How to solve the problem of plastic in the ocean

Ocean scientists Kim Martini and Miriam Goldstein explain, in detail, why the well-meaning ideas of 19-year-old Boyan Slat won't work and show you what you can do now to help stop plastic pollution.

A really fantastic science show on TV

I recently stumbled across Time Scanners, a tech-heavy, pop-science reality show. And, get this you guys, I learned things. I know. From TV. It's crazy.

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Ghost recorded in spooky theater CCTV footage

Unusually for these things, the footage captured is crisp, 4K-definition RAW shot with a coated, non-fisheye len--just kidding! It's about as good as the footage from a mid-90s Nokia communicator. [via]

How to cut a bagel into two interlocking rings

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 12.04.00 PM

You will need a knife, a non-toxic marker, and some math.

Succeeding at standardized tests means owning the books with the answers in them

Standardized tests aren't tests of basic knowledge. They're branded products produced by textbook companies, and getting the right answers depends on whether you studied from the right books.

Russia re-establishes contact with sex lizard satellite

Photo: A gecko habitat designed for mating, before launch on Russia's Foton spacecraft. [Roscosmos]


Photo: A gecko habitat designed for mating, before launch on Russia's Foton spacecraft. [Roscosmos via SpaceFlightNow]

From SpaceFlightNow: "A Russian ground team has made contact with a gecko-carrying scientific research satellite, restoring communications with the spacecraft after officials were unable to control it for a week, the Russian space agency announced Saturday."

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The existence of the Bahamas begins in the Sahara desert

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Here's a really fascinating example of the interconnectedness of life and the importance of viewing things as systems, rather than individual events. The Bahamas are, underwater, giant mounds of calcium carbonate, part of the even larger Great Bahama Bank. That Bank, as it turns out, is not the result of local coral growth, but, instead, owes its existence to a chemistry experiment that begins in Africa's Sahara desert.

In short the authors show that when Sahara dust arrives in the Bahamas cyano-bacteria, what we used to call blue-green algae, bloom. As they bloom their photosynthesis removes CO2 from the water making the pH locally rise, alleviating ocean acidification. That blooming rise of ocean pH to a slightly more alkaline state results in what the Bahamanian’s have long called “Ocean Whitings” where the ocean becomes white like milk.

The whiting of the ocean is the result of white calcium carbonate precipitating out of solution as a solid mineral which sinks to the sea floor and accumulates in massive amounts. On the sea bed it looks like tiny pellets. That’s because it’s been reprocessed by marine worms.

CIA and Pakistani Taliban undo global Polio eradication

Photo: NPR.org.


Photo: NPR.org.

For more than 20 years, a more than $10 billion worldwide campaign has been under way to wipe out polio. But the success of that campaign depends on controlling the virus in Pakistan, where a botched CIA plot led to the Pakistani Taliban banning polio immunization in 2012. Thanks, CIA. Thanks, Taliban. No, really, way to go.

From NPR:

At its peak in the 1950s, polio paralyzed about 350,000 people a year around the world. This year, so far, there have been only 128 cases recorded. Ninety-nine of them have been in Pakistan. And the South Asian nation is the only country in the world where the number of polio cases is rising significantly.

The edict by the Islamic militants to ban immunization was in response to the CIA's setting up a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in Pakistan. The covert operation was part of an attempt by the U.S. spy agency to verify whether Osama bin Laden was holed up in the city of Abbottabad.

Full story here at NPR.org.

Explore science in a weekly newsletter

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I'm about to start a year-long fellowship at Harvard, immersing myself in geeky science awesomeness, and you can follow along with my newsletter The Fellowship of Three Things.

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Cat knows how to use water cooler

"We serve them." [Video Link] cat

NASA's Mars Opportunity rover sets a new driving record, beats an old Soviet one

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The NASA Opportunity Mars rover landed on Mars ten years ago, and was not expected to be trucking along in the dust an entire decade later. But truck along it has, and NASA this week announced that Opportunity now "holds the off-Earth roving distance record after accruing 25 miles (40 kilometers) of driving." The previous record was held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover.

"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."

A drive of 157 feet (48 meters) on July 27 put Opportunity's total odometry at 25.01 miles (40.25 kilometers). This month's driving brought the rover southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover had driven more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) before arriving at Endeavour Crater in 2011, where it has examined outcrops on the crater's rim containing clay and sulfate-bearing minerals. The sites are yielding evidence of ancient environments with less acidic water than those examined at Opportunity's landing site.

More at NASA JPL website.

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Man sentenced after filming self driving car from passenger seat

Top of your list of things not to do: do not post video of yourself driving a car from the passenger seat. Meet "Spain's most stupid driver."

The Spanish-born student of French nationality was found guilty of reckless driving and handed a six-month suspended sentence. That sentence will be dismissed if the young man does not break the law in the next two years. He also saw his driver's licence suspended for a year.

The aggravated circumstance of his use of vertical video was not, apparently, addressed by the court.

Child porn thumbdrive "fell out" of man's bottom

A thumbdrive loaded with indecent images of children fell from between the cheeks of a man's bottom during a frisking in London. [via]

Amazon's 100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime

Encyclopedia Brown

I just got done scanning Amazon's list of 100 Children's books to read in a lifetime. It brought tears to me eyes, I'll likely be re-reading quite a few of them.

The 1944 science fiction story that predicted the atomic bomb

In 1944, fully a year before the first successful nuclear test, Astounding Science Fiction magazine published a remarkably detailed description of an atomic bomb in a story called Deadline. The story, by the otherwise undistinguished author Cleve Cartmill, sent military intelligence racing to discover the source of his information — and his motives for publishing it.

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