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Steve Esterly
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All faculty, students, and staff at US universities and colleges, please read this very brief letter and sign if you agree with these basic values of inclusivity, reasoned debate, and freedom of expression.

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Some of the things dopamine does and doesn't do in your brain, and they are probably not what you think

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I love the stories of the Channeled Scablands. There is the story of how they were created, by abrupt cataclysmic floods as a 2000 foot-high ice dam gave way, releasing as much water as Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined, creating "…a torrent of water with ten times the combined flow of all the world’s rivers…reaching speeds approaching 80 miles an hour…" The story of the geologist(s) piecing together what happened, in the face of scornful dismissal by peers, is a good one as well. And the pictures of the scablands in this article are great.

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Do this. 
Join the resistance

When you see a drunk speeding down the road at night, his car weaving erratically across lanes, the question is not whether something terrible will happen. It's when. Same with President Trump. His increasingly crazy behavior is bound to get us in serious trouble. We have to be ready to do the right thing.

So this Saturday, I'm going to join 30 people at a local meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union, for "resistance training". They're happening all across the country! Find the one nearest you, and go there - Saturday March 11th.

The ACLU will continue to challenge President Trump’s unconstitutional actions in court and with, we will take that fight to the streets. We are in the fight of our lives right now, and what we have learned since Donald Trump’s inauguration is that there is a growing army of people out there who want to be asked to do something big and important in response. We intend to activate these people to defend our Constitution, our shared American values and our future.

So says the director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero. This organization has seen a flood of donations and new members. According to the Associated Press:

The nearly century-old American Civil Liberties Union says it is suddenly awash in donations and new members as it does battle with President Donald Trump over the extent of his constitutional authority, with nearly $80 million in online contributions alone pouring in since the election.

That includes a record $24 million surge over two days after Trump banned people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The organization said its membership has more than doubled since the election to a record of nearly 1.2 million, and its Twitter following has tripled.

The antibodies have been activated.

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Hertha Marks Ayrton, a pioneering scientist, engineer and fluid dynamicist, and her work explaining how ripples develop in sand.

Reshared today by Deep Sea News from an earlier post and Google Doodle, in honor of #InternationalWomensDay

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There are shifting, dune-like giant ripples on comet 67P, as seen in photos from the Rosetta craft.
This is so cool. The extremely weak, transient atmosphere created by outgassing as the comet nears the sun is just enough to nudge particles along the surface, without overcoming the comet's minuscule gravity and launching the particles into space. (Presumably plenty of other particles have been launched into space in the past). 

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Camera made from 32000 drinking straws takes pointillistic photographs

There's something about this I really love

2 Photos - View album

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The head of the world's largest scientific membership organisation has given his backing for a planned protest by researchers in Washington DC amid growing concern that science is disregarded by Donald Trump

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The Crackpot Index for Media Content, inspired by +John Baez's even more brilliant crackpot index for contributions to physics
The Crackpot Index for Media Content

It was bound to happen eventually: my "crackpot index" has been adapted for use in news reporting. I like it!

But in case you missed the original, here it is:

The Crackpot Index

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics:

1. A -5 point starting credit.

2. 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.

3. 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.

4. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

5. 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.

6. 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.

7. 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).

8. 5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".

9. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

10. 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.

11. 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it. (10 more for emphasizing that you worked on your own.)

12. 10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.

13. 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory.

14. 10 points for each new term you invent and use without properly defining it.

15. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".

16. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.

17. 10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to provide a "mechanism".

18. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

19. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".

20. 20 points for emailing me and complaining about the crackpot index. (E.g., saying that it "suppresses original thinkers" or saying that I misspelled "Einstein" in item 8.)

21. 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.

22. 20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

23. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.

24. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories.

25. 20 points for naming something after yourself. (E.g., talking about the "The Evans Field Equation" when your name happens to be Evans.)

26. 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually explaining it.

27. 20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".

28. 20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the orthodoxy".

29. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his freshman physics textbooks.)

30. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.

31. 30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).

32. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.

33. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.

34. 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.

35. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.

36. 40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)

37. 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions.

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Hopefully this course on calling out scientific bullshit will get picked up by other colleges, and by high schools in particular
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