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April 25, 2011

Bill "The Science Guy" Nye booed by Christians after saying that moon does not generate its own light

Just shoot me... Some walk out on Bill Nye for saying moon reflects light - National skepticism | Examiner.com
I wasn't aware of this. Bill Nye "The Science Guy" was booed in Waco, Texas in 2006 for suggesting the Moon did not generate its own light, but reflected light from the sun. (Update: You can find more here. Interview with the reporter here.) Trouble started when the children's entertainer brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars," and pointed out that the lesser light was actually a reflector. At this point, several people in the audience stormed out, including woman with three small children who muttered, "We believe in God!" and left. Nye was taking part in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series, giving talks on global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption, but it was the moon thing that got them. . . .

April 24, 2011

Tainted feed may have changed hen into rooster

Or . . . maybe not? Whatever happened, it is weird. I know fish and amphibians can change sex based on environmental stimuli, but this is the first time I've heard of a chicken doing it. How Gertie the chicken mysteriously switched genders
Late last year, a British hen named Gertie stopped laying eggs. She then started crowing like a rooster, and suddenly her entire appearance seemed to morph into a male. So just what is going on here? Gertie is one of two hens kept by Jim and Jeanette Howard from Cambridgeshire in England. According to Mrs. Howard, both hens produced fewer than average eggs over last winter. Gertie then stopped laying eggs completely, and things got seriously strange when she started moulting her feathers. Mrs. Howard explains her suddenly robust physique: "I thought Gertie came out of that really well. She grew back lots more feathers - she was quite straggly before - and I also realised that she had filled out quite a lot. Gertie looked very healthy." It seems though that she wasn't simply filling out at last - instead, she was actually taking on a more masculine physique. Soon after, she developed the neck wattle of a rooster, and her comb became much larger. Her behavior changed too, as she started marching around the coop precisely as one might expect a rooster to. Mrs. Howard explains: "Then a few days later I heard her try to crow. She wasn't very good at it at first, but she's progressed nicely and now she really goes for it. I'm not really sure whether Gertie has actually changed sex, but to all intents and purposes she's now a cockerel." Veterinarian Marion Ford thinks she knows what happened here. Something in Gertie's feed - most likely a form of fungus - acted as a synthetic hormone for Gertie, causing her to suddenly develop male characteristics. This sort of thing isn't unheard of, but it's only about a 1 in 10,000 chance. Ford explains: "An increase in testosterone will result in a hen growing an extended comb, exaggerated wattles, and cockerel-like behaviour including strutting and crowing."