Consciousness Is Made of Atoms, Too – Facts So Romantic

In “A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men,” published in 1934, the Estonian biologist Jakob von Uexküll attempted to show that every animal creates a “world” (he called it its umwelt) from stimuli in the environment to which it responds. Illustration by Ivana Rezek / Flickr

In his first lecture on physics to freshmen and sophomores at the California Institute of Technology, in 1961-62, Richard Feynman said:

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are … Read the rest

NASA set an ignominious record last week—but don’t blame the space agency

(credit: NASA / Wikimedia Commons)

No humans have launched into space from US soil for more than five years, when space shuttle Atlantis made its final voyage. Since that spacecraft landed on July 21, 2011, a total of 2,098 days have passed. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale noted on Twitter Tuesday that this gap has now surpassed the previous longest US spaceflight gap—2,089 days—which occurred between the end of the Apollo program and the first space shuttle mission.

The final Apollo mission, which launched in 1975 and featured an in-space rendezvous with a Russian spacecraft, presaged the end of the “space race” and future cooperation between the United States and Russia in space. And since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011, NASA has

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Whale world

A study that attached cameras with suction cups to the backs of Antarctic whales has revealed never before seen feeding habits and social interactions.… Read the rest

With $4.65M deal, Arizonans will get their money back from Theranos

(credit: NBC Today)

Theranos, Inc., the infamous and embattled blood-testing company, has agreed to pay the state of Arizona more than $4.65 million dollars in consumer restitution for blood tests that were allegedly misrepresented and, in some cases, voided.

The agreement, announced Tuesday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, comes after Brnovich alleged that Theranos’ advertisements in the state “misrepresented, omitted, and concealed material information regarding its testing service’s methodology, accuracy, reliability, and essential purpose,” the consent judgement reads. The state also alleged that Theranos was out of compliance with federal regulators.

Theranos denies any wrongdoing but agreed to pay to avoid a trial.

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Trans fat bans link to fewer heart attacks, deaths—and they’re going national in the US

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Scott Olson)

Banishing trans fats from foods is linked to reductions in the number of heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths in the years after the bans are implemented, according to data from cities and counties in New York that have made the cut.

After three years, the areas banning trans fats from eateries seemed to have an extra  6.2 percent reduction in heart attacks and strokes compared with those that didn’t, researchers report in JAMA Cardiology. Last year, other researchers reported in the Journal of Health Economics that the New York bans appeared to cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 4.5 percent—that is, they spared about 13 lives from cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people each year.

While the decade

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The Secret PR Push That Shaped the Atomic Bomb’s Origin Story

In August 1945, a few days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the government released an official report on the history of the destructive weapon. “The work on the atomic bomb,” it explained, was undertaken in Los Alamos, where “an extraordinary galaxy of scientific stars gathered on this New Mexican mesa.” Despite its dull prose, the Smyth report, as it came to be known, would make The New York Times’ bestseller list and be translated into more than three-dozen languages. “J. R. Oppenheimer has been director of the [Los Alamos] laboratory from the start,” it explained.

Emphasizing the contributions of Julius Robert Oppenheimer—the theoretical physicist who is still commonly referred to as the father of the atomic bomb—was routine at … Read the rest