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It also means "unboil" is now a word.

Scientists unboil an egg, and it may be a big deal. "This method … could transform industrial and research production of proteins," Such as new, and much faster ways of producing anti-bodies to fight cancer and cheese-makers who could use recombinant-proteins to improve their products.
posted by quin on Jan 26, 2015 - 29 comments

Fish Live Beneath Antarctica

Scientists find translucent fish in a wedge of water hidden under 740 meters of ice, 850 kilometers from sunlight
posted by brundlefly on Jan 23, 2015 - 25 comments

Asteroid 2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86 will safely pass about three times the distance to the moon on January 26. It will not be bright enough to view with an unaided eye; however, astronomy sites including Earthsky and Universe Today have instructions for amateur astronomers with suitable equipment. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Jan 21, 2015 - 10 comments

Embodied Cognition

The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 19, 2015 - 9 comments

"Would you like to play a game?"

Mario AI - "Mario's inner emotive states cause behavior-determining drives. For example, Mario will collect coins if he is hungry. Whereas, when he is curious, he will explore his environment and autonomously gather knowledge about items he does not know about yet."
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 19, 2015 - 15 comments

Lyrical Extinction

Wild Ones Live is an arresting reading accompanied by music, a collaboration performed as part of a live magazine by author Jon Mooallem, a science and nature writer whose book Wild Ones ruminates on the strange, ignorant, hopeful and poignant ways humans imagine other animals, and the musical project Black Prairie. Listen at your desk if you must, but if you can, pop in your earbuds and go outside for a long walk while you take it all in. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Jan 17, 2015 - 3 comments

Additive-noise methods

How to tell correlation from causation - "The basic intuition behind the method demonstrated by Prof. Joris Mooij of the University of Amsterdam and his co-authors is surprisingly simple: if one event influences another, then the random noise in the causing event will be reflected in the affected event."
posted by kliuless on Jan 12, 2015 - 25 comments

Entomologist-Eye View of a Botfly

We all know what happens if you search "botfly" on YouTube. This, however, is a much more rounded and interesting video about the botfly life cycle from Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist who, having been infected serendipitously, decided to allow the parasite to complete the stage he was hosting, in the interests of scientific filmmaking. [more inside]
posted by gingerest on Jan 12, 2015 - 26 comments

A fox guarding the hen house.

Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 12, 2015 - 112 comments

The Secret History Of Thoughts

Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
posted by kliuless on Jan 11, 2015 - 21 comments

He was just a giant tortoise, the last one of his kind

Lonesome George (a musical memorial), from NPR's Skunkbear [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities on Jan 11, 2015 - 6 comments

"I will be content with the smell."

University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass offers a hypothesis about an inversion fog event that brought Seattle various unpleasant smells yesterday
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 8, 2015 - 25 comments

These are speed holes. They make the computer go faster.

How I saved my MacBook Pro with a drill and an oven
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 6, 2015 - 48 comments

That's a lot of science

Every year, Australia designates a week in August and spends that week actively celebrating and promoting science with events, activities, and general sciency-ness. Everybody has a great time doing hands-on experiments, looking at exhibitions, talking, laughing, viewing, inhaling, tasting science. This is known as the National Science Week

As a science writer and passionate nerd I would like every week to be science week.
Which is why in August of last year Signe Cane started her Common Year of daily science blogging, inspired to do so by Sarah Keenihan's 2012 (and still going) Science for Life daily science blogging project.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 5, 2015 - 5 comments

"The Master Switch of Life."

Your Body's Amazing Reaction to Water: The strange physiological effects of freediving.
posted by quin on Jan 4, 2015 - 21 comments

Preserving Lonesome George

The AMNH team preserving Lonesome George for display. As the last known Pinta Island tortoise, Lonesome George became a worldwide icon of conservation decades before he died from natural causes in the Galápagos in 2012. When Lonesome George arrived at the American Museum of Natural History in early 2013 to be preserved as a taxidermic specimen, Museum scientists and a master taxidermist faced a number of crucial decisions as they worked to prepare a mount that was both scientifically accurate and beautiful. [more inside]
posted by WillRun4Fun on Jan 4, 2015 - 6 comments

"There is hope!"

As the West African Ebola epidemic stretches into its 10th month: researchers have identified the likely cause of the initial outbreak: a young boy playing with bats in a village in Guinea. The NY Times considers how the opportunity to contain the epidemic was missed and the effects of Ebola on West African economies. Vanity Fair takes a look at the failure to contain the disease within Guinea, Frontline goes to "Ground Zero" in Guinea, and searches for a missing Ebola patient. Meanwhile, West Africans welcomed Christmas (previously) and the New Year. Africa Stop Ebola!
posted by ChuraChura on Jan 2, 2015 - 14 comments

The Benefits of Being Cold

The notion that thermal environments influence human metabolism dates back to studies conducted in the late 18th century by the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, but only in the past century has it really become relevant to daily life. Cronise believes that our thinking about the modern plagues of obesity and metabolic disease (like diabetes) has not addressed the fact that most people are rarely cold today. Many of us live almost constantly, year-round, in 70-something-degree environments. And when we are caught somewhere colder than that, most of us quickly put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat.
posted by Librarypt on Dec 30, 2014 - 70 comments

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 - 13 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 - 35 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 - 26 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 - 29 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 - 31 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

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