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Sophie Sheppard
30/F/UK, "Buddleia" on II. I'm interested in science, nature, wildlife and photos. G+ tip: if you find it boring here, find more interesting people!
30/F/UK, "Buddleia" on II. I'm interested in science, nature, wildlife and photos. G+ tip: if you find it boring here, find more interesting people!

Sophie's posts

Good lord, GooglePlus. I'd almost forgotten its existence. Maybe one day I'll get back into reading and posting here? Or maybe not. Updated my profile, just in case ... I am now studying mathematics with the Open University.

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My sister likes penguins. I was feeling silly. When I saw this one online, I couldn't resist having a go ... so, one penguinful of fudge as a christmas present!
10 Photos - View album

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Izzy and her stone shadow, gazing out of the window.

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Izzy loves sunshine and toe-polishing.

It's rained a lot the last several nights. I like to listen to it as I fall asleep. It's a good sound - soothing, refreshing. Simple and clean.

There's a good variety of sounds. A good variety of words, too. Plenty of onomatopoea (which is a wonderful word in itself).

There's the splat and the heavy drip drip drip as wind-blown droplets thud against my window, trickle down the wall, fall to the sill. There's a continuous drumroll like a lorryful of sand being unloaded on the conservatory roof, sounding like hail even when it's just a sprinkling. Plinking into puddles, plopping into the pond. And it's softer on the lawn, pattering through leaves and soaking into the soil.

During the day, the blackbirds sing more when it rains. Liquid warbles of birdsong drift through the air as the world stills to shelter and listen.

Rain is good to watch, too. Unless you're cold and it's simply beastly, rain is the best background other than a log fire. The sounds, the scents, the sights. I like to watch drops beading, forming little streams, trickling down a window. I like to watch them hammering down in a wild storm, with the crackle of excitement, the heedless enthusiasm. Squalls and sheets of stair-rods across the valley, or damp drizzle drifting in gusts of fog. Scattered showers sprinkling through sunlight. Cloudbursts, showers, deluges. Rain.

And they say the Eskimos have so many words for snow.

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I cannot recommend this highly enough. To anyone with any interest in space, or science, or geology, or the natural and anthropic world, or photos, or stories, or writing ... it is awesome. Read it. Who wouldn't want to read a blog of what it's like looking out from the +International Space Station?
The blog of Donald Pettit, currently aboard the ISS:

You notice patterns: clouds over cold oceans look different than clouds over warm oceans. Sometimes the continents are all cloud-covered, so you have no recognizable landmass to help you gauge where you are. If you see a crisscross of jet contrails glistening in the sun above the clouds, you know you are over the United States.

Lightning storms flash like gigantic fireflies looking for mates half a continent away. You see patterns on the ocean surface, swirls and vortices on large scales, wave diffraction patterns around capes, solitary waves forming long lines out in the middle of nowhere, and rivers that look like they are spilling milk chocolate into turquoise oceans.

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A deliciously snarky commentary on recent science / health / medicine "news" stories. Critical thinking, analysis and consideration of all the evidence are important; just because something has been published in a journal or a newspaper or a blog (even if it is a respectable or trusted one) does not mean that the author's interpretations are the most important and accurate messages.
Oh dear... Those are breakthroughs? I'm no medical expert but I do own a body so let's see:

1. Yoga helps against back pain. Really? Being physically active actually helps your body? Woah. This refers to a study where yoga was found to be as effective against back pain as stretching. There's a control group that were "given books on self-care" but no mention of how they compared. So, we conclude that the #1 breakthrough is the discovery that yoga is actually physical exercise.

2. Acupuncture can reduce stress. This is interesting. Oh, it's a study on rats.There are very few facts given in the article and the published science is behind a paywall. So many questions unanswered but they tell us it's a breakthrough so it must be.

3. Tai-Chi found to aid heart failure patients. Another study that finds physical excercise and/or meditation to improve quality of life. Astounding. The control group did something called time-matched education, and I willingly admit I have no idea what that is.

I'm pretty tired of this article already but let's do one more

4. CAM use better understood. This keeps getting better: "Adults who use complementary and alternative medicine for general health reported having better health than those who turned to CAM in order to treat a specific illness" - So what they're saying is that healthy people who believe in CAM enough to use it even if they're not sick actually feel better than sick people who turn to CAM in desperation. And that's supposed to be a good thing.

Ok ok just one more.

5. Acupuncture deemed safe for kids. It's safe people. It doesn't help much but at least it's safe. Somewhat. Just a little crying and bruising for not much benefit. (No mentions of punctured lungs here.)

That's about it. You can go look at the rest for yourself. Lots of really big big breakthroughs in a year where pesky science-based medicine only managed a few little meaningless things. Like the beginnings of a breast cancer vaccine[1], several promising trials of malaria vaccines[2], Alzheimer antibodies [3], and a number of others. But yeah. Physical exercise and a focussed mind does a body well. That is huge.


#health #cam #alternativemedicine #acupuncture #medicine

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Poppit running in his wheel, changing his mind and direction a few dozen times. #hamsters are such dear little loonies.

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A very good blog post about misogyny, focusing on one horrifying yet sadly common incident. All kinds of isms are a bad thing for a community; excusing and ignoring them - however well you might mean, even if you had not thought of what you were doing as that - does not help, and only makes things worse.

Everyone should be able to expect to be treated like a human being, not a target for insults, attacks, belittling and ignoring.

This blog post discusses a fifteen-year-old girl who posted a picture of herself holding a skeptic/science/atheism book by Carl Sagan, gifted from a religious parent, on the Atheism section of Reddit.

What should have happened there was people saying "Awesome! Good for you and good for them! What other books have you read? What's on your wish list? Let's talk about books and discuss ideas."

What actually happened was graphic threats of sexual violence.

This is not acceptable.

"Don't feed the trolls!"
"Meh, that happens all over the internet."
"But not all of /r/atheism is like that ... not all atheists are like that ... I'm not like that."

Don't. Please. Don't excuse it, don't ignore it, don't condone it. Don't be a dick, don't let other people be dicks.

Please, read the article. Think about the things it mentions. Read the comments too - plenty more to think about in there.

And let us all be better human beings for thinking about things.

Original post (edit: also shared by +Emily Finke
"It’s not all about you.

"And if you’re acting as if accusations of misogyny are all about you… maybe that’s something you should be looking at."

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Browsing my Astronomy stream, I found the following gem:
" In Sun's circles: Earth "

This is a shared circle for beautiful and glorious photos, articles and links. I would also include +NASA and +NASA's Earth Observatory.

Also, via +Randy Halverson, +Brad Goldpaint, +Ben Canales and +Tom Lowe (sorry, guys, I got rather confused trying to chase down the original author/s!) et al, there are more circles of Night and Star photographers at , and .
Space Circle

Please share :) Thank You!
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