Tag Archive: science


ScienceDaily (July 11, 2012) — Even the world’s largest snake, Titanoboa, could probably not have swallowed this new, very round fossil turtle species from Colombia. Paleontologist Carlos Jaramillo’s group at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History discovered a new species of fossil turtle that lived 60 million years ago in what is now northwestern South America.

 

The team’s findings were published in the Journal of Paleontology.

The new turtle species is namedPuentemys mushaisaensis because it was found in La Puente pit in Cerrejón Coal Mine, a place made famous for the discoveries, not only of the extinct Titanoboa, the world’s biggest snake, but also of Carbonemys, a freshwater turtle as big as a smart car.

Cerrejon’s fossil reptiles all seem to be extremely large. With its total length of 5 feet, Puentemys adds to growing evidence that following the extinction of the dinosaurs, tropical reptiles were much bigger than they are now. Fossils from Cerrejon offer an excellent opportunity to understand the origins of tropical biodiversity in the last 60 million years of Earth’s history.

The most peculiar feature of this new turtle is its extremely circular shell, about the size and shape of a big car tire. Edwin Cadena, post-doctoral fellow at North Carolina State University and lead author of the paper, said that the turtle’s round shape could have discouraged predators, including Titanoboa, and aided in regulating its body temperature.

The width of the turtle’s shell probably exceeded the maximum expansion of the Titanoboa’s mouth. Its circular, low-domed shape would have increased the area of the body exposed to the sun, helping the cold-blooded turtle warm to a temperature at which it was more active.

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By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – News of Tom Cruise’s split with Katie Holmes and questions about any role that Cruise’s status as a Scientologist may be playing in the divorce have a lot of people wondering: What is Scientology, anyway?

In a series of tweets on Sunday, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch called the religion “a very weird cult” and said that Cruise is the “number two or three” man in the church’s hierarchy.

Here are the basics about the religion. What other questions do you have?

What is Scientology?

Scientology describes itself as a religion that was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard.

At the core of Scientology is a belief that each human has a reactive mind that responds to life’s traumas, clouding the analytic mind and keeping us from experiencing reality. Members of the religion submit to a process called auditing to find the sources of this trauma, reliving those experiences in an attempt to neutralize them and reassert the primacy of the analytic mind, working toward a spiritual state called “clear.”

The process involves a device called E-meter, which Scientologists say measures the body’s electric flow as an auditor asks a series of questions they say reveals sources of trauma.

“Auditing uses processes – exact sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor to help a person locate areas of spiritual distress, find out things about himself and improve his condition,” according to the Church of Scientology’s website.

The church goes on to to say, “Science is something one does, not something one believes in.”

Auditing purports to identify spiritual distress from a person’s current life and from past lives. Scientologists believe each person is an immortal being, a force that believers call a thetan. “You move up the bridge to freedom by working toward being an ‘Operating Thetan,’ which at the highest level transcends material law,” says David Bromley, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. “You occasionally come across people in Scientology who say they can change the material world with their mind.”

Bromley and other scholars say the church promotes the idea of an ancient intergalactic civilization in which millions of beings were destroyed and became what are known as “body thetans,” which continue to latch onto humans and cause more trauma. Advanced Scientologists confront body thetans through more auditing.

Bromley says the church discloses that cosmic history only to more advanced Scientologists. The church’s media affairs department did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In a 2008 CNN interview, church spokesman Tommy Davis was asked whether the basic tenet of the Church of Scientology was to rid the body of space alien parasites. “Does that sound silly to you?” laughed Davis. “I mean, it’s unrecognizable to me. … People should really come to the church and find out for themselves what it is.”

Who was L. Ron Hubbard?

L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard was the son of a U.S. Navy officer who circled the globe with his family, according to Scientology expert J. Gordon Melton, a fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies in Religion who writes about Scientology on the religion website Patheos.

Hubbard attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but left before graduating to launch a career as a fiction writer, gravitating toward science fiction.

After serving in World War II, Hubbard published a series of articles and then a book on a what he described as a new approach to mental health, which he called Dianetics. His book by the same name quickly became a best-seller.

The success provoked Hubbard to establish a foundation that began to train people in his auditing techniques. In 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles, with other churches opening soon after. Hubbard died in 1986. The church is now led by David Miscavige.

Why is the church so controversial?

Many groups and individuals have challenged Scientology’s legitimacy as a religion.

Scientologists have faced opposition from the medical community over the religion’s claims about mental health, from the scientific community over its claims about its E-meters and from other religious groups about its status as a religion.

“It’s part therapy, part religion, part UFO group,” says Bromley. “It’s a mix of things that’s unlike any other religious group out there.”

For a long time, the Internal Revenue Service denied the Scientologists’ attempts to be declared a church with tax-exempt status. But the IRS granted them that status in 1993.

Many members say the church is largely about self-improvement. “What I believe in my own life is that it’s a search for how I can do things better, whether it’s being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve,” Tom Cruiserecently told Playboy magazine. “Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them.”

What does Scientology teach about psychiatry?

L. Ron Hubbard rejected psychiatry and psychiatric drugs because he said they interfered with the functioning of the rational mind. Scientologists continue to promote that idea.

The Church of Scientology’s website says that “the effects of medical and psychiatric drugs, whether painkillers, tranquilizers or ‘antidepressants,’ are as disastrous” as illicit drugs.

How many Scientologists are there?

That’s a matter of considerable dispute.

The Church of Scientology says it has 10,000 churches, missions and groups operating in 167 countries, with 4.4 million more people signing up every year.

Scholars say that, despite the global proliferation of church buildings, the membership numbers are much lower than the church claims, likely in the hundreds of thousands. Some of the church’s followers are celebrities.

Everything would also work for homosexual couples…

No. 1 Exercise together
University of Texas researchers found that vigorous exercise activates a woman’s sympathetic nervous system, which is also activated during sexual arousal. So both her body and her brain are in the mood.

No. 2 Use a vibrator
In her 2009 study Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., found that vibrators are linked to positive sexual function, such as desire and ease of orgasm.

No. 3 Use lube
A 2011 study from Indiana University linked lube use with greater sexual pleasure and comfort.

No. 4 Mindfulness
Women are more likely than men to be distracted while having sex. Canadian research found that by focusing on the sights, sounds, and feelings of sex, women have greater desire and arousal.

No. 5 Coital Alignment Technique
This position—the man shifts forward to press the base of his penis against her clitoris—can make it easier for her to have an orgasm.

No. 6 Cuddle, kiss, touch
But don’t have sex. According to Kinsey Institute research, women often think kissing means he’s looking for sex. Removing that pressure leads to greater relationship satisfaction for men.

No. 7 Do something new together
Novelty sparks hormones in the brain similar to those released when you were falling in love, concluded a study at SUNY-Stony Brook.

No. 8 Do chores together
Women bear the brunt of household chores. And in study after study, women have said that they find it a turn-on when their partner pitches in to help.

No. 9 Multitask in bed
A national survey from Indiana University found that doing at least four or five sexual acts at each session was a strong predictor of orgasm. That could mean they just spent more time having sex—or that variety is exciting. Our opinion: Do your own research.

Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/cures-common-sex/page/4?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Sex-_-9curessexlife#ixzz1w9ivaAUL

Nerd Joke of The Day

Nerd Joke of The Day

Fact and Chicks

The Mpemba effect is the observation that warmer water can sometimes freeze faster than colder water. Although the observation has been verified, there is no single scientific explanation for the effect.

Fact and Chick

I actually learned this in my first biology class at GA Southern.

New Hampshire’s Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would mandate a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and require doctors to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), was immediately condemned by Democratic leaders, who it would require false information to be spread by doctors to patients. There is no proven breast cancer link to abortion, according to the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society.

Notter could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but has said in the past she believes there is an abortion-cancer connection. In an interview last month with Merrimack Patch, Nottersaid she understood that abortion would cause spaces in breast duct tissue to allow for the growth of cancer cells. She said she believed birth control pills lead to the same issue. Notter last month also said that she believed that birth control pills taken by women cause prostate cancer in their male children.

The bill includes a full section on the supposed breast cancer link.

e) Materials that inform the pregnant woman that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer. It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant. In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation. During the first and second trimesters of pregnancy the breasts develop merely by duplicating immature tissues. Once a woman passes the thirty-second week of pregnancy (third trimester), the immature cells develop into mature cancer resistant cells. When an abortion ends a normal pregnancy, the woman is left with more immature breast tissue than she had before she was pregnant. In short, the amount of immature breast tissue is increased and this tissue is exposed to significantly greater amounts of estrogen—a known cause of breast cancer. Women facing an abortion decision have a right to know that such medical data exists. At the very least, women must be informed that it is undisputed that pregnancy provides a protective effect against the later development of breast cancer.

Among the provisions in the bill passed today are a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion is administered, with doctors providing information to the woman during this period. In addition to the breast cancer link, the information includes a series of fetal pictures taken at two-week intervals, a list of agencies that assist women during pregnancy and childbirth, a 24-hour state hotline number, material on paternal support obligations, a presentation on the possible medical side effects and a state website for information.

A woman would be required to fill out and sign a checklist saying she has reviewed the information.

The law allows the information to be waived in an emergency, with the doctor filling out a form attesting to the need. The law says ectopic pregnancies, removing a miscarried fetus and delivery a premature child to save the child’s life do not count as abortion.

Joel Brind, an anti-abortion biology professor at Baruch College in New York and a leading proponent of what he calls the “abortion-breast cancer hypothesis,” has said his research of scientific studies shows there is a link. Several states, including Alaska, Texas and Kansas have passed similar laws. A new bill pending in Kansas would reaffirm its law.

New Hampshire Democrats have attacked the bill, which would need Senate approval before heading to Gov. John Lynch (D).

“When House Republicans are not focused on repealing contraception coverage or defunding basic preventive health care services for thousands of New Hampshire women, they are spending their time legislating that women be given misinformation when exercising their right to have an abortion,” House Minority Leader Terie Norelli (D-Portsmouth) said in a statement.

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