April 18, 2010

Science for Sunday 4/18/10

"I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true."

--Carl Sagan

Nanosatellite To Clear Dangerous Debris From Space

Scientists at the University of Surrey, working on the project funded by the European space company Astrium, have devised a 3 kg miniature satellite or "nanosatellite" fitted with a "solar sail."

"CubeSail" is a device which can be fitted to satellites or launch vehicle upper stages that are sent into orbit and then can be deployed to successfully de-orbit equipment that has reached the end of its mission.

Robotson has long been interested in cleaning up space.  I read the article several times, but I'm not sure I get it.  Are the nanosatellites meant to avoid adding further junk or are they going to deorbit already existing junk?

When Will Children Disobey Parents? It Depends on the Rule

"From ages 4 to 7, children's predictions that the characters would comply with moral rules (such as prohibitions against stealing) and feel good about doing so rose significantly, suggesting that between these ages, children become increasingly aware of the limits to legitimate disobedience. In stark contrast, children of all ages predicted that the characters would frequently break parents' rules when those rules intruded on the personal domain and that this disobedience would feel good, particularly when the desired activities were described as essential to the character's sense of identity."

I'm getting better at not imposing rules that should fall under a personal decision.  That's why my kids wear their rain boots with every outfit, and Robotson continues to try to make friends with the kids down the street.  I remind myself frequently to only put my foot down in cases that may result in injury.  That said, I still find myself trying to impose my own will on them sometimes.  Either way, they all push all of the limits, all of the time.  The girls are only getting to the age where they understand those moral limits.  Robotson still thinks I'm trying to control him.  Our trust issues are improving though.

Religious Beliefs Are the Basis of the Origins of Palaeolithic Art

"Initially scientists saw this art as the way that the people of the Palaeolithic spent their free time, sculpting figurines or decorating their tools," Palacio points out. His investigation, published in the last edition of Oxford Journal of Archaeology, reveals the reasons for the move from this recreational-decorative interpretation of Palaeolithic art to different one of a religious and symbolic nature.

This art composed of paintings and engravings on the walls and the ceilings of the caves, was not included within the archaeological deposits and it was unknown if it was so old. The international scientific community ignored its Palaeolithic origin for 20 years," states the researcher.

Palacio explains how these studies went unnoticed: "They were heard, but little attention was paid to them because the format of the paintings was too spectacular and too "perfect" due to their naturalistic nature. It was understood that such complex art could not have been done by primitive man; something that did not occur with mobiliary art."

At this time, the conception of the origins and the nature of art that the westerners and scientists had at the time was redefined. From then on Palaeolithic art was reinterpreted in a symbolic-religious key, at the time when the age of parietal art was accepted," concludes the researcher.

Apparently it's my day to be confused.  This entire article makes no sense to me.  So, general theory about Palaeolithic art was that it was just for fun.  Then they found some really good art, but decided not to count it as Palaeolithic.  However, they changed their minds, and now all Palaeolithic art has religious origins?  What?

To me this says, since some primitive men were artistic - it must be godly intervention, because they are otherwise not capable of this.  Only....what if there is no God?  Can you even be a great artist if you aren't divinely inspired?

"According to attachment theory, children with secure attachments expect and receive support and comfort from their care givers. In contrast, children with insecure attachments have requests discouraged, rejected, or responded to inconsistently, which is thought to make them vulnerable to developing behavioural problems."

I think this makes perfect sense.  However, I was initially struck with the thought that mothers with sons who have behavior issues, but that were very attached to their babies, would take this study to mean they failed in some way.  I'm one of those moms.  We did/do all the AP stuff with our kids.  I wasn't as emotionally intelligent as I should have been, but we were definitely attached.  We have behavior problems.  I'm just saying.

Apples for Me, Potato Chips for You: Consumers Buy Healthier Foods for Themselves

"One of the reasons the population gets more and more obese is that a lot of the food we consume is chosen by other people, like friends throwing a party or parents buying for their children," Laran writes. "Taking responsibility for their own choices instead of letting others choose could help consumers fight against obesity and lead a healthier lifestyle."

Guilty.  I think it's the instinct to want to make others happy.  If I bring home broccoli, they all complain.  If I bring home chips, they all cheer!  Oh and I'm "the best mom ever!"  The key is to focus on the long term.  How happy will my kids be when they are struggling with weight loss or devastated because someone called them pudgy?     Getting the kids involved in the shopping, gardening, cooking, and composting helps.  


  1. It definitely sounds like something to keep from creating more space junk, and not something to clean up existing space junk. They only mention deploying it on future satellites so that those particular satellites can de-orbit.

    I'm lost on the art one too. Most of the sentences didn't seem to be particularly related to each other. I'm sure it's based on something really intelligent, but, uh, it doesn't come through very well.

  2. Hi There,
    This my first visit to your blog. I have a physics crazed ds and a math crazed dd that I homeschool more like 'letting them learn by themselves' for the past 7plus yrs...
    You have a great blog here, and I hope to revisit.


  3. Apples for me, Potato Chips for You calls to me the most, especially when talking about the parties/events we all plan. It's so easy to have pizza for every sleepover, hamburgers and chips for birthday parties and ham with potatoes for Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter. I'm trying to break these traditions but admittedly I am having a tough time with the pizza one.

  4. Lorry- Oh well, at least not adding more junk is better than nothing.

    Well I'm sorry it didn't make more sense, but I'm glad it wasn't just me. :)

    Subadra- Thanks for commenting on my blog! I hope you do come back and I'm off to check out yours as well! Oh my gosh, I was just there. AWESOME links. I'll be bookmarking for hours :)

    Christin- I'm totally with you. What about doing homemade pizza? At least then you can control some of the ingredients and let everyone top their own.