Are you managed or monitored?
Shiny things collected by an easily distracted marine biologist. There will likely be fish, critters, science, other people's art, fannish stuffs (mostly of a science fictiony or cartoonish nature), teapots, things that make me laugh, and occasionally, kids.
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Pistol shrimp delusions of grandeur vs. octopus. And a science lesson.
Inspiration! So important. What or who has inspired you? #STEM #Inspiration #Rocket #Space #Kids
Middle fry also just wrote some questions to send to Buzz Aldrin for some sort of contest…but apparently the bonus question he added was “Boxers or briefs” - what the hell have I done…
Using Your Microscope
I printed this out to hang in our ‘scope room. I await reaction.
Cummulus, Art that Tackles Environmental Challenges
In Le Laboratoire, Argentine architect and artist Ciro Najle and his team draw inspiration from the form and function of nature in their design of systems water uptake, Cummulus. An elaborate and moving sculpture, Cummulus is a bold engagement of both artistic and scientific dialogue.
Developed using computer-numerical technology and idealized using crochet and wool, Cummulus creatively tackles the challenges of global water distribution. Visually, in its elegant waves of extravagant crocheting, Cummulus is a sophisticated abstraction of the clouds. More technically, on the other hand, Cummulus is a “fog-collecting net” that captures moisture in the atmosphere from which it can be recycled into usable water, giving Cummulus a practical importance in the environmental concerns of water access.
Najle’s work not only aesthetically engages, but also interestingly treads the overlap of art and science, design and technology. Such overlap, as we might have come to sense, is one that may be potentially productive today as we gear for the future.
- Carrie Chui
I am almost peeing myself laughing right now, and Jack is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. I read him the joke and everything, and he doesn’t seem to appreciate the humour.
STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHP I just laughed so hard I almost snorted tea everywhere.
(Source: lizardking90, via ruminia)
Iridescence With My Tea
As a cup of tea was steeping one morning in my sun-filled kitchen, I noticed the colorful patterns shown here.
Sunlight scattered through the steamy mist just above the surface of the hot tea, produced an iridescent mix. The similarly sized lipids (perhaps 0.01 mm in diameter) on the surface of the tea deflect sunlight in such a way to produce the pastel colors.
Color intensity results from minuscule variations in the size of the droplets. Photo taken on April 1, 2012. — Photographer: Hans Juergen Heyen // Summary Authors: Hans Juergen Heyen; Jim Foster
It’s fun to know we can science even when doing something as simple as drinking tea. Strangely satisfying :)
i think it’s a universal truth that everyone in our generation takes pluto’s losing its planetary status as a personal offense
It’s unpopular opinion time then I guess. I get so pissed off whenever people get pissed off at Pluto “losing its planetary status” because even though it lives in the ocean and has fins, it is wrong to say a dolphin is a fish. With it’s wonky orbit and small size relative to the other planets it makes perfect sense that Pluto is classified as something other than a planet. By inventing the dwarf planet class, Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake were finally given labels that made sense instead of hunk of space rock that doesn’t meet all the requirements of a planet but isn’t really the same as a normal asteroid. So yeah getting mad about Pluto being a dwarf planet is dumb and if we’re going to get mad about space stuff we should be mad about decreased funding to NASA or the fact that we have the most boringly named moon in our solar system.
I don’t get pissed off, but someone on my followers list is going to be angry with me when I say that I agree. The thing is, nothing about Pluto has changed. It’s still the same object orbiting our star. And scientists rename, reclassify and recategorize things all the time as we learn more about them. It’s a human thing, and really has no effect on the planetary body itself.
This happens a lot in biology, especially as taxonomy gets refined by reviewing morphological characteristics or learning about how living things are related genetically. The small predatory bird I used to call a sparrowhawk, is now called an American kestrel. The market squid off the California coast, called Loligo opalescens only a few years ago, is now in the genus Doryteuthis, as closer study showed the family it’s in, Loliginidae, has more genera than previously thought (related - paraphyly is an interesting concept).
What Makes Rain Smell So Good?
By Joseph Stromberg
Step outside after the first storm after a dry spell and it invariably hits you: the sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of fresh rain.
If you’ve ever noticed this mysterious scent and wondered what’s responsible for it, you’re not alone.
Back in 1964, a pair of Australian scientists (Isabel Joy Bear and R. G. Thomas) began the scientific study of rain’s aroma in earnest with an article in Nature titled “Nature of Agrillaceous Odor.” In it, they coined the term petrichor to help explain the phenomenon, combining a pair of Greek roots: petra(stone) and ichor (the blood of gods in ancient myth).
In that study and subsequent research, they determined that one of the main causes of this distinctive smell is a blend of oils secreted by some plants during arid periods. When a rainstorm comes after a drought, compounds from the oils—which accumulate over time in dry rocks and soil—are mixed and released into the air. The duo also observed that the oils inhibit seed germination, and speculated that plants produce them to limit competition for scarce water supplies during dry times.
These airborne oils combine with other compounds to produce the smell. In moist, forested areas in particular, a common substance is geosmin, a chemical produced by a soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes. The bacteria secrete the compound when they produce spores, then the force of rain landing on the ground sends these spores up into the air, and the moist air conveys the chemical into our noses.
“It’s a very pleasant aroma, sort of a musky smell,” soil specialist Bill Ypsilantis told NPR during an interview on the topic. “You’ll also smell that when you are in your garden and you’re turning over your soil.”
Because these bacteria thrive in wet conditions and produce spores during dry spells, the smell of geosmin is often most pronounced when it rains for the first time in a while, because the largest supply of spores has collected in the soil. Studies have revealed that the human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin in particular—some people can detect it at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion. (Coincidentally, it’s also responsible for the distinctively earthy taste in beets.)
Ozone—O3, the molecule made up of three oxygen atoms bonded together—also plays a role in the smell, especially after thunderstorms. A lightning bolt’s electrical charge can split oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, and they often recombine into nitric oxide (NO), which then interacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce ozone. Sometimes, you can even smell ozone in the air (it has a sharp scent reminiscent of chlorine) before a storm arrives because it can be carried over long distances from high altitudes.
But apart from the specific chemicals responsible, there’s also the deeper question of why we find the smell of rain pleasant in the first place. Some scientists have speculated that it’s a product of evolution.
Anthropologist Diana Young of the University of Queensland in Australia, for example, who studied the culture of Western Australia’s Pitjantjatjara people, has observed that they associate the smell of rain with the color green, hinting at the deep-seated link between a season’s first rain and the expectation of growth and associated game animals, both crucial for their diet. She calls this “cultural synesthesia”—the blending of different sensory experiences on a society-wide scale due to evolutionary history.
It’s not a major leap to imagine how other cultures might similarly have positive associations of rain embedded in their collective consciousness—humans around the world, after all, require either plants or animals to eat, and both are more plentiful in rainy times than during drought. If this hypothesis is correct, then the next time you relish the scent of fresh rain, think of it as a cultural imprint, derived from your ancestors.
Of course I’ve always been aware of the smell, but I didn’t know there was a word for it until the last year or two. Then of course when I did become aware of it, seems like every person is using it.
Scientific Illustration: SCIENCE NEEDS YOUR HELP!
Help! The Los Angeles Science Fair is being cancelled just three weeks before the event due to insufficient funding.
Over 4,000 students have been working diligently since July to compete in this science fair. They are not able to compete in any other…
I was actually a judge at a science fair once. Some of the kid’s projects blew me away; they were actually way over my head (especially the math and physics ones). It would be awful for this to go away for Los Angeles, and all those kids losing this kind of opportunity.
The Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of Pokémon
The phylogenetic tree of kingdom Monstrasinu, also known as Pokémon, because science:
Conservationists have highlighted the importance of documenting extant Pokémon, many of which are known only from single specimens and all of which are threatened by the Pokémon fighting rings that are growing rapidly in popularity, particularly among urban youth.
Read the full paper in the Annals of Improbable Research here (page 15), check out a hi-res view of the taxonomy here, and join these Redditors in discussing any errors they may have made here.
I’m glad he posted a link back to this, I missed the original posting. I knew a lot of Pokemon are based on fossil critters.
The Love Molecule
I’m gonna have to rant a little, folks.
Really unfortunate things happen when we oversimplify biology. And oxytocin is fast approaching Public Enemy #1 on my list. It is not the “hug hormone” or the “cuddle chemical”. It’s a complex component of an even more complex brain, and we should appreciate that.
Yes, oxytocin helps strengthen bonds between animals that mate for life. It also helps mothers bond with their children after childbirth. Then came claims that it enhances trust in humans. So far, so cuddly. However, recent research suggests it also has a dark side:
What does this all mean? Yes, oxytocin has some really cool influences on human behavior and definitely has something to do with trust and caring for others and smiles and sunshine. But oxytocin all by itself doesn’t explain any of it.
We live in a world where people are selling oxytocin nasal sprays and some doctors want to treat autism with oxytocin supplements. But we are only just now starting to get an idea of what it actually does! Is this a good idea? Maybe not! It sounds to me, and others like Ed Yong, that instead of being some simple “cuddle chemical” oxytocin makes us more aware of social cues, good or bad.
The good thing about the steady and careful process of science is that it will continue to unlock the secrets of oxytocin and what its affects on our brains and bodies really are. The bad thing is that lots of vulnerable people are being given bad information about how this chemical behaves in the beautifully intricate work of mechanical and chemical art that is our brain’s biology.
When we try to paint something as nuanced and wondrous as why we love and trust and care with broad and sloppy strokes like “the hug hormone”, we obscure the true beauty of the science it represents. It’s the details and complexity of our biology that make us so amazing, and if we don’t respect that then we don’t respect ourselves.
Now make sure everyone sees this and stops posting these shmoxytocin memes or else I’m gonna look like this:
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Girl Blasts Hello Kitty Doll Into Space
Who says girls don’t like science?
Who does say it?! Let me go
BEAT SOME SENSE INTO THEM sit down calmly with them and ask them where in bloody hell did they get that idea?
But it would make my husband a little sad to send his Hello Kitties off into space.
(Seriously. He’s got them all over his tool box in the garage.)