(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)
Houston Chronicle: Sex -- 'the fuel for variation'.
"The organisms most likely to reap the evolutionary benefits of sex are species with fast generation times and large populations, such as disease-causing micro-organisms."
> Man, these guys are really missing the point.
> Seriously, even for micro-orgainisms, I have doubts about the accuracy of using "random propagation" as a breeding model.
> And once you mix sex with even a primitive level of intelligence, you really do have "intelligent design." Even a bug can pick it's favorite color.
B-ball post --
Slate: How's Your Bracket Looking? I'm in fourth place out of 3 million in ESPN's contest.
"I couldn't believe the team I grew up rooting for in New Orleans was going to the Final Four. There's just one tiny thing keeping me from unmitigated bliss: I picked my sainted Tigers to lose in the tourney's championship game. And it might cost me $10,000."
And another --
San Jose Mercury News: No one's left to hate in Final Four.
"Really, UConn acted like a mini-NBA team on a meaningless, just-get-this-over-with-and-get-us-home road trip.... You got the feeling that the Connecticut wanna-be superstars viewed the tournament as a boring inconvenience on the way to fame, glory and bountiful NBA assignments, and paid for it Sunday."
A diabolically difficult Flash game --
Well, I lost all four of my final four picks, and all I can say is, "What a great year for college basketball!"
I'm cheering for LSU to go all the way.
(Hey -- two SEC teams in the Final Four!)
Universe Today: Is Dark Matter Made up of Sterile Neutrinos?
> What's a sterile neutrino?
> Anyway, I thought the idea that dark matter might be neutrinos was discarded years ago. The logic was that not enough neutrinos could have been produced in the life of the universe to account for more than a fraction of dark matter.
> Now they're suggesting that maybe a whole bunch of super heavy "sterile" neutrinos were produced during the big bang.
Universe Today: Watch Out for Moonquakes.
"Between 1972 and 1977, the Apollo seismic network saw twenty-eight [shallow moonquakes]; a few ‘registered up to 5.5 on the Richter scale,’ says Neal.... Furthermore, shallow moonquakes lasted a remarkably long time. Once they got going, all continued more than 10 minutes."
A couple of political posts --
Bob Deans: Iraq's true cost continues to grow.
"Three years after President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, the war grinds on amid escalating costs -- in lives, money and U.S. influence abroad."
Dahlia Lithwick: Same-sex parenting is a done deal.
"The Lambda Legal Defense Fund estimates 6 million to 10 million gay parents are caring for 6 million to 14 million children." ...
"The majority of states, by denying gay partners the right to "second-parent" adoptions or joint custody with a gay partner, effectively enshrine a legal regime in which millions of children ... lack the security of two parents for purposes of health insurance, life insurance, inheritance, child support payments, emergency medical authorizations or parental leave, particularly in the event that their parents separate or their primary parent dies."
> Debating legalization of gay marrige is like "debating" evolution. It's such a no-brainer that it's depressing that it even comes to an argument.
"‘This is not simply another test of inflation but something that examines the universe during its first trillionth of a trillionth of a second,’ says [cosmologist Michael Turner of the University of Chicago].... The findings ‘are beginning to shed light on the mechanism [that drove] inflation,’ he adds.
"The new data also confirm with unprecedented accuracy the ingredients of the universe: 4.4 percent ordinary matter, or atoms, 22 percent invisible material known as dark matter, and 74 percent a mysterious entity called dark energy. The satellite also pegs the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years."
"Previous work suggests the volcanic upheaval 500 million years ago covered up ‘almost all’ of the ancient surface. The models developed at Imperial College suggest about 26% of the planet's surface could be older than 700 million years."
"Researchers are trying to explain how a prototype drug that manipulates the immune system triggered devastating side effects in a British clinical trial. The trial shot into headlines earlier this week when all six patients who took an experimental antibody fell rapidly and severely ill."
For the first time ever, I sincerely enjoyed a baseball season this past year. From about the end of June forward, anyway.
No doubt about it, though, college basketball is better --
Slate: Do-or-Die Baseball.
"It seems we've become stuck on this notion that baseball is all about small-percentage advantages played out over hundreds of at-bats.... It's no coincidence that baseball is the flagship sport of the statistically obsessed. With its endless 162-game season, it provides something statisticians crave: a large sample size."
We're taking a break from Industry Seismology today ...
Wally Picks 2006
Duke, UConn, BCand
UConn to take it all.
Here are my brackets, if you care.
Last year I picked three of the Final Four.
I'll admit, picking UConn vs. Duke in the final is not exactly a gutsy forecast. But picking B.C. and Gonza took a little nerve.
> The list includes 793 private billionaires, but doesn't include kings or dictators. I think my favorite is --
"140. H. Ty Warner, Illinois, 62, $4.4 [billion], Beanie Babies"
David Ignatius, Washington Post: Burning Allies -- and Ourselves.
"The ironic fact is that the UAE is precisely the kind of Arab ally the United States needs most now. But that clearly didn't matter to an election-year Congress, which responded to the Dubai deal with a frenzy of Muslim-bashing disguised as concern about terrorism. And we wonder why the rest of the world doesn't like us."
CNN: Liquid water erupting on Saturn moon. [Enceladus?]
"The Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of liquid water spewing from geysers on one of Saturn's icy moons...."
"iTunes holds a commanding lead over its rivals, selling more than 75% of all digital songs.... The second-place digital music store, eMusic, can't sell any major label hits because it refuses to copy protect them. Instead, it relies on independent labels for content.
"But eMusic has a 9% share of the market, largely because you can play its unprotected MP3s on an iPod."
LA Times: Genetics Found to Have a Hand in Coffee Risk.
"A study of 4,000 coffee drinkers has found that two or more cups each day can increase the risk of heart disease -- but only for those with a genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. In diverse urban areas, the mutation is found in 54% of the population.
"People without the mutation can drink as much coffee as they like with no added risk of a heart attack, the scientists said."
> I don't know about the rest of you zombies, but I'll just keep operating on the assumption that I'm not a mutant.
"He's upset, though, that someone might make money from the tape. ‘If there's money to be made, it's my performance’ he said."