3511 posts tagged with science.
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“There’s pretty much no law on what you can do to a crime scene sample,”

Using DNA to Build a Face, and a Case by Andrew Pollack [New York Times]
The growing capability to determine physical characteristics from genetics can help the police, but it also raises questions of rights and profiling.
posted by Fizz on Feb 23, 2015 - 13 comments

A thoroughgoing rejection of science, technology, and reason itself.

Authenticity, anti-vaxxers, and the rise of neoprimitivism
posted by Faint of Butt on Feb 23, 2015 - 164 comments

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher

For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 21, 2015 - 39 comments

Shills for Big Paleo

British-based webforum Mumsnet (For Parents, By Parents) had a fun time this weekend, when a new member decided she was sick and tired of dinosaurs being forced on our children. [more inside]
posted by suelac on Feb 17, 2015 - 154 comments

“When the Cows Come Home,”

In 1900, the average dairy cow in America produced 424 gallons of milk each year. By 2000, that figure had more than quadrupled, to 2,116 gallons. We explore the incredible science that transformed the American cow into a milk machine—but we also uncover the disturbing history of prejudice and animal cruelty that accompanied it. Along the way, we’ll introduce you to the insane logic of the Lifetime Cheese Merit algorithm and the surreal bull trials of the 1920s. This is the untold story behind that most wholesome and quotidian of beverages: milk. Prepare to be horrified and amazed in equal measure.
posted by infini on Feb 17, 2015 - 33 comments

The Mars 100

From the initial 202,586 applicants, 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. The final 100 chosen come from around the world, with 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. A total of 40 candidates will eventually be chosen to take part in a training programme and live in a copy of the Mars outpost on Earth. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 17, 2015 - 91 comments

Pot Kids

lnside the quasi-legal, science-free world of medical marijuana for children.
posted by ellieBOA on Feb 17, 2015 - 35 comments

American Tintype

American Tintype - After a personal tragedy, Harry Taylor discovered a passion for the 150-year-old craft of tintype photography.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Feb 16, 2015 - 1 comment

Science meets professional subjects

Amazon's Mechanical Turk has become an important tool for social science research, but a fascinating piece by PBS Newshour discusses why this might be a problem, with a great profile of professional survey takers, who average hundreds, even thousands of social science surveys each. This is not just idle speculation, recent research [PDF] shows that experienced Turkers no longer have typical "gut reactions" to social experiments, creating a struggle with how to deal with non-naivete [PDF]. Take a look at the questions that professional Tukers are asked the most, and be sure to take the survey in the middle of the first article! [more inside]
posted by blahblahblah on Feb 16, 2015 - 46 comments

Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?

There’s a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s comic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove in which Jack D. Ripper, an American general who’s gone rogue and ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, unspools his paranoid worldview—and the explanation for why he drinks “only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure grain alcohol”
posted by josher71 on Feb 16, 2015 - 216 comments

The sun was warm but the wind was chill

Wind chill is vitally important information. Or is it a meaningless number useful only in making weather forecasts more dramatic? [more inside]
posted by sfenders on Feb 16, 2015 - 55 comments

The world is forever spawning Damned Things

So! The "bird" category has (somewhat culture specific) internal structure. For example, most Americans will agree that a robin is a better example of a bird than an albatross, and an albatross is a better bird than an ostrich. (And while bats are not birds, they are better birds than horses are, and horses are better birds than refrigerators are; so the gradations continue to some extent outside the category boundary).
Let's talk about category structure and oppression: how the way we think about categories feeds into social oppression and justice.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 14, 2015 - 51 comments

Building Lego Creations for SCIENCE

How scientists are using Lego to manipulate insects. An unusual scientific paper has just appeared online detailing how entomologists can use Legos to build apparatuses to handle museum specimens. This is important: museum specimens are what we use to study biological history, and preserving them is increasingly less well funded. Fortunately, innovations like this fall into a larger biological tradition of building your own equipment. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Feb 13, 2015 - 7 comments

The Ouroboros of Scientific Evidence

"Do whatever it takes to not fool yourself, period, that's the scientific method" - Neil deGrasse Tyson. What if we can't do that?
posted by LiteS on Feb 13, 2015 - 37 comments

Science fair season is upon us.

Science fair projects for kids. 128 pages of science fair projects for kids, graded by difficulty. 40 more experiments. This has been your Metafilter parenting resource for the week of February 9-13.
posted by pjern on Feb 12, 2015 - 17 comments

Spinal Zap

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants suffered back and other musculoskeletal injuries more than any other occupation in 2013. NPR's Daniel Zwerdling investigated the root cause for many of these injuries: Lifting and moving patients. [more inside]
posted by Gelatin on Feb 12, 2015 - 12 comments

Junction Gate

The station is called Junction Gate, a colony seed that never fully blossomed. You see plans for mines, habitat modules, research facilities, and shipyards.
posted by boo_radley on Feb 7, 2015 - 55 comments

Social Identity Threat Motivates Science-Discrediting Online Comments

"Another simple pseudo-scientist who gets a pat on the back for finding what he was looking for. No subtle thinking here. No qualifying or consideration of alternate interpretation. No honest presentation of the limits of your study. No alternative explanations. This is why the majority of social scientists are flimsy. It is a weak science desperately pretend[sic] it has hard evidence for complex phenomena." [more inside]
posted by Made of Star Stuff on Feb 7, 2015 - 62 comments

These effects are too important for me to allow you to jeopardize them

Kubricks' 2001: One Man's Incredible Odyssey - "With today's article I've decided to cover the truly outstanding visual effects and design work from one of the single most influential and remarkable pieces of cinema of the twentieth century - Stanley Kubricks' 2001-A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - a film that just gets better and better with the passing years"
posted by a lungful of dragon on Feb 6, 2015 - 35 comments

Half the DNA on the NYC Subway Matches No Known Organism

Mapping the Bacteria in New York’s Subways [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 6, 2015 - 51 comments


Have you any spare mercury about the house? Are you well supplied with saltpetre, phosphorus, and oil of vitriol? Such domestic staples can you afford you ENDLESS AMUSEMENT! in the form of hundreds of science tricks from 1847! [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 6, 2015 - 36 comments

"To a scientist, that’s just incredible.”

Michael Pollan in the latest New Yorker about the mainstreaming of research on psychedelic treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction. "The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”
posted by vecchio on Feb 5, 2015 - 36 comments

Globule c doth hitt away the particle b

According to the laws of Newtonian physics, capillary action occurring in Earth's atmosphere should be able to lift water 10 meters high at most. For centuries scientists struggled to ascertain how, then, trees were able to lift water considerably higher. Finally, in 1894, Irish plant physiologists H. H. Dixon and J. Joly proposed the cohesion-tension theory which remains the leading theory today, though it is still not fully understood (PDF).

On the topic of Newton and his physics, a recently unearthed note from Isaac Newton's college days shows that he had it figured out 200 years before anybody else.

posted by Hot Pastrami! on Feb 5, 2015 - 15 comments

Riding Light

Follow the realtime path of a photon leaving the surface of our Sun
posted by a lungful of dragon on Feb 4, 2015 - 26 comments

Animals getting high, drunk and tripping

African Animals Getting Drunk From Ripe Marula Fruit | Why animals eat psychoactive plants | How catnip gets cats high | Stoned wallabies make crop circles | Dolphins 'chew puffer fish to get high | Fly Agaric: The Psychedelic Secret of Christmas | Jaguar trips on DMT and Reindeer eat Amanita mushrooms | Animals getting high: 10 common drunks | 7 Species That Get High More Than We Do | Tree-shrew is heavyweight boozer | Animals Like to Get Drunk | Lemur gets high | Alcoholic Vervet Monkeys. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Feb 3, 2015 - 52 comments

A History of Ideas

A History of Ideas, animated, on YouTube. Philosophical concepts in under 2 minutes from the BBC Radio 4 programme | A History of Ideas, animated, on BBC Radio | All episodes, both animated and podcasts on BBC, downloadable. Narrated by Gillian Anderson and others. A fresh take on the History of Ideas as big subjects like beauty, freedom, technology and morality get dissected by a team of thinkers.
posted by nickyskye on Feb 2, 2015 - 5 comments

"I'm so ready to stay sober."

"Dying to be free : there’s a treatment for heroin addiction that actually works. Why aren’t we using it?" -- A long-form article, focusing on heroin addiction and its "treatment" in Kentucky, by Jason Cherkis. (Huffington Post Projects) [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Feb 1, 2015 - 50 comments

Islamic Astropolitik

Despite Western anxieties over Muslim conquest, traditions of Islamic astronomy and the portability of ritual space in Islam find Muslims at home among the stars. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 1, 2015 - 1 comment

Your childhood is fine. Calm down.

A Comprehensive Guide to Dinosaur Feathers and Scales
posted by brundlefly on Feb 1, 2015 - 16 comments

"My psychological time had compressed by a factor of two."

Cabinet Magazine interviews Michel Siffre, whose work helped found the field of human chronobiology. He spent months isolated in a subterranean cave, with no clock, calendar, or sun. He slept and ate only when his body told him to.
posted by artsandsci on Jan 31, 2015 - 48 comments

"No academic institution... is particularly great for family."

An associate professor of biology with two children speaks more negatively about the effects of balancing work and family on his career: “It's a disaster.” [1]
[more inside] posted by en forme de poire on Jan 28, 2015 - 75 comments

It also means "unboil" is now a word.

Scientists unboil an egg, and it may be a big deal. "This method … could transform industrial and research production of proteins," Such as new, and much faster ways of producing anti-bodies to fight cancer and cheese-makers who could use recombinant-proteins to improve their products.
posted by quin on Jan 26, 2015 - 29 comments

Fish Live Beneath Antarctica

Scientists find translucent fish in a wedge of water hidden under 740 meters of ice, 850 kilometers from sunlight
posted by brundlefly on Jan 23, 2015 - 25 comments

Asteroid 2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86 will safely pass about three times the distance to the moon on January 26. It will not be bright enough to view with an unaided eye; however, astronomy sites including Earthsky and Universe Today have instructions for amateur astronomers with suitable equipment. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Jan 21, 2015 - 10 comments

Embodied Cognition

The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 19, 2015 - 9 comments

"Would you like to play a game?"

Mario AI - "Mario's inner emotive states cause behavior-determining drives. For example, Mario will collect coins if he is hungry. Whereas, when he is curious, he will explore his environment and autonomously gather knowledge about items he does not know about yet."
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 19, 2015 - 15 comments

Lyrical Extinction

Wild Ones Live is an arresting reading accompanied by music, a collaboration performed as part of a live magazine by author Jon Mooallem, a science and nature writer whose book Wild Ones ruminates on the strange, ignorant, hopeful and poignant ways humans imagine other animals, and the musical project Black Prairie. Listen at your desk if you must, but if you can, pop in your earbuds and go outside for a long walk while you take it all in. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Jan 17, 2015 - 3 comments

Additive-noise methods

How to tell correlation from causation - "The basic intuition behind the method demonstrated by Prof. Joris Mooij of the University of Amsterdam and his co-authors is surprisingly simple: if one event influences another, then the random noise in the causing event will be reflected in the affected event."
posted by kliuless on Jan 12, 2015 - 25 comments

Entomologist-Eye View of a Botfly

We all know what happens if you search "botfly" on YouTube. This, however, is a much more rounded and interesting video about the botfly life cycle from Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist who, having been infected serendipitously, decided to allow the parasite to complete the stage he was hosting, in the interests of scientific filmmaking. [more inside]
posted by gingerest on Jan 12, 2015 - 26 comments

A fox guarding the hen house.

Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 12, 2015 - 112 comments

The Secret History Of Thoughts

Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
posted by kliuless on Jan 11, 2015 - 21 comments

He was just a giant tortoise, the last one of his kind

Lonesome George (a musical memorial), from NPR's Skunkbear [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities on Jan 11, 2015 - 6 comments

"I will be content with the smell."

University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass offers a hypothesis about an inversion fog event that brought Seattle various unpleasant smells yesterday
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 8, 2015 - 25 comments

These are speed holes. They make the computer go faster.

How I saved my MacBook Pro with a drill and an oven
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jan 6, 2015 - 48 comments

That's a lot of science

Every year, Australia designates a week in August and spends that week actively celebrating and promoting science with events, activities, and general sciency-ness. Everybody has a great time doing hands-on experiments, looking at exhibitions, talking, laughing, viewing, inhaling, tasting science. This is known as the National Science Week

As a science writer and passionate nerd I would like every week to be science week.
Which is why in August of last year Signe Cane started her Common Year of daily science blogging, inspired to do so by Sarah Keenihan's 2012 (and still going) Science for Life daily science blogging project.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 5, 2015 - 5 comments

"The Master Switch of Life."

Your Body's Amazing Reaction to Water: The strange physiological effects of freediving.
posted by quin on Jan 4, 2015 - 21 comments

Preserving Lonesome George

The AMNH team preserving Lonesome George for display. As the last known Pinta Island tortoise, Lonesome George became a worldwide icon of conservation decades before he died from natural causes in the Galápagos in 2012. When Lonesome George arrived at the American Museum of Natural History in early 2013 to be preserved as a taxidermic specimen, Museum scientists and a master taxidermist faced a number of crucial decisions as they worked to prepare a mount that was both scientifically accurate and beautiful. [more inside]
posted by WillRun4Fun on Jan 4, 2015 - 6 comments

"There is hope!"

As the West African Ebola epidemic stretches into its 10th month: researchers have identified the likely cause of the initial outbreak: a young boy playing with bats in a village in Guinea. The NY Times considers how the opportunity to contain the epidemic was missed and the effects of Ebola on West African economies. Vanity Fair takes a look at the failure to contain the disease within Guinea, Frontline goes to "Ground Zero" in Guinea, and searches for a missing Ebola patient. Meanwhile, West Africans welcomed Christmas (previously) and the New Year. Africa Stop Ebola!
posted by ChuraChura on Jan 2, 2015 - 14 comments

The Benefits of Being Cold

The notion that thermal environments influence human metabolism dates back to studies conducted in the late 18th century by the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, but only in the past century has it really become relevant to daily life. Cronise believes that our thinking about the modern plagues of obesity and metabolic disease (like diabetes) has not addressed the fact that most people are rarely cold today. Many of us live almost constantly, year-round, in 70-something-degree environments. And when we are caught somewhere colder than that, most of us quickly put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat.
posted by Librarypt on Dec 30, 2014 - 70 comments

Paging Ms. Frizzle, paging Ms. Frizzle

Why should Oscar nominees have all the fun? May Britt Moser was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year (along with her husband, Edvard Moser, and colleague John O’Keefe) for "for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain". Her bio and list of publications can be found here. Designer Matthew Hubble was inspired by the attention paid to movie stars and their clothing to create a custom dress for Britt Moser that combines leather, silk, and beads to illustrate neurons in a very new way.
“We used a mixture of sequins and beads for the cyton, and created the beautiful synapses similarly, but the myelin sheath on the axons we just couldn’t make look beautiful and so decided a splash of artistic license is allowed after all.”
[more inside] posted by jetlagaddict on Dec 23, 2014 - 13 comments

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