Leading Atheist Will Be Solving Problems, Having Fun This Weekend

Atheists are like the evangelicals of the late '90s, emerging as a wieldy demographic set to exert sizeable pressure on the political sphere as well as public consciousness. One big difference is that Atheists drink beer and dance.

We are contacting leading Atheists this week to see how they are not observing the holiest seven days on the Christian calendar. Frank R. Zindler, Managing Editor of American Atheist Press, said he's comforted by President Obama's open embrace of all believers and non-believers, but that challenges still lay in the path of total acceptance of atheism in the mainstream.

"It is, indeed, a relief to be living during the term of office of a president who not only acknowledges the existence of nonbelievers but recognizes them as decent citizens. We recall with more than a little bitterness the comment of President George Bush the First to Rob Sherman in Chicago, 'No, I don't think atheists should be considered citizens or patriots. This is one nation under God.'

Even so, it is too early to tell if the wall of separation between state and religion will be repaired to any significant degree or not. We still have "faith-based" services inherited from George the Second, and President Obama has not voiced any objection to the nonbinding resolution of the United Nations "outlawing" blasphemy and criticism of religions in general and Islam in particular...

While millions of Christians will be fantasizing a world of make-believe in order to escape from the problems of the real world, Atheists will be working hard to strip away the illusions that even they may entertain, in order to face head-on the problems threatening the survival of Homo sapiens as it struggles to live in this spaceship we call Earth. As they do every other weekend of the year and on all the weekdays in between, Atheists will be engaging the world's problems and trying to find solutions. But we'll also try to have some fun."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.

Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less