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Bittersweet No More

In the wake of the great miracle fruit craze of the late 00's, Francis Lam tested two more obscure taste distorters: adenosine 5′-monophosphate, which blocks the sensation of bitter flavors, and Gymnema sylvestre, a South Asian herb that does the same for sweetness.
posted by Iridic on Aug 20, 2014 - 31 comments

Become a citizen scientist!

It's Science Week in Australia and the crowdsourcing call has gone out for Weather Detectives to look through old ships' log books and track weather observations from the 1890s and 1900s. It's a good project for older kids, and aims to improve weather forecasting and track climate change. Do try this at home, kids.
posted by superfish on Aug 20, 2014 - 3 comments

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself

Your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome. Naturalists first became aware of our invisible lodgers in the 1600s, but it wasn’t until the past few years that we’ve become really familiar with them. This recent research has given the microbiome a cuddly kind of fame. We’ve come to appreciate how beneficial our microbes are — breaking down our food, fighting off infections and nurturing our immune system. It’s a lovely, invisible garden we should be tending for our own well-being. But in the journal Bioessays, a team of scientists has raised a creepier possibility. Perhaps our menagerie of germs is also influencing our behavior in order to advance its own evolutionary success — giving us cravings for certain foods, for example.
Maybe the microbiome is our puppet master.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Aug 18, 2014 - 55 comments

Homosexuality Is For The Birds

Koryos, who previously explained how cats got domesticated using tumblr, now explains why homosexual pair-bonding can be a successful reproductive stratagem. Also, Coot Parenting Tips, Queen Cowbird Of The Brood Parasites , There's No Such Thing As An Alpha Wolf, and Can Animals Have Pets?
posted by The Whelk on Aug 16, 2014 - 9 comments

girls and technology!

WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
posted by divabat on Aug 16, 2014 - 68 comments

Controlling the genetics of wild populations, a next step in GM research

New GM technique injects mosquitoes with a gene that results in mostly male offspring, eventually leading to a population crash. Previous efforts to tackle the disease, that kills more than 1 million people each year – most of whom are African children – have included bed nets to protect people and insecticides to kill the mosquito species most responsible for the transmission of malaria (Anopheles gambiae). The new technique by a team at Imperial College London involves injecting mosquitoes with a gene that causes the vast majority of their offspring to be male, leading to an eventual dramatic decline in population within six generations as females disappear. “You have a short-term benefit because males don’t bite humans [and transmit malaria],” Andrea Crisanti, one of the authors of the new research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, told the Guardian. “But in the long term you will eventually eradicate or substantially reduce mosquitoes. This could make a substantial contribution to eradicating malaria, combined with other tools such as insecticides.”
These new mosquitoes are now set to be used in Brazil, having been approved for use by the Brazilian government with a factory for their production now opened.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Aug 14, 2014 - 122 comments

In conclusion, LEGO is a land of contrasts.

LEGO does something good! (Sets revolving around female scientists sold out in one day; previously.) LEGO does something bad! (Sets with major petro-company branding.) [more inside]
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Aug 12, 2014 - 85 comments

Math and equations are fun.

The power of math: 17 Equations That Changed the World - a one table summary of the book by Ian Stewart FRS. Business Insider gives its interpretation of the importance of each equation. Brain pickings (2012) on this book and equations, and another extract from the book. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Aug 10, 2014 - 36 comments

The Foehr Reef

The Foehr Reef is part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef Project. It was made by over 700 women and combines more than 4000 individual pieces of marine wonder. A short video shows its beauty [alternating English and German audio]. PDFs with pictures. "The Crochet Coral Reef is a woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world." It originated out of a desire to increase awareness of environmental threats to the world's reefs and is a conjunction of art, environmentalism, and geometry. [more inside]
posted by travelwithcats on Aug 10, 2014 - 7 comments

Springtime on Saturn

Storm Chasing on Saturn with Cassini [viz. cf.] - "The sun is slowly rising over Saturn's north pole, exposing an immense six-sided hurricane. The storm, big enough to swallow four Earths, was first spotted by the Voyager missions in the early 1980s. [Cassini] will be passing directly over the north pole with its cameras pointing down later this month." (previously 1,2)
posted by kliuless on Aug 10, 2014 - 9 comments

Climate change and contemporary fiction

"Novels are no use at all in days like these, for they deal with people and their relationships, with fathers and mothers and daughters or sons and lovers, etc., with souls, usually unhappy ones, and with society etc., as if the place for all these things were assured, the earth for all time earth, the sea level fixed for all time." [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Aug 9, 2014 - 57 comments

An essay on the biology of pregnancy

"The mammal mother works hard to stop her children from taking more than she is willing to give. The children fight back with manipulation, blackmail and violence. Their ferocity is nowhere more evident than in the womb [...] Pregnancy is a lot more like war than we might care to admit."
posted by daniel_charms on Aug 8, 2014 - 28 comments

Scientific-Marvelous

On the Scientific-Marvelous Novel and Its Influence on the Understanding of Progress, written by Maurice Renard in 1909. Via.
posted by brundlefly on Aug 7, 2014 - 5 comments

there's nothing that is scientifically proven

(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 5, 2014 - 33 comments

"We lost our deposit."

Robot vs. Shark (not a made for SyFy movie)
posted by brundlefly on Aug 4, 2014 - 15 comments

“I have no idea. (pause) We have no idea.”

The Higgs boson and the purpose of a republic
posted by CincyBlues on Aug 2, 2014 - 57 comments

Worse than Walkin' On Sunshine

For an old North Sea hand, 40-foot waves, the kind that would terrify most of us, were nothing out of the ordinary. But the emergence from nowhere of a single wave that was more than twice as high as the others was exceptional. Warwick had encountered a rogue wave. When Good Waves Go Rogue
posted by Ghostride The Whip on Aug 1, 2014 - 18 comments

Female octopuses have the saddest life spans

"For many a female octopus, laying eggs marks the beginning of the end (pdf, 1.11MB). She needs to cover them and defend them against would-be predators. She needs to gently waft currents over them so they get a constant supply of fresh, oxygenated water. And she does this continuously, never leaving and never eating. (via)."
posted by ChuraChura on Jul 30, 2014 - 28 comments

"I'm attempting to be the Episcopalian Guy Fieri."

Going Deep with David Rees (yes, that David Rees) is a TV series about mundane things examined in a far from mundane manner. Episodes to date have explained how to tie one's shoes, how to make ice, and how to dig a hole, among other things. In an interview in The Atlantic, Rees explains his philosophy for the show: There are NO fake facts in our show. The humor comes from my interactions with the experts, who have all been incredibly good-natured and (sometimes) silly without compromising the integrity of the information they're sharing with me. That's important to us, because we really do want this show to be a celebration of everything that's right under our noses—and for that mission to succeed, we need to honor the topics by not bullshitting our way through them.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 30, 2014 - 34 comments

Living Books About Life

"... a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences." Although they offer "frozen PDFs," these books—on topics like biosemiotics, animal experience, and air—are curated collections of links to open access science articles, reviews, interviews, podcasts, sometimes with embedded sounds and videos. They have ISBN numbers and editors vetted by the Open Humanities Press, which is generally a gold mine of interesting books and journals. They feel perfectly at home on the open internet, evoking hope and nostalgia for a flourishing academic world wide web, without paywalls and login screens. [more inside]
posted by mbrock on Jul 29, 2014 - 7 comments

‘Put anything you want in me’ said Space to Time, ‘and you'll see.’

Leo Vroman, a Dutch scientist, artist and poet who lived in the US for many years, died in February of this year. Elsevier Connect did a great article back in 2012. It's rare that we see people who are great poets as well as passionate scientists. Leo Vroman was both; he needed more than just one outlet for an exceedingly curious and creative mind. His was an extraordinary life; he was a survivor of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, who managed to be reunited with his fiancée Tineke after the war. They married and remained together until his last day. [more inside]
posted by Too-Ticky on Jul 29, 2014 - 2 comments

Datagenetics

DataGenetics is "a technology consultancy specializing in unlocking the value stored in large databases" and which runs an interesting blog. [more inside]
posted by alby on Jul 28, 2014 - 2 comments

On Lionfish, research, and science fairs

Last month, a twelve-year-old girl named Lauren Arrington was credited with research showing that lionfish, an invasive species, were surviving in water with a much lower percentage of salinity than was thought possible. [more inside]
posted by PussKillian on Jul 22, 2014 - 82 comments

Science science science science science science science

Musical proof that Scully Likes Science.
posted by mudpuppie on Jul 22, 2014 - 9 comments

OK: Now explain midichlorians.

With growing fascination for the large land vertebratomorphs that are so startlingly diverse on Tatooine, I secured Imperial funding for an expedition to Tatooine, to survey the exotic megafauna and search for fossils of Tyrannodraconis that might further illuminate their evolution. My ensuing report summarizes my trilogy of investigations and discoveries from this “holiday in the suns." [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Jul 22, 2014 - 5 comments

"Transmogrification event caused by incorporation of alien bacteria!!!"

Alien viruses from outer space and the great Archaeopteryx forgery [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jul 21, 2014 - 14 comments

Mount Rainier Magma Mapping

A team of geologists and geophysicists have imaged the path of a Pacific Northwest volcano's molten rock, from the subducting slab to the upper crust. [more inside]
posted by Secretariat on Jul 20, 2014 - 18 comments

A1 vs. A2 milk

You're Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk: "The A1/A2 debate has raged for years in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe, but it is still virtually unheard of across the pond. That could soon change..." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 17, 2014 - 41 comments

Evolution is wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

Understanding creationism: An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jul 17, 2014 - 13 comments

"JIBO can’t wait to meet you."

JIBO: The World's First Family Robot [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Jul 16, 2014 - 82 comments

The man who saved the dinosaurs

Dinosaurs were lumbering, stupid, scientifically boring beasts—until John Ostrom rewrote the book on them.
posted by brundlefly on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

That's a lot of decaying plant matter

Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right? Not necessarily! Peat is found around the world, including in many African countries. Earlier this year, scientists trekked through a Congo swamp, braving gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Their reward? Discovery of a peat bog the size of England. The team estimates that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometers (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground.
posted by Lexica on Jul 11, 2014 - 28 comments

There is no such thing as concrete, binary "biological sex."

Secular trans feminist Zinnia Jones debunks the myth of biological sex and the inaccurate ways the concept has been used to invalidate trans people.

Mey from Autostraddle explains why it’s time for people to stop using the social construct of “biological sex” to defend their transmisogyny.

Inter/act explains that intersex people, despite having disorders of sex development (DSDs) that contribute to what doctors define as a "biological sex other than male or female," may identify as male, female, or somewhere else on the gender spectrum. [more inside]
posted by Juliet Banana on Jul 11, 2014 - 96 comments

21st Century Wiener

Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

Faking Galileo

Art forgeries have long been the stuff of thrillers, with fake da Vincis or Vermeers fooling connoisseurs, roiling the art world, and moving millions of dollars. We don’t think of ancient books driving such grand forgery, intrigue, and schadenfreude. This is changing thanks in part to a clever forgery of Galileo’s landmark book Sidereus Nuncius, published in Venice in 1610. Arguably one of the most extraordinary scientific publications of all times, Sidereus Nuncius turned Galileo into the brightest new star of Western science. Four centuries later, a faked copy of this book has disarmed a generation of Galileo experts, and raised a host of intriguing questions about the social nature of scholarly authentication, the precariousness of truth, and the revelatory power of fakes.
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 9, 2014 - 9 comments

Judges Explaining Technology

"As a matter of science, traditional adoption does not provide a woman with the opportunity to be pregnant.” Reber v. Reiss, 42 A.3d 1131, 1138-39 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2012). Judges Explaining Technology.
posted by dzkalman on Jul 8, 2014 - 25 comments

Utility, welfare, and efficiency

  1. Welfare economics: an introduction
  2. The perils of Potential Pareto
  3. Inequality, production, and technology
  4. Welfare theorems, distribution priority, and market clearing
  5. Normative is performative, not positive

posted by kliuless on Jul 7, 2014 - 7 comments

Women in archaeology, geology, and palaeontology

"TrowelBlazers is a celebration of women archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists who have been doing awesome work for far longer, and in far greater numbers, than most people realize." [via]
posted by brundlefly on Jul 7, 2014 - 4 comments

“With animals, we often don’t know the reason for a behavior,”

Zoo Animals and Their Discontents [New York Times]
posted by Fizz on Jul 4, 2014 - 20 comments

I'm leaving my body to science, not medical but physics

Let's Talk About Science is a blog devoted to discussing the world of science and technology communication with clear, beginner-friendly language, written and compiled by nanoscientist/physicist Jessamyn Fairfield and science educator ErinDubitably. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Jul 3, 2014 - 4 comments

Math is Hard!

Inspire Her Mind [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Jul 3, 2014 - 12 comments

'Whoa… big brain huh… cool!'"

Lovatt reasoned that if she could live with a dolphin around the clock, nurturing its interest in making human-like sounds, like a mother teaching a child to speak, they'd have more success. - stories from the NASA- funded project to teach Dolphins to talk using LSD (among other methods. )
posted by The Whelk on Jun 29, 2014 - 37 comments

The Call Is Coming From Inside The Grave

"If the phone rang and you were in another room, you had to come running: in that immediate sense, and in a way that now seems comical, your phone controlled you. And before the ‘90s, there was no caller ID, an inconvenience which ensured, for that benighted first century-plus of the instrument’s analog existence, the first premise of phone horror—that you could never know for certain whose voice, or what sound, would issue from the other end of that raised receiver." - HiLoBrow is in the middle of a series exploring the tropes and history of Phone Horror. Of particular note is the brief historical connection between the telephone and the world of occult crypto-science - The Atlantic explains further.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 25, 2014 - 53 comments

Risky Business

The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 24, 2014 - 34 comments

Having the same tired discussions about gender bias, over and over.

The first Women in Science Writing: Solutions Summit took place at MIT on June 13-15. Here's a brief roundup, with plenty of links and stats that look at gender bias and harassment in science journalism.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 24, 2014 - 27 comments

“It’s depressing,..We were definitely depressed,” he repeated

I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT: why do people persist in believing things that just aren't true? The New Yorker asks. Alternatively, a BBC Future author offers up some beguiling and subtle solutions in The best way to win an argument.
posted by quin on Jun 21, 2014 - 61 comments

No, that's not a video of a bee rescuing its friend from a spider

Evolutionary biologist debunks viral video. Science!
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Jun 18, 2014 - 21 comments

contempt, they found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart

science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
posted by and they trembled before her fury on Jun 17, 2014 - 91 comments

You know; Arsenic is "Natural..."

10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing.
posted by quin on Jun 16, 2014 - 111 comments

The Machine

HP scaling memristor and photonic computing: "the device is essentially remembering 1s or 0s depending on which state it is in, multiplying its storage capacity. HP can build these chips with traditional semiconductor equipment and expects to be able to pack unprecedented amounts of memory—enough to store huge databases of pictures, files, and data—into a computer. In theory, that would remove the need for a conventional slow disk/fast memory system. With the Machine's main chips sitting on motherboards right next to the memristors, they can access any needed information almost instantly..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 16, 2014 - 66 comments

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