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How a fake word from The Simpsons ended up in a perfectly cromulent string theory paper

The Simpsons Movie debuted this weekend to higher-than-expected sales, bearing testament to the show's enduring popularity. If you needed any convincing that after 18 years on the air The Simpsons has thoroughly penetrated the popular consciousness, consider the following usage of the word "embiggen," one of the many fine references with which one Simpsons fan can detect another...

July 30, 2007 — JR Minkel

Run to Starbucks, get less cancer?

At first glance, this new droplet of research linking caffeine mixed with exercise to protection against skin cancer in mice seems like grounds for excitement.

July 30, 2007 — JR Minkel

In 12 million years, we're dead

I know there are disasters just over the horizon--terrorism, climate change, the rapture--but some ends to the human race are so profoundly unavoidable that they deserve further scrutiny, even if it's just to satisfy my need for some kind of secular eschatology...

July 26, 2007 — Christopher Mims

Would your favorite 17th, 18th or 19th-century scientist be a creationist today?

Odds are: Not bloody likely. Shout out to Phil at Bad Astronomy for alerting me to a ridiculous, recent op-ed from The Boston Globe. Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby puts forward a little thought experiment where he evaluates the chances of a long-deceased, young-Earth creationist, who happened to possess possibly the greatest scientific mind of all-time, getting employment as a professor in a scientific discipline at a modern university...

July 25, 2007 — Nikhil Swaminathan

When being wealthy means being sick

cc Malias Generally health outcomes are better for the wealthy--they tend to be better educated and have access to healthcare and higher-quality food.

July 24, 2007 — Christopher Mims

Are journalists innumerate? Because the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal certainly seems to be.

I know we're not all scientists here, but anyone who has even glanced at the graphs in a few scientific papers will instantly recognize that trying to fit a curve to the following data is prima facie idiotic: I'm not going to go into the reasons why picking an inflection point at the one outlying data point on this graph is so, let us not be delicate-- dumb --that you don't even have to understand the math to sense why this is wrong...

July 18, 2007 — Christopher Mims

The Empress and a latter day Noah (of turtles)

A chance encounter in a Manhattan Chinese restaurant with a terrapin turtle led Richard Ogust into living in a tent besides a New Jersey warehouse where he temporarily stored a collection of rare and endangered turtles that had swelled to more than 1,200 specimens...

July 17, 2007 — David Biello

Altered crops: Your thoughts?

From The Editors: In "Future Farming: A Return to Roots" in the new August issue, Jerry D. Glover, Cindy M. Cox and John P. Reganold argue that many of the problems associated with the modern agriculture--soil erosion, excessive water demands, high energy inputs and so on--are linked to the fact that most important grain crops are annuals, not perennials...

July 16, 2007 — Christopher Mims

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