"Isn't it amazing?" says Ajit Varki, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego. "Almost a hundred years after the Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery, we still don't know exactly what they're for."
Popular science writer Carl Zimmer
investigates: Why do we have blood types? [more inside]
Arthur C. Clarke, Benoit Mandelbrot, Stephen Hawking, David Gilmour and many more trip the fuck out about Fractals, the Colors of Infinity.
Nature covers a brane based theory of cosmological creation...
Is the universe a 3D brane
created from a 4D star collapsing into a black hole? [more inside]
"Anything else you want to add? Don't do drugs kids?" "Yeah That's a good one."
In a highly (un)scientific experiment, BuzzFeed video producer Andrew Gauthier spent one night drunk and one night stoned while performing identical tasks. He filmed the results for our
British comedian Josie Long
explores All the Planet's Wonders in a very short series on BBC radio: Collecting
"Is organic produce better for you?
" is a simple question asked by a middle schooler in a science fair. Using fruit flies fed organic vs. conventional produce, Ria Chhabra tracked the flies and saw improvements based on their diet. Now barely a sophomore in high school, the project lead to university research labs
, science fair awards
, publication in top-tier peer-reviewed journals
, and quite likely, scholarships at her pick of top-flight universities.
The Virtual Power Plant:
"Critics of renewables have always claimed that sun and wind are only intermittent producers of electricity and need fossil fuel plants as back-up to make them viable. But German engineers have proved this is not so
." A pilot program
funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment
offers a rebuttal to critics who claim renewable energy sources have an insurmountable variability problem
Is it time to put natural selection in its place?
Jello Biafra once famously wrote that "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.
" But while it likely comes as no surprise to specialists working in the field or to those who've been following developments in evolutionary biology closely, there's an emerging view among experts that Darwin's view of natural selection as the primary driver of speciation and evolutionary change may be incorrect or at least drastically overstated. It's long been understood that non-adaptive evolutionary mechanisms like "genetic drift
" and random mutation also play non-trivial roles in evolutionary processes, but a recent study
(link to abstract with full-text PDF available) casts new doubts on the primary role of natural selection, finding that "Neutral models, in which genetic change arises through random variation without fitness differences have proven remarkably successful in describing observed patterns of biodiversity." [more inside]
: the studio that produced the surprisingly high-budget fallout Fan series: Nuka Break
(with Dougie Jones
) have turned their attention to the office politics of our favorite hive of mad science: Aperture R&D.
Your scientific Twitter hashtag of the week: #overlyhonestmethods [more inside]
is a free, downloadable
zombie film set entirely at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN
. [more inside]
A Vast Left-Wing Competency
: "How Democrats became the party of effective campaigning — and why the GOP isn’t catching up anytime soon." Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab
, has been writing a series of posts on Slate that focus on different aspects of "the new science of winning campaigns". [more inside]
Our Story in 1 Minute
: "A tapestry of footage tracing the cosmic and biological origins of our species, set to original music" by Melodysheep (John D. Boswell). Aside from this latest video, Melodysheep has also recently posted a Bill Hicks/George Carlin remix - The Big Electron
("Two legendary comedians offer their perspectives on life, through song"); a remix of comedian Jim Breuer called Metal Songs for Kids
, and a new Symphony of Science - Our Biggest Challenge
: "A musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it; featuring Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov." [more inside]
12-year-old uses Dungeons & Dragons to help scientist dad with his research
: Cognitive scientist Alan Kingstone wanted to test whether people look at each others' eyes or simply to the center of faces. Some had suggested an answer would be impossible to discern because humans' eyes are in the center of their faces. But Alan’s son, Julian, a fan of D&D, told his father about D&D monster characters that have eyes in unusual places, such as on their hands or tail. “[Julian suggested] if you just showed them these images, you could find out whether they are looking for the eyes or not. I thought, actually, that’s a very good idea,” Kingstone said (summarized from Cosmos
). The paper describing the results - "Monsters are people too
" - was published in the British Royal Society journal Biology Letters
this month, with 14-year-old Julian named as the lead author.
Secrets of T-Rex sex!
An interview with John Long, author of The Dawn of the Deed: The Prehistoric Origins of Sex
. Long's four-part series on Evolution: This View of Life - 1) Down and Dirty in the Devonian
; 2) Palaeozoic Paternity Problems
; 3) From Bones to Behavior
; 4) From Clasper to Penis
. Also a Scientific American video
("Long discusses a fossil central to this new view of the origin of copulation and live birth: a 375-million-year-old expectant mother fish dubbed Materpiscis attenboroughi
The broth is just chicken and onions, with a confetti of vegetables added at the end where their flavor remains bright. The noodles are wide and winding... But, for me, the real triumph was giving the chicken parts and onion a saute... before adding water to make the soup. This deepened flavor base makes for magical soup, with a bronzed color, more robust flavor and significantly reduced prep time. ... With all of the blustery, cold days to go this winter, everyone... deserves to have a homemade, from-scratch chicken noodle soup that can be pulled off in just about an hour in their back pocket. [more inside]
Mentos + Coke + Condom.
SLYT. Safe for work, unless you're against balloons.
Engineers at Rose Hulman
design a pretty cool prosthetic arm for a kid according to his specs
(4min, video). Looks like it's part of a program to connect students with kids in need that has produced similar
projects in the past
In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report.
But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3
. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report
investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
"The Big Train"
and other classic 1950s and 60s publicity reels from the New York Central Railroad. Lots of footage of trains, railroad infrastructure, well-dressed office minions, teletypes, punchcard machines, men in white lab coats, bubbling beakers, and even an "atomic signal light." [more inside]
Writing in the New York Review of Books
, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg
discusses his reason for suspecting that advances in particle physics and astronomy will not just slow down in the coming years, but cease entirely.
In 1973 and 1975, two one-hour television documentaries aired in the US: In Search of Ancient Astronauts
) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries
). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection
) in 1975. All were narrated by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling
. In 1976 a series was developed. Since Serling had passed away in 1975, popular actor Leonard Nimoy was chosen as host. In Search of...
ran for six seasons, from 1976 - 1982, and was devoted to discussing unusual mysteries and phenomena. All 144 episodes can be seen on YouTube. Playlists: Seasons 1 and 2
. Seasons 3 and 4
. Seasons 5 and 6
The BBC has produced a fabulous infographic showing the ocean zones:
Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight, Lower Midnight, and The Trenches. The page also includes videos showing: what happens to material at 100, 1000, and 10,000 meters down; the animals living in the Abyssal Plains (described in a lovely Scottish accent); and the story of Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh going down to the Mariana Trench in 1960. No one has been back there since, but director James Cameron
and Richard Branson
are among the contenders who are going to make a go of it. (Rumour has it that Cameron intends to be the sole person in the sub, while Branson is just financing a team.) Meanwhile, the Doer team
(backed by Eric Schmidt of Google), says it's all about the science and not just being first in this century's race. And there's even a yellow submarine for the rest of us
, if by "rest of us" one means "has $250,000 to spare for a single trip". Don't forget to click the links at the top of the infographic page to see everything.
Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have launched a new contest: Envision and build the equivalent of Star Trek's medical tricorder
, a portable health monitoring device that can remotely diagnose patients. The winner will receive $10 million
. [more inside]
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction
? The technology
may be in place, but is there any reason to go
Four minutes of the best moments of stuff burning, breaking, freezing, exploding, melting, and generally reacting in interesting ways. [more inside]
Century 21 Calling
- Dreamily retro footage of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair
, AKA the Century 21 Exposition
, including a visit to the Bell Systems
pavilion. A slice of space age science propaganda
, the fair gave Seattle some of its most enduring landmarks in the form of the Space Needle
and the Alweg Monorail
, and, of course, brought Elvis to town
One of my favorite blogs
happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather
. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
"There's just so much science, nature, music, arts, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven't seen. It's most likely not stuff that was made for them... But we don't underestimate kids around here
In-N-Out vs. Five Guys vs. Shake Shack:
a careful comparison of three hamburger heavyweights. (Previously
Over 100 full episodes of the Marlin Perkins-hosted television show Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (previously)
are now available on YouTube
. That is all.
"The Bloody Mary
has been called the world's most complex cocktail
, and from the standpoint of flavor chemistry
, you've got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. It covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations -- sweet, salty, sour and umami or savory
-- but not bitter." Research
that's part of the International Year of Chemistry
"is a unique comprehensive resource for all those with a personal or professional interest in food safety. Dr. [Doug] Powell of Kansas State University, and associates, search out credible, current, evidence-based information on food safety and make it accessible to domestic and international audiences through multiple media. Sources of food safety information include government regulatory agencies, international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO)
and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
, peer-reviewed scientific publications, academia, recognized experts in the field and other sources as appropriate." (Description from website.)
The folks responsible for bites also run the more entertainingly named barfblog
Dr. Jörg C. Gerlach
has developed a new device for applying a regenerative skin and stem cell slurry onto burn victims in an airbrush-like spray - providing astounding results
in mere days. (Warning - mildly graphic images of severe burns being remedied with SCIENCE!)