Sunday Funny #7

O, the kooky inner-workings of the religious mind…

Virus Batteries

This is too cool, researchers at MIT are working on batteries that are powered, in part, by the mechanics of viruses…

Instead of physically arranging the component parts, researchers genetically engineer viruses to attract individual molecules of materials they’re interested in, like cobalt oxide, from a solution, autonomously forming wires 17,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper that pack themselves together to form electrodes smaller than a human cell.

“Once you do the genetic engineering with the viruses themselves, you pour in the solution and they grow the right combination of these materials on them.”

I have heard of growing algae to help create bio-fuels… but this is just… er… different than that! Using biology’s efficiencies to serve our energy needs will definitely become more and more important, but viruses in batteries to help create electricity directly? Wow…

The Best of Truth: The Very First “BoT” Award!

Often the comments that folks leave here make me laugh out-loud or sometimes pause in quiet reflection. Other times they make me fear for the future of the human race — be that as it may, I’ve decided to create a “Best of Truth” award. I just want to call attention to what I think are the funniest, most intelligent, or thought-provoking of the comments left behind.

As you can imagine, it was tough to choose, and that’s why I’ll be handing props out to a coupla of ya — but alas, only one BoT award will be given. So here are the 5 runners up:  Continue reading

If It Feels Good, Do It

I am often perplexed by other’s perplexity. In this particular case, it’s the oft-repeated, “I can’t see how science can explain where goodness comes from,” or “Evolution just can’t account for morality.”

Really?

Well, first, several good books explain the connection between evolutionary theory and morality (the last one I read was The Moral Sense, by James Q. Wilson), but even at an intuitive level, morality just makes sense when you consider humans are social by nature.

To ask the question, “Why be moral if there is no god?” Is to misunderstand that we don’t have a choice in whether we “should” or “shouldn’t” be moral — we are moral, and we are moral because we have had to be moral, otherwise we would not be here. Now there are clearly some folks who are “more moral” than others, but how do we judge what is more or less of a moral act?

Here’s a list. On the top is really bad stuff, and on the bottom is the not so bad…

Continue reading

Strangelets be Damned!

Well, it seems that next month we will finally find out if a black hole in Switzerland will eat our planet. I sure hope not, I’ve got tickets to Cake that I really don’t want to waste.

In case you haven’t been following this closely (just as I haven’t been) the CERN lab in Geneva, Switzerland is going to run experiments to recreate conditions that were similar to the “big bang.” They are searching for the Higgs Boson… the only elementary particle that remains unobserved… Quarks? Check! Leptons? Check! W and Z Bosons? Check and Check! Higgs Boson… not quite yet…

But why is this important? Well, because without the Higgs Boson (a part of the Higgs Mechanism), the Standard Model of particle physics can’t account for mass… and I’d say that’s pretty important in a world as massive as ours. An article over at Physics World puts it this way…

The Higgs mechanism is an essential part of the Standard Model. Without it the quarks and leptons – and also the W and Z bosons – would all be massless and the world as we know it could not exist.

Now for the controversy. Continue reading

‘Truth is a Woman’ Needs a Woman’s Help

Ok, so I’m at Merriam-Webster’s looking up the definition of “bruit” when I see this ad on the right side. I read it. Then I take out my eyes, dust them off, and reinsert them into my skull. I read it again.

Still not fully grasping what I am seeing, I click-through and this appears…

Continue reading

Coming Out A

This is a post about some comments about a few posts… pretty meta, huh?

A couple of folks have asked me why is it important to frame atheism in a “palatable” way? Or maybe the question is why I feel that it is important…

First off, I will say that I think P.Z. Myers and his sort of in-your-face atheism is important and necessary. There needs to be various ways to get out the message that religion is not only potentially dangerous, it is ludicrously infantile in the way it attempts to insulate itself from criticism.

So I see efforts like the “Out Campaign” as healthy and valuable… why, therefore, would I hesitate to “join?” And for me it is, once again, the obfuscation of labels. While I know what I mean when I say “atheist” there are so many who associate the term with a “dogmatic” kind of absolute knowledge concerning… well… everything… that I would just rather avoid it. If someone asked me, do I believe in God? (and I thought they were asking from an Abrahamic perspective) I would unequivocally say, “No!”

Of course that still doesn’t get at the “palatability” factor… and what is palatable to me, may not be to others. I am perfectly willing to vet someone else’s beliefs. I will pelt them with questions and debate their answers until we are both exhausted. And if I find contradictions, closed-mindedness, prejudice, or any other annoying line of reasoning, I will say so. Some find this highly-unpalatable, but I consider it a fine meal. Continue reading