Scientists discover transparent frog

Scientists discovered this new species of "glass frog" in Ecuador's Amazon lowlands. Hyalinobatrachium yaku's belly is so transparent that you can clearly see its kidneys, bladder, and beating heart. From Science News:

Yaku means “water” in Kichwa, a language spoken in Ecuador and parts of Peru where H. yaku may also live. Glass frogs, like most amphibians, depend on streams. Egg clutches dangle on the underside of leaves, then hatch, and the tadpoles drop into the water below. But the frogs are threatened by pollution and habitat destruction, the researchers write. Oil extraction, which occurs in about 70 percent of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, and expanding mining activities are both concerns.

"A marvelous new glassfrog (Centrolenidae, Hyalinobatrachium) from Amazonian Ecuador" (ZooKeys) Read the rest

A non-scientist's guide to reading scientific papers

Jennifer Raff -- a bioanthropologist and geneticist who researches and teaches at U Kansas and U Texas -- provides some excellent advice and context on how to read a scientific paper, from figuring out which papers and journals are worthy of your attention to understanding the paper in its wider context in the relevant field. Read the rest

Ann Druyan on the new Carl Sagan-narrated Apple commercial

Apple released this lovely new commercial featuring Carl Sagan reading from his magnificent 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, now available as an audiobook. This surprising partnership spurred Adweek to interview my friend Ann Druyan, Sagan's wife, collaborator, and creative director of the Voyager Golden Record, about being the "keeper of (Carl's) flame," her own work, and the politics of science. As always, Annie is profoundly eloquent and inspiring. From Adweek:

It feels like science has been so embattled recently, that just being a scientist, just advocating for science has become a political stance in a way that it wouldn’t have been, say, six years ago.

That’s a really good point, but it’s also true there are perturbations. The pendulum swings back and forth.There are moments when science is considered heroic.

A good example from my point of view is that I was completely opposed to the war against Vietnam and to the institutional and social racism of the 1960s and generally America’s conduct throughout the world, and yet when we landed on the moon, I was proud to be an American. Even though I knew how complicated the road to the moon had been in terms of international politics and competition in the nuclear arms race, I thought this mythic accomplishment was something that really spoke well of us. It was a rare moment for human self-esteem and American self-esteem at that time.

Think back to the 1920s and Charles Darwin on trial, and you can say it was really a political statement to believe in modern biology and be a biologist at that time.

Read the rest

What happens to a levitating gyroscope in a vacuum?

The Action Lab took a maglev gyroscope and placed it inside a sealed chamber to see what happens to a levitating gyroscope in a vacuum.

A lot of people took issue with the experiment's setup and explanation, but it's interesting nonetheless. He responded to those concerns:

Hi everyone! I see a lot of comments that mention it will stop because of gravity. A lot of people said that in my pendulum video also. But remember that gravity doesn't "slow things down." The only reason we associate gravity with slowing things down is because it pulls things toward the earth and they hit the earth and the friction causes it to stop. So friction is the stopping force, not gravity. But you are right, gravity does play a role here that I didn't mention in the video. That is that it causes precession in the gyroscope. Since it never started out initially straight up, gravity does make the gyroscope tip over eventually. This may be even a larger factor than the magnet friction I talked about.

Will a Levitating Gyroscope Spin Forever in a Vacuum Chamber? (YouTube / The Action Lab) Read the rest

Watch a jet aircraft produce a deadly dihydrogen monoxide chemtrail

Shocking footage, taken from a nearby aircraft, shows a jetliner spraying its appalling chemical payload into our skies.

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Satellite sets distance record for weird "spooky action" quantum communication

Chinese researchers demonstrated quantum entanglement at a record distance, between a satellite and ground stations 1,200 kilometers apart. When objects are quantum entangled, their quantum states are linked. Measuring the state of one affects the state of the other. It's weird shit. So weird that Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance."

The experiment by physicists at Shanghai's University of Science and Technology of China could eventually lead to highly-secure communications technologies in space and back on Earth.

"I'm personally convinced that the internet of the future will be based on these quantum principles," says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna who was not involved in the experiment. "China’s quantum satellite achieves ‘spooky action’ at record distance" (Science)

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Treasure trove of deep-sea specimens includes dongs of the deep

Australia's Sampling the Abyss project went 2.5 miles underwater 62 miles off the east coast of the continent, netting a treasure trove of delightful creatures, including a peanut worm that in Rob Zugaro's photo looks a lot like a... Read the rest

Here’s what the world would look like if we could see the invisible forces around us

Derek Muller of the YouTube channel Veritasium uses a nifty trick to make visible the invisible air currents, temperature gradients, and differences in air pressure around us. The process is called Schlieren photography and with the right equipment and some precision alignment, you can try it at home. As Muller explains:

I first saw a Schlieren imaging setup around ten years ago in Melbourne. I was immediately fascinated by the way I could see the warm air coming off my hand. I hadn’t expected the currents to be moving that fast or to be so visible. This was a tricky setup to get right because alignment is very important and here I’m just working with what I had lying around the house mostly (plus the mirror). For the best Schlieren photography, making sure the mirror is stable is essential. I want to improve my setup so the mirror doesn't wobble back and forth too much creating the pulsing light and dark sections of this video.

Read the rest

Today is the anniversary of the first woman in space

On June 16, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. She orbited the Earth 48 times over a period of three days. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin who in 1961 became the first person in space, Tereshkova applied to the Russian space program and was accepted based on her extensive background as a skydiver. It wasn't until 40 years later that Tereshkova's nearly tragic experience in orbit was made public.

An error in the spacecraft's automatic navigation software caused the ship to move away from Earth. Tereshkova noticed this and Soviet scientists quickly developed a new landing algorithm. Tereshkova landed safely but received a bruise on her face.

She landed in the Altay region near today's Kazakhstan-Mongolia-China border. Villagers helped Tereshkova out of her spacesuit and asked her to join them for dinner. She accepted, and was later reprimanded for violating the rules and not undergoing medical tests first.

Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space (Space.com) Read the rest

Hacking the human lifespan

Biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey has said that the first person likely to live to 1,000 years-old has probably been born already. de Grey's nonprofit lab, and others, some of which are funded by Silicon Valley billionaires, are boldly focused on how science may find a cure for aging. In the new issue of Smithsonian, Elmo Keep writes about these efforts to "hack" mortality and quotes my Institute for the Future colleagues Rachel Maguire and Jake Dunagan, both of whom cast a concerned eye on the obsession with longevity. From Smithsonian:

One thing we do know is that there are more elderly people alive now than there have ever been in the history of the planet. Even if today’s life-extension researchers made meaningful breakthroughs, the therapies wouldn’t be available for many years to come. That means we’re about to face a lot of death, says Rachel Maguire, a research director focusing on health care at the Institute for the Future, in Palo Alto. “By 2025 or 2030, there will be more of a culture of dying and lots of different ways of experiencing it. There are early signs of new types of funerals and spiritual formations around this.” Maguire foresees new end-of-life plans, including assisted dying. When it comes to aging, she points out that biological research is only one piece of a puzzle that must also include economics, politics and cultural change. “I don’t think we have answers yet for how we’d do the other pieces. And the financial piece alone is huge.”

There’s already a huge disparity between the life spans of rich and poor Americans, and critics of the new longevity research worry the gap may only grow wider.

Read the rest

All about gallium, the metal that melts in your hand

In this nifty YouTube video, Dave Hax talks through the properties of gallium, the metal that liquefies at just 86ºF and is safe to play with. (Just don’t eat it!)

Hax has a whole collection of videos about gallium on his YouTube channel.

If you want to give it a try yourself, you buy 20 grams of gallium for less than $10 on Amazon. Read the rest

Giving vegetables seductive names gets people to eat them

Boring vegetables need better marketing. That's the gist of a new study from Stanford university psychologists who gave cafeteria vegetables more "indulgent" names to see if students would buy them more often. Healthy labels ("wholesome," etc) didn't do well but indulgent labels ("sizzlin'", "dynamite," etc.) boosted vegetable sales by 25%. From the BBC:

The experiment took place over the whole of the autumn academic term. Each day, a vegetable dish was labelled up in one of four ways:

• basic - where the description was simply "carrots", for example

• healthy restrictive - "carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing"

• health positive - "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots"

• indulgent - "twisted citrus-glazed carrots"

...The indulgent labels came out top and included "twisted garlic-ginger butternut squash wedges" and "dynamite chilli and tangy lime-seasoned beets".

Seductive names resulted in 25% more people selecting the vegetable compared with basic labelling, 41% more people than the healthy restrictive labelling and 35% more people than the healthy positive labelling.

"Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets" (JAMA) Read the rest

Exploring the genius of Marie Curie

TED-Ed explores the life (and death) of Marie Skłodowska Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win one twice, and the only person to win one in two different sciences. Read the rest

Fundraising for Diego Gómez, grad student who faced criminal charges for sharing a scientific paper

Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "A few weeks ago Diego Gómez, the former Colombian student who's been prosecuted for sharing a research paper online, was acquitted of criminal charges.

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Egg drop experiment fails

Soaring to a millions views in a matter of hours, this video (permalink) illustrates the trials and tribulations of science. Come for the experiment, stay for the peer review.

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Microwaved glowstick experiment goes awry

There's something magical about this 2014 video, which very suddenly goes from one YouTube genre (the intringuing at-home science experiment) to another (reality is disaster). You wonder why there aren't more of them out there! Read the rest

GOP Congressman DOES believe in climate change, thinks Christian God will fix it

Republican Congressman Tim Walberg, hailing from the great state of Michigan, knows that climate change is real! Walberg does not think humans need worry though, GOD will take care of it.

Really.

Via TPM:

“I believe there’s climate change,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) told constituents at a town hall Friday, as seen in a video of the event posted online. “I believe there’s been climate change since the beginning of time. I think there are cycles.”

“Do I think that man has some impact? Yeah, of course,” he continued. “Can man change the entire universe? No. Why do I believe that? As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator, God, who’s much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”

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