Skeptical Reporter @ 2012-09-07

Organic produce and meat typically is no better for you than conventional food when it comes to vitamin and nutrient content, although it does generally reduce exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to a US study. Crystal Smith-Spangler, who led a team of researchers from Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care, reviewed more than 200 studies that compared either the health of people who ate organic or conventional foods or, more commonly, nutrient and contaminant levels in the foods themselves. The foods included organic and non-organic fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, poultry eggs and milk. Smith-Spangler and her colleagues found there was no difference in the amount of vitamins in plant or animal products produced or ganically and conventionally – and the only nutrient difference was slightly more phosphorous in the organic products. Smith-Spangler said it was uncommon for either organic or conventional foods to exceed the allowable limits for pesticides, so it was not clear whether a difference in residues would have an effect on health.

A study suggesting climate change deniers also tend to hold general beliefs in conspiracy theories has sparked accusations of a conspiracy on climate change-denial blogs. The research, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, surveyed more than 1,000 readers of science blogs regarding their beliefs on global warming. The results revealed that people who tend to believe in a wide array of conspiracy theories are more likely to reject the scientific consensus that the Earth is heating up. University of Western Australia psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky based the findings on responses from an online su rvey posted on eight science blogs. According to the paper, Lewandowsky approached five climate-skeptic blogs and asked them to post the survey link, but none did. Now, climate-skeptic bloggers are striking back with a new conspiracy theory: that the researchers deliberately failed to contact "real skeptics" for the study and then lied about it.

The inventor of the World Wide Web has denied there is an "off-switch" which could turn off the internet across the globe. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the web on Christmas Day 1990, said the only way the internet could ever be entirely shut down is if governments all over the world co-ordinated to make it a centralized system. It comes after moves by the Egyptian government last year to suppress use of the web led to speculation that the Hosni Mubarak regime had found a kill switch for the internet. "The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralized system. At the moment, because countries connect to e ach other in lots of different ways, there is no one off-switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off” Berners Lee explained.

The fortunes of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) are about to be transformed with the help of the magical waters of homeopathic medicine. UK's new health minister, Jeremy Hunt – who replaced Andrew Lansley in a government reshuffle – thinks that homeopathy works, and should be provided at public expense by the NHS. Since news of his appointment emerged, senior scientists have spoken up. John Krebs, professor of zoology at the University of Oxford, said: "There is overwhelming evidence that homeopathic medicine is not effective. It would be a real blow for those who want medicine to be science-based if the secretary of state were to promote homeopathy because of his personal beliefs." Edzard Ernst, former director of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, UK, added: "To praise the positive contribution of homeopathy to the NHS does not bode well for the new person in charge of UK healthcare. One can only hope that with the reality of the new job, there will be a more rational insight in the actual evidence on this topic."

And now let’s look at some news in science
It took hard work, determination and a lot of ingenuity for a pair of spacewalking astronauts to fix a key power system aboard the International Space Station. NASA space flyer Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide spent nearly 6 1/2 hours outside, in the vacuum of space to properly install a pair of bolts that had caused problems for the pair during a previous spacewalk last week. In addition to their regular spacewalking gear, Williams and Hoshide were armed with some makeshift tools — including an improvised wire cleaner and a toothbrush — to help them get the job done. On Aug. 30, Williams and Hoshide completed a marathon spacewalk that lasted more than 8 hours, but the astronauts were thwarted by a stubborn bolt and were unable to finish connecting the so-called main bus switching unit. The stuck bolt forced NASA to add an extra spacewalk, but they managed to get the job done.

Scientists will have just 24 hours to conduct an experiment 16 years in the making if all goes well in Antarctica. In October, a team of U.K. scientists will complete the journey to find life in one of the least likely places: a lake buried beneath nearly 3 kilometers of ice on the frozen continent. The team is expected to start drilling into the ice atop Lake Ellsworth by December. A separate expedition will start in October as U.S. scientists look for life under another system of lakes and rivers underneath the ice in western Antarctica. The two forthcoming ventures will join a third, the Russian Antarctic Expedition that in February successfully drilled into Lake Vostok, Antarctica's largest sub glacial lake, larger than Connecticut, under nearly 4 km of ice. "It's a basic curiosity-driven question," said Martin Siegert, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol and principal investigator on the U.K. effort. “Wherever we find water on planet Earth, we always find life and there might be a relationship between life and water.” If the group does not identify life, Siegert said the experiment would provide a major finding for the scientific community.

Physicists have "teleported" quantum information farther than ever in a new study. This kind of teleportation isn't quite what Scotty was "beaming up" on television's Star Trek, but it does represent teleporting information from one place to another. A team of scientists from Austria, Canada and Germany have now beamed the quantum state of a particle of light from one island to another 143 kilometers away. "One can actually transfer the quantum states of a particle — in our case a photon — from one location to another location without physically transferrin g this photon itself," explained physicist Xiaosong Ma of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. This achievement beat the previous quantum teleportation distance record of 97 km, set by a Chinese research group just months ago. It represents a significant step toward establishing a "quantum internet" that could allow messages to be sent more securely, and calculations to be completed more quickly, scientists say.

China has fully embraced the American dream by snapping up new cars as a sign of middle class prosperity, but only at the growing cost of traffic jams and polluted cities. A Chinese municipality has finally taken the bold step to restrain the worst excesses of automobiles by restricting ownership of new cars through auctions and lottery systems. The move seems as astonishing "as if Detroit or Los Angeles restricted car ownership," according to Keith Bradsher of the New York Times. Automaker s have Beijing's support in opposing additional car ownership restrictions for fear of hurting China's economic growth. But this could represent a sign of change in Chinese priorities and values."

And now, in local news from Romania we learn that
The National Ethics Council has decided that former minister of Education Ioan Mang has plagiarized the work of other researchers, from several scientific papers. The decision has yet to be announced officially as the Council is still waiting for the Ministry of Education’s Judicial Department notification on the matter. The issue was finally settled after Mang was forced to resign as minister of Education following accusations that he was guilty of plagiarism.

This show was recorded today, the 7th of september 2012.

Links to the original articles:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/04/organic-foods- no-better-nutrient
http://www.livescience.com/23027-link-between-climate-denial-and-conspiracy-beliefs-sparks-conspiracy-theories.html
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/inventor-denies-off-switch-124607511.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22241-hail-jeremy-hunt-the-new-minister-for-magic.html
http://www.livescience.com/22979-spacewalk-space-station-fix-toothbrush.html
http://www.livescience.com/23002-search-for-life-antarctica-lake-ellsworth.html
http://www.livescience.com/22955-quantum-teleportation-distance-record.html
http://www.livescience.com/22931-city-brakes-car-ownership.html
http://www.realitatea.net/consiliul-national-de-etica-ioan-mang-a-plagiat_1002557.html

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