for geeky girls and boys. A collection of unusual and intensely desirable science-based gewgaws and gadgets. Don't miss the lucidly written articles
that explain the underlying principles. (via)
posted by ottereroticist
on Nov 16, 2005 -
Welcome to Idiot America:
"The America of Franklin and Edison, of Fulton and Ford, of the Manhattan project and the Apollo program, the America of which Einstein wanted to be a part, seems to be enveloping itself in a curious fog behind which it's tying itself in knots over evolution, for pity's sake, and over the relative humanity of blastocysts versus the victims of Parkinson's disease."
posted by bitmage
on Nov 10, 2005 -
Having sweated over the origins of the universe and split the atom, academics have finally tackled the question that has perplexed mankind since the dawn of time: what are the best chat-up lines?
A study from psychologists at the University of Edinburgh
tested 205 people for reactions to 40 vignettes of a woman approached by a man using "verbal signals of genetic quality" in different categories
, and found the best rated approaches to be those revealing character qualities, wealth and culture, although the puzzling winning line proved a flop in real life tests. Unsurprisingly, a direct request for sex received a low score. Previous findings by the Japanese proved equally dubious
. But there's still hope, as the code seems to have been cracked in Dublin, where since last year "there is definitely more pulling"
. The secret? A smoking ban, a lot of crowded pubs, and "smirting"
, an unexpected side effect of the health measure.
posted by funambulist
on Nov 6, 2005 -
The origin of life?!
I heard from an authority in molecular biology today that a group of researchers funded by the Carnegie Institution and NASA believe they've discovered the origin of RNA
, and with that, the origin of life.
This new discovery grew out of NASA's Deep Impact
mission to study the composition of comets. Specifically, they started investigating a kind of carbon that forms in layers, with each layer slighly offset from the previous one in a helix shape. Significantly, the thickness of these carbon layers corresponds with the thickness of each twist in a strand of RNA.
It turns out that the individual building blocks of RNA are capable of bonding to this layered carbon when exposed to UV radiation. Once this has happened, apparently formaldehyde
can then bond to the building blocks of RNA on the carbon "pattern", allowing the bonded RNA to slough off into the primordial soup. Over time, some of these RNA strands could fold and bond to themselves, forming DNA. Formaldehyde, the initial bonding material, would eventually be replaced by a more chemically sophisticated substance, creating the chemical bond that we observe today in DNA.
Expect a paper on it to be released in approximately three months with all the details.
posted by insomnia_lj
on Nov 6, 2005 -
If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong
- A rant over at the Huffington Post
And let's be clear about this, it IS a rant, and a beaut at that. But it's a sentiment that's run through the head of everyone who isn't a member of the three mentioned groups. No one in the mainstream media says things like this, I wonder why?
The post is made. Let the emphatic agreements, and the vicious denials... begin!
posted by JHarris
on Oct 23, 2005 -
Nova Science Now
recently ran a segment on lightning (quicktime, real, and windows video here
). I figured that subject was over and done with shortly after Franklin flew a kite, but it turns out we don't really know exactly what causes a bolt to start
. The coolest part of the segment was these researchers in Florida
. Scientists know how hard it was to observe, monitor, and even find lightning bolts, so these guys built their own rig. High-powered model rockets attached to a couple thousand feet of wire, which is grounded to larger metal structures on the ground. The result? Shoot a rocket into a storm cloud and you get instant lightning you can count on, measure, and control
posted by mathowie
on Oct 22, 2005 -
Tracks of Swimming Dinosaur found in Wyoming
The tracks of a previously unknown, two-legged swimming dinosaur have been identified along the shoreline of an ancient inland sea that covered Wyoming 165 million years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder graduate student.
posted by hostile7
on Oct 19, 2005 -
After nearly being wiped out by a fungus
), that was first identified in 1904, the American chestnut is attempting to make a comeback with a little help from its fungus-resistent Chinese cousin ... and maybe you. [more inside]
posted by terrapin
on Oct 13, 2005 -
Does dark matter exist?
Dark matter has been suggested as a solution to the galaxy rotation problem
where individual stars don't seem to rotate the way Newton's laws would predict. Now, some scientists are saying that observations fit with Einstein's general relativity, without any dark matter needed. I just find it amazing that no one has tried this yet.
posted by delmoi
on Oct 10, 2005 -
Electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana
is a collaboration between the Smithsonian, Missouri Botanical and Kew Gardens, the British Natural History Museum and various other institutions which has enabled the digitizing of 58 volumes of natural history about central America produced between 1880 and 1920. It includes descriptions of more than 50,000 species with images of more than 18,000 birds
, more birds
, more spiders
, more plants
, orthoptera insects
, more butterflies
and their family
and even some historic maps of the region
. There is a parallel project attempting to provide access to much more scientific data and specimens between these institutions.
Note: 'next' button at top +/- bottom of these large thumb pages; large high resolution jpegs work (in most cases) but zoom and .pdfiles are not yet enabled. I've only just scratched the surface.
posted by peacay
on Sep 26, 2005 -
The Aquatic Ape Theory
(often referred to as the AAT or AAH) says humans went through an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage in our evolution and that this accounts for many features seen in human anatomy and physiology. Using the principle of convergent evolution, it says that life in an aquatic environment explains these features, and that a transition from ape to hominid in a non-aquatic environment cannot. See also: BBC
posted by grumblebee
on Sep 20, 2005 -
"If time has to end, it can be described, instant by instant," Mr. Palomar thinks, "and each instant, when described, expands so that its end can no longer be seen." He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies.
In memoriam of Italo Calvino
, who died exactly 20 years ago
by his friend Gore Vidal. Calvino's obituary
by Vidal, il maestro William Weaver
's essay on Calvino's cities
, Jeanette Winterson on Calvino's dream of being invisible
, and Stefano Franchi
's philosophical study on Palomar's doctrine of the void
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Sep 18, 2005 -
First Brain-Powered Bionic Prosthesis
Jesse Sullivan is the first man
(link to press release) to recieve a ground breaking new bionic arm (PDF
fact sheet) that is controlled by his mind and a 64-bit microprocessor. His new arm, that even allows him to "feel" objects, is the result of a radical surgical process called nerve-transfer surgery that took nerves going to his arms and rerouted them to his chest.
Want to see it in action? 1
(embedded QT links) and some images
of Jesse in action. Previous MeFi bionic threads.
posted by fenriq
on Sep 14, 2005 -
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution.
Two important new papers
in the journal Science
) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this
recent profile from The Scientist
), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued
undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process
as well as the artificial distinction
between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods
of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations
from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy
on Sep 8, 2005 -