Einstein was right about ripples in spacetime!

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Gravitational waves are real, and scientists have detected them. In the video above, PBS Space Time explains the discovery by researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). From the New York Times:

A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.

Below, NASA's animated simulation of the black holes merging and releasing the gravitational radiation (background here):

above image credits: R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL Read the rest

Nerdy Valentines to print and love

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Evil Mad Scientist Labs have released their latest set of nerdy Valentines ready for you to print, glue on cardstock, and use to win your true love's heart. Read the rest

Detoxing is (worse than) bullshit: high lead levels in "detox clay"

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"Bentonite Me Baby" is a brand of "detox clay" that you spread on your face, or eat, to rid your body of mysterious, nonspecific "toxins." It is full of lead. Read the rest

Big Data Ethics: racially biased training data versus machine learning

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Writing in Slate, Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neill, a skeptical data-scientist, describes the ways that Big Data intersects with ethical considerations. Read the rest

Fantastic science/art/wonder enamel pin

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Our pals at surreal clothiers Imaginary Foundation bring us this fine enamel pin emblazoned with an essential insight of the ages, captured by a simple Venn diagram. Just $10! Read the rest

President Obama pledges $4 billion for computer science education in schools

President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016. REUTERS

In his weekly address, President Barack Obama this week pledged $4 billion in federal funding for computer science education in schools throughout the nation.

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Monkeys make surprisingly terrible random-number generators

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Back in 2002, artists at England's Plymouth University teamed up with Paignton Zoo to see if monkeys could write Shakespeare. Read the rest

Gorgeous 3D printed trilobites

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D. Allan Drummond, the University of Chicago biologist who recently 3D printed and cast a fascinating model of a yeast cell dividing, also creates exquisite bronze sculptures of trilobites, marine arthropods that went extinct 250 million years ago. Images and video below.

See more at Professor Drummond's Instagram feed.

(via SciAm)

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Watch a modern car utterly crush a huge 1959 Chevy

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Here's a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu running into a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. It's a striking example of how safe modern cars are compared to those from decades past. [via Kottke.] Read the rest

Chelsea Manning interview: DNA, big data, official secrecy, and citizenship

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Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portraits from DNA samples, usually working from found samples -- chewing gum, cigarette butts -- of people she's never met. But this year, she's done a pair of extraordinary portraits of Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower currently serving a 35-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth for her role in the Wikileaks Cablegate publications.

You can't "boost" your immune system with "health food," nor would you want to

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Your immune system has two approaches: the first wave is a bunch of attacks that make your body less hospitable to germs, like a fever, mucous, and achy lethargy (which keeps you at home, away from opportunistic infectious agents); the second is a tailored antibody attack that kicks in about ten days later. Read the rest

Stop taking "probiotics"

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It's true that your gut biome is awesome, complicated, poorly understood and crucial to your body's normal functioning. Read the rest

Majority of UK booze-industry revenues come from problem drinkers

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69% of the alcohol sold in the UK is sold to "harmful," "hazardous" or "increasing risk" drinkers, accounting for more than 60% of the industry's revenues. The number of alcohol-related hospitalisations in the UK has doubled in the past ten years, to more than 1m/year. Read the rest

Oklahoma's repeat-offender Republican Creationist lawmakers take another run at science education

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Every year, like clockwork, longstanding Oklahoma legislators in the state's house and senate introduce bills that try to find a way around the prohibition on teaching Biblical Creationism in American public schools. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the "sleep science" industry: first up, sleeplessness and obesity

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Chris from Sense About Science writes, "Had trouble sleeping recently? This week Ask for Evidence is turning its attention to the multitude of claims about sleep -- how you should be doing it, what you should be wearing for it, what you should be doing it on. First up is Ben, who got the NHS to change the advice on its website after asking them for evidence about claims that not getting enough sleep could make you obese. (It turns out it's a little more nuanced than they first suggested)." Read the rest

The bizarre magnetic forest rings of northern Ontario

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Geoff sends us a post about "the 'strange phenomenon' of naturally-occurring 'forest rings,' or circles up to 2km in diameter only visible from the air, in northern Ontario. The rings are at least partially caused by electrochemical effects in the soil -- which are apparently strong enough to affect the local water table, such that 'the water is being held up against gravity,' as geochemist Stewart Hamilton discovered. This is 'beyond science fiction,' he gushed." Read the rest

Cool, science-themed dresses

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Shenova's science-themed dresses are beautifully cut and come in prints that celebrate the Fibonacci sequence, the DNA double-helix, printed circuit boards, retinal cells, the periodic table, aerospace engineering, and space-time warps (my favorite!). Read the rest

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