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The Invisible World of cute Animalcules doing cute things

We are all surrounded by microorganisms, they live on us within us and around us, they affect everything we do, yet most people have no idea what they look like. Using the latest technology it is possible to see into this normally invisible world
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 7, 2013 - 24 comments

The Pit of Bones

Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue (NYT) to Human Origins: The pit of bones hides our oldest DNA.
posted by homunculus on Dec 6, 2013 - 7 comments

Wrist Mounted Gadgets Ahoy!

Drop Kicker is a blog that investigates products on Kickstarter and Indiegogo that look scientifically implausible, outright impossible, or completely scammy
posted by The Whelk on Dec 6, 2013 - 15 comments

Where My Ladies At?

Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 6, 2013 - 37 comments

Mannequins and the peculiar morgue between Paris and Rome

Because who is perfect? Disabled mannequins will be eliciting astonished looks from passers-by on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse today. Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organisation for the disabled.

Busty Mannequins and an Inflated Sense of Beauty in Venezuela In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery. - The New York Times [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 5, 2013 - 26 comments

Math with Bad Drawings

Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 4, 2013 - 32 comments

Gravity Visualized

Dan Burns explains his space-time warping demo at a PTSOS workshop at Los Gatos High School, on March 10, 2012. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 3, 2013 - 27 comments

binding the andat

Closing in on the twin prime conjecture (Quanta) - "Just months after Zhang announced his result, Maynard has presented an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration's techniques with Maynard's approach to push this bound even lower." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2013 - 16 comments

ASCII fluid simulator

ASCII fluid simulator (source code)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 30, 2013 - 24 comments

Native Intelligence

On March 22, 1621, a Native American delegation walked through what is now southern New England to meet with a group of foreigners who had taken over a recently deserted Indian settlement. At the head of the party was an uneasy triumvirate: Massasoit, the sachem (political-military leader) of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose coalition of several dozen villages that controlled most of southeastern Massachusetts; Samoset, sachem of an allied group to the north; and Tisquantum, a distrusted captive, whom Massasoit had brought along only reluctantly as an interpreter. Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated. It was all Massasoit could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them. And the only solution he could see was fraught with perils of its own, because it involved the foreigners—people from across the sea.
The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn't enough to save them In addition to providing a beautifully written account of what happened, the article does something subtle but incredibly cool in using a Native centered perspective that really illuminates how dramatically silenced and othered Native voices are in other accounts.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 28, 2013 - 92 comments

Cats: the original honey badgers

Cats recognise their owners' voices, but never evolved to care
posted by exogenous on Nov 27, 2013 - 110 comments

“Tell your second grade teacher I’m sorry.”

At the elementary school in Brooklyn where I taught first grade, science was a “special,” along with dance, art, and physical education. That meant that students were delivered by their homeroom teachers to the science teacher between one and three times a week for less than an hour each time.

...

“I’M NOT A SCIENTIST, man,” Florida senator Marco Rubio told GQ magazine in an interview published in December 2012, following the first presidential debate season in twenty-eight years to fail to mention climate change. Rubio had been asked how old he thinks the earth is; it is unclear whether he was signaling a fashionable disdain for scientific facts or whether he truly did not know.
[more inside]
posted by tilde on Nov 26, 2013 - 34 comments

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future

Five years after my great-uncle’s death, penicillin changed medicine forever. Infections that had been death sentences—from battlefield wounds, industrial accidents, childbirth—suddenly could be cured in a few days. So when I first read the story of his death, it lit up for me what life must have been like before antibiotics started saving us. -- Lately, though, I read it differently. In Joe’s story, I see what life might become if we did not have antibiotics any more.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 26, 2013 - 103 comments

Scientists join #manicuremonday

Seventeen Magazine encourages its readers to post pictures of their nail polish on twitter every Monday, using the tag #manicuremonday. Starting last week, working scientists and engineers have been contributing their own fingers - often beautifully manicured - doing sciencey stuff. The movement was started by scientist Hope Jahren. [Slate, HuffPo] [more inside]
posted by moonmilk on Nov 25, 2013 - 34 comments

Extreme Measures May Mislead

How to think about "Science Studies Prove My Position", for politicians and all non-scientists. Any collation of measures (the effectiveness of a given school, say) will show variability owing to differences in innate ability (teacher competence), plus sampling (children might by chance be an atypical sample with complications), plus bias (the school might be in an area where people are unusually unhealthy), plus measurement error (outcomes might be measured in different ways for different schools). However, the resulting variation is typically interpreted only as differences in innate ability, ignoring the other sources. This becomes problematic with statements describing an extreme outcome ('the pass rate doubled') or comparing the magnitude of the extreme with the mean ('the pass rate in school x is three times the national average') or the range ('there is an x-fold difference between the highest- and lowest-performing schools'). League tables, in particular, are rarely reliable summaries of performance.
posted by Dashy on Nov 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Transgenic Spidergoats Brief

Spider webs are incredibly strong and flexible. It’s no surprise, then, that spider silk proteins may someday form durable artificial ligaments for people who have injured their knees or shoulders. Six different kinds of silk are produced by orb-web weaving spiders. These silk fibers have very different mechanical properties that are so effective they have changed very little over millions of years. How to synthetically develop these silks is one focus of Lewis’ research. The secret to producing large quantities of spider silk is to use “factories” designed to manufacture spider silk proteins that are easily scale-able and efficient. Lewis uses transgenic goats, E.coli bacteria, transgenic alfalfa and transgenic silk worms to produce the spider silk proteins used to create spider silk. Spider silk is 100 times stronger than natural ligaments and 10 times stronger than natural tendons; it is stronger than Kevlar and more elastic than nylon.
A 6min brief on the work being done in Laramie, WY whereby spider silk is being spun from goat milk. SPIDERGOATS
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 24, 2013 - 24 comments

HPV: Sex, cancer and a virus

"On a sunny day in 1998, Maura Gillison was walking across the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, thinking about a virus. The young oncologist bumped into the director of the university's cancer centre, who asked politely about her work. Gillison described her discovery of early evidence that human papillomavirus (HPV) — a ubiquitous pathogen that infects nearly every human at some point in their lives — could be causing tens of thousands of cases of throat cancer each year in the United States. The senior doctor stared down at Gillison, not saying a word. “That was the first clue that what I was doing was interesting to others and had potential significance,” recalls Gillison."
Human papillomavirus is causing a new form of head and neck cancer— leaving researchers scrambling to understand risk factors, tests and treatments.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 22, 2013 - 37 comments

Tearing down barriers to accessing research, one click at a time

"People are denied access to research hidden behind paywalls every day. This problem is invisible, but it slows innovation, kills curiosity and harms patients. This is an indictment of the current system. Open Access has given us the solution to this problem by allowing everyone to read and re-use research. We created the Open Access Button to track the impact of paywalls and help you get access to the research you need. By using the button you’ll help show the impact of this problem, drive awareness of the issue, and help change the system. Furthermore, the Open Access Button has several ways of helping you get access to the research you need right now." [more inside]
posted by daisyk on Nov 22, 2013 - 13 comments

Guys in Speedos portraying chicken sperm...

That's a winning combination for the "Dance Your Ph.D." contest, which celebrates efforts to turn doctoral thesis topics into interpretive dance. This year's top prize goes to University of Oxford biologist Cedrick Tan, for a series of dances based on his study of "Sperm Competition Between Brothers and Female Choice." The dance video has to be seen to be believed (and understood).
posted by billiebee on Nov 22, 2013 - 16 comments

The Unfixed Brain

In this teaching video, Suzanne Stensaas, Ph.D., demonstrates the properties and anatomy of an unfixed brain, showing its squishiness and vulnerability. [WARNING: The video contains graphic images, a human brain from a recent autopsy.]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 19, 2013 - 38 comments

Shocking exposé

Cloud services that power email and other technologies we use each day are themselves massive energy consumers. Gigaom reporters have written a pair of in-depth articles about efforts by Amazon and Apple to build infrastructure and source their own energy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 18, 2013 - 16 comments

Quitting the Academy

An aspiring scientist's frustration with modern-day academia. A resignation letter circulated to staff and students at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, which has caused a bit of a splash in the science community. Lee Smolin, author of The Trouble with Physics, responds in the comments.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot on Nov 17, 2013 - 51 comments

Why Should Engineers and Scientists Be Worried About Color?

At the core of good science and engineering is the careful and respectful treatment of data. We calibrate our instruments, scrutinize the algorithms we use to process the data, and study the behavior of the models we use to interpret the data or simulate the phenomena we may be observing. Surprisingly, this careful treatment of data often breaks down when we visualize our data.
posted by cthuljew on Nov 14, 2013 - 58 comments

"Somebody's gotta stand up to these experts!"

Creationists' Last Stand at the Texas State Board of Education
posted by brundlefly on Nov 14, 2013 - 82 comments

BioRxiv

BioRxiv is a preprint server for biologists.
posted by dhruva on Nov 12, 2013 - 10 comments

Maybe they'll get lucky.

Get Data [SLYT]
posted by zennie on Nov 8, 2013 - 36 comments

Card tricks...

...to leave a smile on your face, by Helder Guimarães: Individual vs Crowd | Chaos | Freedom | Trick [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 8, 2013 - 12 comments

Nanotubes are for wusses.

Theoretically sound model for metallic carbon found. Researchers from Peking University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics employed state-of-the-art theoretical methods to show that it is possible to manipulate carbon to form a three-dimensional metallic phase with interlocking hexagons. “Unlike high-pressure techniques that require three terapascals of pressure to make carbon metallic, the studied structures are stable at ambient conditions and may be synthesized using benzene or polyacenes molecules." The new metallic carbon structures may have important applications in lightweight metals for space applications, catalysis and in devices showing negative differential resistance or superconductivity. The research is supported by grants from China and the US Department of Energy.
posted by markkraft on Nov 7, 2013 - 25 comments

Science Journalism Award winners

2013 Science Journalism Award winners from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: [via Romenesko] [more inside]
posted by mediareport on Nov 6, 2013 - 4 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

As Paracelsus put it, "the dose makes the poison."

Dr Bruce Ames, a toxicologist and one of the world's most cited scientists, discusses the impact of his Ames test, "toxic chemicals," and scaremongering [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 6, 2013 - 22 comments

How to get a faculty job

"Many times you will be marched through laboratories, presumably to ogle shiny machines. Ogle them. Ogle them like it is the last glimpse of human civilization you will ever get." How to get a faculty job (PDF) in the life sciences. (Via Hope Jahren Sure Can Write.)
posted by en forme de poire on Nov 5, 2013 - 27 comments

The Mpemba paradox

Someone appears to have an answer to why warm water appears to freeze more quickly than cool water, a phenomenon known as the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba who noticed the effect in freezing ice cream. The reasons why have eluded scientists and prizes have been offered for a solution. Now a group headed by Prof. Xi Zhang out of Singapore has proposed a promising theory. The answer as they see it lies in energy stored in the covalent bonds within the water molecules which are affected by the temperature of the water. (via the Presurfer)
posted by caddis on Nov 1, 2013 - 47 comments

Setting the record straight on the flu vaccine

Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 30, 2013 - 79 comments

Why Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment Isn’t in My Textbook

Three months ago, Psychology Today blogger Susan Krauss Whitbourne posted an essay entitled The Rarely Told Story of Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment. I eagerly read it in the hope that it would reveal some heretofore relatively unknown truth about this famous experiment. But, in fact, the essay is simply a summary--a well written one--of the experiment that takes at face value Phillip Zimbardo’s and his colleagues’ conclusions. In the introduction to the essay, Whitbourne states that the experiment is “Depicted in movies, television and of course all introductory psych textbooks…” It’s true that Zimbardo’s experiment is one of the two or three most famous experiments in the history of psychology. But it’s not true that it’s depicted in all introductory psychology textbooks. I’m the author of one such textbook (which is now in it’s 6th edition and is used in many colleges and universities). One of the questions I’m frequently asked about the book by professors who teach from it is, “Why don’t you include Zimbardo’s prison experiment, like all other textbook authors do?”
Here’s why, the results of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment have a trivial explanation. See also, The lie of the Stanford Prison Experiment [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 29, 2013 - 61 comments

Statistics Done Wrong: a free guide for scientists

Statistics Done Wrong is a guide to the most popular statistical errors and slip-ups committed by scientists every day, in the lab and in peer-reviewed journals. Statistics Done Wrong assumes no prior knowledge of statistics, so you can read it before your first statistics course or after thirty years of scientific practice.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Oct 27, 2013 - 39 comments

Terror from the Deep

CreatureCast - Rhizocephala - a charmingly animated look at the lifecycle of rhizocephalan barnacles, one of the more horrifying (non-charming) parasitic crustaceans (likewise). NOT a practitioner of parasitic castration but still disturbing: The bobbit worm. Happy swimming!
posted by Artw on Oct 26, 2013 - 21 comments

Science! For the Win.

Eleven year-old Floridian Peyton Robertson figured out how to make a better sandbag: leave out the sand. After witnessing the damage hurricane Sandy caused across the nation, the concerned middle-schooler sought a way to help mitigate flood damage caused by the storms. Peyton fills his bags with a salt and polymer mixture which expands when wet. The bags also use an unique center-locking mechanism, allowing them to overlap for an even stronger flood barrier. [Note: not in America? Video won't play for you? Try this link instead.] [more inside]
posted by misha on Oct 25, 2013 - 61 comments

You old fishface you

This 419-Million-Year-Old Fish Has the World’s Oldest Known Face What makes it remarkable is everything that’s come after it: It’s the oldest known creature with a face, and may have given rise to virtually all the faces that have followed in the hundreds of millions of years since, including our own.
posted by maggieb on Oct 24, 2013 - 32 comments

The truth about T. rex

Even one of the best known dinosaurs has kept some secrets. Here is what palaeontologists most want to know about the famous tyrant.
posted by brundlefly on Oct 23, 2013 - 55 comments

Happy Mole Day 2013

Today (10-23) from 06:02am to 06:02pm chemists and other science enthusiasts around the world celebrate the mole! [more inside]
posted by Captain_Science on Oct 23, 2013 - 36 comments

High School Student Discovers Skeleton of Baby Dinosaur

High school student discovers Skeleton of Baby Dinosaur
posted by y2karl on Oct 22, 2013 - 17 comments

There is no cost to getting things wrong

Trouble at the lab: Scientists like to think of science as self-correcting. To an alarming degree, it is not
"Academic scientists readily acknowledge that they often get things wrong. But they also hold fast to the idea that these errors get corrected over time as other scientists try to take the work further. Evidence that many more dodgy results are published than are subsequently corrected or withdrawn calls that much-vaunted capacity for self-correction into question. There are errors in a lot more of the scientific papers being published, written about and acted on than anyone would normally suppose, or like to think."
posted by andoatnp on Oct 22, 2013 - 60 comments

Science for the epic motherfreaking win

"I’m going to buy this sick t-shirt I found online that says I Fucking Love Science on it. I’m going to literally pay money for that shirt."
posted by escabeche on Oct 21, 2013 - 143 comments

"There's only one saving grace to this book: it might be right."

Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?
David Birnbaum made his fortune selling jewellery to movie stars. Now he has published a 'remarkable and profound' investigation into the origins of the universe. Is there any reason to take it seriously?
posted by andoatnp on Oct 20, 2013 - 120 comments

Explore the Exoplanets

Explore the Exoplanets courtesy of Nasa. ""Eyes on Exoplanets" provides a scientifically accurate, fully rendered 3D universe of the 900-plus "Exoplanet" discoveries." [via NASA/Kepler, via NASAPlanetQuest]. Kepler/Exoplanets previously on Mefi 1 2 3 4 and (from 2002) 5.
posted by marienbad on Oct 19, 2013 - 10 comments

Four wings good, two wings better?

The Rise and Fall of Four-Winged Birds [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 17, 2013 - 21 comments

Up at the top there's a bucket and a mop and -

O’Bryan walked me slowly down the steep side of the mesa, to the desert floor, so I could see Star Axis in its entirety. The work’s centrepiece is a 10-storey staircase that lets you walk up through the rock of the mesa, your eyes fixed on a small circular opening that cuts through the top of the pyramid. The first section of the staircase is roofless and open to the sky, but the end of it has a stone overhang that makes it look and feel like a tunnel. This ‘star tunnel’, as Ross calls it, is precisely aligned with Earth’s axis. If you bored a tunnel straight through the Earth’s core, from the South Pole to North Pole, and climbed up it, you’d see the same circle of sky that you do when you walk through Ross’ tunnel. Gazing up through it in the afternoon glare, I saw a patch of blue, the size and shape of a dime held at arm’s length. But if the sun had blinked for a moment, fading the heavens to black, I’d have seen Polaris, glittering at the end of the tunnel, like a solitary diamond in the void.
"Embracing the Void," Ross Andersen, Aeon.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Oct 17, 2013 - 9 comments

The tornado did nothing to the sharks, sorry.

Twitter: @HardSciFiMovies imagines the plots of SF/F movies moving more in line with reality.... [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk on Oct 13, 2013 - 201 comments

"Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?"

When DNLee was approached to write blog posts for Biology Online, she quite reasonably asked about the terms of the agreement. When she turned them down, their response was...somewhat less than reasonable. And when DNLee posted to her blog about it, Scientific American – who hosts her blog as part of their science blog network – responded in perhaps the most tone-deaf manner possible. [more inside]
posted by freelanceastro on Oct 12, 2013 - 195 comments

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