Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

MythBusters (s10, ep1)

02 May

It is the 10th anniversary season of Mythbusters, and they opened it the right way, with a revisit to the very first myth and very first Mythbusters episode- the jato rocket car. This is not the first time they have revisted this myth, but it will likely be the last time.

We had two spectacular rocket blasts and two spectacularly twisted hunks of metal at the end. After proving the myth could not have happened the way it was stated, they tried to replicate the results. The actual results were two destroyed Impalas and five very giddy Mythbusters. Happy Anniversary!

NASA Has Been Cool My Entire Life

25 Apr

A lot of attention gets paid to what NASA is doing now, both in the news and here on this blog. And rightly so. The Mars Rover missions are amazing and deserve the attention. But what we forget sometimes is exactly how long NASA has been doing amazing things, and the timelines for those missions.

The Voyager missions were launched in 1977. That is over 35 years ago, and they are still going strong. In fact, Voyager 1 is now the farthest man-made object from the Earth, over 18 billion kilometers away and still moving, and we can ride along.

Pediatricians for Equality

21 Mar

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the US Supreme Court will be hearing two different cases dealing with gay marriage. While most people think the court will decide the cases narrowly (and on a state level instead of a national level), pretty much anyone who isn’t grossed out by same sex sex is working to make sure the Supreme Court decides in favor of equality for all citizens.

This includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, who made sure to put out a statement before the cases officially go to court saying that they support gay marriage.

Women in STEM Careers

19 Mar

Two studies on women in STEM careers have recently come out.

The first study argues that the reason more women don’t go into STEM careers is not about ability, but choice. Women who have high math scores also tend to have really high verbal scores and have a lot of choice about what they do, career wise.

This is followed by another study that says while the gender gap has closed, academia still hires a lot more men as scientists and pays them significantly more.

Which kind of answers the question of why women with choices might not choose science.

Stonehenge History

12 Mar

When we went to England, one of the highlights was seeing Stonehenge. I am completely fascinated by the different theories for how Stonehenge came to be and what purpose it served. Now there is a new study showing there was another stone circle in that same spot, before the current Stonehenge was built.

It looks like that stone circle marked a graveyard, as researchers have found cremated human remains from family groups that pre-date Stonehenge at spots they believe were marked by bluestones.

Was the graveyard the reason Stonehenge was built on that particular site? Or is there something more?

Why #MythBusters Should be Required Viewing

27 Feb

Back in 2007, Mythbusters did a show (ep 85) about bullets in an oven. Once the oven got hot enough, those bullets exploded- not with lethal force, so the myth was busted -with the shell casings causing the most damage.

Why do I bring this up now? Because just last week, a woman in Tampa Bay, Florida, was injured when she was shot by an oven. A magazine in the oven exploded, spraying her with casing fragments.

She was preheating the oven at a friend’s house, a friend who neglected to tell her he stored his ammo in the oven.

Lost Continents

25 Feb

Who needs to find Atlantis? It turns out there may be another lost continent currently lying underneath the Indian Ocean. The micro-continent is known as Maurita and began its journey to being lost around 60 million years ago when Madagascar and India began to drift apart. If the theory is correct than the Seychelles are the only part of this continent left above the ocean floor.

How have scientists discovered this? The answer is all in a single grain of sand. Not even a single grain- there were minerals in the sand that dated back at least 600 million years.

Sudanese Pyramids

07 Feb

Have you always dreamed of visiting the Pyramids? Of making it to both Egypt and the Mayan peninsula? If so, there’s one more destination to add to your list- the Sudan. That’s right, the Sudan, where a cluster of 35 pyramids has been found.

None of these pyramids still have their tops, and they certainly aren’t anywhere near the size of the more famous versions, ranging from 22 feet wide to the smallest at 30 inches wide. But the necropolis they form is quite impressive, with 13 pyramids packed into an area just a little bigger than a basketball court.

Star Trek Tech

29 Jan

I have written about how excited I am for the new Star Trek movie. But even more than the movies, I am excited about the technology ideas Star Trek introduced that we are now moving toward. In this case, the tractor beam. (Not actually certain if that idea was original to Star Trek or not.)

Researchers have built a working tractor beam, though at the moment, it only works at the particle level, but scientists are already seeing possible medical uses. Don’t you think it would be cool if the same technology were responsible for tractor beams and medical tricorders?

Cloning Neanderthals?

28 Jan

Geneticist George Church is not seeking a surrogate mother for a cloned Neanderthal baby, despite what you may have read. In fact, he wishes that the public were better able to look at what the media presents about science and determining fact or fiction. At the same time, he’s happy if these tabloid reports get people talking about and more engaged in science- something that will benefit their scientific literacy and the national and international conversations about what science can do for us.

But no, he does not plan on cloning a Neanderthal. The ethical questions are just too tricky.

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