Elenco's Night 'n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins. Read the rest
KSU plant biochemical geneticist Raj Nagarajan describes the properties of Thaumatin, Monellin and Brazzein, all found in west African plants that are generally considered safe for consumption; each is a protein, and they are, respectively, 1,000x, 2000x, and 3000x sweeter than sugar. Read the rest
The amazing suckers on octopus arms aren't just for sucking. They also are used to smell and taste. To deal with all that sensory input, the vast majority of an octopus's brain cells are in its eight arms!
“It’s more efficient to put the nervous cells in the arm,” neurobiologist Binyamin Hochner, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told KQED's Deep Look. “The arm is a brain of its own.”
Magdalena Cerdá and Garen Wintemute are epidemiological researchers with US Davis's Violence Prevention Research Program; when they witnessed the Trump administration's mass-deletion of publicly funded EPA research, they feared gun violence stats would be next. Read the rest
A trio of "scientists against a fascist government" set out a program for resisting trumpism with science, delving into the moral duty of scientists to resist the perversion of their work to attain cruel and evil ends. Read the rest
A team of roboticists from Caltech and Urbana-Champaign have built a biomimetic "bat bot" that uses nine joints to deform a foot-wide wing membrane to achieve breathtaking aerial maneuvers. Read the rest
John Dupuis, the web's leading chronicler of governmental wars on science, has made good on his promise to track trumpism's denialism, and judging from week one, there's going to be a gigantic rapsheet by the time Trump is impeached. Read the rest
In a new paper in Nature Astronomy, a team from Osaka University publishes its analysis of data gathered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Selenological and Engineering Explorer, revealing that an isotope present in lunar regolith is a match for an isotope found in terrestrial, atmospheric oxygen. Read the rest
The Archerfish of Southeast Asia and Australia spit at perched insects to knock them into the water for an easy meal. From KQED's "Deep Look":
“When the fish fires the shot,” (Wake Forest University biologist Morgan) Burnett explained, citing the work of other researchers in Germany who first used high-speed cameras to observe the projectiles in 2014, “the water leaves the mouth as essentially a very long stream. But during flight, the stream merges into a ball.”
The fish accomplishes this feat of timing through deliberate control of its highly-evolved mouthparts, in particular its lips, which act like an adjustable hose that can expand and contract while releasing the water.
David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz created an interactive chart showing the weight, national origin and position of more than 1,300 active satellites orbiting the planet Earth. The data was sourced from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
It goes out in bands: there's a cloud in low-earth orbit bulked up with the International Sapce Station and surveillance satellites. Satellite phone networks such as Iridium and Globalstar form conspicuous rings about 800 and 1500 km up. 20km up are the navigation networks GPS and Glonass. 37km up is a mess, with so many geostationary satellites clustered together that they become a rainbow blur in the graphic. Read the rest
Larry Scheckel was a high school physics and aerospace teacher for almost 40 years, and he wrote a book called Ask a Science Teacher: 250 Answers to Questions You’ve Always Had About How Everyday Stuff Really Works that answers common questions on a wide range of topics.
Why are we attracted to unhealthy foods? How does your heart pump? Why is chickenpox so much worse for adults than it is for kids? What is the lowest temperature known in nature? How does the moon affect the ocean tides? Why can't we create a perpetual motion device? Why don't school buses have seatbelts? What is quantum physics? Who or what built Stonehenge?
The answers (they are 1-3 pages long) are clearly written, and filled with fun insights and anecdotes. This is a fantastic book for a curious kid or an adult such as myself who likes to learn how the world works. Read the rest
It's a commonplace that in the natural world, males attempt to mate with multiple females, while females attempt to entice males into being monogamous; this is attributed to the high cost of producing an egg and bearing children (or laying eggs) for females, and the low cost of sperm production for males. Read the rest
Mathematician Stephen Wolfram and his company do a lot of consulting for Hollywood. But he doesn't often do it on an urgent basis because a movie is about to shoot and they neglected to "tech the tech."
When I first started looking at the script for [Arrival], I quickly realized that to make coherent suggestions I really needed to come up with a concrete theory for the science of what might be going on. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time — and in the end I basically had just one evening to invent how interstellar space travel might work. Here’s the beginning of what I wrote for the movie makers about what I came up with that evening (to avoid spoilers I’m not showing more)
He builds a convincing technical and scientific backstory for space travel that informs the movie production rather than being dumped on the viewer. But he also offered suggestions on fixing little howlers (“You shouldn’t say the spacecraft came a million light years; that’s outside the galaxy; say a trillion miles instead.") and found that the process of line-editing screenplays reminded him of software design. (“cut out any complexity one can, and make everything as clear and minimal as possible.”)
He also created, at short notice, a whiteboard covered in physics jibber-jabber when the filmmakers were doing reshoots. Irony: he's not used one in decades. Read the rest