Posts Tagged Science

You’re having sex with *how* many people?!?

Subtitle: Part One of an Ongoing Series Dedicated to the Deconstruction of  Arguments Against Polyamory or NAMBLA

This is not a fully researched, peer-reviewed, cited and documented critical analysis. You won’t find dry, scholarly lecturing using enormous words that only three people in the history of people understand the meaning of and one of those three people went insane in the 1960’s trying to decide whether it was an historic moment or a historic moment and is now wandering in the woods sans underwear, unavailable to answer questions. No, these are my thoughts, off the top of my head, about some arguments against polyamory that I made up off of the bottom of my head. Exactly why the top and bottom parts of my brain are having an argument is better left for a different blog post.

What is polyamory, you ask? I’m glad you asked, friend, glad you asked! Poly, from the greek poly meaning many; –amor, from the latin amor, meaning love; and –y, from the Aztec qxztyclx, meaning, well, no one is sure what it means and the scholarship is sorely lacking on exactly why it is considered part of the etymology of the word “polyamory” so for our purposes, we’ll simply ignore it. Therefore, polyamory directly translates into “many loves (plus that bizarre part we’re going to ignore)”. Polyamory is a having loving, intimate relationships with more than one person, all of whom are aware of all of the relationships. Consent and communication are at the core of this configuration. Let’s take a moment to visualize a standard-issue V-configuration (technical term) consisting of A) one person, B) another person and C) some third person who’s gender is inconsequential to our discussion and therefore is being omitted to preserve our feminist street cred. Now that we’ve all pictured a hot threesome with myself, Captain Jack Harkness and Kathy Ireland, let’s get back to our V-configuration. Person A is in a loving, intimate relationship with person B. Person B is in a loving, intimate relationship with person C. Person C may or may not be interested in Captain Jack Harkness, but that’s beside the point. The point is that there are multiple loving, intimate relationships between these three people that they are all aware of and consent to. Ergo, polyamory!

Perhaps the easiest way to understand polyamory is to contrast it against its non-identical cousin monogamy. Even though monogamy prefers to go by its nickname from high school, The Bull, we’re going to refer to it as monogamy because The Bull is a really stupid nickname that deserves to be left among the detritus of other high school memories such as wedgies, swirlies and that one time you threw up on that really cute girl’s shoes at the dance in the gym. Monogamy should be familiar with anyone who is familiar with Disney World. At Disney World they have these new-fangled contraptions called monorails. These monorails are similar to their sibling duorails only, being born second, they got shafted in the inheritance department and only ended up with one single rail. Hence we now refer to anything that only has one something as mono. Monogamous people are people who only have one gamy. Since the word gamy is offensive to the indigenous peoples of the south antarctic island of Halakalmoniqua, we’re going to use its more popular (and arguably less offensive) synonym, spouse.

To summarize, monogamous people only have one spouse or partner. Polyamorous people have >1 partners. That’s pretty much it. Simple. Non-complex. Quite straightforward.

Or so it would seem. Not everyone on the third planet orbiting a medium sized yellow star called Sol is cool with the whole >1 part of polyamory. Hence, conflict. Hence, strife. Hence, turmoil. Hence, this blog.

What possible problem could anyone find with >1? In a great number of areas of life, having >1 of something is considered a point of pride. In the case of money the further one gets from 1 in a positive direction on the number line, the more wealthy one is considered. In the case of relationships, this dynamic changes. That’s what we are going to be discussing in this epic, sensational, only partially fictionalized ongoing series of blog posts.

Kathy Ireland in a bikini

I used to have this picture of Kathy on the inside of my locker door in high school.

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Facts, Not Fear: H1N1 Edition

I have to put this out there. The paranoia and fear surrounding the H1N1 flu vaccines is not only completely misplaced, but potentially very dangerous. This is just off the top of my head, make sure you check out the resources that are available out there.

This vaccine HAS been tested on millions of people now. It is based on the same principles and technology of the seasonal flu vaccine. All they are doing is changing which strain of virus is targeted. The shot contains inactivated (i.e. NOT live) virus. Serious adverse affects are extremely rare and, to date, there have been no fatalities associated with the vaccine.

For those who say that H1N1 is no worse than seasonal flu, take note: this flu IS worse than the seasonal flu because it is novel and is not following the typical patterns of the seasonal flu. Check out the wildly different pattern H1N1 is taking. In addition, when there are serious cases of it, they are affecting a different population, namely young healthy people, rather than the infants and elderly, as the seasonal flu does.

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Currently the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (sometimes called “swine flu”) seems to be causing serious health outcomes for:

  • healthy young people from birth through age 24;
  • pregnant women;
  • and adults 25 to 64 who have underlying medical conditions.

Let’s get facts out there rather than fear, people. There is a veritable scientific army of dedicated people out there doing their damndest to keep us safe and healthy and it’s a smack in their faces to assert that they are trying to “poison us” or bilk us for money. Personally, I am extremely grateful that we have such scientists and doctors . I will be getting both the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccine and will make sure my kids do too.

Here are some straight forward, science-based resources to answer any questions:

There are a ton more resources out there. Be smart, get the facts and do the responsible thing.

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The Final Countdown

Shuttle Patch

Shuttle Patch

The final flight of a Space Shuttle (STS-133) is tentatively scheduled for September 16, 2010. Endeavour will be the final Shuttle to fly. I will personally be very sad to see the birds stop flying. I was standing on the bank of the Indian River watching the very first shuttle launch. I fully intend to be at the last.

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How much does a kilogram weigh?

Talk about a no-brainer: it weighs a kilogram, duh! Ah, but it’s not as simple as that. For time, it’s easy to figure out.  The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom (official BIPM definition). See? Easy-peasy!

Once we’ve defined time, we’ve got the wonderfully constant speed of light to help us sort out distances. The metre is “the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1⁄299,792,458 of a second”. Simple-pimple.

A computer-generated image of the International Prototype Kilogram (“IPK”).

A computer-generated image of the International Prototype Kilogram (“IPK”).

So, how much does a kilogram weigh? Up until recently, scientists were satisfied that this cylinder made of a platinum-iridium allow was THE kilogram. This as been the big-boy of weights since 1889. Unfortunately, there’s a hitch: it’s weight is changing. Bad idea, to have the object that forms the world’s basis for determining all weights change. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig would be destroyed, for crying out loud!

Well, those wacky scientists, they just loves them some numbers. Even more, they love constants that represent numbers. Constants, by their very nature, don’t change. Hence their consistency. If they can figure out a way to define a kilogram in relation to one of those consistently constant numbers, we won’t have to worry if the mass of a little shiny chunk of metal loses (or gains) mass.

Since weighing the kilogram against another mass contains all the same pitfalls that have led to the current dilemma, the brilliant boys and girls over at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD, have set physicist Richard Steiner the task of calibrating the kilo against a concrete constant, namely Planck’s constant. NPR had a neat article on this morning chronicling the herculean effort being made out in a racoon-infested shed in Maryland to nail down the kilogram.

I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you how it turns out. Go read the article to find out how this nail-biter turns out.  Perhaps if they are successful, the United States will finally switch to the metric system. Sh’yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!

(via NPR)

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Wow. Just, wow

Photo via Flickr courtesy of ecocentrikGuy under Creative Commons license.

Polydamas swallowtail caterpillar - Photo via Flickr courtesy of ecocentrikGuy under Creative Commons license

I just witnessed the most amazing thing. Over a period of less than five minutes, my family watched as a polydamas butterfly caterpillar  transitioned to it’s pupa form, also known as a chrysalis. The most astounding thing, to me, was how quickly it happened. A gardener friend of mine clued me in to their secret: the caterpillar doesn’t wrap himself up in the chrysalis, contrary to what popular children’s books say; they shed their skin revealing the chrysalis underneath! How cool is that?

The magic of scientific fact and the miracles of the natural world are so much more impressive than anything that modern mythology (read: religion) can come up with. I am in awe of the capabilities of the humblest of little larvae. I don’t need to invoke the supernatural to appreciate the astounding world around me.

This is a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar; slightly different from the pipeweed version I watched. Photo via Flickr by

This is a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar; slightly different from the pipeweed version I watched. -Photo via Flickr courtesy of poppy2323 *away* under Creative Commons license

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Straight-up Science!

Given who I am and the topic of this post I read over at Neurotopia, how could I not pass it along? It’s got everything: penises, Jell-0, science. The only thing missing is Lego. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.

Here’s a money quote from the post: “So these authors made a special gel bath, to serve as an artificial vagina. Basically, participants got to make mad, passionate love to a Jell-O mould.”

This is science, I swear it! I would never gratuitously blog about penises and Jell-o if it weren’t. Seriously. I would blog about boobies and Jell-o. Jeesh!

Oh, and how do I get invites to these kinds of studies? Hel-lo, lady scientists, I’m over here!

Teaser pic

Teaser pic

Head on over to Neurotopia and get your dose of

Friday Weird Science: the ins and outs of erections

brought to you by the aptly named Scicurious.

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How’s it hangin’?

What is the average length of the penis? How about when the penis is flaccid? Or the length of an erect penis? Inquiring minds want to know. Fortunately, science comes the rescue. Penis science. Specifically, the science of the size of penises.

Scicurious over at the Neurotopia blog has the skinny on this paper, Mondaini et al. “Penile length is normal in most men seeking penile lengthening procedures.” International Journal of Impotence Research, 2002. Seriously, go read the post.

See? Real science. Important science. The kind of science that can make us dudes feel good about our penis. Check out this graph:

Oh, and for the benefit of the american readers, don’t freak at the numbers. They’re centimeters, not inches. I know I started to have a panic attack.

*looks down to reassure himself that it’s still there*

Ok, guys. Break out the tape measure. You know you want to.

And, ladies, no, I’m not going to tell you where I fall on the nomogram. But I will show you. Just come on over 😉

P.S. (penis script) – Just to include one more sophomoric reference to penises:

Zack Brown: I’m gonna fuck you with my pecker!

Miriam Linky: Dude… that’s really dirty.

Zack Brown: That’s too dirty?

Miriam Linky: That offends me.

Zack Brown: Penis?

Miriam Linky: Fine.

Zack Brown: I’m gonna fuck you with my penis!

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Science kicks ass!

I missed my calling in life. I should have been a kick-ass science-musician. Just imagine all the babes throwing their panties up on stage when I performed!

Hat tip: PZ

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Regulatin’ Genes, yo

Yo homies. Gene regulation in the motherfucking house! Check it.

ht – PZ

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Go, neutrophil, go!

More sciency-musicalness, this time courtesy of the Allergy Notes blog.

I would’ve picked Nowhere to run for the music after watching this little guys persistence.

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