Category Archives: Geology

Michael Oppenheimer Explains the Science of Climate Change

Michael Oppenheimer ( For many, the arguments surrounding global warming and the ways to combat it can be convoluted and confusing. Delivering the first of the Sydney Ideas lectures for 2010, world renowned climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer outlined the evidence for global warming and explained how it was gathered.

Michael Oppenheimer is a Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. He was the Lead Author on the third and fourth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Before joining the faculty at Princeton, he spent 20 years as chief scientist at The Environmental Defence Fund.

Also available on Length: 95 minutes 31 seconds (intro until 6:40, Q&A starts around 70 minutes).

Updates: Current carbon dioxide emission higher than it was just before ancient episode of severe global warming (Science Daily)
New website to monitor greenhouse gases (PhysOrg)
Penn researchers link fastest sea-level rise in 2 millennia to increasing temperatures (EurekAlert)

Evolution: How We Know it Happened & Why it Matters

A Skeptic video on YouTube with Dr. Donald Prothero:

Dr. Donald Prothero

The hottest cultural controversy of 2005 was the Intelligent Design challenge to the theory of evolution, being played out in classrooms and courtrooms across America. The crux of the argument made by proponents of Intelligent Design is that the theory of evolution is in serious trouble. They claim that the evidence for evolution is weak, the gaps in the theory are huge, and that these flaws should be taught to students. In this brilliant synthesis of scientific data and theory, Occidental College geologist, paleontologist, and evolutionary theorist Dr. Donald Prothero will present the best evidence we have that evolution happened, why Darwins theory still matters, and what the real controversies are in evolutionary biology.

Dr. Donald Prothero teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology. His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic. His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 and 40 million years ago, using the technique of magnetic stratigraphy. He is the author of “Evolution of the Earth,” “Bringing Fossils to Life,” “After the Dinosaurs,” “Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals,” and the textbook “Sedimentary Geology.”

EDGE: Richard Thaler’s Question on overturned beliefs/science

Richard ThalerRichard H. Thaler, Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, is the father of Behavioral Economics. In preparation for a new book he asked EDGE contributors to answer this question:

The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

As of today, there are 61 responses which make for fascinating reading on how science has corrected itself and our views of nature.

The contributors include Neil Shubin, Garrett Lisi, Peter Schwartz, David Deutsch, Haim Harari, Alun Anderson, Irene Pepperberg, John Holland, Derek Lowe, Charles Simonyi, Nathan Myhrvold, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Strogatz, Cesar Hidalgo, Eric Topol, Christian Keysers, Simona Morini, Ross Anderson, James Croak, Rob Kurzban, Lewis Wolpert, Howard Gardner, Ed Regis, Robert Trivers, Frank Tipler, Joan Chaio, Jeremy Bernstein, Matthew Ritchie, Clay Shirky, Roger Schank, Gary Klein, Gregory Cochran, Eric Weinstein , Geoffrey Carr, James O’Donnell, Lane Greene, Jonathan Haidt, Juan Enriquez, Scott Atran, Rupert Sheldrake, Emanuel Derman, Charles Seife, Milford H. Wolpoff, Robert Shapiro, Judith Harris, Jordan Pollack, Sue Blackmore, Nicholas G. Carr, Lee Smolin, Marti Hearst, Gino Segre, Carl Zimmer, Gregory Paul, Alison Gopnik, George Dyson, Mark Pagel, Timothy Taylor, David Berreby, Zenon Pylyshyn, Michael Shermer, and George Lakoff.

Topics (with comments on both bad and correct science or beliefs) include: plate tectonics, cosmic inflation, prions, quantum entanglement, the force of gravity, the great chain of being, bird intelligence, the four humours of human physiology, luminiferous aether, bad air disease theory, Peripatetic Mechanics of Aristotle, stress theory of ulcers, intelligent design/creationism, the age of the Earth, cell regeneration, spontaneous generation of life, vitalism, unifunctional components of the brain, security by obscurity, whales as fishes, group selection, unilinear cultural evolution, static universe, Lamarckism, nature/nurture, the existence of a vacuum, the human brain vs. the heart, and more…

Bonus: Thaler on his field Behavioural Economics: