18 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 The Story of How the Universe's Size was Determined

It was into this fiery climate of the 1920s that the Protestant-raised Hubble, adorned with the cape, cane, and British accent he had adopted while at Oxford, returned after the war. He arrived at the Carnegie Institution of Washington-funded Mount Wilson Observatory outside Pasadena, California, insisting on being called "Major Hubble."^'' Looking through the great Hooker telescope—at one hundred and one inches in diameter and weighing more than one hundred tons it was by far the largest a...
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Includes a cautionary tale of Shapely, who helped prove the Sun was not the center of the Universe, but who thought the Milky Way was all the Universe there was without empirical data.

18 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 The "Sagan Effect"

With Cosmos, Sagan sought to put an end to the fear and to inspire the kind of wonder Hubble's lectures had inspired in the 1930s and 1940s and the Moon landing had inspired in 1969. The series was enormously successful. For the first time since Hubble, a huge audience was engaged in exploring the grand questions of life, nature, the structure of the uni¬ verse, mythology, and what it might all mean, how it might all fit together, the mystery of it all. It examined how our search for meaning...
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The fact that Carl Sagan was denied tenure at Harvard because of the jealousy of his peers over his public persona.

06 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 There's No Such Thing as a "One-Handed Scientist"

The rub, of course, is that everybody else thinks that science should provide the answers. Remember the Concorde? Back in the early 1970s, Congress was debating supersonic transport, trying to decide whether such aircraft would represent a danger when flown over the United States. Would their big engines flying high in the sky cut a hole in the ozone and let in solar radiation? Would the plane make sonic booms as it flew over people’s neighborhoods? And so on. Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) ...
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Scientists must consider all the evidence and factor nuance into their positions. This is illustrated with an interesting historical anecdote about a Congressional review concerning the safety of the Concord jet.

30 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 Breast Feeding Fuels Big Brains

The study looked at the average pregnancy term, breast-feeding length and brain size of 128 species of mammals. They saw that between different species brain size at birth was determined by the length of pregnancy, while the brain growth after birth was determined by breast-feeding duration. [...] The extreme length of pregnancy and breast-feeding in humans (nine months and three years, respectively) is required for the growth and development of our large brains, which can reach 79 cubic in...
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Women should breast-feed for at least six months and up to two years to encourage the growth of the infant's brain as much as possible.

01 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 Self Control in Children is Predictive of Success as an A...

"Children who had the greatest self-control in primary school and preschool ages were most likely to have fewer health problems when they reached their 30s," says Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology at Duke University and King's College London. Moffitt and a team of researchers studied a group of 1,000 people born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973, tracking them from birth to age 32. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the best evidence yet...
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A study measuring children's self-control found a correlation between low self-control and problems later in life.