Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013
1. STEM CELL: SUPREME COURT WOULD RATHER NOT TALK ABOUT IT.
Last week the court refused to keep the government out of embryonic-stem-
cell research, which is thought by many to be the most promising approach
to the treatment of numerous human diseases. About 20 years ago, however,
anti-abortionists pushed a bill through Congress banning the use of federal
funds for research on human embryos. They believed the Holy Ghost bestows
a soul on the zygote at the moment of conception, making the zygote a
person (see Whats New, 8 Nov 98).
The Obama administration long ago rejected this preposterous superstition, but it was kept alive by an appeal
to the Supreme Court. Rejection of the appeal assures continued funding,
but the delay, contrived on superstitious grounds, may have cost many lives.
As it does each year, the journal Science picked 10 breakthroughs to mark
the advance of science in 2012. In the 21 Dec 2012 issue, Editor-in-Chief
Bruce Alberts reported that the Higgs boson had been chosen as the "Top
Science Breakthrough in 2012." There is no immediate application for the
Higgs particle in sight, but it represents a huge advance in our
understanding of why the universe came out the way it did. Science seeks
to trace the chain of cause-and-effect relationships back to a presumed
first-cause. The Higgs boson is causally linked to the formation of the
material universe. The discovery was made with CERNs Large Hadron Collider
at an operating budget of about $1 billion per year and the efforts of
thousands of scientists. By comparison the war in Afghanistan has so far
cost the US $1.2 trillion and 2000 lives with no tangible benefits?
On 1 Jan 2013 the Kyoto Protocol came to its scheduled termination. It's a
good thing; greenhouse gas emissions had only come up in response to Kyoto.
Hmmm. Could the UN solve the obesity problem with an international
agreement to limit food production? In an increasingly industrialized
society the only way to effectively reduce emissions is to reduce the