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10 Interesting Things the World Learned This Week

Cool discoveries about music, Leonardo da Vinci and America's wolf population.

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Isn’t natural gas a cleaner burning fuel? Well, it’s cleaner than coal, but a lot depends on how much of it leaks into the atmosphere, and Walsh, in his detailed story, concludes that it’s worth gathering more information and taking its climate changing risks into consideration.   

10. Tennessee turns “Monkey Bill” into law

In order to see how a particular algae would react to ocean acidification researchers cultured the algae in a lab “under projected future CO2 conditions.” Over the course of 500 generations (produced in one year) the algae were shown to have adapted to higher CO2 conditions, reports  Science Daily . They adapted to their environment. You might say they  evolved.  

The research was meant to see whether the algae would adapt, not to show evidence of evolution itself. But having just read about this little episode, it seems helpful to bring this quiet little example to the table, especially since evolution is under fire in Tennessee. Again.

Tennessee has just passed a law that allows teachers to “point out flaws in current scientific thought on evolution, global warming and other accepted theories,” writes  Jane Roberts of the Tennessee Commercial Appeal. Critics, who have dubbed the law “The Monkey Bill” (in echo of the  Scopes Trial ) feel it will hobble science education in that state. The new law doesn’t include teaching of creationism or intelligent design but’s Ars Technica  points out, intriguingly,  “Teachers with a strong agenda will be able to bring up discredited arguments against the mainstream scientific understanding. And, should they ever do that in front of a student from a family with equally strong views, the result will inevitably be a lawsuit that will hold the local school district responsible.”

Thousands of people signed petitions against the bill, and organizations like the National Center for Science Education have spoken out against it. Didn’t matter. 

For some people no amount of evidence for evolution will alter what they believe. 

Funny how a unicellular algae can adapt to new stuff, but sometimes humans just can’t get the knack of it.

Liz Langley is a freelance writer in Orlando, FL.

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