IN 1877 Isabel Gill visited an inhospitable volcanic blob
in the mid-Atlantic to help her husband
with ground-breaking astronomical measurements.
Then she wrote a wrote a book
about it, including an attempt to explain to fellow Victorian ladies the concept of a solar parallax in terms she thought they might be able to grasp:"I myself do not understand mathematical terms, so how could I use them with the hope of explaining these things to my readers? However, I can use knitting-needles, and perhaps they may do just as well."
Wierdly, more than a century later
visited the site and found the sandy paths which marked the Gill's lava-top camp still undisturbed by the Atlantic winds.
posted by penguin pie
on Sep 16, 2004 -
were erected on several college campuses in the 1960's and 1970's by the Gravity Research Foundation
"to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when science determines what gravity is, how it works, and how it may be controlled." I regularly visited the one at Colby College, in Maine. Emory had one
, and apparently SMU
did as well. Anyone know of others?
posted by mmahaffie
on Sep 7, 2004 -
Let there be light - Canadian researchers have devised a new polymer material by manipulating buckyballs (carbon atoms that look like soccer balls). The technology could be used to create optical (light based) switches to replace electronic network switches. It could lead to an Internet based entirely on light.
posted by paladin
on Aug 22, 2004 -
Introducing: Metal Rubber.
"Twist it, stretch it double, fry it to 200°C, douse it with jet fuel—the stuff survives. After the torment, it snaps like rubber back to its original shape, all the while conducting electricity like solid metal." Sounds familiar
, no? Here's
the son of the Roswell air field's intel officer, describing the debris he says he saw in 1947: "It was possible to flex this stuff back and forth, even to wrinkle it, but you could not put a crease in it that would stay, nor could you dent it at all. I would almost have to describe it as a metal with plastic properties."
The UFO freaks are already all over
the "back engineering" of Roswell crash debris.
Meanwhile, there's something
unusual in the sky over Minnesota right now.
posted by CunningLinguist
on Aug 20, 2004 -
Voyage to our hollow earth.
"Steve Currey's Expedition Company has chartered the Russian Nuclear IceBreaker YAMAL, to take 100 adventurers to the North Pole for an expedition to conduct scientific observations that could resolve once and for all whether the Hollow Earth theories have any validity!"
posted by srboisvert
on Aug 7, 2004 -
The physicist Shariah Afshar has used a beautifully simple experiment
, which no-one seems to have thought of before, to disprove Bohr's principle of complementarity
, something which has been pretty much unchallenged for 80 years. He may also have gone some way towards showing that there is no such thing as a photon, and that Einstein's Nobel prize should be revoked. So, big stuff. What do you physicists think?
posted by Pretty_Generic
on Jul 29, 2004 -
Seed Magazine. Seed is a popular science magazine for our times aimed at smart, young, and curious men and women who are passionate about science and its fast-changing place in our culture.
posted by srboisvert
on Jul 20, 2004 -
The scientific productivity of nations
(pdf). An article by the UK's chief scientific advisor, published this week in Nature, quantitating the scientific output of different countries, normalized to per capita GDP, area of study, number of researchers, higher education research spending, and more. A commentary
, from a UK perspective.
posted by shoos
on Jul 19, 2004 -
Making the Modern World brings you powerful stories about science and invention from the eighteenth century to today. It explains the development and the global spread of modern industrial society and its effects on all our lives. The site expands upon the permanent landmark gallery at the Science Museum, using the Web and dynamic multimedia techniques to go far beyond what a static exhibition can do.
, excellent content
posted by tcp
on Jul 12, 2004 -
Check out the giant cancer fighting colon... of science!
"It's part of a national tour to educate people about various types of common and preventable cancers. The 'Check Your Insides Out -- Top to Bottom' tour is full of interactive educational exhibits on colon, lung, oral, breast, prostate and skin cancers."
posted by ilsa
on Jun 24, 2004 -
The False Controversy of Stem Cell Research.
Kinsley: In fact, thinking it through is a moral obligation, especially if you are on the side of the argument that wants to stop or slow this research.
It's not complicated. An embryo used in stem-cell research (and fertility treatments) is three to five days past conception. It consists of a few dozen cells that together are too small to be seen without a microscope. It has no consciousness, no self-awareness, no ability to feel love or pain. The smallest insect is far more human in every respect except potential.
posted by skallas
on May 31, 2004 -
With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit
[5MB .mov] and Opportunity
rovers [5MB .mov].
posted by fatbobsmith
on May 18, 2004 -
The Matthew effect "It was Merton who identified and named the tendency always to assign exclusive scientific credit to the most eminent among all the plausible candidates. At least I hope it was he, though I'm sure Merton, who invented many wonderful jokes himself, would have been delighted if the credit for it turned out to be misattributed to him."
Or is this called the flypaper effect
? The question remains: Who popularized the phrase 'Shut up and Calculate!'
posted by vacapinta
on May 15, 2004 -
“Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do”
(warning: extremely graphic verbal description; for a different perspective, here's a critique
on the use of some references). "Homosexuals are sexually troubled people engaging in dangerous activities. Because we care about them and those tempted to join them, it is important that we neither encourage nor legitimize such a destructive lifestyle."
posted by 111
on May 14, 2004 -
What is the modus operandi of creativity? According to two cognitive scientists, Gilles Fauconnier
and Mark Turner
, the subconscious operation of conceptual blending
. The formal theory, known as the Network Model of Conceptual Integration (CI), seeks to explain how creative insights are derived from pre-existing knowledge and understanding.
posted by Gyan
on May 13, 2004 -
not so junk DNA
the idea has always made me uncomfortable. now scientists are taking a closer look at base-pair sequences that have been generally overlooked till now.
posted by jessica
on May 12, 2004 -
May 12th is International ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia Awareness Day
. If you aren't aware of these afflictions, then it's time to become so. "Fibromyalgia (FM)
is an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness which is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances." The WebMD description
. For those who live with chronic fatigue, systemic immunity problems, and long term pain, I think the rest of us, at least, owe our awareness of what these people cope with every day. Again, via the always excellent Watermark, who writes movingly of her relationship with Fibromyalgia.
posted by Wulfgar!
on May 12, 2004 -
If you're like me, you probably just finished watching 10.5
, and are still giggling at the "disastrous" screenplay and campy drama. Well, the science is in: Magnitude 10.5 is impossible
, brick buildings would collapse long before the Space Needle
, fault lines don't follow train tracks, California will not slide into the sea
, bottomless pits do not swallow up unfortunate red-shirted extras
, and for crying out loud, Lex, don't use nuclear warheads either to blow the tectonic plates apart or
weld them shut.
posted by brownpau
on May 3, 2004 -