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Atheist Space Station!

Thank you China!
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"Human journey, with Alice Roberts and Jim Al-Khalili | Humanists UK Convention 2021"

We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

This discussion is to have a recurrent thread for science news, tidbits, quick facts, videos, photos, etc, that do not merit their own separate discussion. I think it's better to post here than in the Comments section where it may be more difficult to find material afterward. If you are interested in science news, tidbits, quick facts, please choose "Follow" so you will know every time something new is posted.

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Packages sealed with "Atheist" tape go missing 10x more often than ...

Does the United States Postal Service discriminate against atheists? A recent experiment suggests it does. ATHEIST SHOES is a German based-company that, as its name suggests, makes comfy kicks "for people who don't believe in god(s)." The company regularly ships shoes to America. When it does, it seals its boxes with tape featuring the company logo, which is stylized as "ATHEIST · ATHEIST · ATHEIST". But these shipments often run into problems.

The company explains on its website that shoes shipped the U.S. often take longer than they should to arrive, or go missing altogether. "When some of our customers asked us not to use ATHEIST-branded packing tape on their shipments, we started to wonder if the delays were caused by the US Postal Service taking offence at our overt godlessness."

"So," the company writes, "we launched an experiment."

Said experiment, which is recounted in detail in an infographic on the company's web..., saw 178 packages shipped to 89 people in 49 U.S. States. All packages left Berlin on the same day, and each person was sent two packages. The first was sealed with ATHEIST tape, the second with neutral tape. The result? Boxes sealed with ATHEIST tape were ten-times more likely to go missing, and took an average of three days longer to arrive than neutral-wrapped packages.


Ed Yong in Nautilus:

ScreenHunter_483 Feb. 07 12.47At first glance, a tree could not be more different from the caterpillars that eat its leaves, the mushrooms sprouting from its bark, the grass growing by its trunk, or the humans canoodling under its shade. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Zoom in closely, and you will see that these organisms are all surprisingly similar at a microscopic level. Specifically, they all consist of cells that share the same basic architecture.

These cells contain a central nucleus—a command center that is stuffed with DNA and walled off by a membrane. Surrounding it are many smaller compartments that act like tiny organs, carrying out specialized tasks like storing molecules or making proteins. Among these are the mitochondria—bean-shaped power plants that provide the cells with energy.

This combination of features is shared by almost every cell in every animal, plant, fungus, and alga, a group of organisms known as “eukaryotes.”

Bacteria showcase a second, simpler way of building a cell—one that preceded the complex eukaryotes by at least a billion years. These “prokaryotes” always consist of a single cell, which is smaller than a typical eukaryotic one and bereft of internal compartments like mitochondria and a nucleus. Even though limited to a relatively simple cell, bacteria are impressive survival machines. They colonize every possible habitat, from miles-high clouds to the deep ocean. They have a dazzling array of biological tricks that allow them to cause diseases, eat crude oil, conduct electric currents, draw power from the Sun, and communicate with each other.

Still, without the eukaryotic architecture, bacteria are forever constrained in size and complexity. Sure, they have their amazing skill sets, but it’s the eukaryotes that cover the Earth in forest and grassland, that navigate the planet looking for food and mates, that build rockets to Mars.

The transition from the classic prokaryotic model to the deluxe eukaryotic one is arguably the most important event in the history of life on Earth. And in more than 3 billion years of existence, it happened exactly once.

More here.

- See more at:


Edward Frenkel in the New York Times:

16GRAY-master495In Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita,” the protagonist, a writer, burns a manuscript in a moment of despair, only to find out later from the Devil that “manuscripts don’t burn.” While you might appreciate this romantic sentiment, there is of course no reason to think that it is true. Nikolai Gogol apparently burned the second volume of “Dead Souls,” and it has been lost forever. Likewise, if Bulgakov had burned his manuscript, we would have never known “Master and Margarita.” No other author would have written the same novel.

But there is one area of human endeavor that comes close to exemplifying the maxim “manuscripts don’t burn.” That area is mathematics. If Pythagoras had not lived, or if his work had been destroyed, someone else eventually would have discovered the same Pythagorean theorem. Moreover, this theorem means the same thing to everyone today as it meant 2,500 years ago, and will mean the same thing to everyone a thousand years from now — no matter what advances occur in technology or what new evidence emerges. Mathematical knowledge is unlike any other knowledge. Its truths are objective, necessary and timeless.

What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?

More here.

- See more at:

"What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?"

I can't say for certain, but pi definitely seems to show up with uncanny regularity.

Happy Birthday Again!  but the image is not really visible.

Interesting you should say that, Doone, because I'm looking at it. OK, let's try it again:

To those of you who wished me a happy birthday, my son sent me this:

Happy Birthday, Dad

Is that better? Looking at both of them, as I am, obviously I can't tell.

The Global Workspace In Your Head

MAR 18 2014 @ 7:35PM
by Tracy R. Walsh

review of Stanislas Dehaene’s latest book, Consciousness and the Brain, lays out the cognitive scientist’s theory of awareness:

Dehaene takes the “global workspace” model of consciousness developed by psychologist Bernard Baars and boldly extends it, identifying consciousness as the process of brain-wide information sharing. At any time, millions of short-lived mental representations of your world are being created by unconscious processing, he says. Consciousness selects one and makes it available to distributed, high-level decision systems through a brain-wide “broadcast”. … Consciousness, thinks Dehaene, may have evolved to pick out what is relevant from this huge amount of parallel activity, and keep it active within the global workspace while different parts of the brain evaluate it. It is necessary so we can deal with one important thing at a time and enable a kind of “collective intelligence” to be reached. That would include providing access to memory and mental associations, as well as to language processors which could describe the ongoing experience, Dehaene suggests. It all takes time, which may explain why consciousness seems to run about a third of a second behind reality.

How You Fund Creationism

MAR 28 2014 @ 6:15PM


Part of your paycheck goes to religious schools:

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies. Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do. A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.” And this approach isn’t confined to high school biology class; it is typically threaded through all grades and all subjects.

Check out several “science lessons from the Bible” here.

(Image via Stallion Cornell)

Creationist Lawmakers Derail Third Grader’s Campaign To Honor The W...


"Creationist Lawmakers Derail Third Grader’s Campaign To Honor The Woolly Mammoth"



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What started as a simple, heartwarming gesture to fulfill an eight-year-old girl’s request has turned into a battle over the separation of church and state. South Carolina lawmakers are stalled on a bill to make the woolly mammoth the official state fossil after state Sen. Kevin Bryant (R) added Bible verses to credit God with the creation of the ancient mammal.

Eight-year-old Olivia McConnell, who says she wants to be an Egyptologist when she grows up, wrote a letter to her state representatives in January making the case for the woolly mammoth as the state fossil. Woolly mammoth teeth were discovered by slaves on a South Carolina plantation in 1725, making it one of the first animal fossils found in North America.

Her representative, state Rep. Robert Ridgeway (D), agreed to sponsor the bill because it would help children learn “about the governmental process and legislative process in South Carolina.”

Unfortunately, that lesson may not be very encouraging to other children hoping to effect change through government. Bryant’s addition of the creation verses derailed the bill. After other senators removed the Bible verses, Bryant posted another Bible passage on his website condemning humanity for “worship[ing] and serv[ing] the creature rather than the Creator.” Lawmakers will debate a new amendment this week requiring that the woolly mammoth be officially referred to as “the Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”

Bryant, a self-proclaimed creationist, says he won’t block the bill if his amendment fails, but felt it was important to hold a vote. “I just had a notion that we ought to consider acknowledging the creator as we acknowledge one of his creations,” Bryant said. Bryant’s colleague, state Sen. Mike Fair (R), blocked the last bill from passing without the Bible verses, but also said he would not stand in the way of this one after hearing about Olivia’s campaign.

The two creationist lawmakers say this is a purely symbolic move, but that the real fight is in the classroom. “This issue is symbolic—the teaching of intelligent design is not,” Bryant told the Daily Beast. Fair recently blocked the teaching of natural selection from the state’s new science standards in February.

Catholic Nun To Students: ‘Masturbation Makes Boys Gay And Gay Pare...

Religion has never fully accepted the LGBT community. It goes against their doctrine, which in and of itself is an issue. But if all else fails to promote your discriminatory beliefs, just lie about it!

Such is the case of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, who in a lecture on masculinity and femininity at Charlotte Catholic High School had all sorts of “facts” for those in attendance.

And just what were some of these facts, you wonder? Well, did you know that masturbation will most likely make a boy gay? Did you also know that boys of single moms are more likely to be gay because they don’t have a father around to teach them how to be masculine (as if enough testosterone isn’t pumped in through practically all media)? Yeah, I didn’t know these things either.

The two issues mentioned above are old stereotypes that, as Matt Comer pointed out for LGBT Nation, have been “soundly rejected by mainstream medical professionals and associations,” but apparently, Sister Jane missed the memo.

She went on to state that gay men will have sex with hundreds of different sexual partners and said that gay couples abuse their children, citing a single instance from Australia. This of course means gay people are not fit to be parents. Bet you didn’t know that one either. Thank God we have Sister Jane on the case to set us all straight! (pun intended)

Sister Jane, who is a professor at Aquinas College in Nashville, has been linked to an anti-LGBT group called the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Oddly enough, NOM was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Shocking, I know.

Parents, students, and alumni have spoken out against the lecture and asked that the school apologize for it. There is also a petition that has been started on


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