Signs & Portents
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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, December 17
Astronomers run into trouble with native activists in Hawaii. SpaceX paves the way for commercial spaceflight. And an agreement on climate change is reached at Paris. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
Should the pursuit of knowledge trump the rights of native peoples? Or should scientists conform to the desires of a minority religion? Those are the questions that are being asked in Hawaii now that the state's supreme court has voided permission to construct a massive telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea, one of Hawaii's most sacred sites. You can read the full details here.
Just how different are men and women really? Physically, the answers might seem obvious. But when it comes to the brain new research shows that while there are some small differences between male and female, they're vastly outnumbered by the individual variation between different members of the same sex.
Since 2011, NASA has lacked any independent human spaceflight capacity, relying on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to reach low orbit. To fill the gap left by the space shuttle's retirement and the delay in the development of its Orion replacement, private companies have worked to develop their own capacities. One such company, SpaceX, has had its share of trouble, but looks close to finally closing the deal on privately funded human spaceflight.
Genetic engineering has long been controversial, though most scientists emphasize it's safe and reliable for specific uses. Now, however, genetic engineering has become easier than ever before, with the development of the so-called CRISPR-Cas9 technique. You can read more about the biological revolution here, at Scientific American.
Recently, the world's most advanced economies came together in Paris to discuss the threat posed by global warming and how to best combat it. As of last Saturday, an agreement has been reached. You can read environmentally-minded website Grist's reaction to the new treaty here.
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