If you haven't already, you really should watch scientist Emily Graslie, who hosts a video blog called The Brain Scoop, discuss the kind of sexism she deals with every day. It's a thoughtful dissection of casual sexism, and the damage that casual sexism causes:
(Via NPR's Robert Krulwich.)
The poem, "Hubble Sees Anemic Spiral NGC 4921," as with the image, is by NASA:
The magnificent spiral NGC 4921 has been informally dubbed anemic because of its low rate of star formation and low surface brightness. Visible in the above image are, from the center, a bright nucleus, a bright central bar, a prominent ring of dark dust, blue clusters of recently formed stars, several smaller companion galaxies, unrelated galaxies in the far distant universe, and unrelated stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.
Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center have proposed an experiment that would put a garden on the moon.
The lunar “greenhouse” will likely arrive on the moon as payload on an unmanned Google Lunar X-Prize mission in 2015. In it will be five days’ worth of air, a small water reservoir, and 140 seeds of cress, basil, and turnips.
The purpose of the experiment is to determine whether lunar light is sufficient for germination and growth, as well as measure the effect of higher radiation levels on plant development. According to the proposal, “[a] first step in long term presence [on the Moon] is to send plants. As seedlings, they can be as sensitive as humans to environmental conditions, sometimes even more so. They carry genetic material that can be damaged by radiation as can that of humans.”
The turnip is real, you guys. The turnip is real. The turnip is real. The turnip is real.
Are you familiar with Emily Graslie, the woman behind The Brain Scoop who also works at Chicago's natural history museum as a Curiosity Correspondent?
I didn't know of her until Slog treasure MacCrocodile pointed me in her direction, and now I am pointing you in her direction. She's funny, she's enthusiastic, and she explores interesting questions and topics, like insects! Gems! What the pelvic gurdle of an ostrich looks like! And how to skin a wolf!
Here's her most recent video, in which she thoughtfully addresses the weird pressures professional women face working in STEM fields (especially when working on media projects like this):
Today, I suggest you beach yourself on a couch with a turkey leg and peruse her Youtube channel.
The animation was made by Miguel Aragon, Mark Subbarao, and Alex Szalay and is based on information collected and organized by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey...
In the past, it was always thought that each person contains only one DNA sequence (genetic constitution). Only recently, with the computational power of advanced genetic analysis tools that examine all the genes in one individual, have scientists been able to systematically look for this somatic variation. "This study is an example of the type of biomedical research project that is made possible by bringing together interdisciplinary teams of scientists with expertise in the biological, computational and statistical sciences." says Jason Moore, Director of the iQBS, who is also Associate Director for Bioinformatics at the Cancer Center, Third Century Professor, and Professor of Community and Family Medicine at Geisel.
Having multiple genotypes from mutations within one's own body is somewhat analogous to chimerism, a condition in which one person has cells inside his or her body that originated from another person...
Professor of Genetics Scott Williams:
"We are in reality diverse beings in that a single person is genetically not a single entity — to be philosophical in ways I do not yet understand — what does it mean to be a person if we are variable within?" says Williams, the study's senior author, and founding Director of the Center for Integrative Biomedical Sciences in iQBS. "What makes you a person? Is it your memory? Your genes?" He continues, "We have always thought, 'your genome is your genome.' The data suggest that it is not completely true."
ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, burnt up on 2 November at 12:04 GMT over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. It left the International Space Station a week earlier with 1.6 tonnes of waste after spending five months attached to the orbital outpost.
The place is, of course, space...
Roughly one in every five sunlike stars is orbited by a potentially habitable, Earth-size planet, meaning that the universe has abundant real estate that could be congenial to life, according to an analysis of observations by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
Our Milky Way galaxy alone could harbor billions of rocky worlds where water might be liquid at the surface, according to the report, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and discussed at a news conference in California.
I wrote this for Josef Krebs.
For more marvelous images from NASA's Earth Observations, go here.
Inside the newly-discovered Higgs boson lurks a flaw that could foretell the end of the universe, according to a new scientific paper. It's a complicated bit of business, but it all boils down to this: "Eventually (in 10^100 years or so) an unlucky quantum fluctuation will produce a bubble of a different vacuum, which will then expand at the speed of light, destroying everything.”
Which The New York Times, helpfully, boils down to this:
The idea is that the Higgs field could someday twitch and drop to a lower energy state, like water freezing into ice, thereby obliterating the workings of reality as we know it. Naturally, we would have no warning. Just blink and it’s over.
Yikes. And happy Election Day! It's a long way to 10^100 years, so vote, vote, VOTE!
Late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Americans will turn their clocks back one hour to observe the end of daylight saving time. Over at Quartz, economist Allison Schrager is taking the opportunity to suggest that we do something radical:
This year, Americans on Eastern Standard Time should set their clocks back one hour (like normal), Americans on Central and Rocky Mountain time do nothing, and Americans on Pacific time should set their clocks forward one hour. After that we won’t change our clocks again—no more daylight saving. This will result in just two time zones for the continental United States. The east and west coasts will only be one hour apart. Anyone who lives on one coast and does business with the other can imagine the uncountable benefits of living in a two-time-zone nation (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).
What do you think about that?
An international team of astronomers have discovered that Milky Way galaxy "wobbles." In addition to the regular Galactic rotation the scientists found the Milky Way moving perpendicular to the Galactic plane. The Milky Way acts like a Galactic mosh pit or a huge flag fluttering in the wind (see graphic below), north to south, from the Galactic plane with forces coming from multiple directions, creating a chaotic wave pattern. The source of the forces is still not understood: possible causes include spiral arms stirring things up or ripples caused by the passage of a smaller galaxy through our own.
All three spooky structures, called planetary nebulas, are in fact material ejected from dying stars. As death beckoned, the stars' wispy bits and pieces were blown into outer space.
Scientists say they've found a galaxy that's not just far, far, away — it's the most distant from our own that's been discovered yet. And it's helping them gain insight about the universe as it existed a long time ago.The object is so distant that it appears to us only 700 million years after the Big Bang. This universe (there are probably others) is, as far as we can tell, 13.8 billion years old. But despite being so close to the beginning of our time, this faint ghost of a galaxy poses no serious challenge to our thinking and sense of things. The major problems exist not even in the minutes of the universe's birth, but very, very deep inside its single second. In that second, our reason becomes a puff of smoke and our thoughts run in infinite circles.
Astronomers say the galaxy, called z8_GND_5296, is the most remote one they can confirm with spectroscopy, a technique that looks for the chemical signatures of elements.
Discover Magazine linked to a new study that suggests that no matter what their size, it takes most mammals about 21 seconds to urinate.
Using high-speed fluid dynamics videos and flow-rate measurement at Zoo Atlanta, we discover the “Law of Urination”, which states animals empty their bladders over nearly constant duration of average 21 seconds (standard deviation 13 seconds), despite a difference in bladder volume from 100 mL to 100 L. This feat is made possible by the increasing urethra length of large animals which amplifies gravitational force and flow rate.
If you're into that kind of thing, here's video proof. (NSFW, if slow-motion animal peeing is not allowed at your workplace for some weird reason.)
On Jupiter and Saturn, half-inch diamonds fall from the atmosphere like rain. ...New research by a NASA scientist says that up to 1,000 tonnes (2.2 million pounds) of diamonds are created in Saturn’s atmosphere every year, with Jupiter’s atmosphere being a prodigious producer of diamonds as well.
How it happens:
Diamond rain on Jupiter and Saturn begins in the upper atmosphere. Lightning strikes methane, turning it into soot (carbon). As the soot falls, pressure increases, and it turns into graphite. After falling for another 4,000 miles or so, the pressure is so great that the graphite turns into diamond.
Saturn not only has diamonds in the sky, it also has a massive rose over its north pole...
Google's promotional video for its new quantum computer is a little twee, but the possibilities they're talking about here are mind-boggling.
The idea of subordinate females "paying rent" was based on data gathered from research carried out between 1996 and 2011, during which time scientists observed the behaviour of 40 groups of meerkats.
Because most wet-nursing occurred underground in a group's burrows, females were identified as producing milk through the presence of suckle marks and sand being stuck to damp nipples.
"Just the sheer volume of data available to me meant that I could look at a lot of different things and fairly definitively make these assumptions, even if it is just short of saying that this is definitely what is happening," Ms Macleod explained...
"Wet-nursing by formerly evicted meerkats may be a way of 'paying rent' to be allowed back into the group without receiving further aggression," Ms Macleod observed.
She added that researchers had long known about this "allolactation" behaviour among meerkats, with it occurring in almost half of the litters.
But, she observed: "In a number of cases, it looks as if they are doing it when they are not pregnant themselves. Physiologically speaking, that is quite a big jump in terms of co-operative behaviour."
Three things: (1) Ugh, "sandy nipples" is a horrible problem to have. But it also sounds like a great meerkat stripper name. (2) I've been watching a lot of nature documentaries lately, and I just saw a chimpanzee learn how to "share." I like that cooperative behavior better than "breastfeed my kids or I'll evict you." (3) I know, I know! "Stop anthropomorphizing, you scientifically illiterate tool!" I hear you. But still! Meerkats pay rent! Holy shit!
For decades, science fiction and fantasy writers have told stories about hidden underground kingdoms with their own vegetation and weather patterns. (Marvel Comics alone features maybe a couple dozen secret civilizations hiding beneath our feet.) There are even people who seriously believe that the middle of the Earth is hollow and full of weird creatures.
A team of expert cavers and photographers have been exploring the vast cave system in the Chongquing province of China and have taken the first-ever photographs of the natural wonder.
They were amazed to discover the entrance to the hidden Er Wang Dong cave system and were stunned when they managed to climb inside to see a space so large that it can contain a cloud.
If you're at all like me, this is the sort of thing that'll set off a whole month's worth of daydreams.
There is water on Mars. Water, and several other elements that would be important for sustaining life on the red planet. The discovery comes from NASA's rover Curiosity, as part of its mission to explore Mars.The thing I love about Mars is that it's beginning to look more and more like a crime scene or, better yet, the body of a murdered person. The closer we look, the more we don't see a Red Planet but a dead one. Who killed Mars? How did it die? What a mystery.
"We now know there should be abundant, easily accessible water on Mars," Laurie Leshin, dean of science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said in a press release. Leshin is the lead author of a study explaining Curiosity's findings published today in the journal Science.
"When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water," Leshin said.
In a post at Popular Science titled "Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments," Suzanne LaBarre writes:
Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at PopularScience.com, we're shutting them off...That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters. Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.
But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests.
There are no comments on the story.
In other news, YouTube is trying to make their comments less of a cesspool. Gizmodo explains how.
Lindy West Katie J.M. Baker over at Jezebel calls attention to some bullshit:
An all-white, all-male Very Important London science talk—Richard Dawkins is one of the headliners—preemptively told nutty super-sensitive "feminists" (their quotes, not ours) to go on Facebook and Twitter if they wanted to "drone on about the lack of women" in the line-up. When they did, the site crashed and the hosts deleted the "joke." Nice try.
This was the (hilarious!) question, from their FAQ: "I am a fanatical, misandristic 'feminist'. May I drone on about the lack of women in the line-up and despatch abusive, bigoted, mis-spelt, ungrammatical missives to the organisers and presenters?"
Surprise! They said no.
What do I look like, a scientist? Don't ask me. But these guys seem pretty excited. "It's almost too amazing to believe," one says.
(Don't miss the final and maybe most important sentence: "Despite these fantastical claims, the Journal of Cosmology has had its reputation called into question more than once by other members of the scientific community.")
If you're anything like me, you sleep like garbage. For instance, last night, I read myself to sleep at about 10:30 pm, but was already in and out of sleep by 2 until I got up at 6. This is totally par for my course. And it's a real downer when you have this problem, because even if you give an honest try at a good night's sleep, you're still screwed the next day. It should be said that I've always been a poor sleeper. When I was a kid, I'd lay awake for hours; my father is a horrible sleeper too. To this day my mom kicks him out onto the living room couch for too much snoring and tossing and turning.
These days, there are expensive and extensive tests, data-collecting apps, and a whole batch of drugs that offer to help you with sleeplessness, after which you may or may not find yourself unconsciously walking down the street in your pajamas eating a ham sandwich.
But you know what, kids? All that stuff is pretty complicated and probably overrated! Here's something you can try for free. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found a correlation between exposure to "sleep-related words" and better naps:
After 5 minutes of exposure to sleep-related words like “cozy” and “relax,” people snoozed 47 percent longer during a brief nap period than those who didn’t see the language. Heart rates also dropped significantly among those who read the drowsy cue words—a sign of deeper rest, the study authors say. A follow-up experiment showed the words were just as effective among people with sleep issues.
That's all! Just give yourself nightly snuggle affirmations and you may or may not sleep better. Will it work? Totally maybe! But maybe all of you out there aren't poor sleepers. Surely the astute commenters of Slog have tried-and-true methods for falling and then staying asleep. Booze, weed, masturbation, a glass of wine and an antihistamine, moving to an island country, auto-asphyxiation? Help your insomniac brethren out in the comments section: How do you sleep (well) at night?
We're off to outer space
We're leaving mother Earth
To save, the human race
Our Star Blazers
We'll fight the comet empire
Battle through the raging fire
Filled with the hope that Earth will survive
We'll keep peace alive with our Star Blazers
That poor frog never knew what hit it.
Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who first gained fame as a cast member of KING 5’s Almost Live in the late 80’s and 90’s, will try to break down the science of the ballroom floor...
The other amateurs include reality stars Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of "Jersey Shore" and Ozzy's kid Jack Osbourne; "Pretty Little Liars" actor Brant Daugherty; former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson; singer and actress Christina Milian; “Saved By The Bell” actress Elizabeth Berkley; "High School Musical" actor Corbin Bleu; "Glee" actress Amber Riley; country comic Bill Engvall; "King of Queens" actress Leah Remini and actress Valerie Harper.
I think you mean Showgirls actress Elizabeth Berkley, you guys. Now, I'm off to spend the afternoon watching Bill Nye videos on YouTube. Woohoo!
According to Bloomberg, he is only behind the men who gave us the iPhone, Facebook, and Avatar. His thing is Rosa, a surgical robot:
The most interesting thing about this story is not this:
NASA plans to send a vacuum cleaner to the Moon. Called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), the orbiter will collect dust and gas molecules to figure out what floats above the Moon and how it got there. "These mysteries have not really been addressed since the Apollo missions," says Rick Elphic, LADEE project scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
NASA's newest lunar exploration probe is now sitting atop a Minotaur V launch vehicle — a US Air Force ballistic rocket converted to space useWhy so? Because the conversion of military ballistic missiles into rockets for spaceships importantly returns us to a deeper and more realistic understanding of the fourth of the Aristotelian causes, the final cause. This understanding being that the idea/essence/soul of a technology (its final purpose) is never fixed but fluid. A final thing is never really final; it is more its initial cause. The soul of a thing changes with the changes of its society, or from situation to situation, context to context. For example, the internet was not made to be the market/cultural/information utopia it is today; its initial cause is found instead in the world after doomsday (the ARPA network), a nightmare world of nuclear winters and radioactive zombies. Hell and heaven are never far apart or that stable.
One scientist is convinced that the crucial element that got life started here came from up there...
Evidence is mounting that life on Earth may have started on Mars. A leading scientist has claimed that one particular element believed to be crucial to the origin of life would only have been available on the surface of the red planet.If this is true, then life must be very rare in the universe. It seems you need too many accidents to make it happen: the accident of some planet falling in the habitable zone from the right star, the accident of that planet having enough water (some scientists even think that we got a lot of our water from the accident of a comet or asteroid collision), and now we are speaking of the accident of interplanetary exchange of the principal chemical ingredients. Beyond all that, you also need, as the UW paleontologist Peter Ward once pointed out, some big planet like Jupiter to protect a core planet or planets in the habitable zone from repeated, surface-sterilizing asteroid and comet hits. Life appears to be a trick of the impossible.
Professor Steven Benner, a geochemist, has argued that the "seeds" of life probably arrived on Earth in meteorites blasted off Mars by impacts or volcanic eruptions. As evidence, he points to the oxidised mineral form of the element molybdenum, thought to be a catalyst that helped organic molecules develop into the first living structures.