Not too much about water in this post - just science.
We've all had a good time (see photo below from this site; click to enlarge) pillorying Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) for his ill-advised use of the adjective 'legitimate' to modify abortion. I personally found his comment on abhorrent but I am not here to talk about that.
As a scientist and educator, what I really found pathetic and frightening was his understanding of how the female reproductive system works - his belief that the system could 'shut down' to prevent contraception:
"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that a woman who is raped
"...has no control over ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg. ... To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths."
What frightens me is Akin's apparent lack of scientific understanding. Wonder if he believes in evolution? How about plate tectonics? And the age of Earth is....? How AIDS is transmitted? I shudder to think what Akin's opinions on climate change and global warming are.
Fact is, Akin is probably no different from a lot of Americans, and to make it worse, he's in a position of power - a member of the House of Representatives, who's running for the Senate. And my biggest fear is that, in terms of scientific literacy, he shines compared to many of his legislative colleagues from both parties.
And you know, I didn't hear many of critics decrying his poor knowledge of biology. Either they didn't know Akin was wrong, or else they didn't want to appear 'too smart'.
Not a good omen for the USA.
Maybe I'm wrong about Rep. Akin.
Now, do you want to hear something surprising? Rep. Akin has a BS in Management Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and worked as an engineer for IBM. He also served in the U.S. Army with the Army Combat Engineers. And he serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (thanks to David Huffman - see comment) and is a member of a number of caucuses involving disease and health.
For an assessment of the aforementioned House 'Science' committee, see this.
Now I'm really frightened.
Chris Tackett has a great post on this very issue.
"A common way to compute density is, of course, to take the ratio of an object's mass to its volume. But other types of densities exist, such as the resistance of somebody's brain to the imparting of common sense." - Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death By Black Hole, p. 135.