Monthly Archives: September 2017

“It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.””

The Atlantic: The First White President. “The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.” By Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“When a woman “exploded” and told [George] Packer, “I want to eat what I want to eat, and for them to tell me I can’t eat French fries or Coca-Cola—no way,” he sees this as a rebellion against “the moral superiority of elites.” In fact, this elite conspiracy dates back to 1894, when the government first began advising Americans on their diets. As recently as 2002, President George W. Bush launched the HealthierUS initiative, urging Americans to exercise and eat healthy food. But Packer never allows himself to wonder whether the explosion he witnessed had anything to do with the fact that similar advice now came from the country’s first black first lady. Packer concludes that Obama was leaving the country “more divided and angrier than most Americans can remember,” a statement that is likely true only because most Americans identify as white. Certainly the men and women forced to live in the wake of the beating of John Lewis, the lynching of Emmett Till, the firebombing of Percy Julian’s home, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers would disagree.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“The Double C-Word”

The New York Times: President Trump’s War on Science.

“The news was hard to digest until one realized it was part of a much larger and increasingly disturbing pattern in the Trump administration. On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The $1 million study had been requested by two West Virginia health agencies following multiple studies suggesting increased rates of birth defects, cancer and other health problems among people living near big surface coal-mining operations in Appalachia. The order to shut it down came just hours before the scientists were scheduled to meet with affected residents of Kentucky.

The Interior Department said the project was put on hold as a result of an agencywide budgetary review of grants and projects costing more than $100,000.”

But there’s more:

“Last week, Mr. Trump nominated David Zatezalo, a former coal company chief executive who has repeatedly clashed with federal mine safety regulators, as assistant secretary of labor for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. He nominated Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma with no science or space background, as NASA administrator. Sam Clovis, Mr. Trump’s nomination to be the Agriculture Department’s chief scientist, is not a scientist: He’s a former talk-radio host and incendiary blogger who has labeled climate research “junk science.””

Bildungsfernsehen

Some links for you science teachers out there:

ESA: Mission 1: Newton in Space (English). “While on board the ISS, Pedro Duque was filmed conducting demonstrations explaining Newton’s Three Laws of Motion”.

ESA: Mission 2: Body Space (English). “During the DELTA Mission, André Kuipers performed a number of physiology demonstrations showing the effects of weightlessness on the human body”.

ESA: Mission 3: Space Matters (English). “During the Eneide Mission in 2005, Roberto Vittori was filmed conducting demonstrations designed to explore the different structures, states and properties of matter”.

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Für die Physik-, Biologie- und Chemielehrer vor den Bildschirmen: Diese Filme der ESA wurden ursprünglich auf DVD herausgebracht, sind aber inzwischen auf YouTube angekommen.

ESA: Mission 1: Newton in Space (Deutsch). Pedro Duque führte auf der ISS Experimente durch, die Newtons drei Gesetze für Bewegungen verdeutlichen.

ESA: Mission 2: Body Space (Deutsch). Auf der DELTA-Mission führte André Kuipers einige physiologische Experimente durch, welche die Auswirkungen der Schwerelosigkeit auf den menschlichen Körper zeigen.

ESA: Mission 3: Space Matters (Deutsch). Während der Eneide-Mission 2005 wurde Roberto Vittori gefilmt, während er Versuche zum Aufbau von Materie, ihren Eigenschaften und den Aggregatzuständen durchführte.

(Den ersten Film habe ich schon oft im Mittelstufenunterricht eingesetzt. Die deutsche Synchronstimme ist zwar etwas nervig, ich warne meine Schüler immer vor.)

Communicating with the help of an fMRI

The Guardian Long Read: How science found a way to help coma patients communicate. “After suffering serious brain injuries, Scott Routley spent 12 years in a vegetative state. But his family were convinced that he was still aware – could a pioneering ‘mind-reading’ technique prove them right?” By Adrian Owen.

“In recent years, thanks to the invention of fMRI, we have made extraordinary breakthroughs in understanding the mental life of people trapped in the grey zone. We have discovered that 15% to 20% of people in the vegetative state, who are widely assumed to have no more awareness than a head of broccoli, are in fact fully conscious, even though they never respond to any form of external stimulation. They may open their eyes, grunt and groan, and occasionally utter isolated words. They appear to live entirely in their own world, devoid of thoughts or feelings. Many really are as oblivious and incapable of thought as their doctors believe. But a sizeable number are experiencing something quite different: intact minds adrift deep within damaged bodies and brains. We have even figured out how to communicate directly with such people.”

Link via MetaFilter.

See also the BBC Panorama documentary ‘The Mind Reader – Unlocking My Voice’ in which Prof. Adrian Owen communicates with several vegetative state patients using fMRI.

A friend I knew since kindergarten was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for almost 15 years after a car accident. She passed away this spring.

“You’re amazed at the innate good in people. People will rally to a cause to help out their fellow human beings.”

LinkedIn: The inside story of what it took to keep a Texas grocery chain running in the chaos of Hurricane Harvey. “In Texas, a grocery chain is now inspiring memes. One goes like this: “State and federal resources are struggling to get into impacted areas. H.E.B. — outta the way, we’re coming.” Another adds: “I’ll see your FEMA and Red Cross and raise you my Texas grocery store chain.””

“One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.”