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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Field Notes

Obama Invokes Religion More Overtly Than Bush
As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches—something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings, even though Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity. (Eamon Javers, Politico)

Atheists Still Have Faith in Obama
While atheist advocates railed against Bush, they seem willing to give Obama a pass on his God talk—at least for now. (Daniel Libit, Politico)

Exhibit Celebrates Leonardo da Vinci as Man of Science
Four centuries before Darwin, Leonardo's detailed studies of fossils helped him to foresee the theories of evolution and plate tectonics, and to reject a literal interpretation of the Biblical flood. Almost half a millennium before man landed on the moon, his lunar studies convinced him that the moon shone with reflected light, instead of a light of its own, as the Bible maintained. (Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal)

Medieval Church Didn't Forbid Human Dissection
Leonardo dissected an aged patient whom he had befriended at the hospital of Santa Maria Nova, Florence. As an artist he had no standing to request a corpse for medical research, but he did not get into trouble. (Christopher Howse, Telegraph)

Seeking Forgiveness?
You might be surprised to learn just how effective a simple apology can be. In fact, a recent series of studies showed that, to a large extent, it doesn’t even matter if the apology is patently insincere—at least for the target of the original wrongdoing. (Jesse Bering, Scientific American Mind)

The Importance of Caring About Science
Though Brian Greene is best known for string theory and Alan Alda for comic acting, they’ve also dedicated themselves to popularizing science among the public. For Greene, scientific literacy is a basic part of modern democracy. For Alda, the restless and self-questioning scientific mode of thought is a virtue. (Brandon Keim, Wired Science)