Ever have trouble visualizing
how the solar system is put together, how the orbits work, how everything is positioned relative to everything else? This site helps you see how we think it all fits together.
posted by Fozzie
on Jun 22, 2005 -
The Logic of Diversity
"A new book, The Wisdom of Crowds
] by The New Yorker
columnist James Surowiecki, has recently popularized the idea that groups can, in some ways, be smarter than their members, which is superficially similar to Page's results
. While Surowiecki gives many examples of what one might call collective cognition, where groups out-perform isolated individuals, he really has only one explanation for this phenomenon, based on one of his examples: jelly beans [...
] averaging together many independent, unbiased guesses gives a result that is probably closer to the truth than any one guess. While true — it's the central limit theorem
of statistics — it's far from being the only way in which diversity
can be beneficial in problem solving." (Three-Toed Sloth)
posted by kliuless
on Jun 20, 2005 -
A New Alpine Melt Theory:
"The Alpine glaciers are shrinking, that much we know. But new research suggests that in the time of the Roman Empire, they were smaller than today. And 7,000 years ago they probably weren't around at all." Fascinating report from Der Spiegal about the "Green Alps" theory. This page
has a small graphic showing the Alps today and how they might have looked in a warmer period. Another article here
. Maybe Otzi
forgot to pack his sunscreen?
posted by LarryC
on Jun 18, 2005 -
The Pioneer Anomaly.
Something's up in deep space: the Pioneer spacecraft
, now out of contact, have shown an unexplained Doppler drift, indicating sunward acceleration, effectively decelerating the probes cumulatively. The effect may be be nongravitational, and could be explained by any number of factors: an undiscovered twist in Newtonian physics, localized cosmological contraction issues, or just venting gas. Other deep space probes may have experienced the anomaly as well, and a new mission could explore the puzzle
; but for now, all we have is past Pioneer data, and that's stored on old 9 track tape
which can only be read by antique readers. What's to be done? (Also see Pioneer Odyssey
for a nostalgic romp through those early days of deep space exploration. And NASA, bring back the original Pioneer home page
posted by brownpau
on Jun 13, 2005 -
The Physics Evolution
- a flash based history from the Institute of Physics in London. Clickable maps with timelines and short biographies of the main figures. It's a bit superficial, but a lot of fun.
posted by thatwhichfalls
on Jun 11, 2005 -
Beyond the science fair.
Behind a veneer of shoddy web-design lies a brilliant idea: getting grade- and high-school students to do actual scientific work. For example, "10 students from New York, Texas and Virginia joined three World War II veterans and a retired railroader from Virginia" and discovered a way to make walls self-sterilize
. The guy behind it is Carl Vermeulen
posted by greatgefilte
on Jun 7, 2005 -
Worth picking up if you have a library with a subscription. The May 20th issue of Science was devoted to the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of December 24
describing the full power of that event, the most powerful recorded since the deployment of modern electronic sensors. The multiple effects
claimed include swarm earthquakes in Alaska, a shock wave that moved every place on Earth a centimeter, and resonant waves continuing weeks after the event. It is also the the longest rupture
recorded and took over an hour to complete. Animated simulations of aspects of the event are linked through PhysOrg.com
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Jun 3, 2005 -
The whiff of trust.
"The possibility of reconciliation between individuals and the potential of healing rifts between political groups, even nations have arrived. " And the possible repercussions strain the imagination.
posted by semmi
on Jun 2, 2005 -
Unidentified Titan Object
Saturn's moon Titan shows an unusual bright spot that has scientists mystified. The spot, approximately the size and shape of West Virginia, is just southeast of the bright region called Xanadu and is visible to multiple instruments on the Cassini spacecraft.
posted by Diamornte
on May 25, 2005 -
The Science of Gender Science
. A debate by Pinker vs. Spelke on the research on mind, brain, and behavior that may be relevant to gender disparities in the sciences, including the studies of bias, discrimination and innate and acquired difference between the sexes. (via Edge)
posted by semmi
on May 14, 2005 -
"Family Values, My Ass!"
That article in the Lexington Herald-Leader inspired me to look up the Nation
article it referred to. Now I'm beginning to see why many women won't go to "evangelical Christian" MDs: this guy Hager (previously brought up on MetaFilter in 2003
, in fact twice
, and then again in 2004
) is strongly anti-abortion -- so pro-conception that he tried to keep the "morning-after pill"
known as "Plan B"
away from women -- but he's apparently pro- sodomy
It almost sounds like fiction.
posted by davy
on May 13, 2005 -
The Hidden Messages in Water?
Masaru Emoto claims that water has the ability "to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure." The theory may be suspect
, but the photos are beautiful
posted by taz
on May 11, 2005 -
George Monbiot has a critical look at some the claims put forward by "climate change" deniers
. There's lots of interesting refutation, with some amusement: "But there was still one mystery to clear up. While Bellamy’s source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them – or 89% – are advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he admitted that there had been “a glitch of the electronics”."
posted by gsb
on May 10, 2005 -
From the followup department: Global dimming
? It stopped
. "We see the dimming is no longer there," said Dr. Martin Wild, a climatologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the lead author of one of three papers analyzing sunlight that appear in today's issue of the journal Science. "If anything, there is a brightening."
As always, use bugmenot to bypass registration.
posted by darukaru
on May 6, 2005 -
) are small, colorful sparrow-sized birds found all over Central and South America. Manakin males engage in elaborate courtship dances
, including rhythmic sounds they produce with their wings. No one really knew how the birds made this sounds, until Kimberly Bostwick
, Curator of Birds and Mammals at the Cornell University
Museum of Vertebrates
, went into the jungles of Ecuador to film the birds at 1000 frames per second. As it turns out, different species of manakin use entirely different motion to produce the sounds. The Journal of Experimental Biology has published the results
, complete with videos
. Mark Barres
, who studies avian genetic population structures at the Univ. of Wisconsin, has also filmed the mating dance of the Manakins [.mov]
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Apr 29, 2005 -
Reith Lecture 2005: The Triumph of Technology
Lord Broers -In the five lectures, he sets out his belief that technology can and should hold the key to the future. He says: "It is time to wake up to this fact. Applied science is rivalling pure science both in importance and in intellectual interest. We cannot leave technology to the technologists; we must all embrace it. We have lived through a revolution in which technology has affected all our lives and altered our societies for ever."
posted by srboisvert
on Apr 16, 2005 -
A bank of digital resources for teaching biology:
, including B&W and color diagrams (with annotations), photographs, and some videos. Copying the material is permitted with conditions
. Also available en français
And if that is not enough taxonavigation for you, head over to Wikispecies
posted by piskycritter
on Apr 15, 2005 -