Electrons are faster than paper

The people of Iran are communicating and reaching out to the world through blogs.

Here are some links:
blogs (in English) by Iranians
Wikipedia article on Iranian blogs
Web gives a voice to Iranian women

Stanley L. Miller has died

Stanley L. Miller has died. Working under the supervision of Harold Urey, he ran the first experiments that produced the molecular building blocks of life from hydrogen, water, methane, and ammonia. Blog commenter Zeno sums it up:

The experiment showed definitively that chemical compounds associated with organic life could be generated in the absence of life. If Miller and Urey made assumptions about the early earth that are no longer generally accepted, that’s entirely beside the point. Since the Miller-Urey breakthrough, their seminal experiment has been run under many different assumptions about primeval environments and the results confirm the original key finding: precursors of organic life can arise in many different circumstances.

Read an interview with Dr. Miller.

Provincial election in Manitoba

Today is election day for the province of Manitoba, the only province I know of that’s named after a god (Manitou). The polls close at 8:00 p.m. and the news coverage starts. According to the CBC, the New Democratic Party is on its way to winning its third straight majority government, something no other party has done there. They need 29 seats for a majority and early returns give them 30 seats. Gary Doer, the Premier, has increased his lead in his own riding every time.

Here’s how it works: a riding is a contiguous area that elects the representative to one seat in provincial parliament. The voters vote for the candidate in their riding. It’a a first-past-the-post system: the candidate with the most votes wins. The party with the most candidates elected, translating into seats, forms the government. The leader of their party becomes the Premier. So, in this case, the Progressive Conservatives have massive leads in a few ridings, but that doesn’t translate into votes. They have more popular votes than their results show. Some people might think that’s unfair: but it does force parties to remain “big tents” that welcome a spectrum of ideas. Countries with pure popular representation develop more one-issue parties, spinter parties. Then governments are formed only by coalitions; less gets done while the parties work out their compromises and deals; and the governments are less stable.

Hug a Scientist Today

Blogger Rich Rodriguez at Christian Pwnage 101 has a link to a beautiful video pointing out that our “scientific minority” is responsible for most of the good things that we enjoy and the long lives that we have to enjoy them with: “Hug a Scientist Today.” His is a clear, strong voice for science.

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