies.

Magnanimously Nixon concedes that this does not mean “that all the Jews are bad,” but that most are left-wing radicals who want “peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews.”

“That’s right,” agrees Graham, who later concurs with a Nixon assertion that a “powerful bloc” of Jews confronts Nixon in the media.

“And they’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Graham adds.

Later Graham says that “a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.”

After Graham’s departure Nixon says to Haldeman, “You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across.”

“It’s a shocking point,” Haldeman replies.

“Well,” says Nixon, “It’s also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards.”

Now look at how the cookie-cutter obituaries in the major news media are translating this:

The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.

Let’s not mention what his ‘counsel’ was, mmm-kay? Might expose the dishonesty of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” that evangelicals love to tout.

But now he’s dead. Good. Wish it had happened a few decades earlier.

Categories: Science

Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ gender identity

Why Evolution is True Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:30am

Today’s Jesus and Mo, called “self,” is a wry comment on Islamic misogyny using tropes from transexualism. Now Mo can claim double victim status!

Categories: Science

Some black holes erase your past

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:13am
Physicists insist on determinism: your past and present determine your future uniquely, per Einstein's equations of general relativity. They call this strong cosmic censorship. A mathematician found some types of black holes -- charged, non-rotating objects in an expanding universe -- that allow an observer inside the black hole to travel across a horizon into a place where the past is obliterated and there are an infinite number of possible futures for every initial state.
Categories: Science

Microscale thermophoresis to characterize hits from high-throughput screening

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:13am
A new article details how the European Lead Factory (ELF), a large publicly accessible drug discovery platform, uses microscale thermophoresis (MST) to aid in the prioritization of small molecule hits from high-throughput screening.
Categories: Science

Phishing success linked to incentives and sticking to an effective strategy

Computers and Math from Science Daily Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:13am
A new study focusing on the attacker -- a largely ignored but crucial aspect of phishing -- identifies successful and less successful strategies. It also reveals that attackers are motivated by quicker and larger rewards -- with creative individuals putting more effort into constructing these malicious emails. Insights from the study can be used to develop tools and training procedures to detect phishing emails.
Categories: Science

Billy Graham died

Why Evolution is True Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:00am

In all honesty (but I’m always honest, of course), I didn’t know Billy Graham was still alive. It turns out he was 99, and died today at his home in North Carolina.  He was known as the “Pastor to Presidents”, and was there for every American President from Harry Truman through Barack Obama. One of the first televangelists, he was a Southern Baptist estimated to have preached to more humans than anyone in the history of Christianity.  Through his “crusades” (400 of them in 185 countries), he’s said to have persuaded over 3 million people to “accept Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior.”

What a waste of a life—preaching fiction and delusion to the masses. My sympathies go to his family and friends, but at least one of his sons is continuing the charade.

 

Categories: Science

Huge underwater landslides and tsunamis may be caused by ooze

New Scientist Feed - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:00am
Layers of ooze in the seabed may be responsible for submarine “megaslides” that dwarf ordinary landslides and can cause tsunamis
Categories: Science

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