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RIP OAPL: An Academic Publisher Vanishes

By Neuroskeptic | October 15, 2018 2:08 pm

A dubious predatory academic publisher called Open Access Publishing London (OAPL) seems to have died. Their website has gone down, taking some 1,500 scientific papers with it. What can we learn from this?

Long-time readers will remember my series of posts on OAPL back from when I first investigated it in 2013. As far as I can tell, it was a one-man operation. The man turned out to be a Dr. Waseem Jerjes. Jerjes is a dental surgeon with many legitimate research papers to his name, and he  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ethics, law, PIE, select, Top Posts

The Crux

The Human Brain Evolved to Believe in Gods

By Bridget Alex | October 15, 2018 2:00 pm

It’s natural to believe in the supernatural. Consider how many people worldwide belong to a religion: nearly 6 billion, or 84 percent of the global population, and these figures are expected to rise in the coming decades. In the U.S., surveys show 90 percent of adults believe in some higher power, spiritual force or God with a capital G. Even self-proclaimed atheists have supernatural leanings. The same study found all atheists reject God, but one-in-five accept higher powers or spiritual  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: evolution, religion


The Five Brightest Planets Align in the Night Sky

By Chelsea Gohd | October 15, 2018 2:00 pm

For the second time this year, the five brightest planets in our solar system — Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars — will be visible in the night sky at the same time.

The planets will form a line that rises up from the horizon in the western sky and it will be easiest to see after sunset this Thursday, October 18. However, all month these planets will be visible in the same general areas of the sky.

Mercury and Venus will be most visible west and closer to the horizon, whil …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: solar system


Hayabusa2’s Amazing Close Encounter With Asteroid Ryugu

By Chelsea Gohd | October 15, 2018 11:52 am

This past summer, Hayabusa2 — a spacecraft, operated by the Japanese Space Agency JAXA, sent to collect and return asteroid samples — arrived at asteroid Ryugu. Today, the craft comes close to the asteroid in the first of two touchdown rehearsals.

After reaching the asteroid on June 27, Hayabusa2 primarily observed Ryugu from “The Home Position,” which is a position about 65,617 feet (roughly 2,000 meters) away from the asteroid. Today, Hayabusa2 is descending to only 82 feet (25  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


Chandra X-ray Observatory Back Online After Failure; NASA's Still Working to fix Hubble's Gyroscope

By Chelsea Gohd | October 15, 2018 11:33 am

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory will soon be observing the cosmos once again, the space agency said Monday. A scare last week left the spacecraft in safe mode. Chandra is a space observatory that observes extreme objects that emit X-rays, like black holes. The problems with Chandra surfaced on October 10, just days after the iconic Hubble Space Telescope also went into safe mode due to issues with its gyroscopes, which help point the spacecraft. Together, the pair make up half of NASA’s ” …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


The Fidgeting Brain

By Neuroskeptic | October 14, 2018 7:52 am

A new review paper in The Neuroscientist highlights the problem of body movements for neuroscience, from blinks to fidgeting.

Authors Patrick J Drew and colleagues of Penn State discuss how many types of movements are associated with widespread brain activation, which can contaminate brain activity recordings. This is true, they say, of both humans and experimental animals such as rodents, e.g. with their ‘whisking’ movements of the whiskers.

A particular concern is that many movements …

Out There

What "First Man" Gets Fabulously Right About NASA: An Interview with Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden

By Corey S. Powell | October 13, 2018 11:41 pm

First Man is not like other movies about the space race, and I mean that in a very good way.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical about the director of La La Land telling the story of Neil Armstrong’s historic landing on the Moon. (Would there be songs? A scowling J.K. Simmons?) It turns out to be a synergistic pairing of artist and material. First Man brushes aside the expected saga of space cowboys saddling up their steel horses, delivering instead a moving narrative of NASA’s glory days a …


Visualization of Pacific ocean temperatures shows El Niño brewing, heralding possible winter weather impacts

By Tom Yulsman | October 12, 2018 5:58 pm

It’s still not here yet, but El Niño sure looks like it’s coming.

In its latest forecast, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70 to 75 percent chance that El Niño will form “in the next couple of months and continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2018-19.” If the forecast turns out to be correct, the El Niño could influence weather around the world.

El Niño is typically associated with an extended Pacific jet stream and amplified storm track, boosting the o …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate, Drought, ENSO, select, Top Posts, Weather

The Crux

Spawning An Intervention

By Michelle Nijhuis | October 12, 2018 3:17 pm

Valérie Chamberland swims like a dolphin, quickly and fluidly, and for most of the past hour she has been darting through the warm, shallow water off the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Now, she is dangling upside down, hovering above a pillow-sized brain coral. Her rubber fins twitch steadily overhead, and as she sips air from the aluminum tank on her back, a stream of bubbles rises from her regulator’s mouthpiece.

The reef spread below Chamberland isn’t one of those flashy, …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World

The Crux

The Jesuit Astronomer Who Conceived of the Big Bang

By Korey Haynes | October 12, 2018 3:00 pm

In 1927, a prescient astronomer named Georges Lemaître looked at data showing how galaxies move. He noticed something peculiar – all of them appeared to be speeding away from Earth. Not only that, but the farther away they were, the faster they went. He determined a mathematical way to represent this, and connected his relationship to Einstein’s law of General Relativity to produce a grand idea: That of a universe continually expanding. It was a radical idea then, but today it fits with …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

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