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Wolfgang Alexander Moens
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Science!
Science!

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"For hundreds of years, images of cells have come from isolated specimens sitting on glass slides, removed from their intricate and subtle cellular universes within living organisms. Now, using a new imaging technique described in Science on Thursday, living cells can be filmed in high-resolution and 3-D, producing stunning videos of their fully animated worlds. [...]"

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"It is a really bad idea to make commas do work they are not paid to do ..." (h/t: +David Joyner)
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An amateur geographer travels to an undocumented island off the coast of Haiti after stumbling upon it on Google Earth.

"[...] After a few minutes of walking around, I came across of one of the many canopies people congregate under as they work in the midday heat. Except that this one was different: it had an empty chair, right in the middle. A chair meant for me. Welcome to the conversation — time to explain myself. [...]"

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No theory exists on its own, as the philosopher-scientist Duhem pointed out over a century ago, and when a theory fails an observational test there are two kinds of possible explanation.

The fault may lie with the theory itself, or with the assumptions we make while testing it. More specifically, as Lakatos pointed out in 1970, every application of a theory involves ancillary hypotheses, which can range from the grandiose (the laws of nature are unchanging) to the trivial (the telescope was functioning correctly). When a theoretical prediction fails, we do not know if the fault is in one of these, rather than the core theory itself. Much of the time, we are not even aware of our ancillary hypotheses, which is one reason why we need philosophers of science.

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Sugarbag bees (an Australian species of stingless bees) construct their honeycombs in the form of a hexagonal spiral.

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A nice review in The New Yorker of the BBC radio programme In Our Time.
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"On 27 October 1962, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov was on board the Soviet submarine B-59 near Cuba when the US forces began dropping non-lethal depth charges. While the action was designed to encourage the Soviet submarines to surface, the crew of B-59 had been incommunicado and so were unaware of the intention. They thought they were witnessing the beginning of a third world war.

Trapped in the sweltering submarine – the air-conditioning was no longer working – the crew feared death. But, unknown to the US forces, they had a special weapon in their arsenal: a ten kilotonne nuclear torpedo. What’s more, the officers had permission to launch it without waiting for approval from Moscow.

Two of the vessel’s senior officers – including the captain, Valentin Savitsky – wanted to launch the missile. According to a report from the US National Security Archive, Savitsky exclaimed: “We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet.”

But there was an important caveat: all three senior officers on board had to agree to deploy the weapon. As a result, the situation in the control room played out very differently. Arkhipov refused to sanction the launch of the weapon and calmed the captain down. The torpedo was never fired.

Had it been launched, the fate of the world would have been very different: [...]"

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