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Joining us this week on Think Atheist Radio is Dr. Caleb Scharf! A Cambridge University PhD in Astronomy, Dr. Scharf did his postdoctoral work at the Space Telescope Science Institute and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He is now the Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University. His areas of research include the study of exo-planets and exo-moons plus an answer to the question of what sort of environments would support life elsewhere. His Life, Unbounded blog on the Scientific American network always makes for interesting reading. We asked Dr. Scharf to talk to us about his brand new book, Gravity's Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos. The popular conception of black holes is as world-destroyers, but the newest evidence is forcing us to revise that conception. Would we even be around to wonder about the universe if it wasn't for black holes? Join us for a fascinating chat.
Curiosity is on the ground! But where exactly on Mars is the rover? Did it land right on scientific results? So now that we're on the ground, what are the first moves? Here's a great pictorial on Curio's journey. If this video of Curio's descent edited together with reactions in JPL control doesn't give you goosebumps or at least make you smile seek medical attention. Or this video produced by stills taken from from the bottom of the rover during descent as the heat shield drops away. That incredible picture of the descent parachute deployed on the way down to the surface of Mars? How'd they get that picture? How bout another incredible image? The landing site showing Curio, the parachute, the smashed Sky Crane, and heat shield. One more? The navigation camera is up; the first panorama. How do you drive (something the size of) a car from a world away? 17 cameras on this thing! What kind of images can we expect from them? Curiosity must teach us that we have to invest in ourselves! (Always instructive is just how much of the federal budget is taken up by NASA. Spoiler: one half of one cent on the dollar.) What can Curiosity tell us about climate change here on Earth? Will Curiosity force us to conclude that we actually found evidence of life on Mars years ago?
Darwin right again. This time it's the inner ear of sloths.
Steven Novella goes through the research showing just how awful health information is on the internet.
Chris Hallquist discusses the claim made by some atheists of whether believers are stupid, ignorant, or even worth talking to.
Climate scientist Michael Mann discusses new research that directly links climate change and the extreme weather events we've been seeing.
New research calls into question a classic experiment on the neuroscience of free will.
Hector Avalos makes the point that while the religious right howls about Sharia Law, Sharia Law is actually very much grounded in the Bible.
Why are atheists, America's most progressive voting block, so often overlooked in politics?
4 reasons atheists have to fight for their rights.
Where does morality come from, a demonstration with monkeys.
A Republican insider wrote to explain how religion has ruined his party.
Is there poetry in the Old Testament? Jerry Coyne's been reading the Bible and finds the answer to be definitively, No.
The Boy Scouts of America has apparently been keeping files on sexual predators while allowing them to continue to be in contact with kids.
Check out this heartbreaking letter from a father to his son on the occasion of the son coming out as gay to his father. The father disowns the son, breaking off all communication. (Read this comment in the Reddit thread where the son posted his father's letter) This is the way those conversations are supposed to go.
A new study finds Ireland is becoming less and less religious.
Check out some of the lunacy that kids in Louisiana's new state funded religious voucher schools are going to be learning.
Fossils have been identified as a new species of human ancestor that lived approximately 2 million years ago. That brings to 3 the number of species co-existing in Africa at that time.
Meat-eating human ancestors thrived while vegetarians died out.
An underground railroad to kidnap the children of same sex parents and spirit them away to "safety"? Yep. That's what one religious right figure suggested we need.
NPR has a profile of evangelical pseudo-historian David Barton and his revisionist lies. The fallout from all the negative press Barton has been receiving has been too much for the publisher of his latest book. They've pulled the book from publication.
Massimo Pigliucci wrote this week to assess the skeptic's movement. He has some pointed criticisms for a few groups who call themselves skeptics.
What does the universe look like beyond our galaxy?
A contributor to Hemant Mehta's site has begun a series of posts discussing how she feels the atheist movement has failed her. Agree or disagree, it's interesting.