Space: The financial frontier

When asked whether the International Space Station could ever earn its $100 billion dollar price tag (so far), NASA official David Leckrone said, “I think it’s time to start showing what [this] station can really do.”

Leckrone then mashed some random buttons, placed his hands behind his back and stated in a British accent that, “You may fire when ready.”

He then cupped his hands over his mouth to add echoes to his “pew-pew” laser sounds, followed by waving them over a picture of the Earth to depict what we presumed was its annihilation.


DNA robots are alive. Alive!

And they’re totally in your blood. Fixing you all up like. At least, that’s what science says. We’re now one step closer to being in the future, except I still don’t have my f&^%ing jetpack.

There’s a lot of potential in this sort of thing-I personally see nanoscale machines, be they organic or metal, as the ‘cure’ for cancer, able to destroy cancerous cells without collateral damage. Of course, worst case scenario is that we end up with undetectable assassins. Which I’m not too against.

No, the real worst case scenario: members of the elite aristocracy use these DNA robots to turn themselves into immortal super beings, then they release a global swarm that will “reformat” the world into a “paradise” more to their liking. And by paradise, I mean one with a lot of figgy pudding.

One question: do they become violently insane when you flip the Y chromosome?

Spanking toughens up your kids

We’re not sure why researchers focus so much on spanking toddlers, but we can excuse their fetish if they provide results (and show their math).

The latest round of surveys and behavioral observations indicate, once again, that spanking 3-year-olds will forge them into a kid-hating wrecking machines by the time they’re 5. And it’s about time science proved that there are benefits to the practice. Tough kids are known for:

  • Always having exact change. Wimpy kids never have any change.
  • Beating up kids you don’t like. We’re not allowed to challenge kids to fights until they turn 12, so this is our only legal loophole. (You’re dead meat, Kevin Milligan!)
  • Hot dogs. Armour hot dogs.

Of course, if you’re still squeamish about hitting your kids, there’s always Spank Kata.

Overly friendly people are messed up in the head, but not racist

People with Williams Syndrome lack 26 genes found in a typical human genome. As a result they are inordinately friendly, and experience no social anxiety. Now a new study reveals that they may also be free of racial bias.

PRAM-II consists of a picture book where every page includes a pair of people of different genders or skin types. The researcher tells a selection of stories to accompany the images and the children have to point to the person whom they think the story is about. As they hear positive or negative adjectives, they reveal any underlying racial bias if they point to light-skinned or dark-skinned people, or men or women, more frequently.

The typical children showed a strong tendency to view light-skinned people well and dark-skinned people poorly. Out of their responses, 83% were consistent with a pro-white bias. In contrast, the children with Williams syndrome only showed such responses 64% of the time, which wasn’t significantly different from chance.

So it would seem that removing social fear from the human emotional range might also cut down on racism. Though it’s worth noting that it wouldn’t help with sexism, since Williams Syndrome kids scored close to typical kids when it came to gender bias. But there are also problems with the PRAM test, which limits children to choosing either white people or people of color – there is no option to choose both, or “either one.”

Still, we’re left with further evidence that racial bias and racism are connected to social fear. Now all we need to do is sit back and wait for the studies that show whether taking meth helps eradicate racial bias too.

Also, I’d like to point out to everyone that link underneath the headline sounds like a horribly hilarious scientific story.

Change someone’s life today

I sure could use a drink right now. Why’s that, you ask? I can tell you one thing, it’s not my fault, it’s yours.

According to a new study, people are heavily influenced by their friends’ amount of drinking. In a recent study, people were about 50% more likely to be “heavy” drinkers if their friends were, 36% more likely if their friends knew someone who was heavy drinker. The same effect was found when people, for some reason, chose to drink less or quit drinking altogether.

It should be noted that “heavy” drinkers in this study were men who drank more than two drinks a day, and women more than one. How lame is that?

The question remains now: are you the inspiration for others to drink, or just following the crowd?

We’re not even safe in the arctic

A group of polar scientists were testing out a new method of drilling through layers of ice in the antarctic. When they dropped a camera deep into the dark waters, they were flabbergasted to discover a tiny orange crustacean. Shrimp live in the cold and freezing waters of the arctic.

The camera was mounted on a pole. The dark, scalloped ridges you seen in the ice are caused by the special drill the scientists used, which is essentially a jet of warm water that slowly melts the ice away. Once the camera had gone deep enough, they were startled to see this prawn frolicking around the camera – no one had expected any crustaceans beneath the ice in the dark, frozen waters of the antarctic.

Nowhere are we safe from these krilly little monsters. It’s time to reclaim two things that the animals are trying to take from us: the arctic waters and our hunger. Luckily, getting rid of these new found shrimp can solve both problems.

The McBournie Minute: Wine, women and weight

Women readers, and I mean both of you, it’s time we had a chat.

You’re getting older–everyone is–but you’re getting increasingly worried about how age could affect you and the looks you strive so hard to maintain. It’s easier for men, even in their younger years, they don’t need much upkeep, they don’t even really care if they put on a few pounds or get a little salt in their pepper. For some reason, they still look good.

Meanwhile, you ladies have to deal with a society that constantly judges you on your looks. From childhood, you were conditioned to want to look pretty, and it was reinforced when other girls would either mock you or respect you based on your appearance. Now that you’re getting older, perhaps you’re worried about gaining weight with age, not to mention childbirth. Science has a solution: alcohol. Continue reading The McBournie Minute: Wine, women and weight

If you can enforce a ban, you can enforce a quota

The International Whaling Commission (don’t let the name fool you–they’re ag’in’ whaling) is offering a truce to longtime animal warriors Japan. Instead of continuing their outright ban, which the Japanese dodge by calling their kills “science,” the IWC might permit them to limited whaling with as-of-yet undetermined quotas.

How do the Japanese justify killing the better part of 30,000 whales, the majority becoming food, since 1986 as science?

1) Food science is science. It’s science that you eat. Without out it, there would be no Twinkies, Cheez-Whiz and other “foods.” It’s only a matter of time before the Japanese discover a fish-like substance that tastes like whale.

2) Less whales equals more Japanese people. The world’s seaweed and tiny gross fish supplies are running scarce because whales eat it all. What will the Japanese eat if they can’t cut it up and tie it to rice? Spaghetti-Os?

3) The best technology comes from war. We’re at war, but the Japanese are facing a giant, intelligent foe that may use language to coordinate its underwater convoys. Therefore, any weapons they develop for whaling will lead to peacetime innovations like odorless braces and typhoon guns.

Tastes like chicken … and science

Since 2006, Dutch scientists have been growing pork from pig stem cells, and they are only now letting us in on this awesomeness. Apparently, you can make decent tasting food from stem cells, the only thing is that the texture is off. They say this could one day help win the war against hunger around the world.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Science wants to use human stem cells under the guise of trying to cure diseases like Michael J. Fox Disease. But really, if pig stem cells can grow pork, who’s to say that human stem cells won’t be used to make human meat to feed the ever-growing masses?