All posts tagged: Science

Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s theory of relativity is a famous theory, but it’s little understood. The theory of relativity refers to two different elements of the same theory: general relativity and special relativity. The theory of special relativity was introduced first and was later considered to be a special case of the more comprehensive theory of general relativity. General relativity is a theory of gravitation that  Albert Einstein  developed by between 1907 and 1915, with contributions from many others after 1915. THEORY OF RELATIVITY CONCEPTS Einstein’s theory of relativity includes the interworking of several different concepts, which include: Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity – localized behavior of objects in inertial frames of reference, generally only relevant at speeds very near the speed of light Lorentz Transformations – the transformation equations used to calculate the coordinate changes under special relativity Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity – the more comprehensive theory, which treats gravity as a geometric phenomenon of a curved spacetimecoordinate system, which also includes noninertial (i.e. accelerating) frames of reference Fundamental Principles of Relativity WHAT IS RELATIVITY? Classical relativity (defined initially by …

Climate Change and National Security

The United States House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hosted a series of roundtables tackling issues on climate change. On July 12, 2017 in Washington, D.C., Ambassador John Campbell participated in the “Science and Policy Perspectives: National Security Implications of Climate Change” roundtable, where he discussed climate change and its effect on Nigeria, a close strategic partner. Below is the statement he submitted for the record:  Climate change certainly has direct implications for the security of the United States, which other participants are exploring this afternoon.  But, we Americans must also be concerned about the security of our close diplomatic partners. If our partners’ security is undermined, so too is our own, even if only indirectly. Here, I would like to look at Nigeria as a case study, where climate change is already having a negative impact on the security of a close partner of the United States. Arguably, Nigeria is the African state of greatest strategic importance to the United States. It is home to about 20 percent of the people living in Africa south of the Sahara. …

Circadian Clock and Sleep

The daily rhythm of sleeping and waking is one of the most fundamental cycles in our lives, and we often equate it with our circadian clock. But the reality is more subtle than that. The circadian clock, as biologists have learned in recent decades, is in fact an incredibly precise molecular machine that exists in nearly every cell in the body. Consisting of a number of proteins that come together and fall apart rhythmically, the clock complex controls the transcription of thousands of genes that affect everything from appetite to cell division. There is a season — or rather, a time of day — for each process that takes its timing from the clock. Sleep just happens to be one such process. We’ve seen huge leaps and bounds recently in understanding exactly which proteins are involved in the clock complex and how it works. Yet sleep — our most obviously time-linked activity — is still largely a mystery on the molecular level. Some of the same cast of scientists who helped illuminate the clock are …

Links to immune system imbalance with chronic fatigue syndrome

After a 5-month road trip across Asia in 2010, 22-year-old college graduate Matthew Lazell-Fairman started feeling constantly tired, his muscles sore and head aching. A doctor recommended getting a gym membership, but after the first training session, Lazell-Fairman’s body crashed: He was so exhausted he couldn’t go to work as a paralegal for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., for days. Lazell-Fairman has never fully recovered. He can now do a few hours of light activity—cooking, for example—per day but has to spend the rest of his time lying flat in bed. Lazell-Fairman is among the estimated 17 million people worldwide with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease whose trigger is unknown and for which there are neither standard diagnostic tools nor effective treatments. In the largest study of its kind, researchers have now found that the blood levels of immune molecules that cause flulike symptoms such as fever and fatigue track the severity of symptoms in people who have received a diagnosis of CFS. The results may provide insight into the cause of …

The conflict between religion and science 2

Many scientists used to think that heat was the product of a material called phlogiston. It flowed into objects to make them hot and out to make them cold. But when they tested for this material, they could find nothing — objects weighed the same both hot and cold. Defenders of the theory insisted that phlogiston must be made of a material that, unlike all others, had no mass. Finding that heat is actually a result of the movement of molecules, phlogiston defenders suggested that making molecules move is just how phlogiston makes objects hotter. But they were only making ad hoc excuses to save their theory; there was no need to introduce phlogiston — it didn’t explain anything. Heat could be accounted for solely by the movement of molecules and atoms; no extra substance was needed. All the work that phlogiston was supposed to have done was now accounted for by other means. Of course, one can never disprove the existence of phlogiston — one can always make excuses. But, as we know, that …

Black Holes, A Brief Introduction

Everybody has heard of black holes. Science fiction books and movies use them as great plot devices. However, does everybody know what they actually are? These real-life objects are scattered throughout the universe, particularly at the centers of galaxies. So, they’re common, but nobody has really explored them! There’s a good reason for that: once you get inside a black hole, there’s no escape. That makes them intriguing and frightening all at once. However, that hasn’t stopped astronomers from studying them from the outside and using the laws of physics to understand them. Black holes are objects in the universe with so much mass trapped inside their boundaries that they have incredibly strong gravitational fields. That gravity is so strong that nothing can escape a black hole once it has gone inside. Most black holes contain many times the mass of our Sun and the heaviest ones can have millions of solar masses. Despite all that mass, the actual singularity that forms the core of the black hole has never been seen or imaged. The …

Skepticsociety Magazine Blog

The conflict between religion and science 1

Many, both theists and atheists, acknowledge the conflict between religion and science. This includes New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and also academic philosophers such as John Worall, who argue that one cannot be both purely scientifically minded and religious. Others disagree. Stephen Jay Gould, an agnostic, famously defended the NOMA thesis — that science and religion cannot be in conflict because they are about non-overlapping magesteria. His sentiments have been echoed by some academic philosophers, such as Del Ratzsch, who argues that the conflict between science and religion is greatly exaggerated. Most recently this thesis was reiterated by Alvin Plantinga in Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism. If there is a conflict, it is supposedly only about minor ideas that are usually found in small movements — like creationism, which is (they say) only popular in certain Christian fundamentalist segments of America. I disagree. Contrary to Gould, Ratzsch and Plantinga’s arguments, religion conflicts with science, especially regarding religious issues, doctrines, beliefs and thought processes of major significance. I will demonstrate why. For brevity, …