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Presenting Data

A checklist for those making graphs from Stephanie Evergreen and Ann Emery. This is a useful tool for teaching scientists and others some of the rules of data presentation in graph form.
posted by sciencegeek on May 16, 2014 - 23 comments

Science of scams

We have released 7 hoax videos which appear to demonstrate paranormal phenomena. In fact they're all based upon real scientific principles. Over the past few months this hoax footage has been posted all over the internet in an attempt to find out if people would either accept it as genuine or question it in an attempt to discover the real truth. Can you find the hoaxes before we reveal the secret science behind these scams?
Ghost on film (4:28)
Psychic Readings (13:07)
Telekinesis (2:45)
Chi energy (4:00)
Ouija board (5:17)
Brickbreaking (5:31)
Psi Wheel (3:29)
posted by Blasdelb on May 16, 2014 - 114 comments

Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer!

Photobooth Innards: the inner workings of a vintage black and white photobooth in real time. Via photobooth.net, the most comprehensive photobooth resource on the internet (previously)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 8, 2014 - 7 comments

Drill, Comrade, Drill.

There is a place in Russia called the Kola Penninsula that is just a jump away from both Norway and Finland. At this remote locale, people can visit a crumbling cinder block building in the middle of nowhere that is surround by debris. Amongst this debris is a nondescript metal cap secured with a dozen rusting bolts. Beneath this cap is the deepest hole in the world. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on May 8, 2014 - 50 comments

Save the Microbes

Humans have co-evolved with the resident microbes that call us "home", known as the microbiota, consisting of trillions of cells that colonize our bodies. The microbiota carry out many beneficial functions, such as producing vitamins, aiding in digestion, and protecting against invading microbes, but disruption from antibiotics or delivery by Caesarian section may have consequences for human health. Recently, antibiotic use has been linked with obesity and asthma. Using both human studies and experimentally observed mice, we are beginning to understand how antibiotics may lead to the disappearance of microbes and to identify key microbes that impact our health.
Save the Microbes
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on May 8, 2014 - 24 comments

National Climate Assessment

This morning the U.S. government released the newest National Climate Assessment, which "concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country." You can explore the assessment here. Previously.
posted by brundlefly on May 6, 2014 - 48 comments

"Does Winnie the Pooh have a B12 deficiency?"

The Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Projects has been tackling this and other vital subjects from the world of popular culture. As well as the Winnie the Pooh question, they consider whether Miley Cyrus really can come on like a wrecking ball, where a tiny frog gets the extra mass to turn into a human prince, Sherlock's ability to see dog hairs at a great distance, how many lies Pinocchio could tell before the weight of his enlarged nose caused his neck to snap and the feasibility of Gus Fring's last walk. Word of warning: they're all PDFs. [more inside]
posted by Paul Slade on May 4, 2014 - 9 comments

Male Scent May Compromise Biomedical Research

Jeffrey Mogil’s students suspected there was something fishy going on with their experiments. They were injecting an irritant into the feet of mice to test their pain response, but the rodents didn’t seem to feel anything. “We thought there was something wrong with the injection,” says Mogil, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The real culprit was far more surprising: The mice that didn’t feel pain had been handled by male students. Mogil’s group discovered that this gender distinction alone was enough to throw off their whole experiment—and likely influences the work of other researchers as well. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 29, 2014 - 82 comments

The People Who Saw Evolution

"Peter and Rosemary Grant are members of a very small scientific tribe: people who have seen evolution happen right before their eyes."
posted by brundlefly on Apr 28, 2014 - 35 comments

Polar bears, poop, and dogs!

Linda Gormezano, a researcher with the American Museum of Natural History, studies polar bear ecology by collecting and analyzing polar bear feces. "One thing I didn’t mention is I don’t find the scat, my dog Quinoa finds it." via.
posted by ChuraChura on Apr 28, 2014 - 12 comments

Genius

Walter Kitundu is an artist and MacArthur Fellow (previously). In this video, he gives a lecture at the San Francisco Exploratorium about his bespoke instruments and lighting experiments. At around 16 minutes in, he plays his digital revision of a kora.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 28, 2014 - 1 comment

17 Lies We Need to Stop Teaching Girls About Sex

Whether it's the constant fretting over Miley Cyrus' influence on school girls or the growing (and troubling) tradition of Purity Balls, it's clear that society has a fascination with young women's sexuality — especially when it comes to controlling it. But what are we actually teaching today's girls about sex? Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there seem to be certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won't die. That sex education in America has gaping holes in its curriculum hasn't helped much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools' sex ed program included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is "done to them." Knowledge is power, and we can promote a healthier relationship with sex by encouraging a more open dialogue, teaching girls to feel comfortable with their sexuality and, most importantly, emphasizing that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone.
But first, we're going to need to stop perpetuating the following 17 myths about female sexuality.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 28, 2014 - 120 comments

Blowing soap in your eyes

And now for my magic marketing trick! (I mean, illusion.) By simply conflating surfactants and their main use, soap, I will now proceed to warn you that soap is in absolutely everything, and we should all freak the hell out, NOW. -- Through a handy demonstration Michelle Wong explains why the danger of chemicals is often inflated for The Toast's Gal Science column.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 28, 2014 - 90 comments

Orphan Black is Back

Clones Are People Too: The Science and Science Fiction of BBC America’s Orphan Black. BBC America's science fiction series Orphan Black has returned for a second season, with Tatiana Maslany reprising her extraordinary performance playing half a dozen different clone characters. Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists have created cloned embryonic stem cells from the DNA of two adult humans. [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Apr 26, 2014 - 66 comments

Bigger than a breadboard II

Following on the heels of Phonebloks, a Google/Motorola formed a design group called Project Ara. The Verge recently interviewed Paul Eremenko, the project lead, about progress made towards modularization of mobile phone components, overcoming engineering issues, and the group assigning itself an ambitious timetable to succeed in delivering a sellable product within two years, or disbanding.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 25, 2014 - 18 comments

American Museum of Natural Unlocks 1000's Of Old Photos

The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 24, 2014 - 6 comments

The Quest for Randomness

Can you ever be reasonably sure that something is random, in the same sense you can be reasonably sure something is not random (for example, because it consists of endless nines)? Even if a sequence looked random, how could you ever rule out the possibility that it had a hidden deterministic pattern? And what exactly do we mean by “random,” anyway?
posted by empath on Apr 24, 2014 - 48 comments

The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?

UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2014 - 50 comments

The behavior of a tethered helium balloon in a forward-moving van

The van goes forward, the balloon goes--wait a second. But truly, the cool balloon physics is the least terrific thing about this video. From Smarter Every Day. [slyt | via] Previously and previouslier
posted by jwhite1979 on Apr 22, 2014 - 95 comments

"You can measure your life in a number of drops."

World's longest-running experiment captures elusive tar pitch drop fall on video after 84 years of waiting — though, sadly, too late for physicist and former pitch drop custodian Prof. John Mainstone, who passed away last year.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 19, 2014 - 15 comments

Pyro Board

Pyro Board. Or flammable sound waves and music. Danish Fysikshow demonstrates a 2-D Rubens' tube (wiki, demo).
posted by severiina on Apr 18, 2014 - 15 comments

Scientists pinpoint when harmless bacteria became flesh-eating monsters

Bacterial diseases cause millions of deaths every year. Most of these bacteria were benign at some point in their evolutionary past, and we don’t always understand what turned them into disease-causing pathogens. In a new study, researchers have tracked down when this switch happened in one flesh-eating bacteria. They think the knowledge might help predict future epidemics. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 18, 2014 - 15 comments

Suicide, drugs, sex and other dangers of rock and/or roll

How Americans Die - a visual tour through surprising trends in mortality among Americans in the last several decades
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 17, 2014 - 58 comments

A Magical Miniature World Of Snails

Talented Ukrainian nature photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko has an eye for taking photos that bring small natural worlds up to our level, showing us how the world might look if we could see it through the eyes of an ant, snail or lizard. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 16, 2014 - 22 comments

Sølar-pøwered flashlights? But wait, there's møre!

The Nordic Society for Invention & Discovery has brought never-before-seen and totally exclusive technologies into the world, such as the Aaltopuck (an ice hockey puck modeled after Alvar Aalto's Savoy Vase), the Flower Shell (a shotgun shell that shoots seeds into the ground), the Wall of Sound (an 8000-watt iPod dock) and No More Woof (a device that wraps around your dog's head and translates his or her brain waves to computerized speech).
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 15, 2014 - 11 comments

Ottomans not included

For those of you who prefer your science isolated with a side of moody furniture, I give you Lonely Chairs at CERN.
posted by Diagonalize on Apr 14, 2014 - 19 comments

Six Scientists Show Six Super Surprises

New smartphone battery charges in 30 secondsProgrammable nanobots injected into cockroaches I for one welcome our etc etcMIT unveils shape-shifting furnitureWindtraps from Dune I mean the Smithsonian announces towers that distill water out of airBody heat may soon power wearable gadgetsUS Navy converts seawater to fuel
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Apr 14, 2014 - 54 comments

A SAT Attack on the Erdos Discrepancy Conjecture

Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check - "A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy problem! Trouble is, we have no idea what it's talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia's pages combined, is far too voluminous for us puny humans to confirm." (via; previously ;)
posted by kliuless on Apr 12, 2014 - 24 comments

The Platinum Club

As part of the ongoing Periodic Video series (previously and more previously), Martyn Poliakoff takes us inside Johnson Matthey, where he shows us some "Super Expensive Metals" — a few of the rare platinum group metals — as they are refined and processed from raw ore into finished products.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 11, 2014 - 11 comments

Médecins Sans Medicine

Homeopathy awareness can make the world a healthier, happier place
posted by figurant on Apr 11, 2014 - 78 comments

lab-grown vagina

Four women have had new vaginas grown in the laboratory and implanted by doctors in the US. "A tissue sample and a biodegradable scaffold were used to grow vaginas in the right size and shape for each woman as well as being a tissue match. They all reported normal levels of "desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction" and painless intercourse. Experts said the study, published in the Lancet, was the latest example of the power of regenerative medicine. "
posted by marienbad on Apr 11, 2014 - 38 comments

"The waves, the waves, the waves..."

The Delian Mode (Kara Blake, 2009) - A 25-minute documentary about composer and pioneering electronic musician Delia Derbyshire, perhaps most familiar to Mefites for writing the theme song for "Doctor Who".
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 10, 2014 - 8 comments

Protein Packing

Harvard University and XVIVO have come together again (Previouslyw/ a commercial focus, Previouslierw/an Academic focus) to add to the growing series of scientific animations for BioVisions -- Harvard's multimedia lab in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. 'Protein Packing' strives to more accurately depict the molecular chaos in each and every cell, with proteins jittering around in what may seem like random motion. Proteins occupy roughly 40% of the cytoplasm, creating an environment that risks unintentional interaction and aggregation. Via diffusion and motor protein transport, these molecules are directed to sites where they are needed.
Much of this is no doubt inspired by the beautiful art and explained illustrations of David Goodsell, a biologist at Scripps who has been accurately portraying the crowdedness of the cellular landscape for a long time now.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 10, 2014 - 9 comments

Tamiflu, Roche and the Cochrane Collaboration

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian: "Today we found out that Tamiflu doesn't work so well after all. Roche, the drug company behind it, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for half a decade, but the Cochrane Collaboration, a global not-for-profit organisation of 14,000 academics, finally obtained all the information. Putting the evidence together, it has found that Tamiflu has little or no impact on complications of flu infection, such as pneumonia." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Apr 10, 2014 - 79 comments

Scanned images of seaweed

Such as Ulva lobata from Josie Iselin's new book An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.
Feather boa kelp - Egregia menziesii
Sea grapes - Botryocladia pseudodichotoma [more inside]
posted by ChuckRamone on Apr 9, 2014 - 4 comments

Researchers Use Stem Cells to Regenerate Muscle Nearly as Strong

Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissue in Labs - "The researchers are now working on optimizing the growth of human muscle tissue, including finding a way to get blood flow to the tissue, the best source of cells and the best growing medium for the cells."
posted by kliuless on Apr 8, 2014 - 5 comments

Abyssmal odds

The depth of the problem - this WaPo infographic hints at the immense challenges that Australian and Chinese search teams will face in recovering the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black box from its suspected location at the bottom of the Indian Ocean
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 8, 2014 - 188 comments

Eppur si muove

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

Dazzle flies

"Zebras are obviously the chillest animals on Earth, but how did they get that way? As it turns out, their signature stripes may not have evolved as camouflage, but instead are largely a deterrent to blood-sucking flies." -- At first blush it may seem a hoax, considering the publication date, but it turns out very likely that zebras got their stripes not as camouflage, but as protection against biting insects.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 7, 2014 - 22 comments

Lovely retro future.

How Soviet artists imagined Communist life in space.
posted by Mistress on Apr 5, 2014 - 28 comments

Drop it like it's hot

How to melt an aluminum slug (action heats up around the 2' mark) with a DIY induction heater (obl. wiki).
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 4, 2014 - 38 comments

Sci-Fi Spoilers!

Spoilers for every book ever...
posted by Renoroc on Apr 3, 2014 - 33 comments

Ebola spreads to new territory

There's been an ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. With 122 cases so far, this is the worst outbreak since 2007's 264-case outbreak. The worst outbreak was 2000-2001's 425 cases. What makes this one different is the way it has spread so widely. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 1, 2014 - 51 comments

"All the really important things come as a big surprise."

An interview with physicist Freeman Dyson in Quanta magazine.
posted by thatwhichfalls on Mar 30, 2014 - 32 comments

Pro patria mori

Who are the Nazi War Diggers?
Now four men – the War Diggers - are scouring Eastern Europe in a battered Soviet era jeep, armed with metal detectors, shovels and sheer grit. Their mission is to uncover these forgotten battlefields and the buried stories in them. This is a race against time to get the history from the ground before it’s lost forever.
Talent biographies are available here. Conflict Antiquities has a long list of unanswered "urgent ethical and legal questions". The Anonymous Swiss Collector has a response from National Geographic [opens as word document], but questions remain. Archaeologists, osteologists, anthropologists, and others have not been pleased: the #NaziWarDiggers hashtag has more responses. [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Mar 28, 2014 - 14 comments

Slow Life

Slow Life: time-lapse, macro video of corals and sponges by Daniel Stoupin [previously]
posted by brundlefly on Mar 26, 2014 - 18 comments

Meet the Super Taskers

Many people who say they can multitask show a cognitive deterioration when trying to perform more than one task at once. But according to Psychology Today, there are a small group of people who can actually multitask flawlessly.
posted by reenum on Mar 25, 2014 - 53 comments

The greatest challenge to 21st century paleontology

"The greatest challenge to 21st century paleontology: When commercialization of fossils threatens the science," a commentary by four paleontologists. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Mar 25, 2014 - 5 comments

Put on your dancing genes and boogie

Evolutionary biologists at Northumbria University have used science to figure out "attractive human dance moves" that demonstrate optimum genotypic and phenotypic health to prospective mates. "Cutting-edge motion capture technology" was used to record good and bad dancing. (Technoviking was reportedly unpleased.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 25, 2014 - 29 comments

Absolute Zero is 0K

James Dewar, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, and the quest for liquified hydrogen and helium. Come for the superfluidity, stay for the Supreme Court of the Netherlands decisions and multiple lab assistants losing eyes in explosions.
posted by Chrysostom on Mar 21, 2014 - 34 comments

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