Archive of Articles in the "Science" Category

Marco Rubio's Timely Bill

[ Posted Thursday, March 2nd, 2023 – 16:25 UTC ]

Today, I'm going to do something I rarely do in this column: praise Marco Rubio. Because Rubio has been the driving force behind trying to change a system that virtually everyone hates, but that which will also probably continue for quite some time to come. And time is the heart of the issue, because I am speaking of the biannual change to and from daylight saving time.

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Celebrating Jimmy Carter

[ Posted Monday, February 20th, 2023 – 16:55 UTC ]

Former President Jimmy Carter has entered his final days. He has checked in to a hospice to live out his remaining time and, according to an official statement, has refused "additional medical care." So it seemed entirely appropriate to use this year's Presidents' Day to honor him. Carter was an extraordinary man and no matter what opinion you have about his presidency, he has set the absolute gold standard for doing good works as an ex-president -- that much is beyond dispute.

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My 2022 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2022 – 19:51 UTC ]

Welcome back to the second of our year-end awards columns! And if you missed it last Friday, go check out [Part 1] as well.

As always, this is long. Horrendously long. Insanely long. It takes a lot of stamina to read all the way to the end. You have been duly warned! But because it is so long, we certainly don't want to add any more here at the start, so let's just dive in, shall we?

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From The Archives -- Why Christmas Is Not On The Solstice

[ Posted Wednesday, December 21st, 2022 – 16:38 UTC ]

When is Christmas? And why?

These are questions guaranteed to get you funny looks when you pop them, especially in a gathering of wassail-soaked relatives. But if you're tired of hearing the seemingly-eternal "this is what Uncle Fred did when he was twelve" stories, and you're leery of bringing up politics with your kin from Outer Podunk, then it's at least a conversation-starter that's somewhat neutral. Plus, you can reaffirm your nearest-and-dearests' image of you as a latte-sipping fruitcake who moved away from the glory of the heartland and now lives on (say it with an embarrassed whisper) the coast.

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My 2022 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 16th, 2022 – 18:45 UTC ]

Welcome to the first installment of our year-end awards!

As always, we must begin with a stern warning: this is an incredibly long article. So long you likely won't make it to the end, at least not in one sitting. It is, as it always is, a marathon not a sprint.

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From The Archives -- Rare Earth Optimism

[ Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2022 – 16:08 UTC ]

Twelve years ago, I wrote about an obscure subject that I felt needed a lot more attention. So I was happy today to see as a lead story on the Politico site a cheerful update to that story. And since I am currently busy as a beaver reviewing the past year in preparation for my year-end awards columns, I thought it would be a good day to revisit an older column (warning: tomorrow might see a rerun column as well).

The obscure subject in question is the mining and production of rare earths. These are elements that used to only have specific uses in consumer products (making television screens that had the reddest of reds, mostly), but these days are essential in all kinds of high-tech equipment, from the phone in your pocket to military jet fighters and missiles.

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Space Rocks

[ Posted Tuesday, October 11th, 2022 – 16:02 UTC ]

That title is, of course, a play on words. Just like every other kid who grew up in the Space Age, I have always found space to be rather cool. Watching astronauts walk on the moon is one of my earliest memories, in fact. But if that's truly what I was imparting here -- just an enthusiasm for mankind's forays into the void -- it would have been exclamatory: "Space Rocks!" Instead, it has a more literal meaning, without any verb implied. Because space isn't exactly "full" of rocks wheeling around out there, but there are enough of them that one of them could threaten Earth at some future point. If the space rock was big enough, it could even cause an "extinction-level event," much like the impact which wiped out the dinosaurs. There's even a whole movie genre devoted to the problem: from the 1950s When Worlds Collide to the more-modern Deep Impact and Armageddon to the more recent (and much more cynical) Don't Look Up.

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