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Paging Ms. Frizzle, paging Ms. Frizzle

Why should Oscar nominees have all the fun? May Britt Moser was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year (along with her husband, Edvard Moser, and colleague John O’Keefe) for "for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain". Her bio and list of publications can be found here. Designer Matthew Hubble was inspired by the attention paid to movie stars and their clothing to create a custom dress for Britt Moser that combines leather, silk, and beads to illustrate neurons in a very new way.
“We used a mixture of sequins and beads for the cyton, and created the beautiful synapses similarly, but the myelin sheath on the axons we just couldn’t make look beautiful and so decided a splash of artistic license is allowed after all.”
[more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Dec 23, 2014 - 12 comments

NASA emails spanner to the ISS Space Station

"Astronauts on the International Space Station have used their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in an email. It is the first time hardware has been "emailed" to space. Nasa was responding to a request by ISS commander Barry Wilmore for a ratcheting socket wrench."
posted by marienbad on Dec 20, 2014 - 52 comments

In geologic terms it's imminent. In biologic, maybe within a lifetime.

Earth's Magnetic Field May Be About to Flip [summary] - "Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years -- roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years." (via)
posted by kliuless on Dec 20, 2014 - 34 comments

Chasing Paper

An investigation for Scientific American by MeFi's own cgs06 uncovers evidence of widespread fraud in scientific publishing's peer review system. Alarming signs point to the Chinese government as a source of institutional support and funding for questionable papers and fake peer reviewers. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 19, 2014 - 23 comments

Changing climates of history

Neither Thucydides, Gibbon, von Ranke, nor Braudel ever cited a paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters. They did not worry themselves about fluctuations in the Siberian High or the Southern Oscillation. The vast majority of more recent historians also remained untroubled by such concerns. However, in the past five years, a handful of highly distinguished historians have come out with new books that put climate at the center of historical explanation. What on Earth is going on? [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Dec 17, 2014 - 18 comments

Highway to the danger zone.

1 in 6 Americans become sick from foodborne illness each year, and like a norovirus infection, the blame is easy to spread around. Where does foodborne illness happen, and does it matter? Doug Powell of Barfblog (previously) notes that peer reviewed studies claim in-home food safety failures account for anywhere from 15 to 90% of food poisoning cases, which is enough variance to make anyone shrug. But what do we really know when it comes to foodborne illness? Read on for a stomach-turning romp through what food safety research tells us about a question as old as Ask Metafilter. [more inside]
posted by deludingmyself on Dec 15, 2014 - 110 comments

What Happened to the ‘Future Leaders’ of the 1990s?

In its December 5, 1994 issue, Time Magazine picked 50 people who would be leaders in the future. They decided to revisit what happened to each person on the 20th anniversary of their predictions.
posted by reenum on Dec 13, 2014 - 26 comments

Sprouting feathers and lost teeth

"A remarkable international effort to map out the avian tree of life has revealed how birds evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs into more than 10,000 species alive today. More than 200 scientists in 20 countries joined forces to create the evolutionary tree, which reveals how birds gained their colourful feathers, lost their teeth, and learned to sing songs." Via iO9.
posted by brundlefly on Dec 12, 2014 - 28 comments

"Reject – More holes than my grandad’s string vest!"

Shit My Reviewers Say (SLTumblr)
posted by capricorn on Dec 12, 2014 - 20 comments

Mother of the Sea

Every year in Uto, a remote town at the Southern tip of Japan, a festival is held to celebrate a woman known locally as the Mother of the Sea. Dr Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker died without knowing her research would save the Japanese seaweed industry and lead to a world multi-billion dollar obsession with sushi. The story of nori in Japan.
posted by infini on Dec 12, 2014 - 20 comments

It's as if he were the wind or weather itself.

Vyacheslav Korotki is a man of extreme solitude. He is a trained polyarnik, a specialist in the polar north, a meteorologist.
posted by ChuraChura on Dec 10, 2014 - 7 comments

33 Million Things

Shelf Life is the first episode in a new video blog from the American Museum of Natural History, in which scientists, curators, and collection specialists take you behind-the-scenes at the Museum. Bonus interview: Atlas Obscura.
posted by carter on Dec 9, 2014 - 3 comments

Hey! My paper got accepted by the Jour--D'oh!

ABSTRACT: The Ethernet must work. In this paper, we confirm the improvement of e-commerce. WEKAU, our new methodology for forward-error correction, is the solution to all of these challenges.

A scientific paper by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel was accepted by two scientific journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations" [PDF], Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.
posted by Room 641-A on Dec 8, 2014 - 51 comments

Genius and Sacrifice in Early 20th Century Chemistry

"Although radiation’s connection to cancer was known and the lab’s own employees had clearly suffered, the Curies made few adjustments to protocol." The descendent of a chemist in the Curies' lab recounts her great-great aunt's discovery of francium, followed shortly thereafter by a long, painful battle with cancer due to radiation exposure. In learning more about Marguerite Perey's life and untimely death a dark question emerges that complicates the cheery family folklore about a scientific hero: why did the Curies' take so few precautions for the health and safety of those who worked in their lab?
posted by thelaze on Dec 7, 2014 - 20 comments

Canadian government continues valiant fight in the war against science

"It’s absurd to be forced to make an argument in 2014 about why a country needs to invest in long term basic science" [more inside]
posted by randomnity on Dec 4, 2014 - 48 comments

How big is space? Interactive views of the universe in varying scales

We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 4, 2014 - 30 comments

Face the face

"Facebook actually makes masks out of everyone’s faces." Artist Sterling Crispin creates DATA-MASKS as a way to physically present the abstract data structures that Facebook and biometric surveillance systems use to pull a face from a crowd.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Dec 2, 2014 - 10 comments

"I really would love to own a Hockney"

"No one really wants to admit I exist," says co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, James Watson, who after years of shunning over controversial statements is auctioning his 1962 Nobel Prize medal this Thursday to help pay bills and buy some artwork. Online bidding is an option.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Dec 1, 2014 - 60 comments

hyperconnected: your brain on shrooms

How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 28, 2014 - 84 comments

"Telomeres: keeping your cells alive since forever."

"Thanks to enzymes, humans are solar-powered." 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony & Lectures. [more inside]
posted by simulacra on Nov 28, 2014 - 17 comments

The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure

The harsh environments of our neighboring planets will require proper attire, with 3D-printed, biological fashions that, in the words of the designer Neri Oxman, "blur the boundary between the environment and ourselves." Oxman's other recent work explores similar lines of utility with her organic, post-industrial aesthetic: some of it disturbing and some sublime.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Nov 25, 2014 - 20 comments

Pathetic vestigial organ or integral part of fearsome predator?

In this paper, we examine a first-year torque and angular acceleration problem to address a possible use of the forelimbs of Tyrannosaurus rex. A 1/40th-scale model is brought to the classroom to introduce the students to the quandary: given that the forelimbs of T. rex were too short to reach its mouth, what function did the forelimbs serve? This issue crosses several scientific disciplines including paleontology, ecology, and physics, making it a great starting point for thinking “outside the box..." Lipkin and Carpenter have suggested that the forelimbs were used to hold a struggling victim (which had not been dispatched with the first bite) while the final, lethal bite was applied. If that is the case, then the forelimbs must be capable of large angular accelerations α in order to grab the animal attempting to escape. The concepts of the typical first-year physics course are sufficient to test this hypothesis... Naturally, student love solving any problem related to Tyrannosaurus rex.
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 25, 2014 - 20 comments

Beepocalypse!!! A Strange Case of Crankery Derailing Environmentalism

Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health.
Reports that honey bees are dying in unusually high numbers has concerned many scientists, farmers and beekeepers, and gripped the public. There have been thousands of stories ricocheting across the web, citing one study or another as the definitive explanation for a mystery that most mainstream experts say is complex and not easily reducible to the kind of simplistic narrative that appeals to advocacy groups. We explore the claims by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Chensheng Lu, heralded by anti-pesticide and anti-GMO advocacy groups, for his research that purportedly proves that the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids are killing bees and endangering humans.
Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees.
Here we examine the specific claim that neonics are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder—the centerpiece of Lu’s assertions and again see how influential media manipulate quotes and selectively present information to ideologically influence trusting readers.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 25, 2014 - 50 comments

"Lunch: the most real you can get"

"HVNGRY is an online publication for teen girls (and boys) wanting more from mainstream media. It’s a belly full of inspiration, motivation, passion, power, and taking-over-the-world." [more inside]
posted by lollusc on Nov 24, 2014 - 11 comments

"Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets,"

"Dogs don't just seem to pick up on our subtle mood changes — they are actually physically wired to pick up on them." A recent neuroimaging study shows how closely tied to humans dogs have become over the last 30,000 years.
posted by quin on Nov 24, 2014 - 57 comments

Magical Contamination

Seashells? Distant planets? Beautiful mold.
posted by FirstMateKate on Nov 23, 2014 - 3 comments

A picture is made of a thousand notes

"Cymatics is the science of visualizing audio frequencies." [more inside]
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Nov 23, 2014 - 6 comments

Migrating cerebral lesions indicate sparganosis

"The patient tested negative for HIV, tuberculosis, lime disease, syphilis, coccidioides, histoplasma and cryptococcus." After four years of MRIs, a person's mysterious headaches, seizures and altered sense of smell and memory are diagnosed as a tapeworm growing throughout his brain.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Nov 23, 2014 - 50 comments

Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape

A new paper in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest Provides a detailed and comprehensive look at the gender gap between men and women in academic science.

Their (surprisingly optimistic?) conclusion?: Barriers to women’s full participation in mathematically intensive academic science fields are rooted in pre-college factors and the subsequent likelihood of majoring in these fields, and future research should focus on these barriers rather than misdirecting attention toward historical barriers that no longer account for women’s underrepresentation in academic science.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Nov 21, 2014 - 50 comments

One of the oldest questions we have about ourselves.

Personhood Week: Why We’re So Obsessed with Persons, by Virginia Hughes (@virginiahughes), National Geographic:
"People have been trying to define personhood for a long time, maybe since the beginning of people. The first recorded attempt came from Boethius, a philosopher from 6th-Century Rome, who said a person was 'an individual substance of rational nature.' Fast-forward a thousand years and Locke says it's about rationality, self-awareness, and memory. Kant adds that humans have 'dignity,' an intrinsic ability to freely choose. In 1978, Daniel Dennett says it's intelligence, self-awareness, language, and being 'conscious in some special way' that other animals aren't. The next year Joseph Fletcher lays out 15 criteria (!), including a sense of futurity, concern for others, curiosity, and even IQ."
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 21, 2014 - 10 comments

Muscle Robot

The Ecce Robot is an attempt to create a robot that not only mimics human movement and form, but also musculature and body construction. There are more videos at the project's site. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Nov 18, 2014 - 23 comments

How Fake Fossils Pervert Paleontology

A nebulous trade in forged and illegal fossils is an ever-growing headache for paleontologists. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Nov 18, 2014 - 7 comments

Can Altitude Explain Utah's Suicide Epidemic?

Based on a comparison of suicide rates at sea level and at areas above 2,000 feet, living at a high altitude may make people 30% more likely to commit suicide. Neuroscientist Perry Renshaw believes that it's due to the impact of altitude on the brain.
posted by stoneweaver on Nov 18, 2014 - 40 comments

Discover Us

In an attempt to combat years of poor public relations, Monsanto has decided to take their case directly to the people through various campaigns. On a new site called The Conversation they are answering questions directly from consumers. [more inside]
posted by Drinky Die on Nov 17, 2014 - 101 comments

We may get a shirt celebrating women in science.

Thanks To That Shirt, We May Get a Shirt Celebrating Women In Science by Mika McKinnon for io9:
"Along with [the newly-designed shirt] provoking quite a few giggles, Elly Zupko, the woman behind the design has been talked into trying to make the shirt for real with the intention of donating proceeds to science diversity programs. She's soliciting names and images of women in science who should be featured on the fabric. Zupko has a lot of logistics to figure out, but she's enthusiastic and buoyed by the support of others eager to celebrate the wide diversity of women in science who have contributed so much over the years. If all goes well, the take-away of this mess will be the Project Scientist for the another incredible space mission wearing another shirt covered in ladies, but this time celebrating them instead of objectifying them.
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 16, 2014 - 341 comments

Treadmill for sale, shrimp not included.

Of shrimp and senators. My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry.
posted by bitmage on Nov 15, 2014 - 49 comments

Dancing magnetotactic bacteria

Magnetotactic bacteria linedancing to music through the use of a superimposed magnetic field. Basically exactly what it says on the tin.
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 14, 2014 - 30 comments

Noted self-experimenter Seth Roberts passed away on April 26th, 2014.

Seth Roberts passed away on April 26th, 2014, after suffering a heart attack while hiking near his home in Berkeley, California. A self-experimenter and author of The Shangri-La Diet, Roberts described his attempts to combat his own insomnia in Self-experimentation as a source of new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight, writing that "Before science was a profession, it was a hobby, which means some people enjoy it for its own sake . . . If a hobby has tangible benefits, such as lower blood pressure or reduced risk of relapse, so much stronger the motivation to do it." He was brilliant, obsessive and always challenging assumptions. His extensive blog is still online.
posted by mecran01 on Nov 14, 2014 - 16 comments

The most-cited research of all time

The top 100 papers: Nature explores the most-cited research of all time. [more inside]
posted by mlis on Nov 13, 2014 - 12 comments

Real science, all the way from Scotland.

Acute effects of a deep-fried Mars bar on brain vasculature [more inside]
posted by infini on Nov 11, 2014 - 29 comments

The observer at the end of time: Of immortal watchers and imaginary data

In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2014 - 47 comments

Second Wave feminist SF

Janus was nominated for three “Best Fanzine” Hugos in 1978, 1979 and 1980. Jeanne Gomoll was nominated for two “Best Fan Artist” Hugos in 1978 and 1980. Janus and Aurora were the most prominent feminist science fiction fanzines of their time. With the exception of Amanda Bankier’s fanzine, The Witch and the Chameleon, which ceased publication in 1976, Janus and Aurora were the ONLY fanzines with this focus.
The full archives of Janus & Aurora, the feminist science fiction fanzine created by the people who went on to create Wiscon, the feminist sf convention.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 7, 2014 - 6 comments

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies

Handle the Heat has a series on adjust chocolate-chip cookie recipes to make your favorite kind of cookies. (1) (2) (3) (4); photo of results. [more inside]
posted by insectosaurus on Nov 6, 2014 - 20 comments

Moon Eggs

20 Doctor Who Stories That Are Based On Real Science
posted by Artw on Nov 5, 2014 - 16 comments

"Nobody had fooled around with the heart before."

Black laboratory technician Vivien Thomas was paid a janitor's wage, never went to college or medical school, and was one of the pioneers of open heart surgery.
posted by Snarl Furillo on Nov 5, 2014 - 20 comments

The Cosmic Distance Ladder

How do we determine distances between the earth, sun, and moon, and from the sun to other planets, stars, and distant galaxies? We can't measure these directly, but indirect methods, combined with some basic high school math, can provide convincing and accurate results. A public lecture by Fields medalist Terry Tao (SLYT)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Nov 4, 2014 - 26 comments

Diversity within us comes out better when there's diversity in our team.

The most recent episode of the Ruby Rogues podcast — #179 Accountability and Diversity with Meagan Waller — is a treasure trove of insights and info about unconscious biases, diversity, employment, culture, tech, and more. The podcast page features a timestamped topic outline of the discussion, as well as many links to the Ruby community websites, projects, studies, conferences, and controversies they discuss… [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Nov 3, 2014 - 5 comments

Dance your Ph.D. 2014 winners announced

Creativity and science meet for monetary prizes! Dance your Ph.D. is a contest held annually to celebrate the connection of science and art with no jargon allowed. [more inside]
posted by AlexiaSky on Nov 3, 2014 - 10 comments

On science, social issues and liberal bias.

The subject was first surfaced by Jonathan Haidt in a 2011 talk at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Video here. The NYT reported at the time: Can social scientists open up to outsiders’ ideas? Dr. Haidt was optimistic enough to title his speech “The Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology,” urging his colleagues to focus on shared science rather than shared moral values. But, this week, it resurfaced with two new pieces. One on The New Yorker: "By a show of hands, how would those present describe their political orientation? First came the liberals: a “sea of hands,” comprising about eighty per cent of the room, Haidt later recalled. Next, the centrists or moderates. Twenty hands. Next, the libertarians. Twelve hands. And last, the conservatives. Three hands." And Chris Mooney from the WaPo also took a look at the subject: "Sure enough, the study found that these liberal academics showed a pretty high level of resistance to evolutionary explanations for phenomena ranging from sexual jealousy to male promiscuity."
posted by huguini on Oct 31, 2014 - 125 comments

Perhaps the 4 most intelligent things you can read about Ebola today.

The 4 most intelligent things you can read on Ebola today? 1) This week I received a "monograph" for review from an unlikely, politically removed scientist. It was plainly titled "Summary of Ebola Virus Disease," and written in exhaustive scientific detail. The author was Steven Hatfill. If the name rings a bell—I don’t want to dwell on this, but it's germane to the context of his perspective I'm sharing here—it’s because he was very publicly, very falsely accused of killing several people with anthrax in 2001... What he does know, at a depth that can rival any scientist’s knowledge, is Ebola. An interview, with Steven Hatfill and more: 21 Days. [more inside]
posted by spock on Oct 28, 2014 - 77 comments

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