Science in the news

Has anyone seen anything in the news about scientific discoveries or science in the popular press that particularly interest you, or that you think might be of interest to the rest of us?

Here are a couple that I’ve seen lately to get started:

Getting a helicopter to fly on Mars was an impressive feat for the Ingenuity team, given Mars’s thin atmosphere. It’s made some interesting discoveries, and it’s a shame that it’s over now.

I sometimes wonder if writing things down by hand is more effective at getting you to stay focused, think clearly, and learn new stuff than typing things out on a computer. Seems that there’s some research that says it is.


I recently went to a prof dev session on bullet journalling. I’ve attempted to start, since keeping a bunch of lists and notes in google docs and folders was not really keeping me organized and on task. I think there is something about physically writing things and moving pages around and indexing and flipping from here to there in the notebook that makes a difference.


When I want to learn new plants, their scientific name and morphological keys, I write it down by hand. Just like in school. Again and again. If I type it, I just don’t learn it. If I just say it out loud, I typically don’t remember the morphology.


I’m a note-taker.

Not a good one, not a concise one, but a one. The books I’ve read for the discussions here, and my personal serious reading include laborious work on notes and marginalia. I don’t know that the writing itself is the key, but the working over things, the rereading involved in selecting what to write, the thinking over as I reword something or try to sum it up.

I can’t go to a meeting without a pen and at least a scrap of paper.

I question whether the writing alone is effective, because I run across notes all the time that I don’t remember writing or whose content is gone from my memory, but the ones I need to refer to are in particular places (specific notebooks, the right section in my planner, my black binder at work).

However, the work I have done in reading Penner, Kierkegaard, Wright, and others seems to have helped me learn the material. There are times when a question comes up, and I have a good grip on the thing I had read, even though figuring it out was hard.

@jammycakes thanks for starting this thread. This is a really neat idea.

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When I led study groups in university classes I always insisted that everyone hand-copy their class notes, make hand notes from assigned readings, and then integrate them with another hand copy. People clamored to get into my study groups because members’ grades always went up. So may be it wasn’t my brilliant tutoring/teaching ability at work, just my method!

Though for a final copy for study notes for exams we went with typed so as not to have to wonder at poor writing.


Interesting article:

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I saw a report on that the other day – made me wonder about the future of the race.

Though this reminded me I need to find my vaccination card!

I don’t know where my card is, but got my booster a couple of weeks ago, delayed as I had Covid about six months ago and wanted to spread it out. No reaction but a sore arm this time. Many here have not gotten their booster, and a lot of Covid going around, along with regular old flu and RSV.

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Here’s an article from the October 19th New York Times titled: “Roland Griffiths, 77, A Mystical Scientist Of Psychedelics, Dies”.

Let me quote from the first paragraph:

“Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral science and psychiatry whose pioneering work in the study of Psychedelics helped usher in a new era of research into those once banned substances - and reintroduced the mystical into scientific discourse about them - died on Monday at his home in Baltimore.”

Those who have followed the media over the years might have run across various articles about ecstasy, psilocybin and LSD being used successfully to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and a great variety of psychic disorders.

Having had extensive personal experience with LSD in the early 70’s I long believed that psychedelics could play an important role in behavioral therapy. It’s nice to be able to say I told you so.

Thank you Professor Griffiths

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I thought this really interesting. A study on women and autoimmune disoders finds a connection to Xist, a molecule that is only present in women’s bodies. Women account for 80% of all autoimmune disease cases.


in vivo CRISPR therapy…


That’s interesting in comparison to what we were told in high school about men having a “weaker” genome because for tens of thousands of years the strongest, fastest, and smartest men got regularly killed off in war.

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This was my big question:

“The therapy affects only the patient and is not passed onto their children, who still have an even chance of inheriting the disorder.”

The big step will be when therapy eliminates the faulty gene being passed on.

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That would be a big step, both technically and ethically, as it would require manipulating the genome during early stages perhaps as fertilized eggs, before differentiation into gamete producing tissue.

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This one popped up on Hacker News about an hour ago:

It’s a really cool challenge—using artificial intelligence to read X-rays of scrolls that were buried in Pompeii when Vesuvius erupted. The scrolls are all charred from the eruption and too fragile to be unrolled, so taking X-rays was the only way to look inside them. The fact that they’ve actually been able to do this and decipher the results is very impressive.


I remember reading about how one of the winning team was the first to read a complete word from one of the scrolls – ΠΟΡΦΥΡΑϹ (por-FU-ras), “purple”. I thought that was awesome enough; this is stupendous!

This is a great piece on his achievement:

I also recall an article about how different methods were tried to see if the scrolls could be unrolled including re-moisturizing them, but everything failed.

Here’s an image of one of the scrolls next to a recreation of what it would have looked like originally:


A study suggests that the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic could be on the verge of shutting down.

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For anyone interested in electronics, a Veritasium video explaining why it took so long to invent a blue light emitting diode:

I read something about that. One engineer commented that to keep this from happening we’d need to build enough floating desalination plants to add fresh water equivalent to something like the Ohio river, shipping the brine north and chilling it to release off northern Greenland. He noted that this could all be powered by solar energy.


I almost watched that last night but passed and instead worked on reading Dr. Heiser’s Unseen Realm.

I was shocked that Nakamura didn’t get awarded legal costs in his suit!

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