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The great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition

The return of astronauts to the moon by 2020? Yeah! Hurricane predictions, long-term monitoring of weather and climate change? Not so much. (related here and here)
posted by Smedleyman on Jun 15, 2006 - 78 comments

3,000 free online (science-y) books

From the U.S. National Academies Press: 3,000 Science, Technology, Medical, and Social Science Books Available Free, Online. The interface is clunky - you can only see one page at a time, can't download PDFs (except paid) and image view is via TIFF - but! the content is all there, and free. Some is quite technical, but much is readily accessible. Some idea of the breadth: A Doctor's Memoirs of Treating AIDS in Haiti, The "Drama of the Commons", The 1872 Research Voyage of HMS Challenger, Biography of Stephen Hawking, Biotechnology Research in the Age of Terrorism, Risk Reduction Strategies for Human Exploration of Space, Forensic Lead Bullet Analysis, 50 Short Essays on How Mathematicians Think, Recent Research on Non-Lethal Weapons, and Introduction to Tough Topics in Contemporary Science. Also, see their rather spiffy site on the cosmos.
posted by Rumple on Jun 12, 2006 - 13 comments

xkcd

xkcd: A sketchpad webcomic about love, science and love and science. Plus some other treats.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party on Jun 8, 2006 - 24 comments

Art of Science

Art of Science 2006 'images, videos and sounds—produced in the course of research or incorporating tools and concepts from science.' Previously on MeFi.
posted by dhruva on Jun 5, 2006 - 4 comments

Forever Pregnant II: Morality Boogaloo

The new lies about women's health (image slightly NSFW) according to Glamour. More on why every egg is sacred to the Bush administration. [via Wired's Sex Drive Daily]
posted by boost ventilator on Jun 3, 2006 - 90 comments

Nanogoose

On the heels of microscopic jewelry rides golden buckyballs (full text).
posted by Mr. Six on Jun 1, 2006 - 11 comments

I love the smell of alkali metals in the morning...

The dog's nuts of the periodic table.
posted by ozomatli on May 30, 2006 - 41 comments

Thomas Henry Huxley and Matthew Arnold on Classics

In 1875, Josiah Mason gave a gift to establish a college which was called the Mason Science College (now a part of the University of Birmingham). Within the terms of the gift to the institutuion, one of the stipulations was that classics not be taught. Of course at such an institution, the Founder Day's address was logically given by Thomas Henry Huxley on the place of Science in Education. Huxley preached the virtues of science and derisively dismissed all value in studying classics, and he wondered whether any rational person would choose to study classics over science. His conclusion was that the only people who would choose a study of classics are those like "that Levite of culture" Matthew Arnold. Arnold took the opportunity to respond to his friend. In his reply, Arnold acknowledged that nobody would expect him to engage Huxley in a debate about science, and though he wouldn't presume to take on Huxley in such a debate, he did want to mention something that struck him as he thumbed through a book of Huxley's friend. Arnold noted that he was struck by the idea that "our ancestor was a hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in his habits." Arnold acknowledged that he isn't a scientist and therefore doesn't dispute such a claim, but he did want to point out that even if that were true, with regards to this good fellow, there must have been a necessity in him that inclined him to Greek. And would always incline him to Greek. After all, we got there, didn't we?
posted by dios on May 26, 2006 - 27 comments

Physics is "phun"! (And "krazy")

Is this guy an awesome teacher or just crazy? Or maybe it goes hand in hand. Think back to the days of high school and college science classes. For most people, it probably wasn't chalkboards full of endless physics equations that got them interested in the sciences, but rather the crazy, cooky and awe-inspiring professors who do dramatic and unique demonstrations to get students interested. What makes a good teacher or professor? Is this teacher really reckless or is it a legit demonstration that benefits students?
posted by RockBandit on May 25, 2006 - 65 comments

Men will be men

Sexual ornaments grow out of all proportion It seems that men will be men throughout the animal kindom, not just our little lonely corner of of it. Most body parts grow proportionally with the rest of the body as individuals of a species become larger, although scientists have long known that visual cues of reproductive prowess are a special case. But is this the case with everyone?
posted by pezdacanuck on May 23, 2006 - 41 comments

Let's just take one more...

How many group photographs do you have to take to get one in which nobody is blinking? Nic Svenson and Dr Piers Barnes work it out.
posted by d-no on May 22, 2006 - 9 comments

Kicking a dead horse with mammalian feet evolved from ancient mammal-like reptiles that, in turn, evolved from fish.

Evolution just won't go away. New evidence suggests the development of the human embryo mirrors our species' course of evolution. This guy seems to be stirring up all kinds of trouble these days. It makes me wonder: does this new information help determine the quality of being human? From the link: "Another supposed vagary produced by the abortion issue is the question as to when the embryo or fetus becomes human. Rivers Singleton, Jr. states in his article in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, that, for some, conception defines the point of being human, whereas, for others, various periods of development suffice to 'distinguish human from non-humans.'"
posted by narwhal on May 19, 2006 - 41 comments

Humans:1 Genome:0

The final chromosome in the human genome has been sequenced. The Human Genome Project has completed sequencing Chromosome 1 and has published its work in Nature here. If you're impatient, here's a sneak preview..
posted by BlackLeotardFront on May 17, 2006 - 32 comments

Burying Freud

Burying Freud. A collection of essays and responses by and about Freud's harshest critics, including "Confessions of a Freud-Basher" by anti-Freud point man Frederick Crews, interviewed at length here.
posted by mediareport on May 15, 2006 - 32 comments

Odd but fun short films...

The odd films of Neural Surfer. I've yet to watch them all but my fave so far is Little Things that Jiggle: Richard Feynman and Atomic Physics {google vid}, which is part of the Philosophy in less than five minutes (sometimes) series.
posted by dobbs on May 10, 2006 - 10 comments

spooky fluids!

Order from chaos! Fill a cylindrical bucket with water and make it so the bottom can spin. At certain speeds, stable regular polygonal shapes will spontaneously form at the turbulent surface of the water. See the video. [2.6MB avi] [via last week's PRL]
posted by sergeant sandwich on May 10, 2006 - 28 comments

...maybe new ideas will come.

A talk given by Matt Webb on fictional futures, and a whole lot besides. Just some text and some pictures, but he takes you on a most excellent brain adventure, from Italo Calvino to a map of all the biochemical reactions on Earth to Vannevar Bush’s machine, the Memex with dozens of stops in between. One of my favorite parts -- and the coolest use of RSS I've ever seen -- is a tool to subscribe to your personal lightcone. [via]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on May 7, 2006 - 18 comments

Convert moon rocks to oxygen and other ways to earn $250,000

The NASA Centennial Challenges: Inspired by the X-Prize, NASA has begun a series of challenges to private inventors with cash prizes for things ranging from extracting oxygen from moon rocks to building better astronaut gloves to improving personal aircraft. Thanks to Congressional approval, NASA will be launching larger challenges of up to $50 million in value, including a new multi-million dollar lunar lander contest. With government space efforts criticized by private entrepreneurs, is this the right direction for NASA?
posted by blahblahblah on May 6, 2006 - 12 comments

Thermite and other memorable experiments

Unsafe-science-experiments-you-did-in-class-Friday: an advisory on dangerous chemistry experiments (they mention Nitrogen Triiodide, Chromate Volcanos, Whoosh Bottles, and Potassium Chlorate and Sugar), unwise microwave oven experiments, and, of course, thermite (and a great thermite video). I am amazed anyone survives high school, what other dubious but educational experiments did you do? Note: all pages are science education sites. Read the warnings. The awesome Chemistry Comes Alive site mentioned prev.
posted by blahblahblah on May 4, 2006 - 45 comments

NOAA or Noah?

A NOAA report says Earth's surface and atmosphere are both warming, and that earlier work that found otherwise contains flaws. In other news, global warming has started to weaken an important wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean, a study suggests. The change could alter climate and the marine food chain in that area; polar bears and walrus pups sad.
posted by kliuless on May 3, 2006 - 25 comments

pieoverdone, star hustler

So I'm driving to Salina, KS in the middle of the night and I realize that in all that nothing, I can look out my windshield and I can see stars. Like, all the stars. And I think that it's a bummer that I don't know that much about what it is I'm looking at.
posted by pieoverdone on Apr 29, 2006 - 41 comments

The Difference Engine

Charles Babbage's Difference Engines. One built in 1853. A subsequent design completed in 1991. And again in Lego. Both designs recreated in Meccano parts. [more inside]
posted by slimepuppy on Apr 26, 2006 - 11 comments

"Lab" and "life" together in one sentence?

LabLit.com is about scientists, but not so much about science. In the most recent update is an interview with Daniel Glaser about his involvement behind the scenes of the BBC documentary Under Laboratory Conditions. Older articles on LabLit.com are about iPods in the lab, sex in the lab, basically anything besides science that still relates to lab life. "LabLit" is short for "lab literature", and the about page explains the connection between the two and the idea behind the site.
posted by easternblot on Apr 25, 2006 - 6 comments

The science of the bikini

Bikini Science: Learn the proper verbiage and theory in discussing bikinii. A brief history and practice field trips.(nsfw)
posted by bigmusic on Apr 23, 2006 - 16 comments

SCIENCE

Tatjana van Vark: Creative null-A polymaniac.
posted by loquacious on Apr 23, 2006 - 14 comments

Switching off self-awareness

Researchers have found that prolonged concentration on a difficult task actually switches off a person's self awareness. Fancy experiencing this sensation for yourself? That would be an oxymoron in existence. Just lay back and let the orgasm take hold.
posted by 0bvious on Apr 20, 2006 - 31 comments

The scientific tradition in Africa

The scientific tradition in Africa. An interview with Thebe Medupe, a South African astronomer.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 19, 2006 - 5 comments

Take that Intelligent Design - It's flash so it must be true

Evolution timeline (Embedded .swf). This animated story of life since about 13,700,000,000 shows everything from the big bang to the formation of the earth and the development of bacteria and other organisms to the ascent of man and humans effect on the earth. Other work discussed one year ago yesterday, what an evolution! (The animation is pretty large, you may have to scroll your screen, or just open the .swf directly)
posted by pithy comment on Apr 18, 2006 - 21 comments

And we thought putting them through college was hard!

Today in weird animals : An international group of scientists has described an animal that provides nutrition for its young by letting them peel off and eat its skin.
posted by Afroblanco on Apr 17, 2006 - 30 comments

The pleasure of finding things out

The pleasure of finding things out. If you only watch one documentary on the subject of science this year, let is be this one. The brilliant physicist Richard Feynman is interviewed about a host of issues, such as [more inside].
posted by koenie on Apr 17, 2006 - 46 comments

maybe the Sarumpaet Rules will be worked out afterall

Before the Big Bang - way, way out of my depth, but I thought this comment was intriguing: "The paper as published, along with a longer follow up paper, looks to my untrained eye a nearly complete quantum gravitation theory, which is an exciting prospect in itself. However, as with all physical theories, we will await for experimental support before popping the cork." Here's some more on loop quantum gravity, spin networks, the big bang and ekpyrosis.
posted by kliuless on Apr 16, 2006 - 18 comments

One piece of paper.

One piece of paper. "It was an experiment to see how long it could last. Draw a comic, rub it off, and draw another over the top. Once it had finished, a second experiment was started on another piece of paper. Current data - one piece of paper can survive an average of 65 cartoons being drawn on it" [via mefi projects]
posted by mathowie on Apr 14, 2006 - 29 comments

Sisotim?

Mitosis reversed. Incompletely, but still... Here's the Nature paper(PDF). Here's the video (direct link to QT). Oh, and we can print organs now. O brave new world! (via, via)
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Apr 14, 2006 - 19 comments

i almost want to say, "If you like Futurama..."

Freefall is a smart and funny hard sci-fi comic about some aliens and robots and an anthropomorphic wolf. It's been going steadily since 1998. Wikipedia entry
posted by sonofsamiam on Apr 14, 2006 - 13 comments

Function Follows Form in Quantum Mechanics and Astronomy. The need for a NEW Black Hole.

Function Follows Form in Quantum Mechanics and Astronomy. The need for a NEW Black Hole. A Weblog.
posted by nthdegx on Apr 14, 2006 - 22 comments

Bird brains?

Searchable Ornithological Research Archive a site containing back issues of avian journals dating back to 1884. Some highlights: The landing forces of domestic pigeons, [pdf] an 1889 comparison of bird brains [pdf]
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny on Apr 13, 2006 - 5 comments

Bright Birds That Eternally Flu

Bird flu update: "At this moment, birds that travel flyways in Asia, where most bird flu cases have been found, are mingling with birds that fly through North America." Officials in Kansas and Ohio warn it will arrive this fall, as those birds fly south for the winter on North American migration pathways. The Onion jokingly predicts the government's response.
posted by salvia on Apr 9, 2006 - 23 comments

Jesus was way cool. But did he exist?

Jesus walked on the water ice. So sayeth... um... well, this guy at Florida State. Doron Nof has released a paper positing that when Jesus walked on the water in Galilee, he was actually walking on a patch of floating ice. What's interesting about science like this to me is that it both validates and invalidates scripture, since if Jesus was walking on ice... no miracle (although, it's a miracle he didn't slip and fall, har har har). But if Jesus was walking on ice, then at least he historically existed, which is still an open question at least in some quarters. In case you think you recognize Mr. Nof's name, you may be remembering his work explaining that the parting of the Red Sea was totally possible (flash video link).
posted by illovich on Apr 5, 2006 - 106 comments

Phi is the PHIRE of LIFE

Did you ever wonder why putting food in the refrigerator does not preserve freshness as well as putting food in a pyramid - or even putting it in an egg? You will once you understand the power of fractals, golden eggs and PHI. Breathtaking psedoscientific insanity awaits you.
posted by boo_radley on Apr 5, 2006 - 32 comments

It's Semantic

The Future of the Web
A fascinating, breathless hour-long talk (+Q&A) recently given by Sir Tim (mp3 & mp4, no transcript available). For the lazy, this recent interview covers much the same ground. [more inside]
posted by MetaMonkey on Apr 2, 2006 - 16 comments

Aegroto, dum anima est, spes esse dicitur

Prayer as placebo. Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found. And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
posted by The Jesse Helms on Mar 31, 2006 - 137 comments

"People have an absolute right to just sit there."

Extreme laziness may have a medical basis, say a group of Australian scientists, describing a new condition called motivational deficiency disorder (MoDeD). The condition may cost the Australian economy $1.7bn a year. Could the new drug Indolebant help sufferers leave their couches? Or is this just disease mongering?
posted by Bletch on Mar 31, 2006 - 31 comments

Little Beauty

Loes Modderman's Science Art
Beautiful microscopic art, often striking similar to some modern art. Dig the abstract crystal images: cholesterol, crystal landscapes, vitamin c is psychedelic. Explore the sands of the world! Bubbles are pretty, plastics rock, fluids are minimalist. (via)
posted by MetaMonkey on Mar 30, 2006 - 5 comments

Dawkin's The Selfish Gene, 30yrs On...

The night's event featured speakers Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, Sir John Krebs, Ian McEwan, and -- the man himself -- Richard Dawkins. It was, as you might suspect (based on the title), an event celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Dawkins' seminal work. If you didn't get a chance to attend, you can still read the full transcript or stream/download the audio of it in MP3 format (many thanks to Helena Cronin, founder/director of Darwin@LSE, for hosting the file). Thanks to 3QD for the link.
posted by Moody834 on Mar 26, 2006 - 20 comments

Britannica's mad at Nature

Britannica's issued a salvo against Nature's famous "Wikipedia and the EB are comparably error-strewn" analysis. Here (pdf).
posted by Tlogmer on Mar 23, 2006 - 42 comments

But can we make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs?

Howdy, neighbor! A direct detection of a brown dwarf only 12.7 light years away (practically next door in interstellar terms) adds another substellar object to the list of those relatively close by. While not quite the closest such object yet detected, it’s notable for being pinpointed with a combination of ground-based adaptive optics and Simultaneous Differential Imaging, a special set of filters designed to subtract out starlight while leaving the light from substellar objects. This could be an important milestone in the ongoing quest to directly detect extrasolar planets, as opposed to finding their traces indirectly via methods such as stellar wobble or gravitational microlensing. Direct detection, among other things, makes it much easier to analyze planetary atmospheres for traces of life. An object that could be as small as 9 Jupiter masses, less than 13 light years away, is a heck of a good step forward, especially considering that the very first indirect detections of extrasolar planets weren't made until the 1990’s, and I recall serious arguments being made in the 1980’s that they did not, in fact, exist.
posted by kyrademon on Mar 22, 2006 - 8 comments

Happiness poll results are in

The happiness poll results are in and to no one's surprise, rich people are happier than poor people. Also, Republicans are happier than Democrats.
posted by mr_crash_davis on Mar 16, 2006 - 65 comments

The Simulacrisation of Technology into Life

As the Pentagon ousts plans to turn insects into cyber war machines you'd be forgiven for asking the question: Where does the real digital end and the faked life begin? Are we simulating life synthetically? or just speeding up an entirely natural process? Technologically engineered life is here to stay. Its not far fetched to speculate that simulacra may become all there is.
posted by 0bvious on Mar 15, 2006 - 13 comments

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has some excellent online collections related to maritime history and technology, including telescopes, marine chronometers, sundials, and a whole lot more. Some stuff I've been looking at: John Harrison's chronometers (described in Dava Sobel's book Longitude), polyhedral sundials, and pocket globes.
posted by carter on Mar 15, 2006 - 4 comments

ARTnatomy

ARTnatomy: Anatomical Basis of Facial Expression Learning Tool. See how all the different muscles in your face work. Flash interface; via Drawn!
posted by Gator on Mar 15, 2006 - 10 comments

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