This Week in the Mercury

Rays of the Black Sun


Rays of the Black Sun

Withering of Light Works in the Dark

Arty & Bullshit


Arty & Bullshit

Tim Burton Goes '50s. Christoph Waltz Goes Insane.


Friday, November 21, 2014

An Airline Says the City Owes it Almost $40,000 for Supplying Potentially Poop-Tinged Water

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 4:02 PM

  • SkyWest Airlines

We were all terribly inconvenienced in late May, when a series of bacterium-ridden test results meant Portland's water supply was under a boil order for a day. Utah-based SkyWest Airlines is perhaps the only entity demanding $40,000 for that inconvenience.

The airline has filed a tort claim notice with the city—the first step in a potential lawsuit—saying it was burdened with dumping and testing water it picked up at Portland International Airport from May 20-23, when consecutive tests turned up evidence of dreaded E. coli in the water supply. Its total costs, including employee time and paying for lab results, totaled $37,687—money SkyWest says the city should have to pay.

From the claim:

SkyWest Airlines received notification from the City of Portland that the potable water received at PDX Airport had possible contamination. Our Maintenance Dept. immediately began researching which of our aircraft had been through PDX during May 20-23, 2014, and taking appropriate measures to drain, cleanse, sanitize and sample all potable water on the aircraft. ... Please note: the potable was immediately drained and the system deferred until the aircraft could fly through a base where the sanitization and sampling could take place.

SkyWest filed the notice back in July, and doesn't appear to have filed suit. That's doesn't mean it won't. A tort claim is a necessary step before suing the city, and needs to be sent within 180 days of the alleged damage. We asked a company spokesperson yesterday whether a lawsuit's in the works. He promised to call us back, but hasn't.

Here's a blurry itemization of SkyWest's claimed costs.


Water bureau employees test water from our above-ground reservoirs incessantly, and alerted customers on May 23, after three tests for the bacteria came back positive. The order was lifted on May 24. Boil orders don't necessarily mean anyone's in danger, but the City of Portland errs on the side of caution in such instances.

You never know who might file a lawsuit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

To Infinity and Beyond: The Mercury's Review of Interstellar

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

INTERSTELLAR Were going to need a bigger spaceship.
  • INTERSTELLAR "We're going to need a bigger spaceship."

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is now playing at a few Portland theaters on 35mm, with digital screenings starting tomorrow night at pretty much all the chain theaters. Nolan wants you to see it on 35mm and 70mm IMAX—hence the film's early release in those formats—and I'll throw in that if you want to see Interstellar, you should do so sooner rather than later. It's a movie that benefits from not knowing a whole lot about it going in, and that includes people's reactions to it. (At least some of those reactions are going to be intensely negative—some people really won't like this movie, probably because those people are terrible.)

All that said, our review's already online—and naturally, it begins with me talking about how we're all fucked and we're all going to die.

At least we're not in as dire of a spot as the people in the near future of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, where climate change has turned much of Earth into a poisonous dust bowl. It's a distressingly plausible end-point to our current environmental circumstances: Earth in Interstellar is a sun-baked dystopia where humanity scratches meager survival from increasingly barren soil, and where the financial, physical, and emotional challenges of daily life have relegated space travel to a half-forgotten past.

SOUND FAMILIAR? Read the rest here; showtimes can be found underneath the review.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Estimate for the Amount of Dark Matter in the Milky Way

Posted by Charles Mudede on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM


What it is you must know and keep in mind at all times (during a shower, a meal, sex) is that only 4 percent of the universe (a universe that is expanding at a speed that even the speed of light can not overwhelm) makes any sense to us (to our thinking and to the bodies we clean, feed, and fuck). The rest of it is unknown, and maybe unknowable at this stage of our evolution. Maybe some type of dinosaur in the deep past had the type of body that could understand and feel more of the universe, but the kind of blind accidents that might have led this monster to a culture/body of pure contemplation (what is up there? what is beyond what is up there?) appear to have never happened. The dinosaurs were happily eating leaves and each other when that ball of fire suddenly appeared in the sky. 125 million years of dominance came to an end that day. We humans, however, had, in a very short amount of time, such accidents—the accidents led our kind of body from an intended purpose (some form of sexual selection is my guess) to an unintended purpose (reflecting on stars). And so we unexpectedly find ourselves understanding not only that we are in a universe but that much of this universe is made up of dark matter (25 percent) and dark energy (the rest).

It's reported that a rather eccentric scientist in Australia, Dr Prajwal Kafle (originally from Nepal), used some old mathematics and new observations to determine that our galaxy has half the dark matter than initially estimated. This new calculation predicts that are three satellite galaxies that are visible in the sky. And indeed, that is what we see. The older calculation made a prediction that did not match with the facts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Happening Tonight!

Posted by Bobby Roberts on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

SCIENCECSI is bullshit. Watching CSI while sober is bullshit. You wanna learn how crime scenes are really reconstructed? You wanna feel less like David Caruso and more like Will Graham? OMSI Science Pub features real crime-scene walkthroughs from a real reconstructionist, without all the Laffy Taffy-level one-liners. Oh yeah, and there's beer. BOBBY ROBERTS
Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, 7 pm, $5

SCIENCE—Ridiculously charming and even more ridiculously brilliant, Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing his damnedest to fight the good fight against scientific illiteracy. This week, the host of Cosmos is coming to the Schnitz for two nights. Hear that? Put down your new-age crystals for two seconds and get ready to learn some goddamn science. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Tues Sept 16 & Wed Sept 17, 7:30 pm, $38.75-81.75, all ages


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Volcanoes Like Iceland's Bárðarbunga Have a History of Going Beast Mode on the Planet

Posted by Grant Brissey on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Iceland officials have raised the threat of that country's Bárðarbunga volcano eruption to code orange, the second highest level before an event. While the risk isn't critical at the moment, past Icelandic volcanos have gotten seriously rowdy with the planet, and no one is taking any chances. Over the last few days hundreds of minor earthquakes, referred to collectively as an earthquake swarm, have been detected underneath the island. The area north of Bardarbunga has been evacuated because officials "could not rule out an eruption." Reports thus far have ranged from breathless to measured.

Bárðarbunga, a subglacial volcano located under the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, hasn't exhibited any signs that its magma is moving toward the surface just yet, which geologists tell us is a good thing. Still, even a minor eruption could cause glacial melting and subsequent flooding, and a massive one could prove cataclysmic.

In 2010, Iceland's sexily named Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, spewing ash into the sky that halted much of Europe's air travel for six days, affecting an estimated 10 million people and costing an estimated $1.7 billion.

But the mother of all was the Laki eruption of 1783-84. The event plumed gases into the air, eventually directly or indirectly killing 60 percent of the country's livestock, 22 percent of its human population, and possibly lowering temperatures in the northern hemisphere by 1.3 celsius for several years after. Of the 122 metric tons of sulfur dioxide emitted from that eruption, 95 made it into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, hit the jet stream, and circulated across the northern hemisphere. The stuff spread across Europe, forming what was called the Laki Haze, which damaged crops and reduced livestock. The haze was seen as far as Italy, China, and possibly Alaska (records from that time are scant), where a noted population decrease transpired in the years following, and the Inuit speak of the "Summer that did not come," which may correlate with the disaster.

Yikes! Let's hope this is just some indigestion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Portland, GMOs, and Grrrrrrgh! Arrrgh! Neil deGrasse Tyson!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Following the National Review's "Grrrr, Neil deGrasse Tyson is THE WORST!" cover story (it's behind a pay wall, but the subhead that frets about "America’s nerd problem" sums up the tone nicely), the Los Angeles Times' has an editorial by Matthew Fleischer that asks "Why Are Conservatives Afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson?" It's a pretty solid read, though it mostly comes down the not-so-surprising theory that, well, all entrenched politicians aren't too fond of a populace that educates itself and asks a bunch of questions.

One part in the piece that particularly piqued my interest—and made me instantly think of Portland—was this:

In a world where advanced technology has infiltrated nearly every corner of our lives—raising a litany of technical, ethical and legal challenges—our government is willfully scientifically illiterate.

The reason this status quo has been allowed to persist is that the general population isn’t much better. Conservatives continue to fight any attempts to combat climate change, while many liberals are refusing to vaccinate their children over fears of a nonexistent link to autism. It wouldn’t be hard to predict a liberal backlash against Tyson, similar to the one we’re seeing from conservatives, if he were to speak more prominently about his endorsement of genetically modified foods—one of the more scientifically unfounded banner arguments of the left. (Via.)

Given Tyson's great, brief remarks on GMOs (and his excellent, more nuanced follow-up comments, posted here and here), the threat of a "liberal backlash against Tyson" is (A) super depressing, and (B) dead on. If we assume the GMO debate will continue to escalate, and if we take into account how a significant portion of Portlanders feel about fluoride, it'd be the least surprising thing ever if Neil deGrasse Tyson become Portland public enemy number one.

(Shout out to the scrappy anti-GMO signature gatherer who valiantly attempted to get Alison and I to sign his clipboard—first by arguing with us, then by shouting after us. "But—but even if you're pro-GMO, labeling is great!" he cried. "That way you can eat more of them!")

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Man Witnesses Police Shooting, Expounds on Shrubbery

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Common hawthorn

This week's Mercury takes a brief look at witness testimony in the June 12 police shooting that left a 23-year-old homeless man dead. It's a tragic story, involving common themes of untreated mental illness and limited resources for combatting homelessness.

Then there's a chunk of the 171-page grand jury transcript that is bizarre and sort of delightful, despite the dour incident.

A man named Steven Garratt was driving west on SE Foster the morning of the shooting, en route to his wife's job at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer. While stopped at a traffic light at SE 104th, Garratt (and two other witnesses who gave testimony) saw Nicholas Glendon Davis fall backwards from two shots. So he turned his old Toyota dutifully around and waited to give a statement. The man is adamant Portland police officers Robert Brown was right to shoot Davis—who was wielding a large crowbar—and thinks Davis was "whacked out" according to the transcripts.

But mostly, Garratt wants to talk about hawthorn. As in the plant.

What begins as a passing reference to bushes off the Springwater Corridor quickly, weirdly (and not without some help from a grand juror or two) becomes a discussion of hawthorn's usefulness, its bad reputation, its constitution, and how Garratt has apparently become an object of disdain among contemporaries for making it into yule logs.

It wouldn't have fit—thematically or space-wise—into our story. So here, after the jump, are Steven Garratt's fulsome thoughts on hawthorn. The plant.

Continue reading »

Monday, July 7, 2014

BBC Officially Has No Time for Science Skeptics

Posted by Paul Constant on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Lindsay Abrams writes for Salon:

Good news for viewers of BBC News: You’ll no longer be subjected to the unhinged ravings of climate deniers and other members of the anti-science fringe. In a report published Thursday by the BBC Trust, the network’s journalists were criticized for devoting too much airtime (as in, any airtime) to unqualified people with “marginal views” about non-contentious issues in a misguided attempt to provide editorial balance.

It sounds like the BBC is going to be more responsible in all its science coverage, which is good news. Blogs, especially, repeatedly make hash out of scientific studies. (And no, we are not innocent in this.) Not every reporter needs to be a trained scientist, but we all could be a lot less histrionic and a lot more thoughtful in our coverage of scientific issues.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Scientist Offers $10,000 to Anyone Who Can Scientifically Disprove Climate Change

Posted by Paul Constant on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Glenn Beck's conservative news aggregation site The Blaze has the story:

A physics professor is so fed up with the claims made by “climate change deniers” that he has launched a “$10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge.”

The challenge issued by Dr. Christopher Keating, a professor who previously taught at the University of South Dakota and the U.S. Naval Academy, according to a news release, will award prize money to anyone who uses the scientific method to prove that human activity has not been a factor leading to climate change.

The Blaze commenters, of course, can see right through this clever trap:

Not very scientific of him. it is a false premise from the start.

He’s a religious doomsday cult zealot. The level of “proof” he would require would be 10 times that which he uses to prove that his dogmatic moronic religious beliefs are his truth. Even then he would try and find some way to welch, because regardless of the massive amounts of evidence and results disproving their religious dogmas, paying the money means his religious views are false. He would commit suicide before admitting his god is false.

According to scientist that believe in Global warming, there have been 5 ice ages. So if they all happened before man walked the earth, how did the ice melt???

I got a picture of 10 inches of snow in NC from Feb., but he prob. won’t accept it since it is not on a computer.

He needs to prove that HAARP and geoengineering chemtrails are not the cause of MAN MADE climate change in that they are manipulating the weather which IS THE PROBLEM.

Find more super-smart $10,000 winners after the jump.

Continue reading »


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Martian Birthday, Curiosity!

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 1:59 PM

It has been 678 Earth days since NASA's Mars Curiosity landed to look for signs the planet could or once did support living organisms, just in case, you know, out of curiosity and all. That means it turns one Mars year old today, so HBD, Curiosity!

To celebrate, let's review a few of its discoveries over the past Mars year:

—One of Curiosity's first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms. The answer, a historic "yes," came from two mudstone slabs that the rover sampled with its drill. Analysis of these samples revealed the site was once a lakebed with mild water, the essential elemental ingredients for life, and a type of chemical energy source used by some microbes on Earth.

Other important findings during the first Martian year include assessing natural radiation levels both during the flight to Mars and on the Martian surface provides guidance for designing the protection needed for human missions to Mars.

It also got its tires banged up and figured out how to take a really fancy selfie:

  • NASA

Click past the jump for the NASA's video update, too.

Continue reading »

Monday, June 16, 2014

Time Team America's New Season Debuts on OPB Tonight

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Like anyone with other options, I like to think I'm pretty selective about TV, partly because programming on channels I used to love (Animal Planet, the History Channel) has been crowded out by reality dreck that seems like it's more about dissuading people from the very interests they ostensibly cater to. ("Oh, you like animals? You like your cat? How about a show all about horribly behaved, emotionally distressed house cats? Doesn't that sound fun? Nightmare cats!") For some quality edutainment, you're better off with OPB, which is airing season 2 of Time Team America—a worthily nerdy pursuit of history and archaeology that traverses the country digging up evidence of our young-but-aging country's past—tonight at 10 pm.

Time is produced in Oregon, so OPB's getting dibs, airing the four new episodes in advance of their later arrival on PBS in a couple months' time (you can also just stream them on the day after they air). I was able to preview tonight's debut, in which the team goes digging on the former plantation where Josiah Henson—the former slave on whose biography Harriet Beecher Stowe based her landmark anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin—is said to have lived, and it's a satisfying mix of the geological and historical. In a one-hour swoop I learned more about Henson's life and what it means to dig through several generations of earthen kitchen floors, with plenty of expert interview subjects and digital renderings to guide things along. Yes, "learned"! Actual learning happened! Upcoming episodes dig into the potential site of a lost Civil War-era P.O.W. camp, a 10,000-year-old bison kill site, and one of the first permanent settlements in North America. Here's a preview of tonight's:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson! In Portland!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Did you guys see Neil deGrasse Tyson is coming to Portland? This is fantastic news and easily justifies my decision to keep on living until at least September (and possibly beyond, depending on how September goes). Tickets go on sale this Thursday at 10 am, but do not buy them then, because that's when I'm getting mine. Once I have my tickets, you guys can do whatever you want, but it sells out before I get my tickets, there's going to be hell to pay.

Alternately, you could join Jared—the community outreach leader for the Creationist Baptist Church of Alabama—on a thrilling trip in his white church van, voyaging through the stars to discover the true origins of life, the universe, and everything.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Really Want To Hate Neil DeGrasse Tyson, But It's Not Working

Posted by Alex Falcone on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Neil Degrasse Tyson is too prevalent, too universally liked, too smiley. He must be destroyed. I'm not proud of it, but that is how I think, the Law of Contrary Public Opinion. I just got this overwhelming sense that somebody was She's All Thating him. Somebody made a bet that they could make a goofy astrophysicist famous and it worked and now somebody is going to end up at graduation naked.

That still may be true, but he's so god damn charming in Cosmos that I'm giving up trying to hate him. He wears funny hats, does silly things like poke a fire with a stick and dust himself off after CGI asteroid impacts, and he talks about science in a way that is approachable but still completely dorky. And he's got big, awkward hands. It's great!

At the end of episode 1 of the series, he shows his name in Carl Sagan's date book from their first meeting when Tyson was only 17, and that was an amazing moment of TV. The whole of Cosmos good. In fact, my only complaint is that The Ship of the Imagination doesn't seem to have any handrails, so The OSHA of the Imagination is going to be pissed. But that's it.

It is with much reticence that I admit this, but even if it was originally on a bet, I've fallen in love with Neil Degrasse Tyson. He is all that.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Science Can Tell If You're A Conservative?

Posted by Jen Graves on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 9:59 AM


This is not fringe science: One of Hibbing's pioneering papers on the physiology of ideology was published in none other than the top-tier journal Science in 2008. It found that political partisans on the left and the right differ significantly in their bodily responses to threatening stimuli. For example, startle reflexes after hearing a loud noise were stronger in conservatives. And after being shown a variety of threatening images ("a very large spider on the face of a frightened person, a dazed individual with a bloody face, and an open wound with maggots in it," according to the study), conservatives also exhibited greater skin conductance—a moistening of the sweat glands that indicates arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, which manages the body's fight-or-flight response.

It all adds up, according to Hibbing, to what he calls a "negativity bias" on the right. Conservatives, Hibbing's research suggests, go through the world more attentive to negative, threatening, and disgusting stimuli—and then they adopt tough, defensive and aversive ideologies to match that perceived reality.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Drones: Not Just For Killing People Anymore

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Here's "the first documented drone flight through ice caves" (Alaska's, in particular), and while you'll probably need to turn the cloying music off, the visuals are fantastic. Between stuff like this, NASA's daily image, and a weekly dose of the new Cosmos, we're in a pretty good era for science-y eye candy. YOU GUYS ARE WATCHING THE NEW COSMOS, RIGHT?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Plane vs. Ocean

Posted by Anthony Hecht on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 9:44 AM

It sounds like the search for the missing flight 370 may be shifting west, into the Indian Ocean.

So how hard is it to find a Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean*? Since we humans are so bad at contemplating things at massive scale (the solar system, for example), Rob Cockerham has helpfully translated this problem down into more approachable scales.

Finding a 777 in the Indian Ocean is like finding:

A single grain of salt somewhere in the city of San Francisco.

Or a sesame seed in Yosemite.

Or a red blood cell at Burning Man.

* The search area isn't the entire Indian Ocean, of course, they'll start at the eastern side and work out, but still.. oceans are big! And also note that these comparisons are surface area. Once that thing sinks, oh boy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Which Hillbilly State "Accidentally" Edited "Evolution" Out of Cosmos?

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM

A TV station in one of the following states "accidentally" and verrrry clumsily inserted a news promo into the first episode of Cosmos—right when host Neil deGrasse Tyson was talking about evolution. COINCIDENCE? Probably not. But let's see if you can guess which state it happened in. The answer is after jump (no peeping!)—and as they love to say in TV news, "the answer MAY surprise you!"

Continue reading »

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Portland's Whole Foods and Kentucky's Creation Museum Have In Common

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I end up going to Whole Foods for lunch maybe once every two or three weeks, because there's one pretty close to Mercury HQ and their avocado/cucumber rolls are very good and sometimes the salad bar's worth a shot and then there's a kind of apple juice I really like there and SHIT I JUST SPENT MORE ON LUNCH THAN I DID ON MY LAST STUDENT LOAN PAYMENT GAAAHHH

Then I'm ashamed, and then I don't go for another two weeks, and then the cycle repeats itself. Aside from Whole Food's predatory exploitation of privileged food hobbyists, though, there's another reason to be wary of the place: Increasingly, Whole Foods is basing its existence on catering to scientifically dubious trends (GOJI BERRIES WILL NOT SAVE YOU). For Whole Foods' Portland stores at least, that's a smart strategy, given that scientifically dubious trends are lovingly embraced by a distressing amount of otherwise reasonable Portlanders. Hey, otherwise reasonable Portlanders! Here's a thing that's worth reading! Michael Schulson's "Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience," from The Daily Beast:

Look, if homeopathic remedies make you feel better, take them. If the Paleo diet helps you eat fewer TV dinners, that’s great—even if the Paleo diet is probably premised more on The Flintstones than it is on any actual evidence about human evolutionary history. If non-organic crumbs bother you, avoid them. And there’s much to praise in Whole Foods’ commitment to sustainability and healthful foods.

Still: a significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (think What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or Whole Foods’ overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article). If scientific accuracy in the public sphere is your jam, is there really that much of a difference between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who seems to have made a career marketing pseudoscience about the origins of the world, and John Mackey, a founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, who seems to have made a career, in part, out of marketing pseudoscience about health? (Via.)

Whenever I think of Whole Foods, I also think of the slightly more tolerable New Seasons, which caters to the same sort of bourgie clientele. That said, I haven't been inside a New Seasons for a year or two—has anybody who's gone there recently noticed if they're doing the same thing as Whole Foods when it comes to this kind of stuff?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

:D No, wait. :(

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 12:59 PM


When you see a colon and a parentheses, you know exactly what it means. The smiley face has become ubiquitous online, and psychologists have even looked into the ways it’s used in emails. Now, researchers say that not only do we know what the little :) means, but we actually perceive it the same way we perceive an actual human face. (Via.)

That's from Smithsonian. And from ABC:

"Emoticons are a new form of language that we're producing," says researcher, Dr Owen Churches, from the school of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, "and to decode that language we've produced a new pattern of brain activity." (Via.)

Okay, so maybe me saying humans have no need for human faces anymore was kind of exaggerating (HOW ELSE WOULD WE EAT), but the fact our brains now have the same response to :) as we do when seeing an actual human being smile is kind of... I don't know? There isn't really an emoji for neat and creepy at the same time. :/


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Here's Patrick Stewart As a Lunar Rover, You're Welcome

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM

China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover is having some problems, and The Daily Show has employed the best possible person to imbue said rover with the melancholy befitting such an occasion. (You can totally skip to about the three-minute mark to avoid the majority of Jon Stewart's shtick.)

The Science Guy vs. The Creationist Guy

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Did you watch? Salon says the Science Guy won. The Daily Beast says the Creationist Guy won. The National Center for Science Education says the Science Guy won. Who do you think won?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The New Trailer for Cosmos: the Reboot!

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM

While the inclusion of executive producer Seth McFarlane (Family Guy, Ted, part of the reason why the world is a terrible place) makes me want to go screaming into the night, I will hope and pray that his involvement is minuscule and Fox's reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos is going to rock it. It's hosted by your favorite astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson... soooo... there's that! It debuts on March 9, and here's the first trailer.

Update: This video is being persnickity... so watch it here.


Monday, January 20, 2014

OMSI's Food Luminary Dinners Re-Launch This Week

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

No offense, but the concept of OMSI as a dining destination is going to take some getting used to. I don't actually recall having ever eaten at Theory, it's main culinary option, but it seems to offer cafeteria-style standards like pizza, mac 'n' cheese, sandwiches, etc. If it's any indication, I have partaken of the food at the smaller, snackier Galileo's, which was predictably mediocre and overpriced. (Also, Theory is managed by Bon Appétit, the same company that operated the cafeteria at the college I attended, and which I always considered to be better than most—with the curious exception of burritos... their burritos were impressively terrible.) And what do you really ask of science museum food, anyway? It's fine.

But OMSI is relentless in its pursuit of new ways to market themselves and draw people in, which is a pluck you gotta admire, and some of what they've come up with is pretty great (science pubs! the Empirical Theater! late-night adult booze parties!). Lately they're setting their sights on Portland's famous interests in fine dining and health—not an unintelligent idea.

As part of this they're re-launching the "Food Luminary" dinners they started toying with last year as monthly events, the first one kicking off this Wednesday (the 22nd). They feature food science demos over wine and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a cooking demo by the guest chef of the month, and a four-course meal created by said chef "in collaboration with Bon Appétit Executive Chef Ryan Morgan," with a focus on healthy and sustainable eating practices. They've scored a pretty impressive lineup, too: Wednesday's dinner is with Lincoln's Jenn Louis and Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co. fame, February's event (on the 11th) is with Urban Farmer's Matt Christianson, and March (14th) is with St. Jack's Aaron Barnett.

The $80 ticket price ain't cheap, but it covers everything, including drinks and gratuity, and tickets are still available for the first one. And if you hate surprises, here's the menu, too:

passed appetizers
Bruschetta with whipped schmaltz, prosciutto and smoked salt
Yeasted potato fritters with cocoa nibs and coffee salt, cocoa dust and chili aioli

Nantucket sea scallops with capers, lemon and bottarga, lemon salt

1st course
Green cabbage with fermented winter squash, pancetta, walnuts and blue cheese vinaigrette

Braised lamb neck with tomato and orange, ghost chili salt
Carrots with saffron and parsley
Fried brussels sprouts banga cauda
Braised beans with lardo

Salted popcorn panna cotta, vanilla salt
Salted fennel caramels, vanilla salt

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Cabinet of Wonder Festival

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Need a new hobby? Get a load of Portland's latest movement: The first annual Cabinet of Wonder Festival is inspired by the pre-museum renaissance days when wealthy folks would assemble their own collections of specimens in the fields of "science, nature and archaeology and ethnography," like taxidermy, minerals, mounted insects, foreign art pieces, etc. These were called "wunderkammer" or "wonder cabinets," and now Curious Gallery PDX is using the idea as a jumping off point for a two-day festival scheduled Feb 1 & 2 at the Doubletree Hotel (1000 NE Multnomah).

The agenda definitely has more than a whiff of steam punk to it (no judgement whether you take that as a warning or enticement), but there are a lot of workshops that sound interesting, like a "costumed figure drawing" class, a workshop on terrariums (also called "Wardian cases," apparently), a lecture on the history of wunderkammer, "modern elixir making," steel sculpture, wildcrafting, a panel on the legality and ethics of using animal parts in art and collecting, and a lecture on why we should care about endangered species of insects (a portion of the event's profits are set to go to the Xerces Society, a nonprofit invertebrate conservation group).

Check out the whole rundown here.

  • Dana Ross

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bill Nye the Science Guy to Debate Creation Museum Founder About Evolution

Posted by David Schmader on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Now more than ever, science needs defending, so thank God for Bill Nye, who'll take time out of his busy Science Guy schedule to publicly debate Ken Ham, founder of Kentucky's Creation museum, on the subject of evolution vs. creationism.

As Ken Ham writes on his website:

Most of you will recall Mr. Nye as the bow-tied host of the popular children’s TV program Bill Nye the Science Guy. On his TV program, watched by millions of children over the years both on TV and as videos in science classrooms, Nye promoted evolutionary ideas. In recent times he has often been seen on TV interview shows and YouTube videos, where he has defended evolution. Nye was the “2010 Humanist of the Year” as awarded by the American Humanist Association. Because our ministry theme for 2013 and for 2014 is “Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids,” our staff thought that a debate on creation vs. evolution with a man who has influenced so many children to believe in evolution would be a good idea. Now, those of you who know me realize that I don’t relish public debates, so please pray for me.

Via Dangerous Minds, here's the video of Bill Nye criticizing creationism that inspired Ken Ham to make this retort video and led to the Nye vs. Ham debate, which will take place on Feb 4.

I'll keep you posted on how to see/hear the debate. In the meantime, another impressive sentence from Ken Ham (bolds mine):

[T]his debate will help highlight the fact that so many young people are dismissing the Bible because of evolution, and even many young people who had grown up in the church decided to leave the church because they saw evolution as showing the Bible could not be trusted.

Okay. (Meanwhile, wingnut Bryan Fischer thinks no one who believes in evolution should be allowed to hold public office.)

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