Dec 30, 2011

Isaac Asimov on Creationists and Evolution.

“Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."
Isaac Asimov(1919- 1992) wrote great novels like the Foundation Series, Robot series or Empire series. Asimov's science fiction. He is a well-known Atheist, Humanist and Rationalist. His Science Fiction has inspired millions. I highly suggest checking out his short story Nightfall. Nightfall's plot revolves around a planet with many suns, and they will finally all set at the same time. What evil is in store?

Dec 29, 2011

James Randi Speaks: Nazareth Did Not Exist During Jesus' Lifetime.

In a controversial video, James Randi, atheist, former magician, and arch-apostle of skepticism, has vigorously endorsed the position that Nazareth did not yet exist when Jesus was supposedly alive (above). "The amazing Randi" thus supports a growing number of experts who suspect that Jesus was no more than a fiction. In his remarks, Randi highlights René Salm's recent book, "The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus". In that book, Salm accuses Christian pseudo-archaeologists such as B. Bagatti, C. Kopp, and E. Richmond of changing and even fabricating evidence to support the fantastic story of "Jesus of Nazareth" portrayed in the gospels. For more information, see Salm's web site,

Christian apologists are lining up to try to refute Salm's meticulously researched book that conclusively demonstrates that the town now known as Nazareth was not inhabited at the time that "Jesus of Nazareth" was supposed to have been living there, and it is clear that they must succeed in refuting this book if Christianity is to survive. Without a Nazareth, "Jesus of Nazareth" becomes a close cousin of The Wizard of Oz.

According to Frank Zindler, the managing editor of American Atheist Press, Nazareth isn't the only geographical fiction in the New Testament. In his article "Where Jesus Never Walked" he showed that such places as Capernaum, Bethany, and Enon are also literary inventions.

Dec 24, 2011

Childish superstition: Einstein's letter makes view of religion relatively clear

Scientist's reply to sell for up to £8,000, and stoke debate over his beliefs
Albert Einstein
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." So said Albert Einstein, and his famous aphorism has been the source of endless debate between believers and non-believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20th century as their own.

A little known letter written by him, however, may help to settle the argument - or at least provoke further controversy about his views.

Due to be auctioned this week in London after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, the document leaves no doubt that the theoretical physicist was no supporter of religious beliefs, which he regarded as "childish superstitions".

Einstein penned the letter on January 3 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.

In the letter, he states: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel's second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God's favoured people.

"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

The letter will go on sale at Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair on Thursday and is expected to fetch up to £8,000. The handwritten piece, in German, is not listed in the source material of the most authoritative academic text on the subject, Max Jammer's book Einstein and Religion.
One of the country's leading experts on the scientist, John Brooke of Oxford University, admitted he had not heard of it.

Einstein is best known for his theories of relativity and for the famous E=mc2 equation that describes the equivalence of mass and energy, but his thoughts on religion have long attracted conjecture.
His parents were not religious but he attended a Catholic primary school and at the same time received private tuition in Judaism. This prompted what he later called, his "religious paradise of youth", during which he observed religious rules such as not eating pork. This did not last long though and by 12 he was questioning the truth of many biblical stories.

"The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression," he later wrote.
In his later years he referred to a "cosmic religious feeling" that permeated and sustained his scientific work. In 1954, a year before his death, he spoke of wishing to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole". He was also fond of using religious flourishes, in 1926 declaring that "He [God] does not throw dice" when referring to randomness thrown up by quantum theory.
His position on God has been widely misrepresented by people on both sides of the atheism/religion divide but he always resisted easy stereotyping on the subject.

"Like other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him," said Brooke. "It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions ... but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion."

Despite his categorical rejection of conventional religion, Brooke said that Einstein became angry when his views were appropriated by evangelists for atheism. He was offended by their lack of humility and once wrote. "The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."

Dec 20, 2011

Atheism, Communism, and Kim jong Il

There is a common misunderstanding about atheism in communist dictatorships such as those found in North Korea, the former USSR, China, etc. This has become more visible recently after the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.  The religious perpetuate the notion that atheism leads to violent totalitarian regeimes.  This is a confusion of cause and circumstance, and it's a (disingenuous) tactic religious leaders have intentionally used to mislead the faithful for decades.

These political systems do not arise from some kind of atheist "doctrine" or atheist influence.  Often, religion is outlawed (and by that token it could be said that atheism is enforced) because organized religions create their own communities and hierarchies and eventually gain power. Something authoritarian dictatorships dislike. 

Throughout the dark ages for example, the catholic church's power rivaled that of any nation in Europe. That's something China, N. Korea, and the former USSR want to avoid, even in small scale. Totalitarianism does not arise from atheism, but religion does complicate things for dictators, for reasons unrelated to the virtues/vices of religion itself.  The regime isn't a result of a lack of religion, it is rather that these regimes cannot afford to have their populace worship anything but themselves.

Dec 19, 2011

In remembrance of Christopher Hitchens. A video collection.

As I am certain you are all acutely aware, We've recently lost a great humanist and ally on the side of reason, Christopher Hitchens, to esophageal cancer. Hitchens was an amazing man with an amazing intellect, and he will surely be missed by those who would want a more responsible, reasonable world.

Hitchens had an uncanny mastery of the English language and amazing flexibility and adaptability of thought. In remembrance of his legacy, I have amassed a collection of videos exemplifying just how amazing he was at what he did best. It is by no means a comprehensive collection, but it is a collection of many of my personal favorites.


A Christopher Hitchens Video Collection:

Intelligence Squared Debate - Is Catholic church a force for good in the world? (Nov 2009)

CNN Lou Dobbs - UN Wants to Regulate Free Speech (Feb 2009)

ABC News - The Rise of Atheism (Jan 2009)

Connecticut Forum - God: What difference does it make? (Jan 2009)

Larry King Live with Paula Begala on Clinton as Sec. of State (Nov 2008)

Hitchens on Hardball with Chris Matthews on Hilary Clinton as Sec. of State (Nov 2008)

Christopher Hitchens with Laura Ingraham on voting for Obama (Oct 2008)

Watch Christopher Hitchens get waterboarded (August 2008)

Hitchens on the 2008 election with Lateline's Tony Jones (April 2008)

Tim Russert with Guests Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan (April 05 2008)

Christopher Hitchens vs. Peter Hitchens (April 2008)

Hitchens on Barack Obama and race in the 2008 elections (Jan 2008)

The Four Horseman: Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris Hour 1 (Google Video)

The Four Horseman: Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris Hour 2 (Google Video)

Christopher Hitchens on MSNBC Morning Joe Dec 03 2007

Christopher Hitchens discusses Mitt Romney's Religion with Neil Cavuto Nov 2007

Christopher Hitchens on Saul Below BookTV Oct 24 2007

Christopher Hitchens and Tom Delay at the 2007 Hill Book Fair

Christopher Hitchens speaks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention Oct 10, 2007

Hitchens on NPR discussing death of soldier in Iraq Mark Daily (audio) October 8 2007

Hardball: Christopher Hitchens on Princess Diana: 10 Years Later

ABC Lateline: Christopher Hitchens on the Patraeus Report - September 2007

Authors@Google: Christopher Hitchens - August 16, 2007

Book TV In Depth: Christopher Hitchens - September 02, 2007

Debating the existance of God on Hannity & Colmes May 2007

Christopher Hitchens lecture at Seattle's Town Hall Center lecture

Chirstopher Hitchens on Question Time June 2007

Christopher Hitchens debates the Rev. Al Sharpton on Hardball

Christopher Hitchens on Frost Over The World

Hitchens debates Al Sharpton at the NY Public Library (

Christopher Hitchens talks with Bill Maher on god is not Great

Lou Dobbs Interviews Christopher Hitchens on god is not Great

Christopher Hitchens interviewed on The Hour

Christopher Hitchens on Charlie Rose May 2007

Christopher Hitchens discusses Jerry Falwell on Hannity and Colmes

Christopher Hitchens on FOX's Red Eye

Christopher Hitchens discusses terrorism with Tucker Carlson

Charlie Rose with Christopher Hitchen on Thomas Jefferson: Author of America

Christopher Hitchens discusses the Passion of the Christ on Charlie Rose February 2004

Christopher Hitchens - Scarborough Country - The War On Christmas

Dec 10, 2011

11 cheap gifts guaranteed to impress science geeks

11 cheap gifts guaranteed to impress science geeks
Science comes up with a lot of awesome stuff, and you don’t need a Ph.D, a secret lab, or government funding to get your hands on some of the coolest discoveries. We’ve got a list of 11 mostly affordable gifts that are guaranteed to blow your mind, whether or not you’re a science geek.


1. Aerogel

Also known as frozen smoke, Aerogel is the world’s lowest density solid, clocking in at 96% air. It’s basically just a gel made from silicon, except all the liquid has been taken out and replaced with gas instead. If you hold a small piece in your hand, it’s practically impossible to either see or feel, but if you poke it, it’s like styrofoam.
Aerogel isn’t just neat, it’s useful. It supports up to 4,000 times its own weight and can apparently withstand a direct blast from two pounds of dynamite. It’s also the best insulator in existence, which is why we don’t have Aerogel jackets: it works so well that people were complaining about overheating on Mt. Everest.
Price: $35


2. EcoSphere

Inside these sealed glass balls live shrimp, algae, and bacteria, all swimming around in filtered seawater. Put it somewhere with some light, and this little ecosystem will chug along happily for years, no feeding or cleaning necessary, totally oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world exists outside.
EcoSpheres came out of research looking at ways to develop self-contained ecosystems for long duration space travel. They’re like little microcosms for the entire world, man. But ask yourself: are we the shrimp, or the algae?
Price: $80


3. Mars Rock

NASA has been trying to figure out how to get a sample of rock back from Mars for a while now. You can beat them to the punch and pick up a little piece of the red planet without having to travel a hundred million miles, by just taking advantage of all the rocks Mars sends our way.
Every once in a while, a meteorite smashes into Mars hard enough to eject some rocks out into orbit around the sun. And every once in a while, one of these rocks lands on Earth. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and whoever finds the meteorite is allowed to cut it up into bits and sell it to people who want to have their very own piece of another planet.
Price: $70+


4. Gömböc

The Gömböc is a self-righting object, which means that no matter which way you put it down, it stands itself back up. It’s like a Weeble, except it doesn’t cheat by having a weight at the bottom, and it’s the only shape that can do this.
The existence of a shape with these properties was conjectured in 1995, but it took ten years for someone to figure out how to actually make one that worked. And then everyone was embarrassed when it turned out that turtles had evolved this same basic shape in their shells a long time ago, to make it easier for them to roll themselves back over if they get flipped.
Price: $150


5. Violet Laser Pointer

It’s no longer geeky enough to have a red laser pointer, or a green laser pointer, or even a blue laser pointer. Keep moving up the spectrum until you get to violet, and you’ll find the new hotness at 405 nanometers.
So what’s next year’s new color going to be? It’s looking like orange, but they’re not quite what I’d call affordable yet. Something to look forward to for next year, especially if you’re going for your own personal laser rainbow.
Price: $110


6. Gallium

Gallium is a silvery metal with atomic number 31. It’s used in semiconductors and LEDs, but the cool thing about it is its melting point, which is only about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you hold a solid gallium crystal in your hand, your body heat will cause it to slowly melt into a silvery metallic puddle. Pour it into a dish, and it freezes back into a solid.
While you probably shouldn’t lick your fingers after playing with it, gallium isn’t toxic and won’t make you crazy like mercury does. And if you get tired of it, you can melt it onto glass and make yourself a mirror.
Price: $80


7. Miracle Berries

By themselves, Miracle berries don’t taste like much. The reason to eat them is that they contain a chemical called miraculin that binds to the sweet taste receptors on your tongue, changing their shape and making them respond to sour and acidic foods.
The upshot of this effect is that some things you eat taste spectacularly different. Straight Tabasco sauce tastes like donut glaze. Guinness tastes like a chocolate malt. Goat cheese tastes like cheesecake. After about an hour of craziness, your taste buds go back to normal, no harm done.
Price: $15


8. DNA Genotyping

There’s nothing more personal than someone’s own DNA. And there are ways to give the gift DNA that won’t get you children or arrested. With just a little bit of spit, you can get an genotype analysis that will reveal fun insights about longevity, intelligence, susceptibility to diseases, and even food preferences.
While the technology hasn’t reached the point where you can affordably get a complete sequence of an entire genome, looking at specific markers is still good enough to suggest some things worth looking out for while spurring a lively nature versus nurture debate.
Price: $100


9. Klein Bottle

If you want to give a mathematician something to try to wrap their head around, a Klein bottle is a good place to start. A real Klein bottle is an object with no inside and no outside that can only exist in four dimensions. These glass models exist in three, which means that unlike the real thing, they can actually hold liquid.
The difference between the models and the real thing is that by adding an extra dimension, you can make it so that the neck of the bottle doesn’t actually intersect the side of the bottle. Take a couple aspirin and try to picture that in your head.
Price: $35


10. Giant Plush Microbes

They’re cute! They’re fuzzy! They’re potentially deadly! All of the microbes, bacteria, and viruses that you know and love (or maybe not) are available in huggable forms about a million times larger than real life. In the picture are gonorrhea, syphilis, mono, and herpes.
These giant plushes are the perfect way to make the holidays even more awkward, when you present your friends with a variety of adorable STDs. Microbiologists, at least, will appreciate that they’re more or less anatomically correct, too.
Price: $9


11. Ferrofluid

Magnetic particles suspended in oil never looked so sexy. That’s all a ferrofluid is, and it looks pretty gross until you put it in close proximity to a magnet, at which point it grows spikes all over the place as the fluid flows out along magnetic force lines.
Ferrofluids are found in everything from speakers to hard drives, but it’s much more fun to play with when when you’ve got a puddle of it naked and out in the open.
Price: $40

Dec 2, 2011

Must Watch: Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay, and Lawrence Krauss discuss our future in space

I'll come right out and say it: you need to watch this video. It's a bit on the long side, but the weekend is almost here, and you owe it to yourself to set aside 53 minutes to watch a veritable scientific dream team talk about humanity's future in space.
The video, originally shot back in July at TAM 2011 Las Vegas, is of a panel featuring Bill Nye, astronomers Neil DeGrasse Tyson & Pamela Gay, and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss—and the entire discussion is moderated by Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait. The subjects raised are consequential, the discussions thought provoking, and the opinions of the panelists refreshingly diverse (and often conflicting).