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On Water Power

by Kirsten Sanford, Jan 09 2009

From time to time, I get questions from people who listen to my podcast, This Week in Science, asking me to discuss topics that they feel are being ignored by the mainstream media. Most of these questions revolve around either climate change or free-energy.

The climate change questions usually contain some hope that I will dig up some evidence against human-induced, carbon dioxide-linked climate change. And, I do try to report on any relevant stories that arise. There just aren’t as many of them as my questioners would like, and sometimes I do miss new developments. The result is that I become a biased, censoring cog in the media machine. Evil, just like the rest of them… but, enough about me.  On to free-energy. (continue reading…)

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How the Grinch Stole Hanukkah

by Kirsten Sanford, Dec 19 2008

The timing is perfect to compare Bernie Madoff, the investment swindler, to Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. However, in this case, since the majority of Mr. Madoff’s clients were Jewish it’s not Christmas that was stolen, but Hanukkah.

I am fascinated by the story of Madoff and the billions of dollars he managed to steal from trusting individuals and organizations. $50 billion is such a large number, that the extent of his manipulations is truly mind-boggling. The list of those affected keeps growing.

Just today, I read a note from ‘The Scientist‘ Associate Editor, Elie Dolgin:

Some of the big losers include New York’s Yeshiva University, home to the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, which lost at least $100 million according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, which invested funds raised from donations in Madoff’s securities firm and now estimates its losses at around 25 million shekels ($6.7 million), according to Ha’aretz. Several other charitable organizations that regularly donated to medical research, such as Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, have also been hit hard, the Jewish Journal reported.

It’s not the get-rich-quick types who fell for Madoff’s scheme. He was able to trick veteran investors and cautious organizations, those who are normally skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true, into giving him their money. How did he do it? (continue reading…)

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Finally, A Little Reason…

by Kirsten Sanford, Dec 12 2008

I would just like to say thank you to actress Amanda Peet for doing her own research about child vaccinations instead of listening to the likes of mommy Hollywood. (continue reading…)

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The Rainbow Body

by Kirsten Sanford, Dec 05 2008

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to spending lots of quality time with friends and family, I also had the opportunity to learn about the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the Rainbow Body.

At first, I scoffed at the story as it was told of people who attain such enlightenment that their body dissipates into the light, becoming a rainbow itself, only to leave behind the dead bodily components like hair and nails. Apparently, there are tales of individuals having achieved Rainbow Body throughout history, the most recent recorded case being Ayu Khandro in 1953. (continue reading…)

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Television and Science

by Kirsten Sanford, Nov 21 2008

Sometimes it’s a good and sometimes it’s bad.

I just started watching Fringe (well, to be honest I watched the entire season to date on Hulu over the last two nights). I’m a little obsessed with the story. It’s fun. It thrills the science fiction horror loving side of me.

But, I am also bugged by a few things. Things that could have been different if the writers had taken the time to check the facts. Or, had a scientist on call to help them get things straight. (continue reading…)

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Kombucha – Healthy Elixer Or Not?

by Kirsten Sanford, Nov 14 2008

I’ve watched over the past year as a drink called Kombucha has become more and more popular within my group of friends. Most of them drink it because the bottle tells a story that all but promises freedom from sickness of any kind. They also say that it makes them feel better.

From the GTS Kombucha website:

“In 1995, founder GT Dave’s mom, Laraine Dave, had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer with a trajectory of illness known to move quickly to the lymph and bones. When she was diagnosed, doctors held out little hope for her given the aggressive type of cancer and its advanced stage. But to the surprise of everyone, her cancerous cells were found to be dormant with no metastasis. Her physicians were baffled and asked what she was doing that others in her situation were perhaps not doing. The only thing she could think of was that she had been drinking homemade Kombucha every day for the last couple of years.”

Anecdotal evidence is never convincing to a skeptic, so I’ve remained skeptical about Kombucha’s health providing properties even though several of them profess its wonders.

(continue reading…)

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War of the Words: Fear and Hate Behind Proposition 8

by Kirsten Sanford, Nov 07 2008

First, I want to point out a great post on the Daily Kos regarding the accuracy of exit poll data. I’ve seen several stories citing AP exit poll data about the predominance of blacks voting for Proposition 8. While it’s certainly fine to cite the data, the unreliability of the information should be mentioned as well. A bit of digging offers up the AP methodology and this explanation of exit polls by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

Second, I would like to thank Michael for a fantastic post regarding Proposition 8. As usual, his eloquence and logic are hard to beat. I just wish more people would read his writings. I wish more people would read in general rather than simply parroting what they hear in propagandist advertising. (continue reading…)

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So Many Choices

by Kirsten Sanford, Oct 31 2008

As I sit here on my couch I am struck by the wealth of choices available to me. I can write about whatever I choose. I can choose to wear any costume or none on this holiday of spookiness. I can choose to participate in our country’s political Olympics. I even get to choose what I believe. I can choose these things thanks to all the events and people that came before me and ended up landing me here on my couch.

However, I do wonder how much of what I choose is actually free-will as opposed to programmed responses. We know that there are intrinsic neural responses within the brain. They are present from even before birth. The brain goes through a period of incredible growth when you are young. During which time new synapses are being formed at the fastest rate of your life. (continue reading…)

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Soundbites for Science (or, Why I’m afraid of the Internet)

by Kirsten Sanford, Oct 24 2008

Last week I was invited to be a guest food science expert on a new daily talk program on a major television network (which for contract purposes must remain unnamed until such time as the program airs). The job itself was easy enough: five minutes of answering physiological questions about food and performing some quick experiments. Of course, I over-prepared, and spent several days reading everything I could get my hands on regarding the smattering of topics. (continue reading…)

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