3511 posts tagged with science.
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Why Vaginas?

Sure, we may be a little weird compared to our close relatives for not having a baculum (penis bone), and maybe that's the sort of thing you want to explain for whatever reason, but does human penis size and shape need a uniquely human story? Assuming it's correlated to the vagina like it probably is in many other species, then no it doesn't... unless the size and shape of the human vagina has an exceptional story. Does it? We wouldn't know. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Nov 25, 2015 - 46 comments

It spent all its money on whiskey and beer

Remember the prototype lunar rover that was believed to be scrapped but was recovered by a junkyard owner? It just failed to sell at auction, and could be yours if you have an amount of money more than $30000 burning a hole in your pocket.
posted by Artw on Nov 22, 2015 - 10 comments

So what’s your solution?

Professor of Mathematics Izabella Laba's "A Response to … " Scott Aaronson's "Words Will Do". An exchange between a mathematician and a computer scientist, on the use of terms including: privilege, hegemony, false consciousness, mansplaining, etc., and the general problem of clear communication, when the social sciences are applied towards political causes. [more inside]
posted by polymodus on Nov 21, 2015 - 111 comments

Science and sexism: In the eye of the Twitterstorm

When Fiona Ingleby took to Twitter last April to vent about a journal’s peer-review process, she didn’t expect much of a response. With only around 100 followers on the social-media network, Ingleby — an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Sussex near Brighton, UK — guessed that she might receive a few messages of support or commiseration from close colleagues. What she got was an overwhelming wave of reaction. Social media has enabled an increasingly public discussion about the persistent problem of sexism in science.
posted by sciatrix on Nov 20, 2015 - 11 comments

Not without my floured hands at the wheel.

Christopher Kimball, the 'kitchen stickler' behind the beloved Cook's Illustrated magazine and PBS' highly-rated America's Test Kitchen show, is leaving the kitchen amidst a leadership shakeup at the company he founded. The last letter from Vermont has not yet been published. Previously
posted by anastasiav on Nov 17, 2015 - 152 comments

None of them wanna pay taxes again. Ever.

The Asteroid Hunters
posted by zarq on Nov 17, 2015 - 23 comments


Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 16, 2015 - 69 comments

"So many have died to defend what you see here."

You were taught in school that the rain forest is like the lungs of our planet.

It’s not that simple.

posted by zarq on Nov 12, 2015 - 17 comments

The cruel mystery of ALS and military veterans

"Studies show that if you've served in the military -- any branch, any war, or even if you served in a time of peace -- you have a much higher risk of dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) than if you were not in the military. And no one seems to know why." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Nov 12, 2015 - 39 comments

Earlier Life

Seven fossilized brains from the Cambrian. A complex animal skeleton from the pre-Cambrian. Oxygen made by photosynthesis a billion years before the Great Oxygenation Event. Carbon made by life from 4.1 billion years ago. (Okay, maybe not so fast on that last one.)
posted by clawsoon on Nov 9, 2015 - 4 comments

Who do you mean by we?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - "The book delivers on its madly ambitious subtitle by in fact managing to cover key moments in the developmental history of humankind from the emergence of Homo Sapiens to today's developments in genetic engineering." Also btw, check out Harari on the myths we need to survive, re: fact/value distinctions and their interrelationships.
posted by kliuless on Nov 8, 2015 - 7 comments

The "Science" Behind the Plague Doctor Costume

One of the most distinctive masks worn during the Carnival of Venice is “Il Medico della Peste,” or “The Plague Doctor.” But the distinctive bone-white mask and black clothing was actually the 17th century equivalent of a biocontainment suit. Albeit one based on very shaky science.
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 7, 2015 - 15 comments

The word algorithm derives from his name.

The word algebra stems from the Arabic word al-jabr, which has its roots in the title of a 9th century manuscript written by the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi. The Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wal-muqabala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing) was a pioneering piece of work - offering practical answers for land distribution, rules on inheritance and distributing salaries. This treatise also underpins the science of flight and the engineering behind the fastest car in the world. via
posted by infini on Nov 7, 2015 - 15 comments

“Solar-wind erosion is an important mechanism for atmospheric loss,”

NASA Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere [mars.nasa.gov] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 6, 2015 - 42 comments

"I would say there’s a lot of wariness among scholars."

Lamar Smith continues waging his three-year war on the National Science Foundation. If Congress has its way, the next round of grants by the National Science Foundation, a hallmark of government funding for graduate students and scientists, will no longer be based on scientific merit. Proposals would not be reviewed by panels of preeminent scholars across the United States as they have been for more than a half-century; instead, they would all be “in the national interest,” with strict new rules adopted earlier this month by a Republican House committee. Previously. This is not the first time Smith has tried to impose Congressional control on the NSF's budget.
posted by sciatrix on Nov 5, 2015 - 37 comments

Four Months Hand-Cutting A Paper Microbe

“Cut Microbe” is a sculpture entirely hand cut out of paper. Measuring 44 inches/112cms in length, it is half a million times bigger than the ecoli bacteria upon which it is based. I wanted to create a sculpture that reflected in the process of being made the incredible scale and complexity of this microbiological world. I am amazed at the strange beauty of the natural world and wanted to open people’s eyes to aspects of it that they rarely see. -Rogan Brown
posted by jammy on Nov 5, 2015 - 19 comments

Eddies in the space-time continuum?

Neodymium magnet falling through the interior of a copper pipe.
Another example.
Explanation. [more inside]
posted by Atom Eyes on Nov 4, 2015 - 24 comments

How one of the most obese countries on earth took on the soda giants

As debate rages about whether to introduce a sugar tax, this is the story of how Mexico defied its own powerful fizzy drinks industry to impose a tax on soda. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 4, 2015 - 12 comments

Discover something new

"It isn’t easy to discover new podcasts. There are just SO many out there. Sometimes the best approach is to simply turn to a friend and say, 'Hey, what are you listening to these days?'" So, NPR has created earbud.fm, a "friendly guide to great podcasts."
posted by zarq on Nov 3, 2015 - 82 comments

The best way to settle this question is to build a 100-TeV collider

Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world's largest particle collider - "Two years ago, he agreed to become the inaugural director of the new Center for Future High Energy Physics in Beijing. He has since visited China 18 times, campaigning for the construction of a machine of unprecedented scale: a circular particle collider up to 60 miles in circumference, or nearly four times as big around as Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Nicknamed the 'Great Collider', and estimated to cost roughly $10 billion over 30 years, it would succeed the LHC as the new center of the physics universe. According to Arkani-Hamed and those who agree with him, this 100-trillion-electron-volt (TeV) collider would slam subatomic particles together hard enough to either find the particles that the LHC could not muster or rule them out, rescuing or killing the naturalness principle and propelling physicists toward one of two radically different pictures: that of a knowable universe, or an unknowable multiverse." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 1, 2015 - 31 comments

Alien Nation

The film Alien Nation was a hit in 1988, so the fledgling Fox Network figured building off its success with a human-alien buddy cop show was a can’t-miss concept.... [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 28, 2015 - 86 comments

The role of sex and gender in autism

The Lost Girls: 'Misdiagnosed, misunderstood or missed altogether, many women with autism struggle to get the help they need.' Part of Spectrum's Sex/Gender in Autism special report. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 27, 2015 - 34 comments

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The deadly legacy of HIV truthers [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 26, 2015 - 72 comments

Walking on (non-Newtonian) water

Maybe Jesus could walk on water, but anybody can walk on this non-Newtonian fluid (SLYT)
posted by Quietgal on Oct 22, 2015 - 23 comments

Field Work Fail

In FieldWorkFail, scientists working in the field share their more embarassing stories !
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 22, 2015 - 34 comments

The Final Experiment Is Nigh

Adam and Jamie announce the end of their classic Mythbusters series in this week's Entertainment Tonight. [more inside]
posted by fairmettle on Oct 21, 2015 - 97 comments

Apatosaurus Jones

Sauropod dinosaur may have whipped its tail like Indiana Jones
posted by curious nu on Oct 20, 2015 - 10 comments

The Life of a Professional Guinea Pig

What it’s like to earn a living as a research subject in clinical trials Today, Stone no longer relies on strangers in bars—instead, he’s a part of a small community that shares info about study opportunities. Stone says he sends mass texts whenever he sees a new study online. In exchange, the group does the same for him. The members of this group call themselves guinea pigs, or lab rats. They also call themselves professionals.
posted by sciatrix on Oct 19, 2015 - 35 comments

Pee U - 235

There is a club among atomic scientists who have worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. How much plutonium in the body does it take to join the club? Enough so that it comes out in your urine.
posted by Chrysostom on Oct 18, 2015 - 21 comments

2015 Nikon's Small World Photomicrography Contest Winners

ΦφΦϕ⊕​ΦΦϕΦ​ΦϕΦφΦ⊗⊗Φ⊕ΦΦϕΦΦϕϕΦφΦ⊗ [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Oct 17, 2015 - 10 comments

Out of the Cultural Revolution, a Nobel Prize and a cure for malaria

Earlier this month, Youyou Tu was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for her discovery of artemisinin, also known as qinghaosu. She is the first Chinese Nobel recipient for work that was done in mainland China. Dr. Tu's studies were done in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, a politically precarious time for Chinese academics, which adds a layer of historical complexity to her work. It is difficult to overstate the importance of artemisinin to anti-malarial efforts. Unfortunately, artemisinin-resistant strains of malaria are already beginning to appear only thirty years after the drug was introduced.
posted by sciatrix on Oct 14, 2015 - 12 comments

"About $43,000 a year."

What's the Difference Between Data Science and Statistics?Not long ago, the term "data science" meant nothing to most people-even to those who worked with data. A likely response to the term was: "Isn't that just statistics?" These days, data science is hot. The Harvard Business Review called data scientist the "Sexiest Job of the 21st Century."  So what changed? Why did data science become a distinct term? And what distinguishes data science from statistics?
posted by tonycpsu on Oct 13, 2015 - 38 comments

A runner’s high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice.

The Runner’s High: It’s Like Smoking Weed [High Times]
Research on mice [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] has confirmed that a “runner’s high” arises from a release of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the same cannabinoid receptors that cannabis does. If you have ever run, biked, lifted weights, or performed any kind of physical exercise, you may have noticed a sense of euphoria and the feeling you are relieved of physical pain and anxiety. They thought it came from β-endorphin, but now scientists have confirmed that anandamide is most likely the cause.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 13, 2015 - 38 comments

Global Bleaching Event Underway

The world's coral is suddenly and rapidly starting to die - "This is only the third time we've seen what we would refer to as a global bleaching event. [The prior events] were in 1998 and 2010, and those were pretty much one year events. We're looking at a similar spatial scale of bleaching across the globe, but spanning across at least 2 years. So that means a lot of these corals are being put under really prolonged stress, or are being hit 2 years in a row." Can 'manually breeding supercorals capable of living in increasingly inhospitable waters' help in time? (via/via)
posted by kliuless on Oct 12, 2015 - 18 comments

Covered in lube and sliding about — it’s a fantastic way to make friends

The "Lube Olympics" makes slippery bid to rival 2020 Tokyo Games — featuring popular Greece sports like group sumo, tug-of-war, giant balls relay, sliding underneath the sheets and so much more
posted by a lungful of dragon on Oct 11, 2015 - 13 comments

Pretty floating spheres of water

RED 4K Video of Colorful Liquid in Space. "Once again, astronauts on the International Space Station dissolved an effervescent tablet in a floating ball of water, and captured images using a camera capable of recording four times the resolution of normal high-definition cameras. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station. This footage is one of the first of its kind. The cameras are being evaluated for capturing science data and vehicle operations by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 10, 2015 - 19 comments

A gene for gay?

A controversial talk by Tuck Ngun at the ongoing American Society of Human Genetics 2015 meeting in Baltimore presented evidence of epigenetic mechanisms associated with homosexuality in discordant male twins (i.e., one gay, the other straight). The conference organizers and news outlets quickly trumpeted that scientists had discovered epigenetic markers capable of predicting the sexual orientation of a male; however, the reaction of scientists at the meeting was less enthusiastic. Ed Yong at the Atlantic wrote a particularly thorough takedown. Criticisms centered around the small sample size (37 pairs of twins), the fact that the samples were taken from saliva (whereas you'd expect epigenetic variants influencing sexuality to occur in the brain), and the fact that the predictive model they developed was not terribly predictive (67% accuracy). [more inside]
posted by infinitemonkey on Oct 10, 2015 - 79 comments

Diamond Dogs

Mining diamonds from the street. (SLYT)
posted by loquacious on Oct 4, 2015 - 7 comments

Painting on Petri dishes

The 2015 finalists for the American Society of Microbiologists'agar art winners have been announced! Agar art, also sometimes called petri dish art or microbial art, is a technique in which colonies of bacteria or fungi are grown on agar plates to produce a pattern. If you want to see more, the Daily Dish posts a new art plate every single day. Previously.
posted by sciatrix on Oct 2, 2015 - 9 comments

The birds that fear death

A study published in the journal Animal Behavior found that crows can recognize their fellow dead crows and learn to avoid the dangerous circumstances associated with death. The BBC described the study, which involved a "masked individual playing bad cop, arriving on the scene holding up a dead crow." [more inside]
posted by Rangi on Oct 2, 2015 - 38 comments

Ball taken, gone back to Heimatland

"Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy,” says bioinformatician Gangolf Jobb, who has responded to the Syrian migrant crisis by revoking the license for his Treefinder software, one tool (among many) that help measure and visualize the evolutionary distances between organisms. [more inside]
posted by a lungful of dragon on Sep 30, 2015 - 52 comments

There is Water on Mars

The New York Times is reporting that NASA is about to announce the discovery of "definitive signs of liquid water on the surface of present-day Mars."
posted by schmod on Sep 28, 2015 - 109 comments

First solo female author wins Royal Society Winton Book prize

For the first time in 28 years, the Winton Book Prize has been won by a solo female author - Gaia Vince. Vince has published an article today asking why women don't win science book prizes more often. It's an effective round up of everything from early years conditioning to institutional sexism (in publishing as well as science). The first chapter of her winning book Adventures in the Anthropocene is available as a .pdf download. [more inside]
posted by AFII on Sep 25, 2015 - 2 comments

Color my world

The iBookGuy explains how graphics worked within the memory constraints of the Commodore 64 and NES, and the Apple II and Atari 2600
posted by a lungful of dragon on Sep 24, 2015 - 9 comments

When science catches up to the pet trade: Geosesarma crabs

Geosesarma is a genus of small, colorful, land based freshwater crabs, roughly the size of an American quarter. Scientists struggle to properly catalog and describe the varieties of crabs they find in pet stores. [more inside]
posted by RogueTech on Sep 24, 2015 - 5 comments

This is another sure sign of intellectual dishonesty

From the Neurologica blog: "Creationists are engaged in science denial—denying evolutionary science. The purpose of denial is doubt and confusion, so they don’t have to create and defend a coherent explanation of the origins of life on Earth. They don’t have to provide an explanation for all the available evidence. All they have to do is muddy the waters as much as possible." [more inside]
posted by Flexagon on Sep 24, 2015 - 41 comments

One tiny warm spot in the center, and a narrow ring of mediocrity around

When shopping for a microwave oven, bring a box of appalams and cook four of them for 30 seconds. (via What if? xkcd via this amusing ELI5 about a microwave-resistant gnat)
posted by elgilito on Sep 21, 2015 - 38 comments

"Occasionally, we find that an invited guest is insane . . . "

Cormac McCarthy just did a short video on behalf of the Santa Fe Institute explaining why you should join their enterprise.
posted by jason's_planet on Sep 20, 2015 - 6 comments

Genetic modification via parasitic wasp

It's well understood that many species of parasitic wasp, when they lay their eggs on host caterpillars, also inject viruses that prevent the host's immune system from attacking the eggs. But it was recently discovered that some of those virus genes, as well as genes from parasitic wasps themselves, have become a part of the genome of some lepidopteran species (even protecting these species from a different type of virus), thus demonstrating horizontal gene transfer between insect species (link to paper).
posted by J.K. Seazer on Sep 18, 2015 - 23 comments

Breaking the communication barrier between dolphins and humans

“Head trainer Teri Turner Bolton presses her palms together over her head, the signal to innovate, and then puts her fists together, the sign for “tandem.” Comparative psychologist Stan Kuczaj records several seconds of audible chirping between [the dolphins] Hector and Han, then his camera captures them both slowly rolling over in unison and flapping their tails three times simultaneously. [...] Either one dolphin is mimicking the other [...] or it’s not an illusion at all: When they whistle back and forth beneath the surface, they’re literally discussing a plan.[more inside]
posted by Rangi on Sep 15, 2015 - 38 comments

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