Science, religion and appropriating metaphors

I haven’t written about the ‘science vs religion’ thing for ages, but an article caught my attention –– first because I thought it was ridiculous and later because it did force me to think about using scientific metaphors, which is always a positive. It’s The Missing Link: The Coessential Nature of Science and Faith by Nicholas Metrakos, appearing in Orthodoxy Today. The relationship between science and religion has been debated for centuries and it’s not going to end anytime soon. But what could possibly be left to say about it? As a beginning scientist and Orthodox Christian, I think the […]

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Quantum computing & quantum teleportation at Sydney Science Festival

This was the last event I went to at Sydney Science Festival and definitely the hardest for laypeople like me to wrap their minds around. I’ll try keep it super-simple! (Yeah right.) Quantum computing with Stephanie Simmons (UNSW) There’s a lot of hype in the media about quantum computing so we should distinguish between what a quantum computer can and can’t do. Quantum computing relies on superposition which is defined as mutually incompatible quantum state configurations. The hype is that quantum computing will lead to massive parallel processing. The reality is that a taking a measurement of a quantum system […]

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Bringing Science to Wellness Panel at Sydney Science Festival

Here’s a belated liveblog of the panel, which I thought would be focussed on making our definition of wellness more scientific but was actually about the wellness (ie. CAM) industry. There’s also a podcast about the panel on Radio National. DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS ON THAT PAGE! The panelists were: Natasha Mitchell from Radio National as the moderator (NM in this post) Professor Margaret Allman-Farinelli, a nutritionist (MAF) Christopher Zinn, a consumer advocate (CZ) Dr Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist turned science blogger (SM) Liz Graham, editor of body+soul (LG) Italics are comments from me. NM: How many of us […]

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Yes, cheaters have a right to privacy

The intertubes are alight with articles on the Ashley Madison hacking and two data dumps of the member database. While some of the messaging I’ve seen has been nuanced there’s a good chance it will be dwarfed by hype and clickbait so some thoughts and links about it. The reaction that concerns me the most is a willingness by the public to accept or even applaud this as some sort of “karma” because the people hurt are “dirty cheaters”. The lesson the public may be learning is that if you personally disapprove of someone it’s ok to invade their privacy […]

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Measuring Evolution with Molecular Clocks at Sydney Science Festival

It’s Sydney Science Festival this week so I’m going to 4 talks and liveblogging them. Tonight’s talk by Simon Ho is Time After Time: Measuring Evolution with Molecular Clocks, discussing the research he’s been involved with. When we look at the picture we’ve built up of the history of life over the last 3.5 billion years, we have increasing diversity of life punctuated by mass extinctions (eg. the Cretaceous extinction that killed the dinosaurs and the much larger Permian extinction). However, the details have mainly been obtained through the fossil record which is systematically incomplete for these reasons: Single-celled and […]

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Celebrating 100 Years of General Relativity at Sydney Science Festival

It’s Sydney Science Festival this week so I’m going to 4 talks and liveblogging them. Tonight’s talk by Geraint F Lewis is Einstein’s Wonderful Idea: A Century of Space-Time, Black Holes and Expanding Universes, celebrating the 100th anniversary of General Relativity. Intro from the head of the USyd School of Physics and Acknowledgment of Country interrupted by heckler saying something like “isn’t it time to stop doing this mumbo jumbo”? He’s dealt with nicely by threatening to call security. (There is also a science crank statement in the Q&A by a guy who thinks General Relativity is actually super easy […]

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Denial about Jewish extremism

You may have seen the news about Yishai Schlissel: he stabbed marchers during Jerusalem’s LGBT parade in 2005, served 10 years and did it again as soon as he got out. He stabbed six people at last week’s parade including 16yo Shira Banki who died of her wounds. This has sparked a strong response from both within Israel and Jewish communities around the world. This is great and the more Jewish groups can marginalise such overt, violent homophobia the better. However, that the Jewish tradition has loads of homophobic teachings, I’m disturbed at the fact that almost all Jewish organisations […]

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Why does the Australian conversation on racism suck?

Due to the Adam Goodes “controversy”, Australians are actually talking about race. (If you’re not in Australia you probably haven’t heard of it so this may fill you in). The way that many have responded to the issues highlights a lot of peculiarities about Australian racism and why it’s so pernicious even as we proclaim ourselves to be tolerant (coincidence?). Here are some reasons that I think play a role: People generally understand that reading the dictionary is not a substitute for actual expertise. They wouldn’t dream of trying to resolve moral conflicts by checking which outcome fits the Macquarie […]

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A tale of two blockades

[CN: War, starvation, genocide] The legacy of WWII is a much bigger deal in the former Soviet Union than can be imagined in many other countries. The Victory Day celebrations of May 9th are a major international event in Moscow (although this year’s 70th anniversary was poorly attended by representatives because of the situation in Ukraine) that reverberate in the media and private consciousness. In comparison, there’s little commemoration in (say) Australia that’s specifically dedicated to WWII. The former Soviet republics’ strong focus is understandable. WWII caused about 26 million deaths in the USSR, or about 14% of the total […]

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On revoking affirmative consent

[CN: sexual assault talk, more graphic than previous posts] Last week, I looked at the specific wording of a law that talks about the application of affirmative consent in Californian colleges. One part of the law deserved a post of its own: Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. In the last two posts I’ve deliberately kept the language gender-neutral. The assumption of rape as having a male perpetrator and female victim erases a lot of other possibilities including male victims and female defendants (see these posts for more). This is […]

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About this blog

The thinly-veiled identity of lives and rants in Sydney. Views not his own, provided by hivemind. All my original work on this blog is licensed under a CC BY-NC License. Click here for the privacy policy

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