31 August 2012

Are You Scientifically Literate?

From The Christian Science Monitor's online Science section:

You may have an opinion on climate change, evolution education, stem-cell research, and science funding. But do you have the facts to back up your opinion?

This 50-item quiz will test your basic scientific literacy.

Ms. Lanny-yap got 40 out of 50 right and is disappointed with her performance.

When Was The Last Time ...

Political Party Girl | Rosslyn VA

Hayley Morris | Undone

Undone | Hayley Morris | Vimeo
A drifting man struggles to pull objects from the roiling sea below him and scrambles to keep the objects from slipping through his fingers. A stop-motion animation using textured and tactile materials, as well as personal imagery, that represents the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Inspired by my grandfather.
Brain Pickings

NPR | What Americans Do

The first graphic shows how the average American with a full-time job spends a typical work day. The second graphic shows a more detailed breakdown. The information source is the America Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

NPR | Planet Money via Neatorama


Thanks, Janie

30 August 2012

29 August 2012

Laurent Seroussi | Insectes

Click images to enlarge
Photographer and graphic designer Laurent Seroussi combines the beauty of the human female form with fascinating, symmetrical, and leggy bug bodies in this project entitled Insectes. The fantasy creations incorporate sleek female figures blending with the bodies of insects in extremely realistic and well-photoshopped depictions.
According to his bio, "Laurent Seroussi’s multifaceted imagery brings together his background in both graphic design and moving imagery. His immediate work stretches the imagination with playful visual tricks and postproduction wizardry." Seroussi personifies the insects that crawl or fly around us by merging strong bodies, human faces, and the fine details of these segmented creatures. As the feminine faces glance over their shoulders or close their eyes with sleek and sensual expressions, Seroussi romanticizes the small creatures that we otherwise chase out of our lives and our homes.
Dangerous Minds and My Modern Met

Happy Hump Day | Twin Baby Girls

28 August 2012

Wedding Photobombs

Ad Hawk | Who's Behind That Political Ad?

Ad Hawk is a free mobile app that allows you to identify political ads as they air and immediately learn about who is behind them. Want to know who is spending money to influence your vote? The app provides valuable contextual information about the candidate, super PAC, and issues ads airing on TV and radio this election year.
Also available for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Via Big Think

Why I Have Coulrophobia

YouTube | Anarchist Coloring Book
... If John Wayne Gacy made a cereal commercial.

27 August 2012

One Million Vaginas

From the OMV FB page:
[Our mission is] to encourage and inspire women from all over America, all ages, all beliefs, all kinds of lives and experiences from all 50 states, and the friends and family that love and cherish them, to come together and stop allowing our most personal decisions to be fodder for the Neo-Con political hash mill. Our lives are not their moral crises, our choices are not their ethical lapses ... If you think you're too small to make an impact, remember how annoying it is to try and sleep with a mosquito in your bedroom. We took back the night, now it's time to take back control over our reproductive destiny: Take Back Your Vaginas from Conservative Politics!

Fear And Loathing | The Board Game

Example of dose cards
If you love the book or movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then you've probably fantasized at least once about carrying a briefcase of drugs out to the desert and partying until you're arrested, dead, insane, or out of drugs, but let's face it -- only a handful of people could ever actually live the life of Hunter S. Thompson. For those who just want to pretend, there's no better option than Jonathan Baldwin's delightful Fear and Loathing Board Game that explores the chemistry, drug interactions, and effects of all the drugs in Thompson's famous briefcase.
JR Baldwin via Inventor's Spot

Dangerous Vintage Ads

Click images to enlarge
Often the criticism of vintage ads focuses on their inherent sexism, racism, or other displays of social prejudices, which we find laughable today, despite their continued presence. But what about ads that steered consumers into dangerous territory, espousing outmoded scientific evidence or misleading half-truths to convince people that appallingly toxic products, or even deadly ones, were actually good for them.
More at Collector's Weekly

Via Presurfer

Monkey Monday | Gibbons On Helium Sing Like Sopranos

Image: Takeshi Nishimura
Scientific American
Japanese researchers have shown that helium-huffing gibbons utilize the same vocal techniques as professional soprano singers.

The study reveals that gibbons, whose vocalizations are unique among non-human primates, share a physiological similarity to humans.

The unique project was led by Takeshi Nishimura from the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University, Japan. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, analyzed the singing of white-handed gibbons at Fukuchiyama City Zoo, in northern Kyoto.

Link to article.

Via io9.

26 August 2012

24 August 2012

Big Think | Bill Nye On The Importance Of Teaching Children About Evolution

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them.”
Big Think via Gawker 

22 August 2012

Drake Equation | Calculate The Number Of Alien Civilizations In Three Easy Steps

Detail from interactive graphic
Today, we live in an age of exploration, where robots on Mars and planet-hunting telescopes are beginning to allow us to edge closer to an answer.

While we wait to establish contact, one technique we can use back on Earth is an equation that American astronomer Frank Drake formulated in the 1960s to calculate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations that may exist in the Milky Way galaxy.

It is not a rigorous equation, offering a wide range of possible answers. Instead it is more a tool used to help understand how many worlds might be out there and how those estimates change as missions like Kepler, a telescope that is currently searching for Earth-like planets, begin to discover more about our universe. Until ground-based observations, space telescopes and planet-roving robots uncover any tell-tale signs of life, what better way to speculate on how many intelligent alien civilizations may exist than to explore the universe with our interactive version of the equation.
Click here to use the interactive graphic to make your calculation.

 BBC Future via i09

21 August 2012

20 August 2012

Atlas Obscura | Defying Physics

Balancing Barn | Suffolk, England

Floating farmhouse | Ukraine

WoZoCo Apartments | Amsterdam
When some architects set out to design a new building, they’re less concerned with functionality and more interested in creating a massive piece of art. Sometimes, those developers won’t let a pesky thing like gravity get in the way of their conceptual vision. If the laws of physics had any say in the matter, these buildings probably wouldn’t exist. But why let physics get in the way?
More amazing buildings here.

Via Brooklyn Mutt

Monkey Monday | Drunken Lab Tech Frees Monkeys, Parties

Pic is unrelated to the story --
I simply found it amusing.
Modern Drunkard Magazine
WJBF News reports that a Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) Lab Animal Services employee was found drunk and partially nude in a Lab Animal Services Technician locker room on Monday, August 13th. A university spokesperson confirms that 2 monkeys were out of their cages in the locked Animals Services Lab.

The man is identified as 32-year-old Coley Oneal Mitchell. GHSU Police officers arrested Mitchell and charged him with public drunkenness and turned him over to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. He was then booked into the Richmond County Jail. We are told the monkeys were not harmed and were checked by a veterinarian who reported they are fine.

Via io9

18 August 2012

Scicurious | Beans, Rectal Tubes, Mylar Pants, And Duct Tape

Scicurious at Friday Weird Science | Neurotic Physiology:

We humans have always been interested in farts, above and beyond many bodily functions. Because, well, farts sound funny. And they stink. So, hilarious, is what I’m saying. Guaranteed to make any social situation immediately more awkward.

And of course, you do wonder, what MAKES the smell? The sound is easy enough, passing air through a tight tube like your anus is going to produce some sound at the right angles. But the smell? What causes that? And because it’s a gas, it’s extra hard to tell. I mean, you see vomit and you know what’s in it. Urine and feces can be easily collected and studied. But gas? Gas is so ... volatile (you see what I did there.)

This is why you need the rectal tube. And the duct tape.

The authors of this study were interested not only in the chemical content of farts (specifically the chemicals that produce the smell), they were also interested in how to CONTAIN the fart, how to reduce it and control its odor, to save us all from humiliation at various points in our lives. The authors of this study are not the first to attempt such a feat. Benjamin Franklin famously noted that we should be looking for things to eat to make farts smell more pleasant (whether he tested them scientifically is lost to history.)

But these authors were going to do it, and going to do it in a scientifically controlled fashion. They took 16 volunteers, and fed them an extra 200g of pinto beans (one of the best beans for producing some good gas) the night before and the morning of the experiment. They added some lactulose two hours before specimen collection as well, to ensure maximal gas output.

Now, we’re just going to put this tube in your rectum to create an airtight seal … wait, where are you going? Once the tube was in, the participants let it fly, and each fart was collected in a syringe and analyzed with a gas chromatograph (how appropriate!). The gas was also rated by two independent judges for the … Intensity … of the smell.

What did they find? Well, the major odor producing compounds were, rather unsurprisingly, the sulfides, hydrogen sulfide and dimethyl sulfide, with an extra dose of methanethiol. The more of these you had, the more intense the smell. In fact, the scientists worked out the EXACT concentration: 0.9 mmol/L hydrogen sulfide, 0.36 mmol/L methanethiol, and 0.18 mmol/L dimethyl sulfide. You can now make your own joke fart odor in the lab! You’re welcome. Women had higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide and a greater odor intensity than men, but men passed way more gas, resulting in equal amounts of “malodorous” material. Quantity vs quality, I suppose.

But of course, we all know that the smell is bad. The question is is, how to stop the smell? To find this out, the authors mixed the farts with different things, zinc acetate or activated charcoal, to try and rid of the smell. Activated charcoal worked best.

But now, you have to get the farts mixed with activated charcoal before they hit the outside world. Enter the mylar pants and the duct tape. The participants (lucky people!) put on pairs of Mylar briefs.

These were made skintight by liberal application of duct tape, and checked by immersing the people in a tub of water while they farted (taco, burrito, what’s comin’ out of your Speedo?) Half of the participants got Mylar pants filled with control substance, while the other half got activated charcoal cushions (the Toot Trapper, tm). Then they measured the volume of the gar escaping the gas tight pants.

And it worked pretty well, if you’re willing to wear Mylar pants with activated charcoal in them to save you from embarrassment. So if you’re worried about farting on your date, all you need to do is bring along (or make, I suppose) a pair of Mylar pants, stuff in some activated charcoal, create a gas tight seal, and fart with confidence! Me, I’d just stay away from the pinto beans.

F L Suarez, J Springfield,M D Levitt (1998). Identification of gases responsible for the odour of human flatus and evaluation of a device purported to reduce this odour Gut DOI: 10.1136/gut.43.1.100 

You can buy the Toot Trapper at GasBGon.

For tomB

16 August 2012

Mad Art Lab | Giger Geiger Counter

After the release of Prometheus, craftmaker Steve D was so inspired by a tweet by Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait that he went out and constructed his own "Giger Counter" using a half-scale model skeleton.

Mad Art Lab via io9