From Science News, physicists have shown that tumbled strings will form surprisingly complex knots, helping explain how knots spontaneously form in nature. From Wired, a look at the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2007. From Scientific American, a look at the top 25 science stories of 2007. No, we don’t want to kiss and make up: Lifelong feuds can be good for science, even if they are bad for the soul. A review of Copernicus' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began by Jack Repcheck. The Edge Annual Question 2008: When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy; when God changes your mind, that's faith; when facts change your mind, that's science — so what have you changed your mind about?
The end of postmodernism: An article on the "new atheists" and democracy. A review of There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese. A review of The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville. A review of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back by Frank Schaeffer. A review of The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Mormons are like the superheroes of Christianity: When disaster strikes, they spring into action — so why isn't Mitt Romney bragging?
From Discover, an article on the science at the very soul of cooking. A review of The Warmest Room in the House: How the Kitchen Became the Heart of the Twentieth-Century American Home by Steven Gdula. A review of The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones. The Holy Church of Food: A review of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (and more and more). An interview with Erik Finklestein, co-author of The Fattening of America: How The Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What To Do About It. Secrets of weight loss revealed!: A review of Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata and Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink.
From Reason, a review of You Said What? Lies and Propaganda Throughout History by Bill Fawcett. A review of A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th century by John Burrow (and more and more and more and more). Noble or savage? The era of the hunter-gatherer was not the social and environmental Eden that some suggest. The promise and politics of the mother tongue: The first chapter from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony.
From National Geographic, high tech trash: Toxic components of discarded electronics are ending up overseas. From Utne, atomic dreams: How the nuclear lobby is spinning liberals, lawmakers, and grassroots environmentalists. From Grist, an article on busting the "consensus busters" of The Inhofe 400. The summer of acid rain: Molten iron raining down like cowpats; ice floes at New Orleans. The weather of 1783 was an extraordinary case of sudden climate change driven by atmospheric gases. Remember "350 parts per million": It's the number that may define our future. The year we all went green: Climate change went mainstream in 2007, but there is still a gap between the urgency of the science and our willingness to act.
A spectre is haunting America, the spectre of theocracy: Presidential candidates are either citing scripture or dropping broad hints that they will govern as "people of faith". Chris Hedges on the Evangelical rebellion. Could you vote for a man who abides by Moronish wisdom? Recent contortions of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney show why faith should not trump reason in the public square. Garry Wills on Romney and JFK: The Difference. You think a Mormon candidate has troubles? Ever be the praises of Great Cthulhu of Tsathoggua and of him who may not be named! Running with Jesus: Why Mike Huckabee unnerves some political conservatives and evangelical Christians. GOP loses its life: A look at how a pro-abortion nominee would shatter Reagan’s coalition.
From TED, Gever Tulley talks about our new wave of overprotected kids — and spells out 5 (and really, he's got 6) dangerous things you should let your kids do. Boyhood before the Xbox: Virtual adventures didn't begin with 3D graphics and computer games — neither did parental anxiety. Should you feel guilty if your children spent a lot of time in front of the TV? A review of Into the Minds of Babes: When to Relax and When to Worry About How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five by Lisa Guernsey. Why is risky behavior so common among teenagers and what might be done to curtail it? Can't you all just get along? Experts have plenty of advice for new parents — if only they could agree.
From Sirens, should women be surprised when men say no? From American Sexuality, time for T and macho men? Testosterone levels linked to women’s preferences for masculine men. Virgin or slut, pick one: Why teenagers are so screwed up about sex and their bodies. A look at how porn is screwing up young men's expectations of sex. Young, horny and impotent: Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome can ruin your sex life — good thing it’s reversible. Life after masturbation: Advice for a mother who’s walked in on her son during a private moment. Do Me: Sex Tales from Tin House, an eclectic literary anthology dedicated to sex in all its glorious iterations, offers an entertaining if uneven read.
From The American Conservative, here's a reality-based assessment of Iran’s nuclear capability. The Western image of a closed society of mullahs dictating every Iranian's thoughts and movements is far from the reality. From NYRB, Max Rodenbeck is an American in Iran; and Michael Massing on as Iraqis see it. "The US got rid of one Saddam and replaced him with 50": An article on the politics of the local in Iraq. Juan Cole on the top 10 myths about Iraq in 2007. Fred Kaplan on six months that could change Iraq: Three post-surge scenarios. A tall order for a Marine: Divining how to treat the ally who tried to kill you in Anbar Province. Some US soldiers have spent so much time in Iraq, it feels like home. An interview with George McGovern on Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now.
1905 and the Birth of Modernity: An excerpt from Savage Century: Back to Barbarism by Therese Delpech. A century on the edge, 1945-2045: The era of nuclear weapons and of global climate change poses dangers to human existence which must be addressed in coming decades. A review of As the World Burns: 50 Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan. Blame it all on the '70s: An interview with Thomas Hine, author of The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies. The secret library of hope: Twelve authors on war and peace, dissent, the environment and the empowerment of the poor provide inspiration to transform the world in 2008.