3756 posts tagged with science.
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What is Probability?

The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics - "The introduction of probability into the principles of physics was disturbing to past physicists, but the trouble with quantum mechanics is not that it involves probabilities. We can live with that. The trouble is that in quantum mechanics the way that wave functions change with time is governed by an equation, the Schrödinger equation, that does not involve probabilities. It is just as deterministic as Newton's equations of motion and gravitation. That is, given the wave function at any moment, the Schrödinger equation will tell you precisely what the wave function will be at any future time. There is not even the possibility of chaos, the extreme sensitivity to initial conditions that is possible in Newtonian mechanics. So if we regard the whole process of measurement as being governed by the equations of quantum mechanics, and these equations are perfectly deterministic, how do probabilities get into quantum mechanics?" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 21, 2017 - 2 comments

more guinea pigs

"Occasionally I judge science fairs & while the scientific questions aren't always super novel, I get a kick out of kid scientist logic..."
posted by griphus on Jan 13, 2017 - 44 comments

Archaeological Find Puts Humans in North America 10,000 Years Earlier

New evidence suggests human presence in a Yukon cave during the last ice age 24,000 years ago. A local (to me) science magazine has a story about evidence that humans arrived in North America years earlier than thought. Bluefish Caves in the Yukon contained some bone fragments and tools that is strong evidence of human settlement - years before it was thought to have happened. This institute and magazine is on an archaeological roll - The Hakai institute discovered the oldest footprints in North America, last summer, and is now working on cataloguing the data.
posted by joelf on Jan 13, 2017 - 23 comments

"Preposterous and rococo cannibalism"

Slate reviews Bill Schutt's forthcoming book Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History. Guardian review here. Schutt is a Research Associate in Vertebrate Zoology and Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Jan 13, 2017 - 15 comments

The fastest spinning object driven by human power

Introducing a human-powered centrifuge which separates blood into individual components in ninety seconds and costs 20 cents. [more inside]
posted by Stark on Jan 13, 2017 - 13 comments

Primates this week

Why Biologists Care About A Macaque And Deer Caught On Camera In Rare Interspecies Mating Act - "An unexpected pair has been caught in flagrante delicto and scientists got it all on tape. Primate researcher Marie Pelé and colleagues published a surprising note in the journal Primates this week—the second documented case of distantly related species attempting to mate with each other."
posted by kliuless on Jan 12, 2017 - 53 comments

Scientists are building an animal fart database

Does it fart?” is one of most frequent questions zoologists receive from kids, said Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London. In fact, the whole #DoesItFart adventure started when her teenage brother asked if snakes ever experience flatulence. Rabaiotti knew from her own work that the wild dogs of Africa definitely fart, as do the extremely gassy seals that reside on the Atlantic island of South Georgia. But she wasn’t sure about snakes, so she consulted snake expert David Steen. [more inside]
posted by Existential Dread on Jan 12, 2017 - 36 comments

Where people are really, really willing to kill for conservation

New Zealand is planning to eradicate all invasive pests by 2050. After the announcement in 2016 of a plan to eradicate rats, stoats, possums and other invasive predators from New Zealand, Nature News looks at how it might be accomplished.
posted by 1head2arms2legs on Jan 11, 2017 - 59 comments

2016 Was Indeed a Year of Surprisingly-Many Celebrity Deaths

It’s become cliché that unusually many prominent people died in 2016. Is this true? Jason Crease says yes, using Science! (well, statistics).
posted by chavenet on Jan 6, 2017 - 27 comments

“The nuts and bolts of getting everyone to buy in to this...”

Feed Your Kids Peanuts, Early and Often, New Guidelines Urge [The New York Times] “Peanuts are back on the menu. In a significant reversal from past advice, new national health guidelines call for parents to give their children foods containing peanuts early and often, starting when they’re infants, as a way to help avoid life-threatening peanut allergies. The new guidelines, issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [Full Text] on Thursday, recommend giving babies puréed food or finger food containing peanut powder or extract before they are 6 months old, and even earlier if a child is prone to allergies and doctors say it is safe to do so. One should never give a baby whole peanuts or peanut bits, experts say, because they can be a choking hazard. If broadly implemented, the new guidelines have the potential to dramatically lower the number of children who develop one of the most common and lethal food allergies, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the institute’s director, who called the new approach “game changing.””
posted by Fizz on Jan 6, 2017 - 81 comments

Keeping Up with the Bones

Police in Missouri found four coffins and 15 skeletons inside an archaeologist's house. Establishing their origin illustrates some new developments in forensic Anthropology.
posted by Rumple on Jan 3, 2017 - 12 comments

edge.org question 2017

Edge.org asks: WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN? The Responses: a genetic book of the dead, negative evidence, enactivism, and gravitational radiation, among others.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 1, 2017 - 19 comments

Why Your New Years Eve Celebrations will Probably Suck [3min 34sec SYTL]

Remember: NYE is only 0.273972603% of the entire year. Quick draw Youtube Channel AsapScience explains why the expectations and the reality of New Years Eve celebrations so rarely match. [more inside]
posted by Faintdreams on Dec 30, 2016 - 49 comments

The physics of melanin; the joy of colors

Technically, melanin is a set of biomolecules that we think are synthesized by enzymes and that are notably very visibly colored. There are three types of melanin: the most common, eumelanin, which appears black or brown and occurs in skin and hair; the less abundant pheomelanin, which is on the yellow-to-red spectrum; and neuromelanin, which appears in high concentrations in the human brain, but the function of which we essentially don’t understand at all. For the most part, it seems, we don’t understand melanin. Despite this lack of scientific understanding, the social consequences of melanin are understood intimately by many of us.
posted by ChuraChura on Dec 21, 2016 - 15 comments

GM Mosquitoes: What Could Go Wrong?

Inside the insectary - "These gene drives, they're able to copy themselves. So instead of half of the offspring inheriting the gene drive, almost all of them do. So what happens is that it spreads and it spreads and it spreads. And this is the fantastic thing. Because it allows that gene to be selfish in a population. And in a very short amount of time you can actually transform an entire wild population into a modified population. It's powerful." (previously: 1,2,3)
posted by kliuless on Dec 14, 2016 - 37 comments

Homo erectus has clitorises, too.

You've probably heard that humans are lacking a penis bone, the baculum. But did you know that we also lack a clitoral bone?
posted by ChuraChura on Dec 14, 2016 - 32 comments

MEOW

One of Joe Howard's students asked him a question and he couldn't stop thinking about it. After some research, he provided an answer in this charming video: How loud would it be if all of the cats in the world meowed at the same time? (h/t Miss Cellania) [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Dec 13, 2016 - 31 comments

Raw is Jericho

"This man’s skull was ritualistically transformed 9,000 years ago in Jericho. To flesh out the features on the so-called Jericho Skull, archaeologists at the British Museum have worked for more than two years to reconstruct the face of a man whose skull had been reshaped by ritual throughout his long life. While he was an infant, his head had been bound tightly with cloth to change its shape. After he died at a ripe old age, his skull was then plastered, decorated, and put on display."
posted by Celsius1414 on Dec 12, 2016 - 32 comments

Dilatant Compound 3179 + Graphine = Hypersensitive pressure detector

Dilatant Compound 3179 (previously), better known to kids young and old as Silly Putty, may finally have a proper scientific use (besides the other semi-proper uses). Add graphene to the polymer, you get a very sensitive electro-mechanical sensor that can measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure when placed on a person's neck or chest, and even detect the footsteps of small spiders (via NPR; abstract, paywalled article on Science Mag: Sensitive electromechanical sensors using viscoelastic graphene-polymer nanocomposites).
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 12, 2016 - 14 comments

The history and lasting impacts of Acclimatization Societies

In 1854, a French anatomist named Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire established La Societé Zoologique d’Acclimatation, the first acclimatization society, headquartered in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, where he held a senior position. By 1860, the society had over 2,500 members, including diplomats, scientists, foreign heads of state, and military men. In another forty years, there were over fifty societies around the world, swapping species everywhere from Algiers to Tasmania. Some transplants died quickly, while others thrived, with European rabbits multiplying like, well, rabbits in Australia, European starlings taking down planes and ruining crops in the United States, while the English now battle American grey squirrels (previously). [via Presurfer] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 9, 2016 - 17 comments

Dinosaur Tail Discovered Trapped in Amber

"The tail of a 99-million year old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists....The amber adds to fossil evidence that many dinosaurs sported feathers rather than scales. " [more inside]
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl on Dec 8, 2016 - 130 comments

Is Your T-shirt Clean of Slavery?

Business of Fashion: "Is Your T-shirt Clean of Slavery? Science May Soon Be Able to Tell. Shoppers lured by a bargain-priced t-shirt but concerned about whether the item is free of slave labor could soon have the answer — from DNA forensic technology." [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Dec 7, 2016 - 6 comments

Don't ask a question you aren't prepared to have answered

Sid the Science Kid asks: Where did I come from? (SLYT)
posted by Small Dollar on Dec 6, 2016 - 29 comments

My lumps, my lumps, my Anglo-Saxon lumps

"Scientific analysis reveals origins of odd 'lumps' in Anglo-Saxon grave. How did bitumen from Syria wind up in a buried Anglo-Saxon boat?" [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Dec 5, 2016 - 11 comments

"He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president"

The interval between the 2016 US election and inauguration of POTUS #45 continues. Donald likes an avid reader, but claims many bogus votes were cast and others believe it. Romney (previous, post title, transcript) emerges full of chocolate cake and glowing praise. The "swamp" continues to be filled, and despite 'leaving business' there are conflicts (multiple, many) of interest. There's recount news in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. Amongst voter suppression news (more, more, again), recent tactics arguably worked (more), Michigan is trying to pass tougher ID laws, legal issues continue in North Carolina, and the fight will be a hard and an unavoidable one. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Dec 2, 2016 - 2430 comments

A Mammoth (or Mastodon) Discovery at Wilshire and La Brea

LA Times: Remains of ancient elephant unearthed at L.A. subway excavation site "The first discovery, made just before Thanksgiving, was of a 3-foot section of tusk fragments, as well as fragments of a mastodon tooth, found at a depth of 15 feet at the Wilshire and La Brea excavation site, said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Dec 1, 2016 - 28 comments

Incredible discovery of 40,000-year-old tools for art and engineering

Ars Technica: "Humans began making paint and glue at roughly the same time with the same tools. Evidence from a cave in eastern Ethiopia has revealed something extraordinary about the origins of symbolic thought among humans." [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Nov 30, 2016 - 11 comments

Time spent with cats is never wasted

A cat’s sandpapery tongue is actually a magical detangling hairbrush (WaPo)…you may be wondering why cat grooming mechanics matter. There are two big reasons: First, it might add insight to the field of soft robotics, which, among other things, is about making robots that can move through small spaces for search-and-rescue missions or surgeries. Second, it might help make a better brush that, Noel said, could herald “new ways to clean deeply embedded dirt in your carpet to wound cleaning advances in the medical field.” (alternate link for non-subscribers, lacks video of cat licking a blanket)
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 30, 2016 - 12 comments

The Big Bell Test needs your help

Some scientists are hoping that you can help them prove Einstein wrong by choosing 1 or 0s!
posted by of strange foe on Nov 29, 2016 - 54 comments

Do you want a pet tardigrade? They're basically tiny Pokemon.

Tardigrades or "waterbears" are cute tiny nigh-indestructible 10-legged beasts that prefer to live in wet environments but can also survive the hard vacuum of space. They sound exotic, but they're probably right there in your own backyard. The Stanford Tardigrade Project has an easy guide for finding your own pet waterbears. There are several videos showing what you will see when you find them.
posted by Sleeper on Nov 29, 2016 - 33 comments

In space, no one can hear you flush.

NASA wants you to help astronauts deal with their poo in space: We can put a man on the moon but we can’t deny our bodily functions, no matter who you are. So the world’s leading space agency has put up a $US30,000 ($AU40,300) award for anyone who can come up with the most innovative “space poop” solution. [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 28, 2016 - 62 comments

"I have always been partial to pee."

I’ve studied all the body’s fluids and used each in diagnosing disease, and urine stands out in the wealth of information it grants about a patient’s condition. (WaPo) Conceived in the kidneys — a pair of bean-shaped organs tucked away in the abdomen’s rear — urine runs down the ureters and is conveniently stored in the bladder, from which it is gathered in plastic cups for testing. Urine analysis is performed frequently enough by physicians to have earned the shorthand “urinalysis” — no other bodily fluid can claim to be on a nickname-basis with the medical profession. (alternate link for non-subscribers, but no stock photo of a pee cup) [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 27, 2016 - 33 comments

The physics behind the deadly 1919 Boston Molasses Flood

On January 15, 1919, in Boston's North End, a 50-foot-tall tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, unleashing a deadly wave that rose nearly 25 feet high at one point. The disaster killed 21 people and injured another 150. Nearly one hundred years later, an analysis carried out by a group of Harvard fluid dynamics physicists explains how "cold temperatures and unusual currents conspired to turn slow sticky goop into a deadly speeding wave." [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Nov 26, 2016 - 23 comments

Understanding orgasm begins with a butt plug.

Nicole Prause (Wikipedia) studies the science of the connection between our brains and our genitals. This sometimes gets her into lots of trouble, but she couldn’t care less. Her study that indicated porn "addiction" was more like a high sex drive than true addiction (previously) generated calls for her to be fired. Her study of women's penis size preferences was the first to use 3-D printed phalluses.

Her current study asks the question "How do women really know if they are having an orgasm?" [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 25, 2016 - 63 comments

What happens when you flush a bunch of sodium down the toilet?

Pretty much what you would expect. This is the same toilet that Cody's Lab used to flush 240lbs of mercury. It gives its all for Science when Grant Thompson (of Backyard Solar Death Ray fame) invites Cody to a flush-a-thon.
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Nov 21, 2016 - 50 comments

The Next Step for Neuromorphic Chips

World’s First Photonic Neural Network Unveiled. Relevant paper here.
posted by StrikeTheViol on Nov 20, 2016 - 15 comments

How I Wrote Arrival

After I was done with my rant, the Dans stared at me wide-eyed and said, “All that needs to be in the script. In fact, you can replace most of these little beats with that rant.” And they were right. So I cleaned up my own rant and made it Louise’s in the script, to the colonel trying to understand her reasoning.
Screenwriter Eric Heisserer writes about the process of adapting Ted Chiang's novella "Story of your Life" into the screenplay for Arrival. [more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on Nov 15, 2016 - 44 comments

Climate goals rapidly moving out of reach

Ars Technica: "UN report: climate goals rapidly moving out of reach." Paris Agreement made progress, but 2°C warming limit takes much more. [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Nov 4, 2016 - 31 comments

Conversations with Tyler

Tyler Cowen is an economics professor and chairman / general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Since April 2015, he has been hosting "Conversations with Tyler", lengthy, one-on-one podcast interviews with "thought leaders from across the spectrum — economists, entrepreneurs, authors and innovators. All have one thing in common — they are making an impact on the world because of their ideas." His latest is with Steven Pinker. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 4, 2016 - 16 comments

Ducksters!

Here is our giant list of jokes, puns, and riddles for kids. Check out each joke category to find the type of joke, pun, or riddle you are looking for. Also: history, biographies, geography, science, and more.
posted by OverlappingElvis on Nov 3, 2016 - 15 comments

After birth babies’ guts are rapidly colonized from their moms'.

4. More people die of sepsis in the US than HIV, Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer combined
Click through for more One Health Day Fun Facts from the University of Illinois Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the College of Veterinary Medicine! All Fun Facts include references! [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Nov 3, 2016 - 30 comments

50,000-year-old human settlements in Australian interior

"In a stunning discovery, a team of archaeologists in Australia has found extensive remains of a sophisticated human community living 50,000 years ago. The remains were found in a rock shelter in the continent's arid southern interior. Packed with a range of tools, decorative pigments, and animal bones, the shelter is a wide, roomy space located in the Flinders Ranges, which are the ancestral lands of the Adnyamathanha. The find overturns previous hypotheses of how humans colonized Australia, and it also proves that they interacted with now-extinct megafauna that ranged across the continent."
posted by Celsius1414 on Nov 2, 2016 - 25 comments

A Book by Its Cover: The strange history of books bound in human skin

"Anthropodermic bibliopegy, or books bound in human skin," writes Megan Rosenbloom in Lapham's Quarterly, "are some of the most mysterious and misunderstood books in the world’s libraries and museums. The historical reasons behind their creation vary [...] The best evidence most of these alleged skin books have ever had were rumors and perhaps a pencil-written note inside that said 'bound in human skin'...until now." Anthropodermic biblipegy on Metafilter previously and previously. Warning: links may contain details disturbing for some. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Oct 23, 2016 - 7 comments

The teacher that you always wanted

Mr. Wright of Louisville Male High School I found this while I was supposed to be doing homework. This is way more interesting. (Warning: It's dusty in here...)
posted by dfm500 on Oct 19, 2016 - 12 comments

Accept your impermanence in this bag of bones, live a fulfilled life

D.S. Moss produces an occasional podcast, titled The Adventures of Memento Mori, subtitled a cynic's guide for learning to live by remembering to die. He talks about his ideas in an interview with the Eternal Life Fan Club (website), which can be summarized as embracing life by accepting death. There are eight episodes in the Adventures of Memento Mori so far, covering Plan on Dying, Communicating with the Dead, The Science of Immortality, Past Life Regression, Escaping Death, Thoughts in Passing, and Digital Afterlife. Remember to Die is also on Twitter and Instagram, and I am Mori on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 14, 2016 - 2 comments

Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016)

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.
posted by brundlefly on Oct 13, 2016 - 78 comments

Midlife Replication Crisis

Repeat After Me: Psychology's Reproducibility Problem a comic by Maki Naro
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 6, 2016 - 34 comments

Mary Cavendish: 17th century duchess, author, scientist, philosopher

Browse through the history of science fiction and you don't see many women named. One of the first is Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who published a proto-SF novel in 1666, 152 years before Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Also notable, Mary Cavendish published her book, titled The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World (Internet Archive), under her own name. The book is a curious mixture of themes and styles: part science fiction, part fantasy, part scientific musing, part political tract, part social commentary and satire, and part autobiography. This diversity of topics reflected the amazing life and interests of its "Happy Creatoress," a woman of means but without formal education of her male peers. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 29, 2016 - 13 comments

Galactic Tick Day

September 29, 2016 is Galactic Tick Day, a celebration of our progress around the milky way.

Our planet Earth, along with the rest of the Solar System travels around the galactic center of the Milky Way Galaxy every 225 million Earth years. One centi-arcsecond of this rotation is called a Galactic Tick. A Galactic Tick happens every 633.7 days, or 1.7361 years.

Galactic Tick Day is set aside to acknowledge our Sun's motion, our progress around the home galaxy, and to celebrate humanity's knowledge of this motion.

Note: No spoons were harmed in the creation of this FPP. [more inside]
posted by Herodios on Sep 29, 2016 - 30 comments

Heavy flow

Ever wonder what it would be like to flush a toilet with mercury instead of water?
posted by Rhomboid on Sep 27, 2016 - 80 comments

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