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October 21, 2002 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Ask a scientist It's quite possible that every science question you have ever wondered about has already been answered. Thousands of science questions & answers, from anti-matter to zero gravity simulations, all with explanations even a scientific neophyte can easily understand.
posted by pemulis (7 comments total)

 
Many years ago I read a really fun book, Encyclopedia of Ignorance: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Unknown, ISBN 0080212387, which had scientists discussing all the things the didn't know, but wish they did.

Seems to be out of print, and given that it came out in the late '70s, probably out of date, too.
posted by Ayn Marx at 6:11 PM on October 21, 2002


A neat link, but I'll stick with Ask Dr. Science. His archive is online too.
posted by damehex at 6:52 PM on October 21, 2002


Okay, I know there are things out there that haven't been answered, or a lot of the posts here on MetaFilter wouldn't be new(s) or interesting.
For those of you with silly questions in need of answers, or minds in need of silly questions, try the Annals of improbable research, if you haven't already. Postal experiments has to be among my favorites here.
posted by whatzit at 6:54 PM on October 21, 2002


I read a lot about Global Warming. I checked the answers to the questions on this subject in "Ask a scientist" - the answers were painfully out of date, accurate for the state of scientific knowledge on the subject from about 1992.

I wouldn't trust this site. First of all, I like to see the pedigrees of so called "experts". Who are they? Do they even work in the field they answer questions about? Do they publish peer-reviewed research in these fields? Are they well thought of by their colleagues......and so on.

The tone of the "experts" on the site seemed strangely unscientific to me. A bit too vague, and some of the "expert" comments were sweepingly injudicious (unscientific, even).
posted by troutfishing at 9:26 PM on October 21, 2002


I've got to agree with troutfishing here; some of these answers are downright bizarre. This, for instance:

An amino acid consists of an amine group and an
acid group with the amines fluctuating in size significantly, accounting
for the different amino acids codons (only 64 possible combinations).
DNA is just a library code to construct the different proteins in
particular orders of operation.


is simply nonsense, as far as I can tell. "Particular orders of operation"? WTF? I don't even understand that, and I'm not a "scientific neophyte".

There was also this:

All known natural occurring proteins are available on the web in any
configuration you wish to have. Unfortunately, they are commercial
sites and sell their licenses to colleges, universities and private
interests.


I'm not sure what "any configuration you wish to have" means, but I do know that you can search the Protein Data Bank for free, and find any known protein structure. There's even a Java app there that let's you view the 3D protein structure. Using "www.google.com", as the "expert" suggests later in the answer I quote above, is probably not the best suggestion. I don't know why any expert would suggest google over the PDB.

Don't trust this site.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:19 PM on October 21, 2002


there's also the mad scientists (who seem to have changed their name to madsci network since i answered questions for them abiut 6 years ago). i'm not sure how accurate people expect a service on the internet by volunteers to be - i know at least one of my answers was wrong (self link). on the other hand, that was fairly hard physics and lots of people don't know the basics (i was surprised to get an email from a teacher thanking me for telling one of their students that light and radio waves were "the same kind of thing", something the teacher didn't know!). so hopefully the net effect is positive.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:38 AM on October 22, 2002


I wouldn't trust this site. First of all, I like to see the pedigrees of so called "experts". Who are they? Do they even work in the field they answer questions about? Do they publish peer-reviewed research in these fields? Are they well thought of by their colleagues......and so on.

The site is purely a volunteer operation. Scientists at ANL sign up to receive questions related to their field of study but no one reviews what they submit, and no one validates those who have signed up. [I answered a few questions long ago, found it took too much of my time to continue.]
posted by Qubit at 2:06 PM on October 22, 2002


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