Another asteroid just missed us on July 25th it appears. This one was only 1/5th the distance to the moon away. One of these days we're going to have a serious one aimed straight at us. This is why real money needs to be dedicated to protecting the planet from these possible extinction level events. We have the technology to protect ourselves from the majority of asteroids, it's just a matter of building what needs to be built and funding its ongoing maintenance.
Link: Washington Post
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is running an initiative right now to increase the inclusion of underepresented groups within the professional science community. The organization is the United States's main organization supporting science. They publish the journal Science, which is one of the two most prestigious science journals in the world (Nature being the other).
They are running a deal on membership right now through July 31 which gives you a nice t-shirt along with your membership. You get a subscription to the journal for the year along with your membership.
Link: AAAS Membership
Here's a fascinating science discovery about humanity's oldest companion. Dogs have been found to have two extra eye muscles that their ancestors, gray wolves, don't have. These eye muscles allow them to shape their eyes into the well-known sad puppy dog stare when desiring human attention. The muscles allow dogs to widen their eyes and raise their inner eyebrow area. These muscles appear to exist for the sole purpose of generating human connection. It makes them appear more like human babies in their facial appearance and people usually describe the look as meaning that the dog must be sad. The dogs use them when they desire human eye contact. Dogs will turn to humans and make eye contact when they are faced with a problem they can't solve. Wolves will not. Dogs closest to their wolf ancestors in form, like Siberian Huskies, only have one of the muscles developed. Wolves do have some sparse muscle fibers, that have not developed into full blown muscles, where dogs have these muscles. So wolves can not generate the full expression, even if they wanted to. Scientists believe these dog muscles evolved through selection pressures unwittingly exerted by humans. Dogs that could appear the most expressive facially were selected for preferential treatment by humans, which meant that overall these dogs were cared for better and thus had better chances at healthy offspring. There are only two other animal groups that have these muscles besides dogs and humans: apes and horses. In horses, however, the muscles do not achieve the same look that they do in the other three animal groups due to horse facial structure.
Very few people understand how this issue works in Science. The misunderstanding of statistical significance is endemic to the education field. It's one of the many reasons educators should be suspicious when someone in a staff development workshop uses the phrase "Research says..."
Link: Vox article
KiwiCo is a company that ships out monthly crates to children which feature STEM or Arts and Crafts activities. They have different crates for different age groups starting at newborn and going up to later teens. My own children are 10 and 12. So they are trying out the Doodle Crate and Tinker Crate subscriptions. My daughter loves art. So the Doodle Crate, which features arts and crafts activities goes to her. Then the Tinker Crate, which has STEM activities, goes to my son. The crate subscriptions currently cost $19.95 a month, although we started for a lower cost due to a Christmas sale. So what do we think? Read On!
The kids and I got to attend Central Florida Comic Con in Lakeland this weekend. This is the con’s first year. It was a very small con compared to the others we have gone to. It was probably only about 200 to 300 attendees. It was centered around geek culture. It had a small exhibit hall with local artists and comic venders.
Bob Layton, who was a cocreator of Iron Man and a founder of Valiant Comics, was there. Marina Sirtis, the actor who played Deanna Troy on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was there as well. There was also one of the Power Ranger Actors and a pro wrestler. Not much in the way of guests all told.
A woman, who has the largest Pikachu collection in the world (including a Pikachu car) was there, and we attended her Pokemon trivia panel. The children answered a few of her trivia questions. My son later got one of her hand made stuffed animal pokemon characters for his con souvenir.
We also got to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons at the con. We converted our characters that we are going to use in the Pathfinder Version 2 playtest into D & D characters and brought our miniatures we had just started painting and dice to the con on the second day. Our DM was very good, and we had a great time. We ended up playing with a gentleman at our table that we had played Starfinder with at MegaCon, which was a nice surprise.
All in all, it was a very relaxed con that was a fun experience. We’ll be back next year more than likely if they continue it. It will be interesting to see if it grows in the following years.
This ia an amazing development! A cleaner fish has passed the mirror test. The mirror test is used to determine self-awareness in animals. The animal has to do something to demonstrate that it knows that the reflection in the mirror is actually themselves. Only a couple of advanced animals besides humans have passed the test previously. Of course the fact that a fish passed the test has some scientists wondering if the mirror test itself is not valid. Interesting.
Here is the article: Quanta Magazine
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