The science & technology page
April 02, 2006 - The last couple of weeks I have been somewhat unfaithful - yet again - to my regulars over here at Be assured it was for a good cause. I have been very busy keeping a blog on science - still am actually!
Unfortunately for my readers from abroad, its entirely in Dutch. And, although it has me being very prolific at writing, it has kept me from working on this site. I'm hoping for my attention to swing back a bit in the future, and I do hope I do not find you gone by the time I do so.
Then again: the pictures just keep on coming! So, I'm hoping you will do so too!

February 21, 2006 - In the - and sadly so - continuing story of the intellectual mess that is intelligent design, the messengers of this mental christian dog crap have resorted to the tested scientific method of the petition. For, in the history of science, is there an end to the number of debats that have been resolved in this fashion?

It's an initiative by christian fundamentalist propaganda machine the Discovery Institute. It's also a try at a fallacy of the '5,000,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong' variety, and thereby a pathetic try at an argument from authority ánd an appeal to the people at the same time.
No doubt there are a substantial number of scientists who will admit to indulging in a spot of the metaphysical, the paranormal or even the religous every know then. But no matter what believes or superstitions they adhere to, there are very few scientists who will be convinced by a round of voting.
Scientific conscensus is not a democracy.

So, as was to be expected, as of yet there does not seem to be much support for the petition. So far only around 500 PhD's have signed up to it. (Mostly American and not always from relevant areas of expertise.)
But whatever the final tally will turn out to be. I'm quite sure a statement such as "Scientists should not lend their support to a petition that is going to be wrongfully used as an argument in a scientific debate - especially if the debat is removed from their field of expertise" will amass more support.
(To illustrate, I give you the petition by people called Steve who adhere to Darwin's theory of evolution has gathered over 700 signatures in just a couple of days.)

Of course the crypto-creationists at the Discovery Institute are smart enough to realise that in the real arena of scientific debate their beloved arguments have been taken to shreds already. So they go for a rematch in the public space via the hearts and minds of taxpaying, kids-to-school-sending Joe Public out there. It's easier manipulating the soundbite audience than it is reality. Especially if you start the mindfuck a young age, that is. It's truth as a social construct in it's ultimate consequence - the Orwellian method for knowledge gathering, if you like.
Though not without it's dangers, it's mostly just a bit of a ludicrous. It's like Brasil is leading Andorra 4 to 0 in a football match and somebody decides to pass round a petition aimed at sporting boffins containing the statement 'Andorra is winning'.
There is one comforting thought: winners don't need petitions.

February 09, 2006 - The news that H5N1 has reached Africa strikes me as somewhat worrying. Maybe I'm guilty of reflexive-xenofobic anti-Africanism here, but I'm guessing that in Africa's Darwinian pressure cooker all sorts of interesting stuff could happen to the virus. What kind of bubonic birdy blood-cancer would result from a lusty liaison between H5N1 and, say, ebola or HIV, I can't help but wonder. As far as I know, DNA recombination is most likely to happen between viruses of the same family - which the ones mentioned are not (they respectively belong to the orthomyxo-, filo- and retrovirus families). Still, it would be nice if someone could please calculate the odds at this happening? Given, that is, the renowened African efficiency with which this problem undoubtedly will be dealt with.
Isn't it great we have such a wide choice of doom scenario's these days! Whoever is doing the marketing of the Apocalypse is doing a hell of a job!

December 01, 2005 - You might remember the Gulf Stream that gives us, here in Western Europa, our relatively mild (sea) climate? Well, according to New Scientist, we might have to learn to do without it shortly. As feared and predicted by the people in the know, the flow of warm water from the Tropics towards Europe is slowing down, and it appears the whole conveyer belt system could be heading towards a complete stop. That will most surely put an end to global warming summers and ditto winters in these parts of the world. Youre Christmasses will be a hell of a lot whiter than before. Hope you don't mind the glacier in your backyard, though.
November 16, 2005 - Earlier I brought you links to websites that enabled you to keep an eye on earthquakes and tropical storms. This time you can add volcanoes. In case you are wondering about the chances of walking into some pyroclastical activity near your place of work or residence, or at your holiday destination.
Those among you who don't want to miss out on any of the mainstream doom scenario's, should pay a visit to Exit Mundi, the website that lists all the options neatly - and thank be to the gods, tongue-in-cheekishly.

November 03, 2005 - So busy doing this and that, I nearly forgot to inform you about the new BBC-documentary that started last monday, called Shadows of Doubt. It's a three part series on the history of atheism, or rather, disbelief, presented by Jonathan Miller. Try catch part two next monday.
No doubt there will be more gems like Epicures' classic little gem from the fourth century before the year 0, quoted in episode one:
- is God willing to prevent evil but not able, then he is not omnipotent
- is he able but not willing, then he is malevolent
- is God both able and willing, then wence cometh evil?
- is he neither able nor willing, then why call him 'God'?
Still as air tight a bit of reasoning as ever. Isn't logic wonderful!

Don't forget to check out the poll on the series website; it's on the right. If you want to listen to interviews from the series, you can go here.

October 22, 2005 - Earlier I linked you to the best place for keeping an eye on your earthquakes and tremors. Along similar lines, here's a website that let's you track your hurricanes and the like.
If any answers are blowing in the wind at all, chances are you will find them here.

October 10, 2005 - Entry in the category 'just too good to be true': ogling tits 'n' ass is not beneficial to your health. No indications to the contrary either then, I guess.

October 10, 2005 - A bit unnerved by yet another natural disaster? You feel this sudden urge to stay current with those plowing plates? Go and have a peak over at IRIS, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology. All your latest earthquakes and eruptions neatly displayed.
October 01, 2005 - For years I had been wrestling with a problem of expansion: if the universe expands with nearly the speed of light, how come we don't notice this happening right here and now?
This months New Scientist has the answer. It's all a matter of coherence, it turns out.
July 31, 2005 - Easy to miss, nevertheless a possible empirical underpinning of string theory: a suspected cosmic string in the wild. If confirmed, an event comparable in magnitude to Eddingon's 1919 measurements of the bending of light by the sun, as predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.
June 11, 2005 - Educational, yet fun! Here is New Scientist's dinosaurial time line.
June 08, 2005 - It seems the female orgasm is 'in the air' recently. Already there is follow up to news item of June 5th. According to New Scientist a recent study shows that whether women are able to have orgasms is largely dependent on genetic factors.
According to that dr. Lloyd mentioned in the item below, this supports the idea that women have orgasms the way men have nipples.
June 5, 2005 - Here's something to ponder on a somewhat dreary sunday afternoon in June: the evolutionairy perspective on the origins of the female orgasm by Dr. Elisabeth Lloyd, philosopher of science and professor of biology at Indiana University...
If you can't get enough of those orgasms, elsewhere on the same site there is a somewhat hysterical, yet not entirely unfunny response to Lloyd's conclusion that the female orgasm is an evolutionairy by-product without any determinable function.
May 9, 2005 - How religious you are is largely determined by genetic factors...
Now, that might please those old-skool Calvinists who believe in predestination. But it bodes very bad news for the evangelical claim that some god or other gave us free will to believe in him, or not. If this isn't yet another logical proof there is no (righteous) god, I will eat my babel fish!
Please note that this does not preclude the existence of an ironic god, though. If the genetic basis for religosity aswell as homosexuality are instances of intelligent desing at work, this does suggest a sense of humor on the part of the designer - either that or it's sheer malevolence.
April 4th, 2005 - When I looked into the subject of humor during my my psychology studies, the idea that animals could have some sort of sense for it, was not a generally accepted research fact, to say the least. Jaak Panksepp thinks it should be. According to this psychologist the smiles are real! Here's the BBC's version of the story...
So, like language and tool usage and the rest, humor might not be a uniquely human characteristic after all. Well, that figures, doesn't it. To ascribe a sense of humour solely to homo sapiens is a self-flattering theory, and, like all self-flattering theories, it was bound to be proven wrong somewhere along the (punch) line.
January 08, 2005 - Since atheisme and science are closely linked, I think it is apropriate to at least gather some links on it.
Here's the first one
December 09, 2004 - Here's a whale that sings to the beat of a different drummer...

November 2004 - Have I discovered this on myself?

For every application of device that is connected wirelessy to another you need an extra wire or cable for it's power supply (be it continously or just for charging).

Never forget: the way cultural studies cannot explain physics and the way physical science cannot explain culture are not symmetrical.
Say what?! Fairy Circles in Namibia?!

There is a lot of cash to be made if you are paranormaly gifted!

Want to test your powers? Just send your name and address through paranormal means to your local Parapsychology Professor or researcher.

If you don't get a reply within three days, you do not posses any supernatural powers.

(thanks to:

Barrow, John D. (2003), The Constants of Nature; From Alpha to Omega, London; Vintage. Try - The Constants of Nature by John Barrow.
Sterelny, Kim (2003), Dawkins vs Gould, Cambridge; Icon Books Try - Dawkins vs Gould by Kim Sterelny


Dyson, Freeman J. (1986, 1999), Origins of Life (second edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Try - Origins of Life by Freeman Dyson
Remarkable - Embryo canibalisme?