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Looking for Some Waist Heat

A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 12, 2012 - 16 comments

Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don't see any flying cars!

Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds is the latest quadrennial report from The US National Intelligence Council (NIC). (Report: PDF / Talking Points: PDF.) Similar to its predecessors, '2030' attempts to predict 'alternate visions of the future.' An official blog discusses their speculations. The Atlantic Council has published a "companion publication": "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 11, 2012 - 21 comments

"NIF has not yet achieved ignition"

A plan submitted to congress sets a new course for the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. "If the National Ignition Facility does not achieve ignition by the end of fiscal year 2012 using a cryogenically layered deuterium and tritium target that produces a neutron yield with a gain greater than 1, the Committee directs NNSA to submit a report (PDF) by November 30, 2012 that (1) explains the scientific and technical barriers to achieving ignition, (2) the steps NNSA will take to achieve ignition with a revised schedule, and (3) the impact on the stockpile stweardship program." [more inside]
posted by FuturisticDragon on Dec 11, 2012 - 18 comments

Frost Flowers Blooming in the Arctic Ocean are Found to be Teeming with Life

Frost Flowers Blooming in the Arctic Ocean are Found to be Teeming with Life [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Dec 11, 2012 - 7 comments

Operation Delirium

Operation Delirium. "The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 10, 2012 - 44 comments

AKIRA Fan Builds Kaneda’s Motorcycle and Rides for Charity

AKIRA Fan Builds Kaneda’s Motorcycle and Rides for Charity
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Dec 9, 2012 - 20 comments

"Where sex is work, sex may just work differently" & "the WEIRDest people in the world?"

When sex means reproduction, certain proclivities may simply not be part of cultural models of sexuality: "Barry and Bonnie Hewlett had been studying the Aka and Ngandu people of central Africa for many years before they began to specifically study the groups' sexuality... [T]he Hewletts conclude, "Homosexuality and masturbation are rare or nonexistent [in these two cultures], not because they are frowned upon or punished, but because they are not part of the cultural models of sexuality in either ethnic group."" [more inside]
posted by flex on Dec 9, 2012 - 83 comments

Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies

Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies: The ability of parasites to alter the behaviour of their hosts fascinates both scientists and non-scientists alike. One reason that this topic resonates with so many is that it touches on core philosophical issues such as the existence of free will. If the mind is merely a machine, then it can be controlled by any entity that understands the code and has access to the machinery. This special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology highlights some of the best-understood examples of parasite-induced changes in host brain and behaviour, encompassing both invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and micro- and macro-parasites. Full issue annotated inside: [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 9, 2012 - 13 comments

Christmas Tree Science

Pop-Up Forests and Experimental Christmas Trees
posted by ennui.bz on Dec 8, 2012 - 0 comments

SPAUN of the living

The simulated brain - "First computer model to produce complex behaviour performs almost as well as humans at simple number tasks." [1,2,3,4,5,etc.]
posted by kliuless on Dec 8, 2012 - 22 comments

Great Wealth Is A Public Trust

Last year, The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art publicly admitted it was in dire financial straits and raised the idea of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years. The students responded in an appropriate manner. But now as the specter of tuition becomes closer to reality the students took a more drastic option: Since Monday, eleven undergraduate students have expertly barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the New York college. They talk about what they want. They even get pizza. [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Dec 7, 2012 - 68 comments

We now return to Kidbits

Airing before the Saturday morning cartoons on Detroit's WDIV, Kidbits (Optical illusions pt. 2, pt. 3) delivered snappy science from the Detroit Science Center, along with a handy venue for PSAs and goofy local ads. [more inside]
posted by klangklangston on Dec 6, 2012 - 5 comments

American Science Language

[LydiaCallisFilter] Signing Science
posted by cthuljew on Dec 5, 2012 - 14 comments

"This post, dear reader, is 100% about cats."

Screw organic chemistry, I'm just going to write about cats. James Ashenhurst uses (sometimes highly unorthodox!) cat pictures to explain topics in stereocatmistry, starting with On Cats, Part 1: Conformations and Configurations. [more inside]
posted by beryllium on Dec 5, 2012 - 43 comments

Ex Libris Houdini

Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 3, 2012 - 5 comments

Just digging around on Mars, looking for stuff...

That rover the United States sent to Mars found something. It won't blow your mind, but it's interesting if you're into Mars geology.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 3, 2012 - 58 comments

Comparative cat copaceticity

Researchers at the National Veterinary School of Alfort in Paris recently carried out a study of the friendliness of different cat breeds, surveying the owners of 129 cats about the cats' interactions with people. The survey determined that pedigree cats are significantly friendlier than crossbreeds, a difference which the researchers put down to pedigree kittens being left with their mothers for longer at a crucial developmental period and/or breeders selecting for friendliness as a genetic trait. The friendliest breed of cat is reportedly the sphynx, an exotic hairless breed, possibly due to its reliance on proximity to humans to keep warm.
posted by acb on Dec 3, 2012 - 55 comments

Increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects

Brain Pickings presents the Best Design Books of 2012. Because you weren't really going to get anything done today anyway, right? [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on Dec 2, 2012 - 14 comments

Pictures of CATs

Scientists snap a picture of DNA’s double helix for the very first time
posted by cthuljew on Dec 1, 2012 - 33 comments

Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo's Studies Really Show

Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo's Studies Really Show [FULL TEXT] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 1, 2012 - 24 comments

direct realism

The Nature of Computation - Intellects Vast and Warm and Sympathetic: "I hand you a network or graph, and ask whether there is a path through the network that crosses each edge exactly once, returning to its starting point. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Eulerian' cycle.) Then I hand you another network, and ask whether there is a path which visits each node exactly once. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Hamiltonian' cycle.) How hard is it to answer me?" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2012 - 19 comments

The Inside Story of Pong

The Inside Story Of Pong - On Nov. 29, 1972, a crude table-tennis arcade game in a garish orange cabinet was delivered to bars and pizza parlors around California, and a multi-billion-dollar industry was born. Here's how that happened, direct from the freaks and geeks who invented a culture and paved the way for today's tech moguls.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 30, 2012 - 18 comments

Armpit Cheese

"The milk curds were then strained and pressed, yielding unique smelling fresh cheeses" "These cheeses are scientific as well as artistic objects" [more inside]
posted by dubold on Nov 30, 2012 - 31 comments

Only the kitty is real

Anamorphic illusions of items on a desk is the latest of many interesting original visual illusions, tricks, and fun science experiments by Brusspup on Youtube (previously). For handy viewing: Anamorphic playlist; Illusions playlist; Science experiments playlist, plus more, including a playlist of how-to videos for various tricks and activities . [more inside]
posted by taz on Nov 30, 2012 - 9 comments

The Plough and Potato have had a football team since Roman times, so they must be better at it than modern teams!

A primer in the rhetorical tactics of pseudoscience advocates in the form of an inane pub argument about football.
posted by acb on Nov 29, 2012 - 60 comments

Hope is not a good strategy, in life or in disease research.

An influential US advocacy group has set a deadline to beat breast cancer by 2020. But it puts public trust at risk by promising an objective that science cannot yet deliver. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 29, 2012 - 64 comments

The flawed science surrounding Diederik Stapel

Press Release The Levelt, Noort and Drenth Committees have published their joint final report of the investigation into the massive academic fraud by Diederik Stapel, a social psychologist, who is known mainly for his work on social priming. English translation of the full report [pdf]. [more inside]
posted by srboisvert on Nov 28, 2012 - 11 comments

The rain in Spain smells mainly of dimethyl-9-decalol

The smell of earth after rain is called Petrichor, and it is caused by Geosmin, a sesquiterpenoid metabolite with the chemical formula C12H22O. Human sensitivity to geosmin is about 10 parts per trillion. (via)
posted by mrgrimm on Nov 28, 2012 - 95 comments

The Royal Society Winton Prize 2012

The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Writing 2012 has been announced. James Gleick has won for his book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. The shortlist is also available with Chapter 1 of each book downloadable as a PDF.
posted by shimmerbug on Nov 27, 2012 - 5 comments

Destroyer Gods and Sons-of-Bitches

In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. - Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy
posted by Artw on Nov 24, 2012 - 22 comments

To Dunk or Not, that is the question.

Does bouncing your tea bag substantially improve your cup of tea? Finally, science is brought to bear on this important question.
posted by Freen on Nov 22, 2012 - 97 comments

This world, alas, is far from perfect.

Things I Learned as a Field Biologist #65: "Collecting the fecal matter of your study subject is an art form, and not nearly as simple as one might think. In a perfect world, you would look through your binoculars into the canopy and see the prized excrement emerge freshly from the posterior of the exact animal you’re hoping to sample. This ample and cohesive bolus will fall magically, directly, to the ground at your feet, making for easy and immediate retrieval…"
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 21, 2012 - 27 comments

If a reader ends up confused, it’s not their failure as a reader but yours as a writer.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named the 2012 winners of their science journalism award. The winning text, radio and TV segments -- which cover subjects ranging from bat ecology to nuclear power post-Fukushima -- are all free access. [more inside]
posted by metaBugs on Nov 21, 2012 - 2 comments

Skill-Luck Continuum

"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]
posted by vidur on Nov 20, 2012 - 16 comments

Spectacular Destruction

Fire whirls, aka fire tornadoes, aka fire devils, aka firenados, are frequently photographed but have only recently been scientifically validated based on data from the 2003 Canberra fires in Queensland, Australia. Although rare, the physics behind firenados is straightforward enough to create your own. The most devastating fire tornado was the "dragon twist" that devastated Tokyo immediately following the great Japan quake of 1923.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Nov 19, 2012 - 25 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

Our Robot/Meatbag Space Future

Almost Being There: Why the Future of Space Exploration Is Not What You Think
posted by Artw on Nov 13, 2012 - 33 comments

Evolution of Multicellularity In Lab Yeast

In just a few weeks single-celled yeast have evolved into a multicellular organism, complete with division of labour between cells. This suggests that the evolutionary leap to multicellularity may be a surprisingly small hurdle. More from Scientific American blogs. [Full Text PDF of the Publication of Note] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 9, 2012 - 18 comments

Radical DIY: artists/science-explorers talking on video.

Don't try this at home (or do!) international artists who make extraordinary and poetic machines (via): homemade satellites , rainbow and tornado generators , particle accelerators , and electronic musical instruments. [more inside]
posted by PistachioRoux on Nov 8, 2012 - 3 comments

The smartest rubber Gallus domesticus you have ever met!

Camilla the rubber chicken is the child of a chicken and an extra-terrestrial visitor (whose name is being concealed for legal and safety issues)." After a sad childhood in the circus, Camilla joined the Heliophysics team at NASA and befriended Little SDO, the satellite component of the the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In her capacity as SDO mascot and astrochick, Camilla flew into space with Little SDO, flew into a solar radiation storm, continues to monitor space weather, and is training for a trip to the International Space Station alongside astronaut Lt. Commaner Wiseman. Camilla also participates in science outreach and education programs, and she's currently in Australia, preparing to run the solar eclipe marathon! [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 5, 2012 - 8 comments

Breast cancer rules rewritten in 'landmark' study

What we currently call breast cancer should be thought of as 10 completely separate diseases, according to an international study which has been described as a "landmark". The categories could improve treatment by tailoring drugs for a patient's exact type of breast cancer and help predict survival more accurately. The study in Nature analysed breast cancers from 2,000 women [Abstract] . It will take at least three years for the findings to be used in hospitals. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 5, 2012 - 37 comments

OMNI Magazine Downloadable from Internet Archive

OMNI Magazine delighted, informed, and even confused geeks of many flavours, and is now available to be downloaded from the Internet Archive. [previously]
posted by batmonkey on Nov 1, 2012 - 86 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

"The purpose is not to substantiate but to enchant."

We only wanted one thing from Jonah Lehrer: a story. He told it so well that we forgave him almost ­everything.
posted by facehugger on Oct 31, 2012 - 62 comments

12 Amazing Things About Bats

12 Amazing Things About Bats [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Oct 31, 2012 - 31 comments

The BICE Study

Our study, “Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment” (the BICE Study), examined which route types are associated with higher and lower cycling injury risk. It examined the association between bicyclists’ injuries and the cycling environment (e.g., route types, intersection types). Taking place in Toronto and Vancouver between May 2008 and November 2009, the participants were adults who were injured while bicycling and who attended hospital emergency departments for treatment. Five hospitals recruited participants, 690 in total. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2012 - 91 comments

Does success spell doom for Homo sapiens?

State of the Species: Will the unprecedented success of Homo sapiens lead to an unavoidable downfall? [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 28, 2012 - 46 comments

Research In Progress

Things about the research in progress.
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 27, 2012 - 12 comments

Hacking the President’s DNA

Hacking the President’s DNA. "The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace."
posted by homunculus on Oct 26, 2012 - 45 comments

Heart of Glass

Glass anatomical models: "Gary Farlow [...] and his team of 10 at Farlow’s Scientific Glassblowing are able to transform the body’s vasculature—and nearly all of its other parts—into an ornate borosilicate glass sculpture, from the heart’s ventricles to the brain’s circle of Willis[...]Their anatomically correct models can be designed to simulate blood flow, teach placement of catheters and angioplasty devices, or simply test or demo new surgical gizmos. Individual arteries, veins, and capillaries are shaped and fused together, one at a time."
posted by OmieWise on Oct 25, 2012 - 17 comments

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