"What could you possibly have in common with a mushroom, or a dinosaur, or even a bacterium? More than you might think. In this Lab, you’ll puzzle out the evolutionary relationships linking together a spectacular array of species. Explore the tree of life and get a front row seat to what some have called the greatest show on Earth. That show is evolution." Evolution Lab is a educational game created by the Life on Earth Project and NOVA Labs
Removing predators from the wild has thrown ecosystems off-kilter, triggering domino effects that scientists are just beginning to understand. In "Wild Predator Invasion," NOVA follows scientists who are trying a simple but controversial solution: returning apex predators—like wolves, bears, and panthers—to their natural environments. [more inside]
Science journalist and NOVA correspondent extraordinaire Miles O'Brien was working on a story in Japan and the Philippines when a piece of luggage fell on his arm causing minor swelling. The next day his arm was amputated due to Acute Compartment Syndrome. He recounts his experience with as much humor and grace as one can muster.
2013 Science Journalism Award winners from the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
- Large Newspaper: Deep Trouble, about invasive Asian Carp, sewage, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan
- Small Newspaper: Warning: Quake in 60 Seconds, about why California doesn't have a decent early warning system for earthquakes
- Magazine: Attack of the Mutant Pupfish, about genetic integrity vs. genetic restoration in the fight to preserve endangered species
- Television (20 minutes or less): NOVA's profile of computer scientist Adrien Treuille and Foldit, a crowd-sourced protein-folding game
- Television (more than 20 minutes): Smithsonian Channel: Killer in the Caves, about bats and the deadly white-nose fungus
- Radio: NPR and The Center for Public Integrity - As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge and Black-Lung Rule Loopholes Leave Miners Vulnerable
- Online: An environmental scandal that’s happening right underneath your feet, about the hidden cost of natural gas leaks in pipelines underneath cities
- Children's Science News: Cold Water Corals: Paradise on the Seabed [pdf]
Squirrels in Nova Scotia work harder. Some cute squirrel photos to help you prepare for Monday. [more inside]
They were the finest European swords the day, superior to almost any other on the battlefields of the Viking Age. Made from steel no one in Europe would know how to make until the Industrial Revolution. Stronger, more flexible, almost magical in combat, engraved with the mysterious name "+ULFBERH+T" by unknown makers, these swords were the both fearsome weapons and incredibly expensive prestige possessions. Only 171 have every been identified. And no one had made one from start to finish, using only hand tools, for over 900 years. [more inside]
The Evolution Documentary channel (autoplays video) has collected documentaries and clips about evolution available on youtube, including documentaries from BBC, Nova, and National Geographic. [more inside]
"Ever wish you could see the strands of genetic material that make you...you?" NOVA shows you how to extract your DNA with this do-it-yourself tutorial using household items. [via]
Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova (called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf stars. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played: The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter. The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale. The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
"Once every 48 years, forests of the bamboo known as Melocanna baccifera go into exuberant flower in parts of northeast India [a process called Mautam]. And then, like clockwork, the event is invariably followed by a plague of black rats that spring from nowhere to spread destruction and famine in their wake. For the first time on film, NOVA and National Geographic capture this massive rat population explosion in the kind of vivid detail not possible in 1959, when the last invasion occurred." Airing tonight at 8PM on your local PBS station, or catch it online here beginning tomorrow.
Car of the Future, NOVA's latest episode, is fully online and includes a slew of extras including CC-licensed content, a brief historical overview of "innovative" automobiles, Amory Lovins flogging his Hypercar concept, the Car Talk guys making nuisances of themselves, and much more. (It's no Design for Dreaming, but really, what could be?)
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Tonight on NOVA, a documentary on the six-week trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover. [Full transcripts of trial] The court's decision [PDF] by Judge John E. Jones III, chastised the defense's dishonesty and the "breathtaking inanity" of the Dover School Board's policy. Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education recounts the the trial here. According to Salon, the Discovery Institute is not quitting -- preferring now to "teach the controversy," as part of their ongoing attack on naturalism. [Previously 1 2]
Nova eikaiwa is the biggest foreign language school in Japan, teaching predominantly English through a network of over 600 branches across the county and employing over 7,000 foreign nationals. After adverse rulings to a number of complaints regarding Nova's refund policy, the Japanese Government imposed a 6 month ban from July to prevent the company from selling large lesson packages to students. The company has experienced a severe downturn in cashflow as a result and there are reports of late payment to Japanese staff and suppliers in the last two months. Foreign teachers were unaffected until salary payments for the 15th September were paid late, and more senior teachers have not yet been paid. Despite not being paid, many staff face a tough decision: quit, or continue to show up to work in the knowledge that if the company goes bankrupt they are eligible for unemployment benefits. Despite this, CEO Nozomu Sahashi declared last Friday "The dark clouds that have been hanging heavily over us will be cast aside... I said previously 'the darkest time is before the dawn,' and finally the first light of dawn can be seen". Five days later and some teachers are still waiting to be paid.
Cliff Stoll [Wiki] first became known [ram] as the astronomer who caught a spy/hacker. His book on this adventure, "The Cuckoo's Egg" [PDF] was featured on a 1990 Nova [1 2 3 4 5 6, YouTube, with most of the re-enactments performed by the real-life people.] Since the mid 90's he has been an outspoken critic of high-tech hype. 1996 C-Span presentation [GVid.] for "Silicon Snake Oil." 2004 audio interview [ram] for "High-Tech Heretic." Stoll has written Scientific American articles on the Curta calculator [PDF scans] and the slide rule. For several years, Stoll has also been making and selling hand-blown glass Klein bottles. (Calibrations available.) [Previously 1 2 3 4]
How to Sequence a Genome [Flash. H/T to Jay]. Visualization of the process of genetic sequencing. Posted on the Nova website in conjunction with their show, Cracking the Code of Life, hosted by Robert Krulwich [Wiki].
Sinatra & Jobim. 6 minutes of Bossa Nova beauty, for your viewing pleasure. (Youtube link)
The past can be a fascinating place. An Anthropologist by training and finder of interesting things by avocation, Hugh Blackmer, began rescuing old photos from antique shops on Nova Scotia (the former Acadia) several decades ago. He's now posting them on-line for his Nova Scotia Faces project. He's using Flickr and experimenting with a wiki. He's finding some wonderful old moments.
Nova Science Now recently ran a segment on lightning (quicktime, real, and windows video here). I figured that subject was over and done with shortly after Franklin flew a kite, but it turns out we don't really know exactly what causes a bolt to start. The coolest part of the segment was these researchers in Florida. Scientists know how hard it was to observe, monitor, and even find lightning bolts, so these guys built their own rig. High-powered model rockets attached to a couple thousand feet of wire, which is grounded to larger metal structures on the ground. The result? Shoot a rocket into a storm cloud and you get instant lightning you can count on, measure, and control.
Canada, a 13+ link whistlestop glance at something from all the provinces and territories...Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, NWT, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, PEI, Quebec, Saskatewan, Yukon. Not to mention the talk about Turks and Caicos?
The elegant universe. A 3 hour PBS NOVA documentary on string theory [in 24 ~5-10 minute chunks of real player or quick time video]. Welcome to the 11th dimension.
“The string theorists have a theory that appears to be consistent and is very beautiful, and I don’t understand it.” Nova invites Brian Greene to explain everything with the superstring.
The Inconstant Moon is dedicated to our nearest neighbor. Explore the moon with the Selenographica. Also, this Tuesday, Nova will re-broadcast To the Moon, the story of the the science and engineering behind mans trip to the moon. Its been 100 years since Melies' dream. Will the U.S. return? Or will someone else?
Why the towers fell. PBS is airing a special episode of Nova about the science behind while the World Trade Center towers collapse. Nova's reputation for converting esoteric science & engineering into understandable explanations for the layman should make the show something to watch. 7PM EDT/PDT on most PBS stations. Set your Tivos.
Last week I was watching a Nova program on PBS called 'Cracking the Code of Life', which brought to my attention a disturbing fact about the process of mapping the Human Genome; private companies have applied for patents for gene sequences that they've mapped. Many of these patents were applied for before the government began the Human Genome Project. Although the patent office has put these applications on hold until it figures out what to do with them, many drug companies an researchers won't work with a gene sequence if there is a patent application outstanding. You can get involved yourself by petitioning against patents on life.