Category Archives: Science

Strange Statistics on Professors’ Salaries

We can’t find any creationism news today, but take a look at this: Gender, Ethnic Studies profs earn about $12k more than peers. It’s posted at a website we’ve never visited before — Campus Reform — which describes itself as: “America’s leading site for college news.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Professors of subjects such as Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies are largely outearning those that teach more traditional subjects like math and science, according to a new analysis.

What’s going on here? Then they say:

A report released by The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) reveals that the average salary for professors of “Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies” during the 2017-2018 academic year was about $15,000 more per year more than for Biology, Math & Stats, and Science professors.

They provide a link to the report: Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Salaries. Lots of data there, but we’ll stick with the article we found. It tells us:

According to the report, “Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies” professors earned an average of $105,656 last year, while professors of Physical Sciences earned only $90,422. Mathematics and Statistics professors made an average of $89,691, and Biology and biomedical professors earned just $88,792.

This strikes us as very odd. Perhaps we’re looking at it all wrong, but it seems to us that universities should pay more for people who have significant opportunities for employment in the private sector. That appears to be the case with professors of law, but we’re struggling to imagine that there is much demand in private industry for an expert in gender studies.

Hey — it could be worse. Other than bible colleges and creationist outfits like ICR, AIG, and the Discoveroids, there doesn’t seem to be any demand for professors of creation science. At least the study doesn’t provide any data on that subject.

Anyway, that’s the only news we could find — at least for now. Make of it what you will.

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Forty-Four More Extra-Solar Planets

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a creationist. Based on their infallible ancient scrolls, they should believe that the Earth was recently created as the only world in existence, in the center of a rather limited universe, consisting of the Sun and the Moon above the flat Earth, with the stars as lights set in a presumably solid firmament rotating around us, just below the glorious realm of Yahweh.

In spite of the many scriptural claims to the contrary — see The Earth Is Flat! and The Earth Does Not Move! — many creationists somehow accept the actual shape of the Earth, and the fact that it orbits the sun — one of several planets and thousands of other objects that do so. Some even accept that other planetary systems have been found, but they insist that there’s no life out there, or at least no intelligent life. Earth was specially created for us — and we’re really special.

According to NASA’s running total, available here, there are 3,774 extra-solar planets confirmed, many of which are terrestrial in size and composition. But their figures will soon be updated because of the news we found today.

PhysOrg has this headline: Largest haul of extrasolar planets for Japan. We delight in tormenting creationists with the continuing avalanche of discoveries of ever more planetary systems, so here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Forty-four planets in solar systems beyond our own have been discovered in one go, dwarfing the usual number of confirmations from extrasolar surveys, which is typically a dozen or less. The findings will improve existing models of solar systems, and may help researchers investigate exoplanet atmospheres. Novel techniques developed to validate the find could accelerate the confirmation of more extrasolar planet candidates.

Then they say:

An international team of astronomers pooled data from NASA’s Kepler and the ESA’s Gaia space telescopes, as well as ground-based telescopes in the U.S. With John Livingston, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, the team’s combined resources led to the confirmed existence of these 44 exoplanets and described various details about them.

Confirmed, not just suspected. PhysOrg tells us:

A portion of the findings yield some surprising characteristics: “For example, four of the planets orbit their host stars in less than 24 hours,” says Livingston. “In other words, a year on each of those planets is shorter than a day here on Earth.” These contribute to a small but growing list of “ultrashort-period” planets, suggesting that they could be more common than previously believed.

“It was also gratifying to verify so many small planets,” continues Livingston. “Sixteen were in the same size class as Earth, one in particular turning out to be extremely small — about the size of Venus — which was a nice affirmation, as it’s close to the limit of what is possible to detect.”

Wowie — sixteen of the 44 newly-confirmed planets are terrestrial. There’s more to the article, mostly about methodology — which we can skip — but we have to give you this last excerpt:

The team’s findings include 27 additional candidates that are likely to be real planets, which will be the subject of future research.

How long can the creationists hang on to their ancient view of things? From what we’ve seen of their leadership, there’s no end to it. But it’s baffling. Come on, guys! Genesis was written 3,000 years ago, based on folklore that was far older. The bible has its inspired moments, but it certainly isn’t a science book. We’ve learned a thing or two since then.

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Google vs. The Flat Earth Society

A major battle is brewing, dear reader, and we wanted to let you know about it as soon as we could. We were shocked to see this headline in The Mirror, a British tabloid published in London: Sorry Flat Earthers! Google Maps now depicts our planet as a GLOBE They have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

It’s been proven for hundreds of years, yet many conspiracy theorists remain unconvinced that our planet is round.

Hundreds of years? Nice, idiotic beginning. Actually, it was Eratosthenes who determined the circumference of the Earth using geometry — in the third century BC. Then The Mirror says:

However, Flat Earthers will be unhappy to hear that tech-giant, Google, has thrown its support behind the round-Earth theory. Google has introduced an update to Google Maps, which shows the Earth as a globe when you zoom out.

Wowie — Google is jumping into the controversy with its technical tricks. The tabloid tells us:

Until now, Google Maps has use Mercator projection, which projects our planet as a flat surface, in the hopes of making it easier to see roads. The change is only available on the desktop version of Google Maps, and is yet to be rolled out to the app.

The end of the brief article gives the other side:

However, it seems that the change hasn’t deterred Flat Earth believers. In response to a tweet about the change, the Flat Earth Society said: “What does this have to do with us? Mercator was inaccurate, and so is the globe – nothing has changed.”

We haven’t heard the end of this. Google may regret that they ever got involved.

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A Lake of Water Found on Mars

The creationists will be scrambling madly in their frantic efforts to downplay the news we just found at PhysOrg: Liquid water is buried beneath Martian landscape, study says. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars, raising the possibility that more water — and maybe even life — exists there, international astronomers said Wednesday. Located under a layer of Martian ice, the lake is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) wide, said the report led by Italian researchers in the US journal Science. It is the largest body of liquid water ever found on the Red Planet.

This is the article in Science: Liquid water on Mars. You can read it online without a subscription. We’ll stay with PhysOrg, which says:

“Water is there. We have no more doubt,” co-author Enrico Flamini, the Italian space agency’s Mars Express mission manager, told a press conference. Mars is now cold, barren and dry but used to be warm and wet. It was home to plenty of liquid water and lakes at least 3.6 billion years ago. Scientists are eager to find signs of contemporary water, because such discoveries are key to unlocking the mystery of whether life ever formed on Mars in its ancient past, or if it might persist today.

Scientists are eager and creationists are horrified, because they insist that only our privileged, divinely designed planet was created for life. PhysOrg tells us:

Being able to access water sources could also help humans survive on a future crewed mission to Earth’s neighboring planet. This particular lake, however, would be neither swimmable nor drinkable, and lies almost a mile deep (1.5 kilometers) beneath the icy surface in a harsh and frigid environment. Whether microbial forms of life could lie within is a matter of debate.

But it’s a debate capable of being resolved. The news continues:

Some experts are skeptical of the possibility since the lake is so cold and briny, and mixed with a heavy dose of dissolved Martian salts and minerals. The temperature is likely below the freezing point of pure water, but can remain liquid due to the presence of magnesium, calcium, and sodium. “This is a discovery of extraordinary significance, and is bound to heighten speculation about the presence of living organisms on the Red Planet,” said Fred Watson of the Australian Astronomical Observatory. “Caution needs to be exercised, however, as the concentration of salts needed to keep the water liquid could be fatal for any microbial life similar to Earth’s,” added Watson, who was not involved in the research.

The article goes on and on, but we’ve excerpted enough. You can click over there to read it all — and the published paper too. Now we’ll sit back and watch for the creationists’ reactions.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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