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Week in Geek: Physics by the swimming pool

12/14/14 12:26PM

Next time you're hanging by the pool, start throwing around words like: angular momentum, friction, and vortex lines, because science is everywhere. "Physics Girl" Dianna Cowern shows you how it all works, with a trick involving a simple dinner plate. read more

Some of the biology textbooks, Sept. 10, 2003.

This Week in God, 12.13.14

12/13/14 09:45AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a curious lawsuit out of Kansas, where a conservative group went to federal court with an odd argument about science and religion.
 
An organization that calls itself Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) argued that evolutionary biology should be prohibited in public-school science classes because, as the group's members see it, evolution is part of a "non-theistic" religious agenda. As the Associated Press reported this week, the lawsuit didn't fare well: a federal judge threw the case out.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that a nonprofit group, parents and taxpayers challenging the standards did not claim specific enough injuries from adoption of the guidelines to allow the case to go forward.
 
The State Board of Education last year adopted standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council. The guidelines treat both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Raw Story's report noted that COPE characterized the science standards as unacceptable because they lead "impressionable" students "into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate questions like what is the cause and nature of life in the universe -- 'where do we come from?'"
 
I'm not sure why that necessarily has to be a theological question, but COPE didn't ask me.
 
Crabtree, an Obama-appointed judge, said the conservative plaintiffs asserted only an "abstract stigmatic injury" that isn't enough to sustain a lawsuit.
 
I suppose Citizens for Objective Public Education deserves some credit for creativity -- it's true that public schools are required to remain neutral in matters of faith -- but going to court to block science lessons in science classes was, to put it charitably, a longshot. The group doesn't have to like modern biology, but trying to label it a religion isn't going to work.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Senate leaves spending bill for next week

Senate leaves spending bill and more for next week

12/12/14 09:44PM

Frank Thorpe, NBC News Senate producer, talks with Rachel Maddow about the chances for passage of the "CRomnibus" spending bill now in the Senate and what the schedule looks like as Senators abandon the idea of finishing business before the weekend. watch

Coburn blocks veteran suicide prevention bill

Tom Coburn blocking veteran suicide prevention bill

12/12/14 09:30PM

Richard and Susan Selke, the mother and stepfather of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Clay Hunt, talk with Rachel Maddow about the features of a bill named for their son, designed to help prevent veteran suicides, and why Senator Coburn is blocking it. watch

Police misconduct protests unrelenting

No let-up in protests over police misconduct

12/12/14 09:20PM

Rachel Maddow reports that contrary to the expectations of certain Fox News hosts, protests over police misconduct have not subsided since a grand jury returned a no-indictment ruling in the Eric Garner case. Many protests are planned for the weekend. watch

Banks press to keep taxpayer bailout

Banks press to keep risky moves covered by taxpayers

12/12/14 08:59PM

Rachel Maddow explains the basic workings of the bank bailout provision in the spending bill that has sparked the ire of liberals and conservatives, putting taxpayers on the hook should risky debt swaps lead to losses like the lead-up to the 2008 crisis. watch

Ahead on the 12/12/14 Maddow show

12/12/14 07:34PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I) Vermont
  • Richard and Susan Selke, the mother and father of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Clay Hunt
  • Frank Thorp, NBC News Senate producer
  • James Brown, advanced Rachel Maddow Show viewer

Check out a video after the jump for a preview of tonight's show
read more

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