'There is no such thing as polywater because if there were, there would also be an animal which didn't need to eat food. It would just drink water and excrete polywater' - Richard Feynman
If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater, A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine? In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice, depending on your opinion. More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water! And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important, substances in our lives, our understanding of water is far from complete.
"Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation" (PDF). A recent article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences on the neuroscience of meditation, focusing on how meditation alters and sharpens the brain's attention systems. The research is being done at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior (previously), who have also recently published research on the "Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation" (PDF), which describes how meditation can cultivate compassion by physically affecting brain regions that play a role in empathy. They shared this research with the Dalai Lama at the recent Seeds of Compassion forum.
A new study in Science claims that teaching math is better done by teaching the abstract concepts rather than using concrete examples. From an article by the study authors in Science Mag (requires subscription): If a goal of teaching mathematics is to produce knowledge that students can apply to multiple situations, then presenting mathematical concepts through generic instantiations, such as traditional symbolic notation, may be more effective than a series of "good examples." This is not to say that educational design should not incorporate contextualized examples. What we are suggesting is that grounding mathematics deeply in concrete contexts can potentially limit its applicability. Students might be better able to generalize mathematical concepts to various situations if the concepts have been introduced with the use of generic instantiations.
A new round of genetic tests has confirmed it: The 'big lizards' of our childhood fantasies were more likely 'big birds.' In fact, they probably even had feathers, and looked more like this than this. Mind blowing, I know, but I guess this demonstrates that, despite what some may think, science really doesn't have a problem admitting that it got something wrong when new evidence comes to light.
Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a pro-Intelligent Design, anti-evolution polemic, arrived in theaters Friday to overwhelmingly negative reviews and anemic ticket sales. In response to the claims made in the film comes Expelled Exposed, a website which seeks to "show you why this movie is not a documentary at all, but anti-science propaganda aimed at creating the appearance of controversy where there is none."
Light makes a comeback. “New technologies — more sophisticated imaging techniques, fluorescent molecules that act as beacons of light in the cell, and the computing power to gather and stitch together multiple images and create videos from high-powered microscopes — make it possible to harness one of light’s key advantages: gentleness. Unlike higher-resolution techniques, light microscopes can image biological structures without killing them or chemically fixing them. At Harvard, the resurgence of light microscopy is making it possible to see structures and events that have never before been seen in the context of living cells and organisms.” Also don't miss the video samples of “in vivo” imagining.
Suspending Life. "If almost every species on Earth was killed some 250 million years ago, how did our ancient ancestors survive and evolve into us?"
Oscillating beads... now with damping, tension, and loose or fixed ends!
Scientists have discovered that "endometrial regenerative cells" (ERC's) -- in other words, human menstrual blood -- contains stem cells. ERC-derived stem cells seem to have a number of superior traits to both bone marrow derived and umbilical cord derived stem cells, the previous gold standards: they can give rise to a variety of different cell lines without differentiation, they multiply more quickly than other stem cells, they are able to replicate more times without adversely mutating, and they apparently do not need to be closely genetically matched to the recipient. Now some women have even begun banking their menstrual blood to preserve their stem cells through a company called "C'Elle: Your Monthly Miracle" -- check out their FAQ and online video. This follows last May's announcement that menstrual blood derived cells can pretty much cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in mice, a disease for which there is no current therapeutic treatment available.
Identity crisis in scientific publishing :"Chinese authors are publishing more and more papers, but are they receiving due credit and recognition for their work? Not if their names get confused along the way."
Cantaloupe, garlic, ginger, habenero, kiwi, nutmeg, pineapple, spearmint, watermelon and many other vodka infusion experiments by the crack alconomics team of Waylan and Brendan.
See Saturn this Saturday April 12 is the second annual International Sidewalk Astronomy Night, a worldwide event coordinated by the Sidewalk Astronomers. The group, founded in 1968 by John Dobson (subject of this documentary), is dedicated to a sort of guerrilla astronomy -- experienced stargeeks bringing their really good telescopes out to places where people are. So even on your way to the bars, the shows, and the honky-tonk you can see stuff like this and this - like these people did.
The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it’s not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology." The NY Times' John Tierney reports on new research into cognitive dissonance as examined through the famous Monty Hall Problem. [A previous MetaFilter thread about the Monty Hall Problem: Let's Make A Deal!]
Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium - "Underneath their sober lab coats and flannel shirts, scientists hide images of their scientific passions. Here they are revealed to all." From the science journalist and writer responsible for The Loom and numerous other published works.
Biomimetics: Design by Nature. "Burs on a dog's coat led to the invention of Velcro. That's an example of biomimetics—the young science of adapting designs from nature to solve modern problems. Now it may be coming of age."
Scientists at Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole have begun searching for the elusive dark matter using the South Pole Telescope. [more inside]
Dinner With Darwin. Scientists from various disciplines weigh in on what kind of dinner conversation they envision themselves having with Charles Darwin. Via.
Gorgeous images, selected solely for their artistic appeal, from the pages of Physical Review B.
Any admixture would have to be driven by male Neanderthals. Two years ago we discussed morphological evidence of nontrivial interbreeding. Since then Neanderthal DNA has been examined for genetic support for this model of human evolution, largely contradicting the belief in Neanderthal contribution to modern humanity. Indeed any contribution from the Neanderthal gene pool to the evolution of modern humans might be very rare and indeed it appears that the best candidate gene thus (MC1R) far likely was a result of convergent evolution. [more inside]
Can People Regenerate Body Parts? "Progress on the road to regenerating major body parts, salamander-style, could transform the treatment of amputations and major wounds."
The University of South Carolina recently completed an ambitious survey of all medieval texts in the state for an exhibit at the university library. All the works were scanned and archived electronically. However, not only can you view the texts online, you can hear the university's chorus sing (MP3) the musical manuscripts. [more inside]
Swinging from pendulums and facing down wrecking balls, MIT professor Walter Lewin shows students the zany beauty of science.
An unprecedented five consecutive years of stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health is putting America at risk - a few prominent research institutions get together to voice their concern over flat funding of the National Institutes of Health over the past 5 years, in their report The Broken Pipeline (pdf). Bloggers comment [1, 2, 3].
The Amen Break and the Golden Ratio by mathematics educator and author, Michael S. Schneider. Schneider, having already researched and written about the golden ratio extensively, noticed it right away when hearing the the amen break for the first time (amen break previously on the blue). While some composers have been known to intentionally incorporate fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio into their works, perhaps this is just another one of the many instances of the ratio showing up in nature.
Can scientists dance? "No one quite knew what to expect as the lights came up on a pair of astrophysicists dressed as binary galaxies. The rowdy audience of scientists exploded with applause. The world's first Dance Your Ph.D. Contest was off to a good start."
A "no-return, solo mission" to Mars? The comments - 179 of them as of the time of this post - are even more interesting than the article.
Geek Pop '08. Online science music festival at the Null Hypothesis science blog, with mp3 downloads. Featuring the immense Dark Matter by Johnny Berliner. [more inside]
Marvel vs. the BMI (one-link, but fun.)
Out of the Blue: "Can a thinking, remembering, decision-making, biologically accurate brain be built from a supercomputer?"
Physical Review Letters' 50th anniversary retrospective promises to be an interesting survey of the physics landscape for the past half-century.
The observable universe just got a bit smaller. Johan Mauritsson and his colleagues at Lund University in Sweden have released what appears to be a video of an electron oscillating on a wave of light.
Quantum Mechanics: Myths and Facts (pdf), a recently-updated paper on the Cornell arXiv peer-review site. By Hrvoje Nikolić of the Rudjer Bošković Institute in Croatia. [more inside]
Sushi Science and Hamburger Science: I had always regarded science as universal and believed there are no differences in science at all between countries. But I was wrong. People with different cultures think in different ways, and therefore their science also may well be different. In this essay, I will describe differences I have observed between Western science and Eastern science. Let me start with a parable......
Affairs of the Lips. "We kiss furtively, lasciviously, gently, shyly, hungrily and exuberantly. We kiss in broad daylight and in the dead of night. We give ceremonial kisses, affectionate kisses, Hollywood air kisses, kisses of death and, at least in fairytales, pecks that revive princesses." But, why do we kiss?
Light Reflection: a brilliant fan of cryogenics venting from a relief valve on STS-122 Atlantis' ET (external tank) post-separation. Also see this handheld video of the ET, with money shots at 2:15 and 3:55. [more inside]
Dean Kamen's Artificial "Luke" Arm - Segway inventor reinvents the prosthetic arm: "I've been able to do stuff with this that I haven't, seriously haven't, done in 26 years... uh, pick up a banana, peel a banana and eat it without it squishening... I can't wait to get one of these in a real environment, a home environment, and actually my wife can't either. She's going, oh yeah, I got lots of stuff for you to do."
Encephalon: Briefing the Next US President on 24 Neuroscience and Psychology Issues. Encephalon, the neuroscience blog carnival has returned after a brief hiatus and is being hosted at Sharp Brains. [Via Mind Hacks, which will host the next edition.]
Harvard's Faculty of Arts & Sciences voted unanimously last week to mandate "Open Access" to published articles - a first at a U.S. university, though the dean will apparently grant a waiver to anyone who wants to opt out. More to follow? Peter Suber's Open Access News is tracking reactions. [more inside]
Hervé This, dubbed the "Father of Molecular Gastronomy", is also known as the man who unboiled an egg.
The Anonymity Experiment. Is it possible to hide in plain sight? Privacy-minded people have long warned of a world in which an individual’s every action leaves a trace, in which corporations and governments can peer at will into your life with a few keystrokes on a computer. Now one of the people in charge of information-gathering for the U.S. government says, essentially, that such a world has arrived.
Titan find - The hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon may contain hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all of Earths known oil and natural gas reserves.
Haven't gotten your sweetie a Valentine's day card yet? Don't sweat it, here are some cards POWERED BY SCIENCE! (via Neatorama)
Are you a Type A personality or Type B personality? There are lots of tests online to find out. Type A and B personality descriptions always remind me of the supposed left brain / right brain differences, but according to the Wiki, the differences between right and left brain are not so simple.