Sioux Falls Free Thinkers

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

For all those with Open Minds!

An Open Mind by Megan Godtland

An Open Mind by Megan Godtland

Welcome Sioux Falls Free Thinkers!
Welcome Open Minds!

Sioux Falls Free Thinkers is Home for all those of Free Thought with Open Minds! This group includes Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists, those interested in science and Scientists, those who love animals and Zoologists, and Feminists and those wanting to help abused women, but all those with open minds are welcome. Free Thinkers are those that want a world without rules and controls on thought, without mental borders and boundaries. A world where anything is possible.

Free Your Mind! There Is No Spoon!
(From the movie, The Matrix)

The one thing the writers of the Freethinker definition seem to have forgotten is the idea of having an Open Mind, the basic concept behind what made Freethinking possible in the first place. We at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers reject this closed-minded rigidity of thought, so, even though we agree with and endorse much of the Freethinking definition, we took the word Freethinking back to its original roots and call ourselves "Free Thinkers" to symbolize Open Minds, Free Thought, and true Free Thinking once again.

Our meetings and social gatherings are posted at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on Sioux Falls Free Thinkers Upcoming Events can be seen on the Calendar.

As part of the Sioux Falls Feminists Domestic Violence Awareness campaign next week I will be the guest on blogtalkradio/naasca. NAASCA stands for National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. The show will commence LIVE at 8pm EST (which is 7pm CEN, 6pm MTN and 5pm PAC) and will last 90 minutes on Wednesday, September 28th.

Dale Hemming, Founder Sioux Falls Feminists

The Sioux Falls Free Thinkers group will never have any dues. Membership is not required to attend our meetings. This group will probably never have any formal rules except treating other members and their opinions with respect, and giving everyone equal time to speak. This group will never purge members for expressing their opinions or for forming their own group of open-minded people. The only loose requirement is that members, and those attending our meetings, have an interest in one of the subjects of our five websites.

7-8-16 How NASA restored my faith in humanity
How NASA restored my faith in humanity
This week, NASA's Juno spacecraft entered into orbit around Jupiter, after a 1.7 billion–mile journey. Juno arrived just one second off its scheduled arrival time after five years in space, traveling at 165,000 miles per hour (0.025% of the speed of light) — the fastest human-built object ever. Where in everyday life, or in government, do we see such sheer competence? In modern science, miracles are routine. Physicists have hurled beams of protons at each other with such primordial force that they revealed the elusive Higgs boson that serves as glue for all matter. Astrophysicists have detected gravitational waves produced by the collision of two black holes more than a billion light-years away, by creating antennae of such exquisite sensitivity they register infinitesimal ripples in space-time. Molecular biologists are figuring out how to re-engineer genes. Computer scientists keep shrinking the size of chips and doubling our devices' computing power. None of this is to say that scientists are gods, or that they are immune to the shortsightedness and egotism that plagues our species. Underneath their hyperdeveloped cerebral cortexes, even the most brilliant people have a lizard brain, pulsing with primitive impulses. But they provide proof that not all humans are imbeciles, and that's consolation enough.

Breaking News!

9-27-16 Exclusive: World’s first baby born with new “3 parent” technique
Exclusive: World’s first baby born with new “3 parent” technique
Five-month-old Abrahim Hassan is the first baby to be born using a new version of a controversial technique that uses DNA from three people. Five-month-old Abrahim Hassan is the first baby to be born using a new technique that incorporates DNA from three parents, New Scientist can reveal. “This is great news and a huge deal,” says Dusko Ilic at King’s College London, who wasn’t involved in the work. “It’s revolutionary.” The controversial technique, which allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy babies, has only been legally approved in the UK. But the birth of Abrahim, whose Jordanian parents were treated by a US-based team in Mexico, should fast-forward progress around the world, say embryologists. Abrahim’s mother, Ibtisam Shaban, carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that affects the developing nervous system. Genes for the disease reside in DNA in the mitochondria, which provide energy for our cells and carry just 37 genes that are passed down to us from our mothers. This is separate from the majority of our DNA, which is housed in each cell’s nucleus. Around a quarter of Shaban’s mitochondria have the disease-causing mutation. While she is healthy, Leigh syndrome was responsible for the deaths of her first two children. Shaban and her husband, Mahmoud Hassan, sought out the help of John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City.

9-26-16 Biggest radio telescope on Earth ready to receive alien signals
Biggest radio telescope on Earth ready to receive alien signals
The 500-metre-wide radio telescope in rural China will let us study galaxies, pulsars and potential alien signals that would be too faint for any other scope. Time to power up the largest radio telescope in the world. China’s Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, began spying on outer space on 25 September. FAST will measure radio waves in space, allowing us to study the rotation of galaxies, monitor the behaviour of pulsars and keep an eye out for signals sent by aliens. It is situated in a remote, mountainous area of Guizhou Province in south-western China, which will help protect it from radio-wave interference, like signals sent by cell phones and Wi-Fi. Construction began in 2011, spurring the relocation of a small village. The telescope will go through a testing and debugging phase before full operation begins, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The telescope, named for the size of its dish – 500 metres across – is about 200 metres wider than its closest rival, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, built in the early 1960s. That means that it will be able to see dimmer objects than the Arecibo telescope can detect, says Michael Nolan at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Being bigger means it collects more light,” Nolan says. “So if you’re looking at a faint signal, it’ll be brighter in the bigger telescope.”

9-15-16 China is launching a space station and wants an even bigger one
China is launching a space station and wants an even bigger one
Tiangong-2 is another step in the long march towards China's goal of a permanent space station – and to signal that it won't play second fiddle to the US. China plans to launch its second space station later today, with a two-member crew to follow next month, according to China space agency officials. The launch of Tiangong-2 is another step towards China’s goal of a self-sustaining space station by 2022, and a reminder of the nation’s space prowess. A Long March 2F rocket will launch Tiangong-2 from China’s Gobi Desert at 22:04 local time, coinciding with the lunar Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese officials announced. It will manoeuvre itself into orbit about 380 kilometres above Earth, then raise its orbit to 393 kilometres when a Shenzhou-11 capsule arrives in October carrying two astronauts, who will live on the station for 30 days. The station is designed for a two-year lifetime, and will dock with China’s first cargo ship, Tianzhou-1, in April 2017. The station is 18.4 metres wide and weighs 8.6 tons, said Wu Ping, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, in a press conference broadcast on state-run media. Despite its small size and short lifespan, Tiangong-2 is an important precursor to China’s larger space station, which it aims to launch on a Long March 5 rocket in the next six years, says Dean Cheng, a Chinese space policy expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. Next year will bring China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, in which prime minister Xi Jinping is expected to win a second term, and a new space station is a sign of the party’s prowess, Cheng adds. “It’s a reminder that China has a manned space programme, including the ability to put its own astronauts into space, something the Americans cannot do,” he says – US astronauts are currently flown by Russia. “It’s about national pride, but it’s also, as the Chinese would put it, ‘very dense in high technology’. And it has military implications, and they are very upfront about this. All of these are elemental to why are they doing this.” (Webmaster's comment: America is losing the space race. Since we only do it for profit for greedy capitalists it must return money to the already super-rich or we won't do it. A for profit space race will also always kill more astronauts because safety costs more money!)

9-15-16 China launches second trial space station
China launches second trial space station
China has launched a second experimental space station, as it looks to have a crewed outpost by 2022. The Tiangong 2 blasted off just after 22:00 local time on Thursday from the Gobi desert. Next month, two astronauts will go to the station to conduct research. Beijing has made space exploration a national priority and is the third country, after the Soviet Union and the US, to launch people into space. The mission follows the launch of the Tiangong 1 prototype in 2011, a smaller but also operational model.

9-13-16 South Africa bars anti-gay US pastor Steven Anderson
South Africa bars anti-gay US pastor Steven Anderson
South Africa has barred controversial US pastor Steven Anderson from visiting the county because of his critical remarks about homosexuality. The home affairs minister said he was refused a visa as the constitution prohibits hate speech. Mr Anderson runs the Faithful Word Baptist Church, which says that homosexuality is an abomination punishable by the death penalty. He said that religious freedom no longer existed in South Africa. "I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana," Mr Anderson posted on his Facebook page after the decision to refuse him a visa. South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world which protects gay rights.

8-23-16 Texas judge blocks Obama's transgender bathroom directive
Texas judge blocks Obama's transgender bathroom directive
Some US schools have already introduced gender neutral bathrooms or allowed students to choose, but... A Texas judge has blocked an order by the US government that schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The temporary injunction signed by Judge Reed O'Connor follows a challenge to President Barack Obama's directive by 13 states and applies nationwide. The injunction was passed the day before many students go back to school. The right of transgender people to use bathrooms of their choice has become highly controversial in the US. Judge O'Connor, who was appointed by George W Bush, said schools should have been allowed to have a say before the White House directive was issued. He said: "This case presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students' rights and that of personal privacy... while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalised while attending school." The injunction does not prohibit schools from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, but those that don't will not have to conform. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, argued that President Obama was "attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people". (Webmaster's comment: The hate just never stops.)

8-23-16 US pregnancy-related deaths are rising and have doubled in Texas
US pregnancy-related deaths are rising and have doubled in Texas
Deaths from pregnancy-related causes have increased by 26.6 per cent across most of the US in 15 years. The problem is particularly bad in Texas, where the maternal mortality rate nearly doubled in the space of a year, from 2011 to 2012. These numbers come from a study of health data led by Marian MacDorman at the University of Maryland. The average maternal mortality rate in the US was 23.8 per 100,000 live births in 2014, although the researchers excluded Texas and California from this calculation. In comparison, it was only 9 and 6 deaths per 100,000 live births in the UK and Australia, respectively, in 2015. In fact, according to a previous analysis, the US is one of only eight countries in the world where the rate of pregnancy-related deaths has gone up in the last few decades, instead of down. The other countries where this has happened are Afghanistan, Belize, El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Greece and the Seychelles. But it’s Texas’s shocking rise that has caught the most attention. MacDorman’s team hasn’t pinned the state’s doubling in maternal mortality to a specific cause, but the team did note that the it has seen “some changes in the provision of women’s health services” since 2011. These changes include cuts to funding for women’s health and family planning. A new law restricting abortions in Texas – which has now been struck down by the US Supreme Court – also prompted a number of abortion clinics across the state to close. This may have made it harder for women whose health was at risk from pregnancy to get a termination.

8-23-16 Ramen noodles 'are most valuable US prison commodity', study suggests
Ramen noodles 'are most valuable US prison commodity', study suggests
Noodles can be exchanged for goods and services, the research found. Ramen noodles have overtaken tobacco to become the most valuable commodity in some US prisons, a new study suggests. The research said the shift was a response to a decline in the quantity and quality of food on offer. "Because it is cheap, tasty, and rich in calories, ramen has become so valuable that it is used to exchange for other goods," said study author Michael Gibson-Light. US prison data shows spending has not kept pace with the number of inmates. (Webmaster's comment: We are starving our prison inmates so badly that food has become a black-market commodity in prisons. How could we as a nation sink so low? The private prison system works strickly on profits. If making more money means less and lower quality food for inmates to increase even higher executive salaries for private prison executives, then less and lower quality food there will be.)

8-16-16 Scorchio! Earth's surface is the hottest it has been in history
Scorchio! Earth's surface is the hottest it has been in history
July 2016 is the hottest month ever recorded, smashing the previous record set in July 2011 as Earth hurtles towards 1.5 °C limit. It’s official: in July, the world’s surface was the hottest it has ever been since we starting measuring its temperature, according to NASA. That means it is likely to be the hottest it has been since the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago. This record for the hottest month ever will not last long: as the planet continues warming, it will get smashed again and again. We are on course to pass the limit we are meant to avoid – 1.5 °C above average pre-industrial temperature – in 2024, give or take a few years. Recent months have set a string of records. Globally, February was a whopping 1.32 °C above the 1951 to 1980 average for this month in NASA’s record. July came in at 0.84 °C above the average for July. So how can the planet be hotter now than in February? The reason is that these monthly figures are relative to previous months, rather than absolute. The absolute temperature of the entire surface of the planet changes over the year, being hottest during the northern hemisphere summer. So a hot July is much hotter than a hot February, as the graph in the article showing the seasonal variation in Earth’s temperature reveals.

8-16-16 China launches quantum-enabled satellite Micius
China launches quantum-enabled satellite Micius
China has successfully launched the world's first quantum-enabled satellite, state media said. It was carried on a rocket which blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China's north west early on Tuesday. The satellite is named after the ancient Chinese scientist and philosopher Micius. The project tests a technology that could one day offer digital communication that is "hack-proof". But even if it succeeds, it is a long way off that goal, and there is some mind-bending physics to get past first. (Webmaster's comment: But the Chinese are leading the way!)

8-16-16 China launches world’s first quantum communications satellite
China launches world’s first quantum communications satellite
The Quantum Science Satellite will test quantum entanglement over record distances and could lead to a global network for secure quantum communications. China has just launched the world’s first quantum communications satellite. The 600 kg spacecraft blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Center in the Gobi Desert at 0140 local time. The satellite is both an extreme test of the weird properties of quantum mechanics, and a technology testbed for what could be the start of a global, unhackable communications network. Officially known as the Quantum Science Satellite (QUESS), the mission has been renamed Mozi after the ancient Chinese philosopher said to be the first in history to conduct optical experiments. A team led by Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei will conduct their own experiments with QUESS, using photons to test quantum entanglement – in which the quantum properties of two particles are linked even when separated – over a record-breaking 1200 kilometres. The team will also test quantum key distribution, a form of secure communication in which the laws of quantum mechanics prevent eavesdroppers from snooping in. If successful, they hope to create a communications network. “For sure, we will launch more satellites to construct a quantum constellation for global coverage,” says Pan. (Webmaster's comment: This acheivement is so cutting-edge it is beyond cutting-edge! The Chinese are racing ahead of America in leading scientific achievements.)

8-5-16 Siberia has been experiencing a heat wave,
with temperatures in the 90s that is melting the
permafrost, which is releasing large amounts
of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

8-3-16 Record-breaking year shows Earth’s climate is in real trouble
Record-breaking year shows Earth’s climate is in real trouble
Our planet's “annual physical” check-up finds it severely ill, with dozens of various climate records broken last year. Dozens of climate records were broken last year, according to a report nicknamed the annual physical for the planet. Soon after 2015 ended, it was proclaimed the hottest on record – and the new report shows the broad extent of other records and near-records set last year. Those include record heat energy absorbed by the oceans and the lowest groundwater storage levels globally, according to the research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US. “I think the time to call the doctor was years ago,” said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report. “We are awash in multiple symptoms.” The 2015 State Of The Climate report examined 50 different aspects of climate, including dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and glaciers worldwide. A dozen different nations set hottest year records, including Russia and China. South Africa had the hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of October, at 119 °F. “There is really only one word for this parade of shattered climate records: GRIM,” said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb. Scientists also said the turbo-charged climate affected walrus and penguin populations and played a role in dangerous algal blooms, such as one off the Pacific Northwest coast. They added that there were brutal heat waves all over the world, with ones in India and Pakistan killing thousands of people. (Webmaster's comment: Again like I've said, we've past the tipping point on Global Warming. People are starting to die!)

7-25-16 Universal ancestor of all life on Earth was only half alive
Universal ancestor of all life on Earth was only half alive
The identification of genes likely to belong to the common ancestor of life suggests its biochemistry was incomplete, forcing it to cling to undersea vents. Many of the genes in our cells evolved billions of years ago and a few of them can be traced back to the last common ancestor of all life. Now we have the best picture yet of what that ancestor was like and where it lived, thanks to a study that identified 355 genes that it probably possessed. “It was flabbergasting to us that we found as many as we did,” says William Martin of the University of Dusseldorf in Germany, who led the study. The findings support the idea that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) lurked in hydrothermal vents where hot water rich in hydrogen, carbon dioxide and minerals emerged from the sea floor. “It’s spot on with regard to the hydrothermal vent theory,” Martin says. He describes LUCA as half-living, because it may have depended on abiotic reactions in the vents to produce many of the chemicals it needed.(Webmaster's comment: Zeroing in on where life began.)

6-29-16 Most Americans Still Believe in God
Most Americans Still Believe in God
About nine in 10 Americans say they believe in God, and one in 10 say they do not (and that probably means they are Atheists). However, when presented with more than a "yes or no" option, about eight in 10 say they believe and one in 10 say they aren't sure. Belief in God, regardless of how the question is phrased to Americans, is down from levels in past decades. (Webmaster's comment: The poll shows that there are between 28 and 35 million Atheists in the United States. That's a lot of people! We are not alone!)

  • 89% of Americans say they believe in God
  • In a separate poll, 79% say "believe in God" and 10% "not sure"
  • All measures of belief in God show declines from previous decades

5-26-16 U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
Americans' religious faith greatly shapes their views of whether moral issues or practices are acceptable or not. In general, Jews and those with no religious preference are more liberal than Protestants, Catholics and Mormons in their views on various moral issues. These differences are most apparent on abortion and, to a lesser extent, doctor-assisted suicide and animal cloning. Catholics join with Jews and nonreligious Americans in saying gay-lesbian relations and out-of-wedlock births are morally OK.

  • Jews, nonreligious tend to be most liberal on morality
  • Catholics say out-of-wedlock births, gay-lesbian relations moral
  • Only Mormons view premarital sex, gambling as immoral

Moral Issues on Which Major U.S. Religious Group Disagree
Percentage saying each is "morally acceptable"

Religious Group  No Religion Jewish Catholic Protestant Mormon
Moral Issue % % % % %
Abortion 73 76 38 33 18
Doctor-assisted suicide 77 73 47 43 30
Cloning animals 50 50 33 28 33
Gay-lesbian relations 83 85 62 41 28
Having a baby outside of marriage 80 68 59 47 25
Average  73 70 48 38 27

(Webmaster's comment: It's really obvious who are the true friends of liberal, progressive causes. And it's not the Catholics, Protestants, or Mormans. But amazingly of those the Catholics are the most liberal and progressive.)

Hate Groups Operating In The United States

All data from the Southern Poverty Law Center

All hate groups operating in the U.S. 892 100% 
Ku Klux Klan groups 190 21.3%
Black Separatist groups 180 20.2%
Racist Skinhead groups 95 10.7%
White Nationalist groups 95 10.7%
Neo-Nazi groups 94 10.5%
General Hate groups 53 5.9%
Anti-LGBT groups 48 5.4%
Neo-Confederate groups 35 3.9%
Anti-Muslim groups 34 3.8%
Christian Identity groups 19 2.1%
Radical Traditional Catholicism groups 17 1.9%
Anti-Immigrant groups 12 1.3%
Holocaust Denial groups 10 1.1%
Racist Music groups 10 1.1%

Note that many of these hate groups are Christian Based.
But there are no Muslim or Jewish Based Hate Groups.

Of Special Interest

9-14-16 Cold fusion: Science's most controversial technology is back
Cold fusion: Science's most controversial technology is back
The claim to have tamed the sun in the lab was debunked 25 years ago. So why are governments and investors now pouring money into it again? SCIENCE has had its share of embarrassing moments. Take Piltdown man, the missing link in human evolution exposed as a fraud after 40 years. Or the Allan Hills meteorite, hailed by US president Bill Clinton in a televised announcement in 1996 because it seemed to contain evidence of life on Mars – only it probably doesn’t. But few scientific embarrassments raised temperatures quite as much as cold fusion. In 1989, University of Utah chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announced that they had, at room temperature in the lab, tamed the process that powers the sun: nuclear fusion. This would have been an almost unimaginable technological leap. But no one could reproduce the result, at least not provably, reliably, or to general satisfaction. With no convincing theory to back up the observations either, Pons and Fleischmann were ostracised. Cold fusion – and anyone still willing to work on it – was frozen out. Fast forward 25 years, and thaw is in the air. You won’t hear the words “cold fusion”, but substantial sums of money are quietly pouring into a field now known as low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENRs. Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services declared it was “aware of recent positive developments” in developing LENRs and noted their potential to “produce ultra-clean, low-cost renewable energy” and their “strong national security implications”. Highlighting too the interest of Russia, China, Israel and India, it suggested the US could not afford to be left behind, and requested that the Secretary of Defense provide a briefing on the science by 22 September. Cold fusion seems to be coming in from the cold – but why?

9-13-16 Gravitational pull 'has role in quakes'
Gravitational pull 'has role in quakes'
The gravitational forces responsible for high tides may also play a role in triggering major earthquakes, a study suggests. A Japanese research team found that large earthquakes are more likely to occur at times of a full or new Moon. Tides arise from the effects of the gravitational interaction of the Moon and Sun on a rotating Earth. This could put extra strain on geological faults that are already close to slipping, the team reports.

9-12-16 Full and new moons linked to timing of largest, deadliest quakes
Full and new moons linked to timing of largest, deadliest quakes
The tides may have an effect on Earth’s crust, adding stress to earthquake faults and causing larger quakes around the times of the full and new moon. Chalk another one up for the weird effects of the moon. Full and new moons seem to make earthquakes more likely – at least the largest, most devastating quakes. Although the effect is too small to make much difference in preparing for earthquakes in the short term, the discovery could some day provide key insights into the ways that they develop and grow. During full and new moons, the sun, moon and Earth align, meaning that gravity tugs more strongly on the planet’s crustal plates. The resulting “Earth tides” and increased tidal movements in the oceans can add to the stresses on earthquake faults. It therefore seems plausible that they might make the faults more likely to slip. A few studies have previously found hints that this might be true, but the effect of the tides has barely been detectable. Looking at the 12 largest recorded earthquakes – those with a magnitude of 8.2 or more – Ide’s team found that nine occurred on days near new or full moons, when the tidal pull caused high stress across the fault.

8-19-16 Quantum trick sees two things happen before and after each other
Quantum trick sees two things happen before and after each other
By placing the order of two events into a quantum superposition, physicists have probed the nature of causality. Alice sent a present to Bob. No wait, Bob sent the present to Alice. Actually… they kind of sent it to each other at the same time. A new experiment shows how gift-giving gets confusing when you’re using quantum mechanics to muck about with causality. You may have heard of the double-slit experiment, in which a single particle fired at two small gaps appears to interfere with itself, as if it had passed through both slits at once. That happens because, until it is measured by a detector on the other side, the particle is in a quantum superposition of two states. In some sense it is able to take both paths. It’s weird, and difficult to wrap your head around, but now a team at the University of Vienna in Austria have performed a different kind of experiment that is even more mind-bending: putting the order of events into a superposition. Normally, it’s easy for us to say that event A happens before event B, or vice versa. But Giulia Rubino and her colleagues have created a superposition in which these seemingly contradictory scenarios are in superposition. “If you put together quantum mechanics and causal relations, a situation arises in which there is no pre-defined causal order,” she says. “It’s counter-intuitive.” (Webmaster's comment: We'll probably never understand how this can be. The universe is stranger than we can think. We are smarter than chimps but that probably isn't smart enough.)

8-12-16 Space travel affects heart
Space travel affects heart
Exposure to cosmic radiation during deep-space missions may damage an astronaut’s heart, a new NASA-funded study suggests. Researchers at Florida State University compared the deaths of 35 astronauts who never traveled into space with those of 42 astronauts who ventured beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field, including seven Apollo veterans who flew to the moon between 1968 and 1972. The study found that lunar astronauts were five times more vulnerable to heart disease—43 percent of them died from cardiovascular ailments compared with only 9 percent of the astronauts that didn’t journey to the moon. A follow-up study involving mice reveals that radiation can trigger long-term changes in the lining of blood vessels associated with atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” While researchers hesitate to draw definitive conclusions, the findings do have important implications for future missions to Mars or beyond. “We’ve probably underestimated the impact of deep-space radiation,” study author Dr. Michael Delp tells, “on not just cardiovascular disease but health in general.”

8-3-16 China's elevated bus: Futuristic 'straddling bus' hits the road
China's elevated bus: Futuristic 'straddling bus' hits the road
It may look like something from the future, but China's long-awaited "straddling bus" ran its inaugural test in Hebei province this week. The 2m-high Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) straddles the cars below, allowing them to pass through. Powered by electricity, the bus is able to carry up to 300 passengers in its 72ft (21m) long and 25ft wide body. A video of a mini-model of the vehicle caused great excitement when it was released in May. The trial run was conducted on a 300m-long controlled track in the north-eastern city of Qinhuangdao. The vehicle is expected to reach speeds of up to 60km per hour, running on rails laid along ordinary roads. Up to four TEBs can be linked together. "The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space," the project's chief engineer, Song Youzhou, told state-media agency Xinhua earlier this year. "The TEB has the same functions as the subway, while its cost of construction is less than one fifth of the subway," another engineer Bai Zhiming told news outlet CCTV. One TEB could replace 40 conventional buses, according to the firm. However, it is unclear when the vehicle will be widely used in Chinese cities. (Webmaster's comment: The U.S. just can not compete. The future is being built in CHINA.)

6-22-16 Tough gun laws in Australia eliminate mass shootings
Tough gun laws in Australia eliminate mass shootings
Study finds legislation effective in wake of 1996 massacre. In 1996, Australia initiated a program to purchase and destroy certain types of long guns, including semiautomatic weapons. Over the next four years, the country collected more than 650,000 guns. Australia has seen zero mass shootings in the 20 years since it enacted strict gun control laws and a mandatory gun buyback program, researchers report June 22 in JAMA. Key to this success is probably the reduction in people’s exposure to semiautomatic weapons, Johns Hopkins University health policy researcher Daniel Webster writes in an accompanying editorial. “Here’s a society that recognized a public safety threat, found it unacceptable, and took measures to address the problem,” Webster says. (Webmaster's comment: This works! Why can't we do this? Americans believe they need the right to kill other people with firearms as it is a necessary part of freedom and liberty. They believe they must watch their children, family and friends die as it is a necessary part of freedom and liberty. They've formed a violent and primitive culture which much of the rest of the civilized world left behind where it belongs, in the stone age.)

5-5-16 Photo of woman defying neo-Nazi march in Sweden goes viral
Photo of woman defying neo-Nazi march in Sweden goes viral
A photograph of a woman with her fist raised defying a uniformed march of neo-Nazis in Sweden has gone viral. Activist Tess Asplund took part in a counter-demonstration during a Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) rally in Borlange on Sunday. She has been widely praised on social media, including by Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who has called her "magnificent". The anti-racism activist told Swedish P4 radio station that her act was an impulse, as she thought the neo-Nazi demonstration should not be being held there. (Webmaster's comment: Women and Decent Men all over the world need to make a public stand against Racist Pigs like these.)

4-9-16 Americans are skeptical of God but think heaven is real
Americans are skeptical of God but think heaven is real
Since 1980, the number of Americans who believe in God has decreased by half and the number who pray has declined five-fold. Has America lost its faith? The United States formally separates church and state, but it's hard to deny that America is inundated with religious innuendo, from its controversial pledge of allegiance all the way down to its Judeo-Christian courthouse displays and faith-espousing legal tender. Yet fewer Americans pray or believe in God than ever before, according to a new study in the journal Sage Open. Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who claim they never pray reached an all-time high in 2014, up five-fold since the 1980s. Over the same time period, belief in God and interest in spirituality appears to have similarly declined, especially among young adults. The findings suggest that, "millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history," says Jean M. Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University and coauthor on the study, in a press statement. "Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That's no longer the case, especially in the last few years." (Webmaster's comment: The chances of a great evil United States Christian Religious Dictatorship are coming to an end! Thank the youth of America!)

4-7-16 Parental leave - San Francisco v rest of world
Parental leave - San Francisco v rest of world
As any mother or father will tell you, having children is wonderful but it's not cheap. Now San Francisco is taking steps to try to relieve some of the financial strain on new parents. The city has become the first in the US to approve six-weeks of paid parental leave for full-time workers. It is not a lot by the standards of other Western countries, but it's a lot more than parents get at the moment. (Webmaster's comment: The rest of the United States you mean. The rest of the world has up to over a year of employer/government-paid maternity and paternity leave by law. The average in Europe is 22 weeks and increasing. See Paid Maternity Leave in Developed Countries)

4-1-16 Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Can death be reversible? And what are we learning about the gray zone between here and the other side? After toddler Gardell Martin fell into an icy stream in March 2015, he was dead for more than an hour and a half. Three and a half days later he left a hospital alive and well. His story is one of many prompting scientists to question the very meaning of death. Death is “a process, not a moment,” writes critical-care physician Sam Parnia in his book Erasing Death. It’s a whole-body stroke, in which the heart stops beating but the organs don’t die immediately. In fact, he writes, they might hang on intact for quite a while, which means that “for a significant period of time after death, death is in fact fully reversible.” In Arizona cryonics experts maintain more than 130 dead clients in a frozen state that’s another kind of limbo. Their hope is that sometime in the distant future, maybe centuries from now, these clients will be thawed and revived, technology having advanced to the point where they can be cured of whatever killed them. Linda Chamberlain, co-founder of the Arizona-based cryonics company Alcor, hugs the container where the body of her husband, Fred, is frozen in the hope that someday he can be thawed and revived. She plans to join him in cryo limbo when her time comes. Fred’s last words, she says, were “Gee, I hope this works.” (Webmaster's comment: I'm signed up at Alcor. The only one in the state. Ignorant anti-science twits have attacked me for doing that. But the writing is on the wall. Science will win in the end and beat death. And so will I. Join me anyone?)

3-21-16 Weather records broken as world faces alarming levels of change
Weather records broken as world faces alarming levels of change
The lowest extent of Arctic winter sea ice and highest ocean temperatures were among many records broken last year around the world. Last year broke weather records left, right and centre, according to a new statement by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the status of global climate in 2015. This included the highest level of ocean warming on record and the most extensive melting of winter sea ice in the Arctic. A billion people in South Asia also suffered an unprecedented killer heat wave. “The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general at the WMO. The WMO says that new temperature records are already being set this year, with average global air temperatures in January and February the highest for those months on record. “The startlingly high temperatures so far in 2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate-science community,” said David Carlson, head of the WMO’s World Climate Research Programme. (Webmaster's comment: We're cooking! The pot is beginning to boil!)

3-14-16 The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
While many tech moguls dream of changing the way we live with new smart devices or social media apps, one Russian internet millionaire is trying to change nothing less than our destiny, by making it possible to upload a human brain to a computer, reports Tristan Quinn. "Within the next 30 years," promises Dmitry Itskov, "I am going to make sure that we can all live forever." It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. "I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it," he says. (Webmaster's comment: Science is going to beat death. It's only a matter of time.)

2-19-16 Americans' shortened life spans
Americans' shortened life spans
The life expectancy of Americans is lower than that of people living in other high-income countries, and a new study explains why: We're inflicting earlier death on ourselves with self-destructive behavior. Car accidents, gun violence, and drug overdoses kill 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, which helps explain why American men and women die about 2.2 years earlier than residents of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics. American men and women have a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared to 78.6 and 83.4 years for their peers abroad. "It seems staggering that we get two fewer years just for living here,"study author Andrew Fenelon tells the Associated Press. Gun deaths, car crashes, and overdoses are responsible for half that difference, with the other lost year the result of higher infant mortality, health problems related to diet, and other factors. (Webmaster's comment: That's just the price of Liberty and Freedom according to Libertarians and Conservatives. Well those other countries have lots of Freedom and Liberty too, even more, but it doesn't kill them early. Maybe we could learn something from them by studying their governmental systems and laws.)

The Gun Facts:Canada's gun-related homicide rate (0.5 per 100,000) is about seven times lower than the United States' (3.5 per 100,000). However, it is higher than many of its peers, including Japan (0.01 per 100,000) and the United Kingdom (0.06 per 100,000). (Webmaster's comment: Canada - 1/7th the U.S. gun homicide rate, United Kingdom - 1/58th the U.S. gun homicide rate, Japan - 1/350th the U.S. gun homicide rate. Our interpretation of our constitution has not guaranteed our freedom and liberty, it has guaranteed a high death and violence rate! Think about the tens of thousands of innocent dead people, grieving family and relatives, and terrorized children every year compared to other nations! Mention this to conservatives and they will have no answer!)

1-18-16 Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%
Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%
The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam. It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality. Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.

12-28-15 Clinton Most Admired Woman for Record 20th Time
Clinton Most Admired Woman for Record 20th Time
Americans again name Hillary Clinton (13%) and President Barack Obama (17%) the woman and man living anywhere in the world they admire most. Both win by wide margins over the next-closest finishers, Malala Yousafzai (5%) for women and Pope Francis (5%) and Donald Trump (5%) for men. (Webmaster's comment: In spite of all the hype Trump's a loser!)

12-24-15 Iran hostage crisis: Victims 'to be compensated' 36 years later
Iran hostage crisis: Victims 'to be compensated' 36 years later
The US victims of the Iran hostage crisis are to receive compensation 36 years after their ordeal, reports say. Each of the 53 hostages or their estates will receive up to $4.4m (£3m), according to a US spending bill passed last Friday. (Webmaster's comment: Yet America refuses to compensate the Japanese-American citizens imprisoned in American prison camps during WWII, the victims of American Government and Military run medical experiments, the American victims of forced sterlization against their will, the American victims of forced genital mutilation against their will, the victims of American torture programs; the list of American attrocities against the innocent and violations of Human Rights is very long and hardly anyone is ever compensated.)

12-23-15 ISS crew receives Christmas delivery
ISS crew receives Christmas delivery
A Russian cargo vehicle carrying food and supplies has docked with the International Space Station - just in time for Christmas. It launched on Monday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress 62P vehicle docked automatically with the Pirs compartment of the ISS at 10:27 GMT on Wednesday, after its two-day transit. Once the crew completes leak checks, the hatches will be opened, allowing them to unload the cargo. (Webmaster's comment: And who makes the Christmas delivery to the ISS? The Russians of course! They are the only ones who can do so reliably.)

12-16-15 US Muslims reel at Trump supporters' hostility
US Muslims reel at Trump supporters' hostility
Surrounded by banners proclaiming Islam's respect for America and promotion of tolerance, freedom and democracy, they talked about the violence, the backlash and about Donald Trump. The Republican presidential candidate responded to the killings in San Bernardino by proposing the suspension of all Muslim immigration to the US, a statement that sent chills up Muslim spines. Such language, he argued, would "fan the flames of hate and lead us down the very path that our enemies want to see us go". There is a weary feeling here about the cycle of events; a violent attack followed by an expectation that the Islamic community will publicly restate a commitment to peace. "It is just inconsistent," he says, "we're not mentioning it when people are being gunned down by white supremacists, by people with distorted ideologies in this country who go into the theatres, who go into the schools, who go into the abortion clinic, who went into the church." In other words, why are such killers rarely referred to as Christian extremists, even when they claim to be driven by Biblical teachings?"We would be safe if we just referred to criminals as criminals, murderers as murderers without putting religious titles on them," says Mr Seifullah who argues that Mr Trump's response to San Bernardino has "given people approval" to be racist and bigoted, "to think that it's OK to discriminate against one group of people over another." Half a century after "intense civil rights struggles," he warns, "we can go back to that. There are people who are embracing his rhetoric and that's frightening."

12-4-15 Mass Shootings This Year
Mass Shootings This Year
There have been at least 351 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first 334 days of this year, defined as incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire. There were at least 12 in the previous week alone, including the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting. Having access to a firearm almost doubles one’s chances of becoming the victim of a homicide, and triple’s one’s likelihood of killing him or herself. And we know that states with the highest rates of gun ownership have the highest rates of gun murders. The same is true of countries—more guns equal more gun deaths. The incidence of mass shootings has tripled over the past four years, a period that coincided with 37 states’ loosening their restrictions on owning and carrying guns. Of the 372 mass shootings in 2015 (final FBI total) less than 2% involved shooters with Muslim beliefs and less that 4% involved women shooters. More than 80% of the shooters were white males. At least 60% of those claimed to be Christians.

11-11-15 Could an atheist win the White House? It's not as crazy as you might think.
Could an atheist win the White House? It's not as crazy as you might think.
These are pretty good times for non-believers. Our ranks are growing rapidly, with nearly a quarter of Americans now claiming no religious identification. Even if most of those don't emphatically declare themselves atheist, but say their religion is "nothing in particular," there are surely plenty of people who call themselves Catholics or Jews or something else but whose belief in an all-knowing, all-seeing god is tenuous at best. The number will keep growing, because religiosity and age are strongly correlated today, with older people being the most religious while a full third of millennials claim no religion. It's no longer considered scandalous in many, if not most, places to say that you aren't a believer.

Our "slogan" above comes from the following quote:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!

But above all Be Your Own Heroine, Be Your Own Hero. You achieve nothing for yourself by living vicariously off the skills and achievements of others. It's What You Do That Matters. Cheer and applaud your own skills and achievements and be proud of them, Be Proud of Who You Are and What You Do.

Don't Just Think You Are Right, Know You Are. Don't hesitate, don't be unsure, don't let others doubts cloud your judgment, your power of reason. Others will constantly try to manipulate you, control you, dominate you, intimidate you, tell you that you must do this or can't do that, Ignore Them! Your mind, your own thoughts are the only thing you can be sure of, trust your thoughts instead of theirs.

Your mind, your conscious mind is the most powerful tool ever evolved.
Trust it, act on what it tells you. Be positive! If you think you're right
Then Know you're right and Follow What You Think is the best course.
Break Free! There Is No Spoon!

We look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events and meetings!

We have member websites for Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists, for those interested in science and Scientists, for those who love animals and Zoologists, and for Feminists; for those who wish to help abused women, and for abused women themselves. Check out these other websites at Member Websites.

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Welcome Sioux Falls Free Thinkers!
Welcome Open Minds!