Friday, December 2, 2005
fMRI devices, which image the regions of activity in the brain,
are making many important discoveries. None are more important
to WN than an Austrian study reported this week at a meeting of
the Radiological Society in Chicago. A significant increase in
activity in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain, which is
responsible for short-term memory, peaked 20 minutes after
consuming caffeine corresponding to two cups of coffee. The
effect dissipates after 45 minutes. By my calculation, sipping
coffee at the rate of 3 cups an hour should sustain the effect
indefinitely. I just have to remember to keep sipping.
Last week, WN said it had been one year since the announcement by
President Bush of his "Vision for Space Exploration." Sigh. It
was actually two years. Perhaps I wasn't drinking enough coffee.
It is, however, difficult to judge the passage of time in an
isolation chamber. Can anybody think of anything that's happened
in human space flight? It's been almost three years since the
Columbia disaster, and the shuttle has flown only once since.
According to the Washington Post today, there has been no
decision about how to deal with the foam-cracking problem.
This week in the journal Science, there was a report that the
European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter had found a layer of
ice near the north pole of Mars to be exceptionally pure and
about a mile deep. The advanced radar system on Mars Express has
so far found no convincing evidence of subsurface liquid water.
Meanwhile on Mar's surface, Spirit and Opportunity haven't seen
any either. Nature published reports based on information from
ESA's Huygens probe during its descent to Saturn's moon Titan
last January (WN 21 Jan 05) .
Japan's spacecraft Hayabusa successfully touched down on a small
asteroid, Itokawa, and collected samples. Unfortunately, it has
thruster problems and may never be able to return them to Earth.
Who could disagree? This was the title of a statement issued by
the father of Rachel Scott, one of the victims of the Columbine
tragedy. The "bad science" Mr. Scott had in mind is evolution.
Columbine Redemption, the organization he founded, is devoted to
taking evolution out of our schools, and putting prayer back in.
We note only the obvious point that the most violent conflicts in
the world today, including that between Sunni and Shiite in Iraq,
involve cultures on both sides that demand frequent prayers in
school and teach the Genesis account of human origins.
It included, Creationism, ID and "other religious mythologies."