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Posts tagged "science"

smithsonianmag:

In This Community of Brazilian Cave Insects, Females Wear the Penises, Literally

A genus of insect that inhabits caves in eastern Brazil has reversed sex organs, say scientists

By Helen Thompson

In the caves of eastern Brazil, there lives a group of winged insects that mate in a way that will blow your mind.

Read more at Smithsonian.com.

jtotheizzoe:

Watch this liquid boil and freeze at the same time! It’s not magic, these folks just dropped the pressure and temperature to the perfect place to hit the substance’s triple point, that magical nexus on the phase diagram where solid, liquid, and vapor coexist.

The liquid above is almost certainly not pure water (those crystals look a little funny), but here’s water’s phase diagram, complete with triple point and its various ice phases. Yes, even that one.

(via Mental Floss)

(via abalidoth)

archiemcphee:

This is Moss FM, the world’s first plant-powered radio and “the first working moss-powered object requiring more electricity than an LCD.” It was created by Swiss product designer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Dr. Paolo Bombelli from the University of Cambridge. Powered by the process of photosynthesis, Moss FM is an example of biophilic design. “Biophilia is a hypothesis that there is an instinctive bond between plant life and human beings.”

According to Felder, “Moss FM makes use of an emerging biophilic technology called Biophotovoltaics. Electrons and protons produced by photosynthesising plants are harnessed and transformed into electrical current.”

Click here to watch the Moss Radio in action. At present the radio can run for a few minutes powered by a battery that is charged exclusively by moss.

You can learn more about Moss FM and Biophotovoltaics here on Tumblr at mosspower.

[via Design Taxi]

I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.

Tom Nichols (via azspot)

GOOD.

'Expertise' as used here almost always requires the acceptance and approval of the Powers That Be - automatically excluding anyone who has knowledge that comes from experience (look, ‘expert’ and ‘experience’ have the same root for a reason), who can’t afford/has no access to traditional institutions through which ‘expertise’ is conferred, whose expertise conflicts with the agenda of those Powers, etc., etc.

The glory of Google and Wikipedia and everything like them is their ability to democratize knowledge. Furthermore, that is precisely what teachers want: to help people learn stuff, whether they normally would or not, whether it’s taught in schools or has been thrown aside for three months of test prep, whether it’s the area someone specializes in or is simply curious about… There’s no reason whatsoever that knowledge has to come from a ‘professional’ rather than some other source; that doesn’t make the knowledge any less potent, or any less true. 

There is no division between “students and teachers, knowers and wonderers”. I am a teacher; I am also a student, always, because no matter your knowledge, you can always learn more. ‘Knowers’ v. ‘wonderers’? Really? How do you think people come to know things in the first place? I’m definitely an ‘expert’ on a number of things—an institutionally certified expert, even!—but I still wonder about all those things. Besides, who determines what is ‘knowing’? Plenty of those things I have expertise in are *not* institutionally certified, and that makes my expertise not one whit less.

For instance: I know a shitload more about recovering from traumatic brain events than my neurologist. He knows all about how these things happen in the first place, all the ins and outs and mechanisms; however, when it comes to practical advice for what’s necessary to not continue to fuck yourself up in the weeks afterward, he learns a hell of a lot from me. He’s an MD/PhD, he’s about as ‘expert’ as you can get; but that’s nothing in the face of actual experience. In fact, the main reason I knew he was an infinitely better doctor than the other neurologists I’d seen is because he acknowledged how little he knew about the experience of, say, having your life force drained from you by anti-seizure medication. Despite his honest-to-Dog genius, he does not pretend to all-encompassing expertise, or treat his fount of knowledge as the only valid source - which makes him smarter and more ‘expert’ than anyone who thinks they know it all. 

And everyone knows that the only difference between professionals and laymen is that one gets paid for their achievements and the other doesn’t. It’s such a pathetic example, really: ‘laymen’ is a word created to distinguish the people who were not endorsed by the institutional Powers That Be in religious life; the Jesus Christ of the Bible was a layman, and as such was anathema to the institution. Now, we’ve all seen how much we should blindly trust and accept what the Church/etc. tells us, right?

Finally, that bit about “achievement in an area” is utterly nonsensical. Is ‘achievement’ supposed to stand in for ‘experience’—which, as already noted, is never accepted as institutionally valid in conferring ‘expertise’? Does ‘achievement’ mean an official document a la a diploma? How many of the world’s political leaders have degrees in management, policy, diplomacy, etc.? Have they ‘achieved’ less than those who have studied those topics in a fucking ivory tower? To reverse the question, there’s that old saw about how those who can’t do, teach. Now, I think that’s bullshit, because teaching is a fucking skill, and plenty of people who have incredible achievement in an area can’t go into a classroom and convey any of that in a useful way. By the same token, when those people *are* good teachers, do we keep them out of the classroom because their ‘expertise’ comes from experience rather than academic success? Never. 

This whole thing is bullshit. All those signal words—expertise, professional, layman, student, teacher, knower, wonderer, achievement—are deliberately misused, ignorant of their actual definitions and meanings, to make a faux-profound statement that has no purpose other than to bitch about how the Powers That Be are no longer as all-important in conferring expertise as they used to be.

You can be an expert without paying for it. That really pisses this person off.

(via aka14kgold)

"I worry that in an information-driven age of technological marvels, nobody will treat me like I’m a wizard-priest anymore."

(via blue-author)

I think this is becoming a sort of under-the-table war. And I’m not really exaggerating. For example, recently various academic groups and journals have been banning their members and editors from having blogs:

Academic blogging grew from the desire to compensate for people being unable to access academic scholarship,” Saideman told the Guardian. He said academic blogging has become a part of a professor’s job and that it is part of a movement to share scholarship with broader groups of people, including translating it into other languages.

One of his many critiques of the ISA’s proposal is that it further reduces the plurality of voices in scholarship, potentially affecting the number of minorities and women heard in academic discussions. If you’re telling people that the only way to be on editorial teams is by reducing your voice elsewhere, then that’s logically going to reduce the amount of voices out there,” Saideman said.

(via medievalpoc)

I’m a scientist. I’m not sure how other disciplines work, but for science, this ease-of-learning is the greatest thing ever.

I mean, it does have the slight downside that a lot of people don’t know the difference between peer-reviewed scientific research and something an angry layman made up on their blog, but that’s a teething problem. The laypeople of my generation know a lot more about reliable sources than the previous generation, and the next will know even more. I don’t think that random googling and home workshopping will ever compensate fully for actual scientific training, largely because there’s no regulation. But that’s not the point.

Science works by taking a lot of different people who are interested in the truth and having them all work on similar sorts of things and interpret the facts as best they can. Everyone is, of course, biased. Everyone wants their preferred truth to ‘win’, everyone makes accidental assumptions that support what they want to be true, even in the most evidence-based practices. But the whole point of science is that because the evidence is what’s important, these biases balance out within the community. If an experimenter misses a detail, somebody else picks up on it. If an experiment gives unusual results, this is noticed when other people repeat it. Science works only because there is a huge amount of variety in the way scientists think, in what they think about, and in what they personally believe.

But the problem that nobody will talk about in science is this: there’s not that much variety. Because in school, we were given a bunch of facts about the world to memorise, and we were told (wrongly) that memorising those was “science”. Some of us loved doing that. Most people hated it. those that loved it kept doing it, and many of us became scientists. but here’s the thing — there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that people who like memorising stuff about the world will necessarily make the best scientists. This process filters out people who think differently, and then we look back and say ‘well they didn’t do well in science and they gave it up so clearly they don’t have the mind for it’. Of course they gave it up. We forced them out by lying about what science was.

My point here is that some people don’t have the attention span to read a bunch of scientific articles. Some people don’t have the right linguistic aptitude for it — or, come to think of it, the money for it, since many of these things are behind a paywall and only members of scientific and educational institutions can browse them freely. Some people don’t care about how photosynthesis works unless it relates directly to what they’re doing at the time. Without so much open access to information, these people would be filtered out of the scientific community. But with things like the internet, they’re not. Some of them might decide to become scientists if they self-teach the basics, because the basics aren’t ridiculously boring for them that way. Many won’t, but they’ll still be more knowledgable about the world, still participate in forum discussions, still advise scientist friends and blog for science students. And this is a problem because… what? Us textbooky people can’t pretend to be smarter than everyone else any more? Somebody who failed year 11 chemistry might have the audacity to correct our physics calculations based on what they learned from google scholar?

I’m having a little trouble seeing that as a bad thing.

(via derinthemadscientist)

(via medievalpoc)

sagansense:

Neil deGrasse Tyson is Tired of Your Shit - Imgur

via callstheadventurescience

(via junkieofdata)

archiemcphee:

While it’s true that a bunch of ants can ruin a picnic or turn a camping trip into a stinging nightmare, they’re also amazing. The New York Times posted this fascinating video from the Georgia Institute of Technology about researchers studying how groups of fire ants can flow together like a liquid or band together in a solid, rubbery mass. Both of these awesome behaviors may facilitate the development of self-assembling robots and self-healing materials.

For more information about astonishing ant physics, head over to the New York Times.

[via Laughing Squid]

molecularlifesciences:

Top 5 misconceptions about evolution: A guide to demystify the foundation of modern biology.

Version 2.0

Donate here to support science education:  
National Center for Science Education http://ncse.com

Thank you followers for all your support!
Love, 
molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com

(via kyronea)

jkottke:

In a thread about the newly visible supernova in the M82 galaxy, MetaFilter user Ivan Fyodorovich offered up this plain-English explanation of what happens when a star dies and goes supernova. It’s a great read.

It will take it just 6 months to burn up its oxygen. Again, when there’s not enough oxygen being fused to generate energy to balance the pressure of gravitational contraction, the star begins to shrink, almost doubling the temperature, tripling the density, and causing the silicon (which was produced by the oxygen fusion) to begin fusing, in its own complicated sequence involving the alpha process, with the end result of nickel-56 (which radioactively decays into cobalt-56 and iron-56). This, as before, balances against the gravitational pressure and returns the star to equilibrium.

And now it will take merely 1 day to burn up its silicon. Finally, when there’s not enough silicon being fused to generate energy to balance the pressure of gravitational contraction, the star begins to shrink.

This time, however, the core of the star is mostly nickel and iron, and they cannot ordinarily be fused into heavier elements, so as the star shrinks and the temperature and density increase, there is no nuclear fusion ignition of the nickel and iron to counteract the contraction. Here the limit of pressure and density is the electron degeneracy pressure, which is the resistance of electrons being forced to occupy the same energy states, which they can’t.

(via @mathowie)

archiemcphee:

We share all sorts of amazing things that aren’t what they seem at the Geyser of Awesome. Here’s another one, and it’s a doozy:

You may think you’re looking at photos of beautiful undersea invertebrates, but these delicate beauties are actually models made of clear, coloured, and painted glass. Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father and son team of master glassmakers (previously featured here), painstakingly created these extraordinary glass models of invertebrate animals (jellyfish, snails, sea anemones, corals, hidroids, starfish, sea-cucumbers, squid, seaslugs and bivalves) from the mid 1800s until the 1930s.

Photographer Guido Mocafico visited the natural history museums which still house collections of the Blaschka’s work, including Harvard University Herbaria, the Corning Museum of Glass/Cornell University, and the Natural History Museums in London and Ireland, in order to create a marvelous series of photographs celebrating these exquisite models. He set the pieces against dark backdrops and carefully lit them to emphasize their different colours and textures.

As you can see here, the results that Guido Mocafico achieved for his travel and effort are completely wonderful. Click here to view more.

[via Faith is Torment]

archiemcphee:

These beautiful geometric objects are 3D-printed sugar sculptures and they’re some of the prettiest pieces of candy we’ve ever seen. They were made by 3D Systems and The Sugar Lab. The latter is a micro-design firm created by Liz and Kyle von Hasseln, a husband and wife team dedicated to the awesome craft of creating bespoke, 3D-printed edible confections.

‘The overlap of technology, food and art is so rich, and the potential for customization and innovation is limitless,’ said Liz von Hasseln, cofounder of The Sugar Lab. Existing commercial applications for printable sugar include complex sculptural cakes for weddings and special events that are made possible only with 3D printing, and customizable confections for bake shops and restaurants. continued von Hasseln, ‘We see our technology quickly evolving into a variety of flavors and foods, powered by real food printers for professionals and consumers alike and we could not think of a more qualified partner than 3D systems to help make that a reality.’

3D Systems and The Sugar Lab introduced two food printing appliances at CES 2014, the ChefJet and the ChefJet Pro:

The ChefJet will deliver single-color prints; while the more advanced ChefJet Pro will dispatch full color prints. Both can produce either sugar or milk chocolate confections, in different flavors that include cherry, mint and sour apple, and will be available to the market later this year.

Click here to watch a demo of the ChefJet™ at CES 2014

[via designboom]

archiemcphee:

Zero Gravity + Light Painting = Super Awesome

Awesome things are happening on the International Space Station (as usual). This time the awesomeness comes in the form of light paintings created in space by ISS Commander Dr. Koichi Wakata using a spinning toy called the “Spiral Top”.

The “Spiral Top” was developed by Dr. Takuro Osaka. You can check out more photos of the toy in action on on his website.

While we understand what light painting is, we prefer to thin that the astronauts on the ISS are developing super powers.

Keep an eye on Koichi Wakata’s Twitter feed for more wonders from the ISS.

[via Nerdcore and Geekosystem]

Many adults are put off when youngsters pose scientific questions. Children ask why the sun is yellow, or what a dream is, or how deep you can dig a hole, or when is the world’s birthday, or why we have toes.

Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys many adults. A few more experiences like this, and another child has been lost to science.

There are many better responses. If we have an idea of the answer, we could try to explain. If we don’t, we could go to the encyclopedia or the library. Or we might say to the child: “I don’t know the answer. Maybe no one knows. Maybe when you grow up, you’ll be the first to find out.

Carl Sagan (via perfect)

(via wilwheaton)

princessqueer:

theblackpoolmenace-senpai:

dramaddict:

one guacamole is equal to 6.0221415×10²³ guacas

I’m disgusted by my ability to get this joke

one might even call it

avocado’s number

(via elhuesudoii)

archiemcphee:

Do you remember the amazing skeleton we posted about awhile back belonging to an awesome woman fitted with a prosthetic eye that had originally been gilt and engraved to look like a sun? We sure do.

Artist Nick Beecher recently took up the challenge to illustrate what she may have looked like in life and we think his interpretation is pretty awesome.

archiemcphee:

Here’s an awesome little piece of history:

Archaeologists in the Burnt City have discovered what appears to be an ancient prosthetic eye. What makes this discovery exceptionally awesome is the striking description of how the owner and her false eye would have appeared while she was still alive and blinking:

[The eye] has a hemispherical form and a diameter of just over 2.5 cm (1 inch). It consists of very light material, probably bitumen paste. The surface of the artificial eye is covered with a thin layer of gold, engraved with a central circle (representing the iris) and gold lines patterned like sun rays. The female remains found with the artificial eye was 1.82 m tall (6 feet), much taller than ordinary women of her time. On both sides of the eye are drilled tiny holes, through which a golden thread could hold the eyeball in place. Since microscopic research has shown that the eye socket showed clear imprints of the golden thread, the eyeball must have been worn during her lifetime. The woman’s skeleton has been dated to between 2900 and 2800 BCE.

So she was an extraordinarily tall woman walking around wearing an engraved golden eye patterned with rays like a tiny sun. What an awesome sight that must have been.

[via TYWKIWDBI]

knottybearWow.

fangirequeen: SOMEONE DRAW HER PLEASE

beecharts:

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!