Citizen Science: A Ten Year Old Can Do It

by on January 4, 2011

It’s quite possible that you’re now back at work after the holidays, and you’re thinking that you could have been more productive. Maybe you could have sent out the thank you letters, or at least cleaned out the fridge, instead of deciding to undertake, let’s say, a Doctor Who marathon. A ten year old discovering a supernova over her vacation probably won’t make you feel any better.

Kathryn Aurora Gray


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Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

by on January 3, 2011

At the stroke of midnight on January 31st, many of us took a moment to mark the year’s passing. A smaller subsection of those, let’s call us them us “nerds of a certain age,” thought briefly of 2010: The Year We Made Contact, and perhaps became a bit melancholy about that fact that we have not. It’s understandable. Science fiction promised us things, and it didn’t deliver. But I …
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It’s Not the Size, It’s What You Do With It

by on January 2, 2011

National Geographic kicks off 7 Billion, a 7-part series on human population trends, with this short kinetic type animation.

With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there will


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Yes, We’re That Easy to Fool

by on January 1, 2011

New Scientist has collected the best science videos of 2010, and while they’re all quite interesting, this one caught my attention:

I can’t help but think the time that they spent figuring out how to trick me into thinking my file was downloading faster might have been better spent, I don’t know… figuring out how to make my file download faster. But who am I to say?…
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Best of the Best of Science

by on December 31, 2010

I like “Year’s Best” Lists. They not only allow you to languish briefly in the nostalgia of the past 365 days, they are ideal for people with the attention spans of gnats. And they make you sound as though you’ve been paying attention to science news for an entire year.

I’ve collected what I consider to be the best year-end science wrap ups. The highlights are my own personal …
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Rent Too Damn High? Build A House Out Of Snow

by on December 30, 2010

If you’re looking for something to do over the holidays:

HowStuffWorks provides similar instruction with no video, but also less condescension.

And here, we have a guy nerding it up with some igloo experiments.

My sister had brought home her ‘Ice Box’ igloo making kit to show it off. But the problem was, I built an igloo with my home made tool before she got around to building one.


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Some Fiction With Your Science

by on December 29, 2010

If anyone’s interested in how I’ve been spending my holidays, part of it has been devoted to pouring through the Free Science Fiction with Biology site.

It’s collection of 362 (so far) science fiction stories that, at least vaguely, incorporate biology. There are short stories and novels on biotechnology, cloning, cryonics, genetic engineering, parasites and viruses.  And although I haven’t heard of some of the authors, Frank Herbert rings a …
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The Evolution of Rap

by on December 28, 2010

For those of you unacquainted, Baba Brinkman creates peer-reviewed science rap.

He does stuff like this:

And this (NSFW):

As some biology and psychology teachers are already using his album The Rap Guide to Evolution as a classroom resource, he’s now in the midst of producing a DVD with music videos and additional educational material.

And this, my friends in scientific solidarity, is where we come in. Baba needs funding …
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Happening Now: Climate Change (Even In Winter)

by on December 27, 2010

Rachel Maddow with a brilliant series of parallels about why the fact that it is snowing does not mean there is no global warming. Say it one more time, with feeling!

Also: Bill Nye!

For more accessible climate change science information, my go-to resource is Skeptical Science, and that’s not just because I interviewed the site’s creator.

Check out also the Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

(H/t …
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Remarkable New Placebo Study (still does not make “The Secret” real)

by on December 23, 2010

A new study shows that the placebo effect may be even more powerful than we thought.

The emerging field of placebo research has revealed that the body’s repertoire of resilience contains a powerful self-healing network that can help reduce pain and inflammation, lower the production of stress chemicals like cortisol, and even tame high blood pressure and the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. Jumpstarting this network requires nothing more or less


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For Budding Young Conspiracy Theorists

by on December 22, 2010

Oh, look. A kids’ crop circle colouring book. An “instructional” one, suitable for adults and children ten years and up. I think I’ll just let it speak for itself.

The geometry that the circles illustrate is basic to the structure of the universe and conveys archetypal principles in a more direct way than verbal or written language. It is said that crop circles speak directly to the heart. The geometric


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Thar’s skepticism in that thar trailer

by on December 20, 2010

Trailer for Gawd Bless America, due out in Spring 2011.

From what I can glean from the scant information on the internets, this documentary film follows intrepid writer/director/producer Blake Freeman on his journey to prove to 69 year old Leroy that spending his life savings trying to protect himself from ghosts, aliens and voodoo curses is unnecessary, but hilarious. Or something.

It looks to be a cross between What’s
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