NorsePony's Mead Hall

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Posts tagged "science"

archiemcphee:

Art + Science = Awesome

The last time we visited the Department of Microscopic Marvels we were astonished by sandcastles etched onto individual grains of sand. Today’s wee wonder is the world’s smallest comic strip, etched onto a single strand of human hair. Entitled “Juana Knits The Planet”, the tiny comic was created by Claudia Puhlfürst in collaboration with the organizers of EHSM2, “the most cutting-edge DIY and open-source conference” for hackers and makers in Hamburg, Germany.

Claudia drew the comic and Andrew Zonenberg used a technique called focused ion beam (FIB) etching, which uses “a sharp jet of matter thinner and more delicate than a laser beam,” to engrave the comic onto one human hair.

Click here to watch a brief video about this amazing project.

[via Junkculture and Design Taxi]

postracialcomments:

america-wakiewakie:

Portland drivers ‘clearly’ show racial bias at crosswalks, PSU study says | Oregon Live

Racial bias doesn’t stop with education, employment, health care and criminal sentencing. It’s also prevalent at crosswalks in Portland, according to a new study of traffic psychology.

Conducted in downtown Portland, the joint Portland State University and University of Arizona study found that twice as many drivers failed to yield for black pedestrians than those who were white. Meanwhile, black pedestrians typically had to wait a third longer for cars to stop for them when they had the legal right of way.

With fewer motorists yielding for them, minorities are more likely to take greater risks to cross the street, which might factor into why they’re disproportionately represented in U.S. pedestrian fatalities, the study concluded.

"In a fast-paced activity like driving, where decisions may need to be made in a fraction of a second, people’s’ actions can be influenced by these subtle attitudes," the study said.

The results come at the same time as the Smart Growth America’s annual "Dangerous by Design 2014" report (PDF) showing the most dangerous U.S. Cities for pedestrians. Despite a string of deaths in the final weeks of 2013, the Portland metro area was ranked the seventh safest for walking, according to the group’s “pedestrian danger index.”

Between 2003 and 2012, 47,025 pedestrians died along American roads — 16 times the number killed in earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, the report showed. Another 676,000 pedestrians were injured.

Nationally, African-Americans have a 60 percent higher rate of pedestrian deaths than whites, the Smart Growth America study shows. Meanwhile, it’s 43 percent higher for Hispanics.

For their study on racial bias at crosswalks, PSU researchers Kimberly Barsamian Kahn and Tara Goddard, and Arlie Adkins, of the University of Arizona, chose an unsignalized but clearly marked crosswalk near Southwest Park Avenue and Clay Street.

It’s one of downtown’s most used midblock crossings, where yielding isn’t influenced by cross traffic or turning.

Kahn, Goddard and Adkins dressed the six test subjects – three white men, three black men, all in their 20s with the same height and build — in the same clothing and had them approach the crosswalk in the same manner. “Each pedestrian did 15 crossing trials,” the study said.”These trials resulted in 168 driver subjects.”

The research team stood out of sight and recorded whether the first car to approach yielded, how many cars passed before someone yielded and the number of seconds that elapsed before the pedestrian was able to cross.

The black pedestrians got passed by twice as many cars and waited 32 percent longer than white pedestrians, the researchers said.

Goddard said she had expected to see some differences, but the stark contrast in how pedestrians of different races are treated shocked her.

"It’s amazing to look at something you thought might be subtle and to see it instead so clearly," Goddard said.

She added, “Racial bias applies to so many areas of life, so it makes sense that it takes place in traffic. But nobody has looked at it like this before.”

At the same time, Goddard said it would be wrong to say many Portland drivers are racist just because they didn’t yield for a black man waiting at a crosswalk.

Rather, driving is a fast-moving activity “with tons of stimuli” that relies heavily on reflexes and motorists are are likely acting on subconscious impulses, she said.

The researchers said they understand the small study’s limitations.

Goddard said she and her fellow researchers hope to acquire a grant to collect more data on driver demographics, which were only collected for the driver who yielded during the pilot study. They also want to test different types of crosswalks and the inclusion of gender as a possible influencing factor.

How many studies need to be done to show non Black folks that racism is real! It is real! Very, very real! No we are not playing the race card nor do we want to be victims, this is our life. The proof is in the pudding and its looking very white.

(via thebombasticbookman)

smithsonianmag:

Why Don’t Octopus Suckers Stick To Their Own Skin?

A chemical excreted by octopus skin tells their severed arms, “Don’t grab me or eat me!”

By Helen Thompson

Read more and see more multimedia at Smithsonian.com.

I’ve never been female. But I have been black my whole life. I can perhaps offer some insight from that perspective. There are many similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity that we find in the black community, as well as the community of women in a white male dominate society…

When I look at — throughout my life — I’ve known that I wanted to do astrophysics since I was 9 years old…I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expressions of these ambitions. All I can say is, the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist was hands down the path of most resistance through the forces of society.

Anytime I expressed this interest, teachers would say, ‘Oh, don’t you wanna be an athlete?’ I want to become someone that was outside of the paradigm of expectations of the people in power. Fortunately, my depth of interest of the universe was so deep and so fuel enriched that everyone of these curve balls that I was thrown, and fences built in front of me, and hills that I had to climb, I just reach for more fuel, and I just kept going.

Now, here I am, one of the most visible scientists in the land, and I wanna look behind me and say, ‘Where are the others who might have been this,’ and they’re not there! …I happened to survive and others did not simply because of forces of society that prevented it at every turn. At every turn.

…My life experience tells me that when you don’t find blacks, when you don’t find women in the sciences, I know that these forces are real, and I had to survive them in order to get where I am today.

So before we start talking about genetic differences, you gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity, then we can have that conversation.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson in response to a question posed by Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Security and Harvard University President

"What’s up with chicks and science?"

Are there genetic differences between men and women, explain why more men are in science.

(via magnius159)

(via seriouslyamerica)

smithsonianmag:

Infographics Through the Ages Highlight the Visual Beauty of Science

An exhibit at the British Library focuses on the aesthetic appeal of 400 years of scientific data

By Helen Thompson

Read more at Smithsonian.com.

jtotheizzoe:

markscherz:

thegreenwolf:

These Hilarious Charts Will Show You Exactly Why Correlation Doesn’t Mean Causation (please do not remove source, thanks.)

This is magnificent.

But will increasing global temperatures and their effect on snowfall reduce the number of bedsheet entanglement deaths?

(I love this)

(via thebombasticbookman)

jkottke:

For the first time, scientists have created a living cell with DNA containing more than just the familiar A, T, C, and G units.

Hailed as a breakthrough by other scientists, the work is a step towards the synthesis of cells able to churn out drugs and other useful molecules. It also raises the possibility that cells could one day be engineered without any of the four DNA bases used by all organisms on Earth.

"What we have now is a living cell that literally stores increased genetic information," says Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who led the 15-year effort.

So instead of just using the GATTACA alphabet, scientists may eventually gain the use of an alphabet containing dozens or even hundreds or thousands of different letters. Potentially powerful stuff.

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]