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Science, Earthquakes and Jail

Six Italian scientists and one government official were found recently guilty of manslaughter over the deaths of 309 people in an earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009. The case attracted a lot of attention as many thought the scientists were on trial for failing to predict the earthquake. So what was going on? And is this a good or bad thing for science?

Anti-Science On The Rise

This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. However three examples that I came across within a week or so inspired me to write. I speak of the disturbing, growing trend of anti-scientific thinking.

In late June, the Texas GOP adopted the policy that they "oppose the teaching of higher order thinking skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs … which focus on behaviour modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."1

Daylight Saving

Daylight Saving Time finished yesterday, which was unusual as it normally finishes on the last Sunday of March. This has caused the usual assortment of problems.

Brilliant Lunar Eclipse

We witnessed one of the best lunar eclipses last night. Indeed it was one of the best views of a space event I think I've ever seen. It was late enough to be completely dark, but not too late that the kids couldn't stay up to watch. The skies were completely clear and we had a perfect view from our backyard. Although, no doubt, Sydney's light pollution reduced the effect. We saw the full moon go from completely in view, through to totality and back out again.

Melbourne Planetarium

We visited the Melbourne Planetarium today. It was very cool. They even had Fisher Space Pens (background) in the gift shop, so I bought myself one. Very cool.

Making You Shop

Ever gone into a shop and ended up purchasing more than you planned? It should come as no surprise that this is not an accident. All sorts of scientific research has gone into determining the ideal conditions to encourage you to spend. Here's a nice A-Z list from the Space Hijackers of some of the tricks (if you can bear the annoying background image). See if you can spot any next time you shop.

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