Lichtenberg Figures are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or in the interior of insulating materials. Which is a fancy way of describing what is happening here. And you can do it too! (though please be extremely careful).
Serious Eats' J. Kenji López-Alt has done the math, and Ghostbusters' 35-foot-long, 600lb Twinkie just isn't possible. [more inside]
Epigenetic Signaling Induces Species-Specific Head and Brain Growth in Flatworms Scientists have succeeded in inducing one species of flatworm to grow heads and brains characteristic of another species of flatworm, without altering genomic sequence.
Start your day with a video and some ridiculous numbers: The Slow Mo Guys spin a CD at 23,000 RPM and film it at 170,000 FPS.
Scientific evidence for popular health supplements from information is beautiful [Snake Oil not included]
Sure, you marveled at the first close up photos of Pluto that the New Horizons spacecraft captured as it soared past the planet. But that was only about 5% of the total photo set. Starting now, the spacecraft will be sending home everything. [more inside]
"Along with their ancient perfumery, the villagers of Kannauj have inherited a remarkable skill: They can capture the scent of rain." [more inside]
"There are many age-old questions that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time; where did the universe come from? Is there really a god? What on earth is going on with Donald Trump's hair?Scientists claim they've worked out what makes the perfect penis [NSFW] - The Independent [more inside]
"But scientists have now answered one of these great unknowns; what makes a good-looking penis?"
Calculating the Speed of Light Using a Microwave and PEEPS (or other melty things) from National Geographic's Education Blog and NPR's Skunk Bear videos (showing some history of calculating the speed of light... with peeps as historical scientists, of course)
"Come As You Are" an illustrated book review at The Nib and mirrored at Oh Joy Sex Toy [previously] by Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan.
Who Farts? And Who Cares? "Sociologists Martin Weinberg and Colin Williams wanted to know. They and their team interviewed 172 college students about their habits and concerns about farting and pooping. They published their results in an article called Fecal Matters. They discovered that everybody farts and everybody cares, but not everyone cares all the time or equally." [more inside]
How much damage can a 6 year-old possibly do? An analysis of the cost of raising a child like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes [more inside]
"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. Animals. Astronomy. Plants.
"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]
Wayside Creations: the studio that produced the surprisingly high-budget fallout Fan series: Nuka Break (with Dougie Jones!) (previously, previously) have turned their attention to the office politics of our favorite hive of mad science: Aperture R&D.
NASA recently announced that the latest results from NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars provide clear physical evidence that Mars once had all the conditions necessary to support life. Despite the skeptical reception given to recent news that the rover may also have found indirect evidence of organic compounds and active microbiological activity, other recent scientific results have gone even further. One Australian study from 2011 concluded, given what we know about Mars now, 3% of its total volume (as compared to 1% of Earth's) is likely habitable to known terrestrial lifeforms. And more recently, further analysis of the results of experiments performed by the 1976 Viking Lander mission suggests that we have likely detected active microbiological activity on Mars already, with one researcher going so far as to claim a 99% certainty that those earlier results detected life. (Previously).
Professor Martyn Poliakoff of Periodic Table Videos fame learns something about burning balloons full of hydrogen via high speed camera footage.
Decay is a free, downloadable zombie film set entirely at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. [more inside]
Richard Feynman delivers a charming talk about Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Electrodynamics and the versatile, enigmatic photon. (SLYT - 1:17:58)
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]
Magnetic resonance images of fruits and vegetables. And more MRI of more foods. Another 3D rendering of a broccoli MRI. [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.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree distils scientific research, focused on its motto: "I want to understand why we do what we do and use the answers to be awesome at life." With a gradual shift to more digest posts packed with links to summaries & sources, a sampling of the past couple weeks includes: What are 10 things you should do every day to improve your life? - What are 10 things you should do every week to improve your life? - 25 research-based ways to increase your intelligence - What are 7 things that can make you happier in 7 seconds? - 7 steps to never procrastinating again. Another blog along the same lines but less glib & immediate is Peer-Reviewed By My Neurons; recently: How confusion facilitates learning - The science of coming on too strong - Want to be creative? Play Dungeons & Dragons [more inside]
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]
10 bets that you will always win is a video collection of clever tricks (& science) from Richard Wiseman's Quirkology YouTube channel; see also top 10 quirky science tricks for parties, 10 more science stunts for parties, another 10 quirky science stunts, and 5 amazing mind tricks (previously: 10 practical jokes). Wiseman is a psychologist, magician, and author who created LaughLab: the scientific search for the world's funniest joke; the final report & top jokes* are available here (PDF) and over 1000 LaughLab jokes (all clean!) here (also PDF). Previously: his research on luck. (via voices + gizmodo)
Sylvia's Super-Awesome Maker Show (demo reel) is a DIY webshow featuring 10-year-old Sylvia and her various science, tech, and craft projects. She will be on the cover of Make Magazine's Summer 2012 "School's Out! Best Summer Ever" issue. [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 (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection (Parts 1 and 2) 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]