Here I was, re-opening shop, only to disappear after a week or so. Now I’m moving on, permanently. As in, leaving the business of science writing. Over the last six months or so, my interests have been slowly shifting, and I find myself interested in “science” as a general concept less and less. I’m more focused on business, medicine, and the business of medicine.
I never thought I was particularly good at writing about science and science-related things. I always felt as though there was someone who knew more, someone who could convey my ideas better than I could. I also felt as though it was a relatively new niche. I discovered quickly that I had been mistaken. It is for these reasons that I am no longer going to be writing about science and related interests.
While writing for polyscience.org, I always got the most enjoyment from writing about medicine. Specifically adding commentary to news articles written by journalists whose first area of study was certainly not medicine. In the meantime, I’ve also picked up quite an interest in business, and so it only seemed natural to marry the two ideas.
Thus, On The Pharm was born. I’ve been writing there for a few days, I can honestly say that writing for it does not feel like work. Indeed, it’s more fun than anything else, probably because 1) it’s easier and 2) I don’t have to learn so many ideas from scratch like I did when writing about science as a whole. I can focus on my niche, and that’s what I want to do. I also like the look of the site much better. So without further ado, here is my latest work-in-progress:
Some stuff will be technical, some will be fluffy, some will be business-oriented, and some of it will be tongue-in-cheek. And all of it will likely be informal. I prefer to talk in my posts as though I’m talking to a person, and I hope that comes across, unlike here where I pretended to be an omniscient narrator. I’m writing for it every day (so far), and I have a small backlog of material from the last two weeks, but I’m slowly clearing it out.
I can only hope that it’ll find a niche of readers so I’m not listening to myself echo in cyberspace, because isn’t that what every writer wants? Readers?
[tags]writing, On The Pharm, Pharmacy, medicine[/tags]
Back in July of 2005, Google launched Google Moon, a map of the moon similar to their map of the Earth. Of course it doesn’t have roads and such because there aren’t any, and you can’t see things like the remains of the Apollo moon missions for reasons that I outlined in this post — namely the resolution of the lunar satellites and space telescopes don’t have the resolution to pick up the debris objects (yet).
Well, Google has launched a similar service for Mars, called — drum roll — Google Mars. Right now it defaults to a topographical map of the terrain (which is arguably the most interesting view). The resolution isn’t terribly spectacular, but Google plans to update it with the newest imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which entered orbit on March 10 as soon as its available.
[tags]Google, Mars, Google Mars, Google Moon, Google Maps[/tags]
In the last 12 months, we’ve seen a storm of Evolution/Intelligent Design debates. The arguable culmination of these proceedings has been the court case in Dover, PA in which Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design (ID) was merely creationism re-branded as pseudoscience and should not be taught in the science classroom. Before and during the trial, I’ve read many comments by our Anglo friends across the pond, many of them puzzled by the United States’s apparent backwardness in science education. Now, unfortunately for them, this backward thinking is coming to them.
Intelligent design has become the US’s newest “intellectual” export. It has been included in the syllabus for biology produced by the OCR exam board under the guise of “teaching the controversy“. Of course, there is no controversy except that which was invented by the Discovery Institute several years ago as a part of its Wedge Strategy.
Naturally, critics of the inclusion say that the move elevates ideas like Intelligent Design to the same playing field as the theory of evolution, which is testable and conforms to the most basic principle of scientific theories: falsifiability.
James Williams, science course leader at Sussex University’s school of education, told the Times Educational Supplement: “This opens a legitimate gate for the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in science classes as if they were legitimate theories on a par with evolution fact and theory.
“I’m happy for religious theories to be considered in religious education, but not in science where consideration could lead to a false verification of their status as being equal to scientific theories.”
Let’s hope this nonsense stops before it really starts for our friends overseas.
[tags]creationism, intelligent design, evolution, teach the controversy, education, science education, wedge strategy[/tags]
Drudge report has a copy of the press release scheduled to be released today at 2pm.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.
“Other moons in the solar system have liquid-water oceans covered by kilometers of icy crust,” said Andrew Ingersoll, imaging team member and atmospheric scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “What’s different here is that pockets of liquid water may be no more than tens of meters below the surface.”
Liquid water, of course, is one of the things that most scientists consider necessary for life to potentially develop, which makes this announcement so exciting. While there may be liquid water, my money is on there not being life on Encedalus. Time will tell.
[tags]Enceladus, E.T., alien life, Saturn, NASA[/tags]
Gladiator is probably one of my most favorite movies of all time. I can recall reading Entertainment Weekly back in 2000 when it first came out that gladiators often weren’t killed during combat simply because to do so was too expensive. Since then, I’ve read conflicting reports from various sources regarding what actually occurred in combat. One report from January of last year suggests that gladiators fought for show, to entertain the crowds rather than simply to kill each other.
Another, new study suggests that gladiators did, in fact, kill one another, though they did so according to a set of rules — a code of conduct, if you will.
The lack of multiple injuries and mutilation shows that the very strict nature of combat rules for gladiator fights was adhered to, they say.
However, despite the fact that most gladiators wore helmets, 10 had died of a squarish hammer-like injury to the side of the head. A possible explanation is that the injuries were inflicted after the fight, possibly by a backstage executioner who struck the doomed victim’s head, as has been suggested in artworks and literature.
These findings come from Ephesus, one of the largest Roman cities in western Asia. I’d be interested to know if gladiator combat was different in Ephesus than it was in Rome. In any event, these bones date from the 2nd century AD, and the findings from last year are from the same time period, which would seem to rule out gladiator combat changing over the course of a century or two.
Last year’s findings are more inferential in nature, pulling from artwork from northern Italy and Germany, whereas this year’s findings are the result of CT scans and microscopic analysis of actual bones. Given the idealistic nature of artwork in Greek and Roman times, it would seem to cast some doubt on the findings from January 2005: artists may have depicted the clashes between gladiators as how they would have liked them to be rather than how they actually were.
[tags]Gladiators, Roman history, combat, history[/tags]
Hot on the heels of budget concerns due to priority shifts, NASA has decided to cancel its Dawn asteroid missions citing cost overruns and the mission’s relatively low priority. The Dawn mission was originally supposed to study the two largest main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, but estimated cost overruns of around 20% and the nation’s shifting focus toward putting a man on Mars had placed the project on the back burner.
The 50% completed spacecraft will largely be used in other missions, with the notable exception of its ion engines.
NASA is looking into using the spacecraft’s hardware for other missions and future efforts to build ion propulsion engines will benefit from the lessons learned by Dawn engineers.
[tags]NuStar, Keck, Dawn, NASA, asteroids[/tags]
Jupiter seems to be growing a second red spot as you can see in the image above. The official name is Oval BA, but Red Jr seems to be a better choice. Red Jr first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. It is the same color as the original red spot which is at least 300 years old and is twice as wide as the Earth. Red Jr. wasn’t always red: (more…)