Science

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    Are we witnessing the dawn of post-theory science? | Artificial intelligence (AI)

    Isaac Newton apocryphally discovered his second law – the one about gravity – after an apple fell on his head. Much experimentation and data analysis later, he realised there was a fundamental relationship between force, mass and acceleration. He formulated a theory to describe that relationship – one that could be expressed as an equation, F=ma – and used it to predict the behaviour of objects other than apples. His predictions turned out to be right (if not always precise enough for those who came later). Contrast how science is increasingly done today. Facebook’s machine learning tools predict your preferences better than any psychologist. AlphaFold, a program built by DeepMind,…

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    Don’t Look Up Illustrates 5 Myths That Fuel Rejection of Science

    The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. Every disaster movie seems to open with a scientist being ignored. “Don’t Look Up” is no exception—in fact, people ignoring or flat out denying scientific evidence is the point. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who make a literally Earth-shattering discovery and then try to persuade the president to take action to save humanity. It’s a satire that explores how individuals, scientists, the media and politicians respond when faced with scientific facts that are uncomfortable, threatening and inconvenient. The movie is an allegory for climate change, showing how those with the power to do something…

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    Hollywood’s primer on climate denial illustrates 5 myths that fuel rejection of science

    Every disaster movie seems to open with a scientist being ignored. “Don’t Look Up” is no exception – in fact, people ignoring or flat out denying scientific evidence is the point. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who make a literally Earth-shattering discovery and then try to persuade the president to take action to save humanity. It’s a satire that explores how individuals, scientists, the media and politicians respond when faced with scientific facts that are uncomfortable, threatening and inconvenient. The movie is an allegory for climate change, showing how those with the power to do something about global warming willfully avoid taking action and how those with vested…

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    Sometimes Science Is Wrong – Scientific American

    In 1996 scientists announced the astonishing news that they’d discovered what they believed might be signs of ancient life inside a meteorite from Mars. In 2014 astrophysicists declared that they’d found direct evidence at last for the “inflationary universe” theory, first proposed in the 1980s. What these assertions had in common was that they were based on research by highly qualified, credentialed scientists—and also that the “discoveries” turned out to be wrong. Today essentially nobody thinks the meteorite contained persuasive evidence that it once harbored life, or that the astrophysicists had found anything more exciting than dust in the Milky Way. This sort of backtracking isn’t unusual. In part, it happens because scientists almost always…

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    Hollywood Can Take On Science Denial; Don’t Look Up Is a Great Example

    On a recent morning, in Lower Manhattan, 20 scientists, including me, gathered for a private screening of the new film Don’t Look Up, followed by lunch with the film’s director, Adam McKay. The film’s plot is simple. An astronomy graduate student, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), and her professor, Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), discover a new comet and realize that it will strike the Earth in six months. It is about nine kilometers across, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The astronomers try to alert the president, played by Meryl Streep, to their impending doom. “Let’s just sit tight and assess,” she says, and an…

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    The Best Fun Science Stories of 2021: Rhythmic Lemurs, a Marscopter and Sex-Obsessed Insect Zombies

    Science is often thought of as a serious subject. But even though it tackles hugely important issues—many with life-or-death consequences—it also has a fun side. This year Scientific American has covered some stories that ranged from “Huh, that’s weird” to “Ew, gross” to “So. Cool.” Below, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites (seriously, do not sleep on the potty-trained cows). We hope you enjoy them and learn more about the amazing and odd aspects of the world—and come back to see what astounding and wild discoveries 2022 has in store. Moo Over, House-Trained Dogs Most cattle roam their pastures peeing with abandon, but scientists have now trained calves…

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    The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021 | Science

    From amazing firsts on Mars to the impacts of climate change on Earth, these science stories stood out as the most important of 2021 Photo illustration by Meilan Solly / Photos via Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons Covid-19 dominated science coverage again in 2021, and deservedly so. The disease garnered two entries on this list of our picks for the most important science stories of the year. But other key discoveries and achievements marked the year in science too, and they deserve more attention. NASA and private companies notched firsts in space. Scientists discovered more about the existence of early humans. And researchers documented how climate change has impacted everything from…

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