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The Vernal Equinox Isn't What You Think It is

Tomorrow is the vernal equinox! You might think that it’s simply the mid-point between each solstice, but that’s not exactly correct. Joe Hanson, …

Solstice

Would It Be A Bad Thing to Wipe Out A Species ... If It's A Mosquito?

Mosquitoes have a nasty reputation.<p>The species <i>Aedes aegypti</i>, for example, is currently responsible for spreading the Zika virus through the Americas and also infects humans with dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.<p>This raises the question: Should there be an effort to get rid of <i>Aedes aegypti</i> …

Public Health

I'm Finally Breaking Up With Richard Dawkins

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm done with Richard Dawkins. As a teenager, the brilliant scientist was among the first to break through my bubble of petty fundamentalism and push me to think critically about the superstitions that envelope our cultures. I miss that guy and have no idea …

Are we more than molecules?

Novelists, poets and artists can help us to piece together the mystery of human consciousness, says Mark Haddon<p>My son’s nine-year-old friend Yahya said it most succinctly. Why is life in the first person?<p>We think. We feel. We are aware of ourselves and the world around us. We have consciousness. We …

0% of Icelanders aged 25 or younger believe world was created by God – poll

No Icelanders taking part in a new poll who were aged 25 or younger and identify themselves as Christians believe the world was created by God.<p>The …

Thomas Jefferson and the fascinating history of Founding Fathers defending Muslim rights

<i>This post has been updated with President Obama's comments. The Fix originally wrote about Thomas Jefferson and Muslims in December.</i><p>Muslims are at the center of a roiling debate over religious freedom in the United States. But they've actually been a part of that heated conversation from the very …

Religion

Cards Against Humanity Sells Nothing on Black Friday, Makes $71,000, Spends It Immediately

It's the third annual anti-Black Friday stunt from the card game company.<p>Nothing is less popular than bullshit.<p>That’s not an observation on life. Rather, it’s a literal interpretation of what happened yesterday when the popular politically-incorrect card game Cards Against Humanity “sold nothing” …

This chart proves that the United States has failed at protecting its citizens from guns

Everyone knows that gun deaths are way more common in the USthan in other developed countries. But the sheer scale of the discrepancy is hard to wrap your head around. The above chart illustrates the gap by showing how many lives would be saved, every year, if the US had the overall gun death rate …

Guns

NASA confirms that liquid water flows on Mars

It's the first direct evidence of a long-suspected theory<p>Liquid water exists on the surface of Mars during the planet's warmer seasons, according to new research published in <i>Nature Geosciences</i><i>.</i> This revelation comes from new spectral data gathered by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a …

Richard Dawkins calling Ahmed Mohamed a fraud is everything wrong with Richard Dawkins

On Twitter this weekend, the famed biologist and internet crank Richard Dawkins said that Ahmed Mohamed — the 14-year-old who was arrested after a homemade clock he brought to school was mistaken for a hoax bomb — had committed fraud by pretending to have invented the clock in question. Even worse, …

14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed arrested for bringing homemade clock to school

Police in Texas have arrested a 14-year-old boy for building a clock. Ahmed Mohamed, who lives in Irving and has a keen interest in robotics and engineering, put the device together on Sunday night. When he took it to school the next day, he was pulled out of class, interviewed by police officers, …

Middle School

A Year Without God Becomes Life After God

What happens when you spend six months or a year or five years wondering about the existence of God and concluding that there is, at best, no compelling reason to believe? In particular, what happens when you experience this loss of faith after having been born into and continually immersed in …

Are Science And Truth At Odds?

Last week, <i>New York Times</i> science writer George Johnson wrote a very disturbing piece concerning the apparent loss of credibility science is now facing with the public at large.<p>Creationism, the anti-vaccine movement, resistance to genetically modified crops, cellphone radio waves, fluoridation, the …

Paul Krugman laughs at Rand Paul for unintentionally hilarious condemnation of 180 years of economic growth

The United States has been hounded by “fiscal scolds” like Paul for too long<p>New York Times columnist Paul Krugman took time in his Friday column to argue against the notion that public debt has a negative impact on national economies.<p>Responding to an unintentionally funny statement by Rand Paul -- …

A Hitchhiking Robot's Journey West Ends Early ... In Philadelphia

After a bunch of really nice humans helped a hitchhiking robot traverse the length of Canada and most of Germany, the robot was going to try to make it from Massachusetts all the way to California.<p>HitchBOT is the brainchild of two Canadian social scientists. As Frauke Zeller and David Harris Smith …

Robotics

Hillary Clinton has unveiled her first truly interesting economic proposal

During a speech in New York, she detailed a plan to hike taxes on income from investments that high-income Americans hold for less than six years. It is part of a broader platform designed to fight what she refers to as "quarterly capitalism"—corporate America's focus on maintaining short-term …

The invisible network that keeps the world running

Inside the humungous, algorithmically controlled matrix that supplies most of what you own<p>It's been just over 45 years since the Apollo Moon landings, and some would have it that we are failing to build big anymore; that we've since become too fascinated with the small, too impressed by our tablet …

June was Earth’s warmest month, and 2015 is its warmest year so far

June was the third month this year to break a monthly temperature record<p>NASA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have all come to the same conclusion: Earth had its warmest June on record this year. And what's worse is that this year is shaping …

Sandra Bland's mysterious death inspired these tragic #IfIDieInPoliceCustody tweets

A viral hashtag once again exposed the deep distrust between African Americans and US police.<p>The hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody began after the mysterious death of Sandra Bland. Bland was pulled over by a Texas police officer for failing to signal before changing lanes, and cops detained her after, …

Justice

The Pope's Perceptive Paragraph About Air Conditioning

It was perhaps no coincidence that Pope Francis singled out air conditioning as an example of “harmful” consumption in his June 18 Environmental Encyclical, mere days before the Northern Hemisphere was fully into summer.<p>It turns out that air conditioning is a particularly pure example of how …

Pope Francis

The Death of the Lesbian

In 2005 at the University of Florida, I attended a lecture where Queer Theorist Jack Halberstam asserted that butch lesbians, and female masculinity in general, would never be embraced by a media perpetually shaped by male desire. Where trans women may titillate the male gaze, female masculinity …

California just cracked down on parents who don't vaccinate their kids

In California, parents now have a clear choice: get your children vaccinated or brush up on your home-schooling skills. Today, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB277, a bill that eliminates personal and religious beliefs as exemptions for school vaccination requirements. That means …

How the South Rewrote History

The Civil War is the only conflict in history after which the losers were allowed to write the history.<p><b>Editor’s Note:</b> <i>In Chuck Thompson’s book,</i> …

What's Really Warming the World? Climate deniers blame natural factors; NASA data proves otherwise

Methodology<p>NASA's Model<p>Researchers who study the Earth's climate create models to test their assumptions about the causes and trajectory of global …

Slack and Flickr co-founder says 'fuck you' to WSJ over Charleston shooting

'It matters how we talk about it.'<p>Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of both Slack and Flickr, has condemned the <i>The Wall Street Journal</i> on Twitter for an editorial it published after the Charleston shooting. The <i>WSJ</i> described the massacre as "a problem that defies explanation" and claimed that "the …

Miles Morales will be the Marvel Universe's main Spider-Man this fall

Big news, True Believers. <i>The New York Daily News</i> reports that, in the aftermath of Marvel's summer blockbuster series <i>Secret Wars</i>, Miles Morales will take center stage as the face of the company's relaunched <i>Spider-Man</i> title. The new series will be led by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara …

First Click: 2050 is the new Y2K

Predicting the future is hard. In 2011, analysts at both IDC and Gartner predicted Windows Mobile and BlackBerry would together hold between 30 and 36 percent of the smartphone marketshare by the year 2015 (it’s actually around 3 percent). And that’s just a four-year forecast — imagine the margin …

Blue energy: How mixing water can create electricity

The intriguing chemistry that occurs where rivers meet the sea could power our homes and much more, says Phillip Ball.<p>It is perhaps one of the most under-exploited sources of green energy. When salt water and fresh water mix in estuaries, a chemical process occurs that can be harnessed for …

Here's what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy

It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a study last year in the journal <i>Energy & Environmental Science</i>, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues.<p>Jacobson is well-known …

Energy

Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back Pain

<b>Editor's note, June 10:</b> <i>We have added an acknowledgement of several sources that Esther Gokhale used while developing her theories on back pain. These include physiotherapy methods, such as the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, and the work of anthropologist Noelle …