This year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science looked at, among other things, the history of alchemy, deep carbon, the health of lonely people, tracking individuals in swarms and stuttering. Nobel Prize-winning chemist Kary Mullis offers a radical new way to treat infectious diseases as the effectiveness of our current antibiotics wanes. A romp into theories of the cradle of life: Chemists, geologists, biologists, planetary scientists and physicists gathered recently to ponder where and what Eden might have been. The unsung hero of science: The International Year of Chemistry throws the spotlight on to a science that has utterly transformed our lives. One shocked chemist: Molecular surprises are sometimes right in front of us, if only we’d do the math. A review of Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams (and more). The evolution of the periodic system: From its origins some 200 years ago, the periodic table has become a vital tool for modern chemists. Tear down your wall-charts and burn your chemistry textbooks: The scientist's holy bible is getting a historic revamp as ten elements on the periodic table are about to be altered. What would happen if every element on the periodic table came into contact simultaneously? Blogging the periodic table elements: Sam Kean on wild, weird, wonderful stories about the elements that make up our universe. No one knows exactly why the international prototype of the kilogram, as pampered a hunk of platinum and iridium as ever existed, appears to weigh less than it did when it was manufactured in the late 19th century.

Josh Blackman (Penn State): The Constitutionality of Social Cost. From Catapult, a special issue on reading and favorite books. Sacred values as heuristics: Can being faced with a decision involving morals be a good thing? Michelangelo Signorile says falling for a false narrative of how “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal came to pass gets us nowhere as the gay community continues to fight for its rights. A review of Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning by Nancy Pearcey. How to use experts and when not: Noreena Hertz on how relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. Is forced sterilization ever OK? A UK court considers the question in the case of a mentally handicapped pregnant woman. A review of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage by Douglas Waller. Forgiving for good: Eve Garrard and David McNaughton ask whether it’s always right to forgive and forget. Environmental activist on trial: An interview with Tim DeChristopher. Can celebrities get busted for bragging about pot smoking? It’s not the yard that matters, it’s the view. The Salt Demon's Legacy: Samrat Chakrabarti charts out what the human race stands to lose if Maharashtra's Lonar lake is not saved — from us. Christian anti-porn crusaders, the next generation: founder Craig Gross is among a crop of hip young believers sermonizing against the adult industry. Why world needs three global currencies: America must anticipate and begin to build an era in which the euro and the renminbi rival the dollar. A review of Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby. Scott McLemee reviews Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One.

From FDL, a book salon on Eric Alterman's Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama. The mother of all anti-Obama conspiracy theories: Obama's secret plot to bring 100 million Muslims to the US. Meet Alex Jones: The most paranoid man in America is trying to overthrow the "global Stasi Borg state", one conspiracy theory at a time. Glenn Beck's shtick? Alex Jones got there first. James Downie on the decline of Glenn Beck: What caused it? (and more and more) An interview with Thomas Frank on the nation’s toxic political discourse. Goddangit, baby, we're making good time: With a new master plan for the GOP, Karl Rove is revving up for a comeback. A review of From Bible Belt to Sun Belt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism by Darren Dochuk. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, hails not from the urban melting pot but from a Southern, explicitly Christian America. Canadian Craig Butosi on engaging with Ann Coulter and the radical right. While the large number of victories for Tea Party–backed candidates suggests electoral appeal and political clout, it seems that a Tea Party endorsement actually didn’t matter all that much during the 2010 mid-terms. Class war for idiots: Billionaire Koch brothers use their $1 billion-a-year taxpayer-funded biofuel subsidy to bankroll Republicans, Tea Party, Right-wing libertarian groups. Libertarianism and science fiction, what's the connection? The widespread popularity of science fiction is one of the factors that has helped to keep individualism at the center of American culture.