I'm living in a dorm for the first time in 14 years. All this week, I'll be in UIUC's Allen Hall, participating in their Unit One Artist-in-Residence program
. I'm giving a talk every night on topics ranging from energy, to science communication, to the history of tech, to human experimentation. I've also got an open door for any students and community members to drop by. If you're around, come say hi! — Maggie
, Vyacheslav Ivanov
captures the crystallization and growth of a single snowflake in macrofocus, timelapsed to a neat two minutes with musical accompaniment from Aphex Twin. It's wondrous.
As you might expect, more Democrats than Republicans say they want to make energy efficient and renewable energy improvements to their houses over the next five years. But, when you look at who has actually made those improvements already — the Republicans come out ahead in many cases and are equal with Democrats in others. Basically, here's some more data that suggests your energy behavior can't be predicted by your politics
, even when your politics rejects climate change. — Maggie
Last September, an elementary school student in North Carolina brought a pound of mercury on board a school bus
. The kids played with it, as kids are wont to do, and then spilled it all over the bus floor. The result: A thorough scrubbing for the kids and for the bus ... the crusher. — Maggie
Check out this series of photos from India's Hemis National Park, where photographer Adam Riley watch a snow leopard stalk and hunt a pack of sheep. The real awesome part of these photos: Getting a look at just how effective that spotted camouflage can be
. In a few shots, the leopard all but disappears against a background of rocky outcroppings. — Maggie
With the consent of a patient known only as "Lou", Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital live tweeted a coronary artery bypass graft yesterday. The surgery increases blood supply to the heart by taking arteries and veins from an arm or some other part of the body and cut-pasting them into the network of blood vessels surrounding the heart. The goal: Prevent a heart attack by bypassing plaque-clogged vessels that are constricting blood flow to the heart.
The video above shows Lou's heart beating, before surgeons hooked him up to a heart-lung machine and temporarily stopped his heart. The live tweet is filled with videos like this, as well as photos and some interesting information about what happens during open-heart surgery. In that respect, live-tweeting the surgery seems like a great idea, a real boon for medical awareness. But in a CBC story, medical ethicists questioned the event. For one thing, what would have happened if Lou died on the operating table? Another big concern: Even though the surgeons, themselves, aren't doing the tweeting, it's difficult to claim that they wouldn't be affected at all. How does being live-tweeted about change the way you do your work?
Check out the full live tweet at Storify
More info on Lou, the surgery, and the live tweeting event.
Timbuktu, Mali, has been a seat of culture and learning for hundreds of years. When jihadists moved in last year and threatened to destroy the city's collection of scholarly work dating back to the medieval period, residents banded together to save the manuscripts
. — Maggie
What is the object on the right? And how did it just appear one day, on Mars, without anyone around to move it?
The answer will probably disappoint you.
Who discovered the genetic anomaly behind Down Syndrome
? The history books say it's Jérôme Lejeune, but pediatric cardiologist Marthe Gautier says Lejeune stole her work and published it as his own. The story has a lot of similarities with the better-known conflict between James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin
, but, for extra drama points, also includes a healthy dose of abortion politics. — Maggie
Blend one part Dr. Seuss, one part jazz scat, and one part Cornell Lab of Ornithology Sound Library and you get these delightful recordings, capturing the majestic calls of the Orange Flat-Tailed Barn Stoobel
, the Variegated Pant Hopper
, and the Patagonian Sterp Kitten
). — Maggie
The Meers fault in Southwestern Oklahoma.
There were 179 earthquakes in Oklahoma in just the last 7 days. Which is crazy. What's more the frequency of earthquakes in the state has dramatically increased since 2004. What was once a freak occurrence has become so common that I'm now more accustomed to hearing about earthquakes from family in Oklahoma than from friends in California. So what gives?
Earthquakes happen all the time in places where you don't expect earthquakes to happen. If you read an interview I did in 2010, you'll learn that Oklahoma does have plenty of faults and the state has been recording earthquakes since anybody started keeping records. The ground shaking at all: That's completely normal. This sharp increase in frequency and size of quakes, though, is weird. Last October, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released the results of a study that suggested these changes in how Oklahoma experiences earthquakes are different from what you'd expect as a part of natural variation.
Read the rest
Armadillos collect leaf litter that they use to build nests in their burrows. Because carrying is difficult when you're shaped like an armadillo, the animals opt for bunching a pile of leaves up against their abdomens
and kind of hopping backwards toward their hidey holes. And all of that is a sciencey introduction to this video of an armadillo dancing to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".
[via Laughing Squid]
FYI, Bay Area readers — if you rode BART between February 4 and February 7, you may have been exposed to measles
by an unvaccinated student who picked up the disease on a trip to Asia. Symptoms are similar to those of a cold, plus a rash. If this matches anything you (even adults who have been vaccinated could probably use a booster) or your children have been experiencing, call a doctor. — Maggie
Scientists name a bacteria after Frank Zappa. The press release announcing this somehow manages to make Zappa sound insanely square. — Maggie
This is the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship that's as important to the history of engineering as it is to the history of insanely crazy Cold War CIA schemes.
In 1970s, the CIA used this ship to capture a sunken Russian nuclear submarine — i.e., lifting a 2000-ton object from a depth of three miles to the surface. It was the most expensive intelligence operation ever and it only kind of worked.