Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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February 26

Non-technical book about neural networks?

Is there a non-technical book that explains neural networks in sort of an introductory way for general readers? [more inside]
posted by Dr. Send at 8:36 AM - 10 answers

February 25

What are these ants doing?

Please explain this ant (and other small insect) behavior I'm witnessing. [more inside]
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:45 AM - 6 answers

February 24

What is the scientific principle that governs how big animals get?

After seeing the trailer for the latest King Kong movie, it got me thinking about why animals only get as big as they do. Is it because they evolve in an ecosystem and natural selection doesn't want you getting bigger than the food supply can managably feed? Is there a scientific principle that governs this that people have named? Is it a DNA thing? I guess I'm wondering what prevents gorillas from growing 100 feet tall. Could there ever be a mutation that allows this to happen? Thanks!
posted by Sully at 3:03 PM - 13 answers

February 22

How do chemical reactions in the brain create feelings?

Dopamine floating around in your synapses will make you feel g<ood. But how? [more inside]
posted by marvelousmellitus at 8:32 PM - 16 answers

Buoyancy question

i want to put an inflatable pool in my small backyard. Then I want to fill it with water and lie on its surface on an inflatable chaise/raft thing. [more inside]
posted by DMelanogaster at 2:33 PM - 10 answers

February 20

Research/articles/books on play in school-aged children

I am looking for research/articles/books on play in school-aged children. Ideally, about cooperative, imaginative play. I have found lots about play development from infancy to preschool age, but what I'm looking for is ages 5-13. Who has studied this period?
posted by xo at 5:33 PM - 8 answers

What are these clear, nubbly, podlike things that I found on the beach?

On January 28, at Schoolhouse Beach in Bodega Bay, California, I found scores and scores of these odd little things washed up on the beach. Do you know what they are? [more inside]
posted by Dr. Wu at 4:04 PM - 8 answers

February 19

What Animal Skull Is This?

These are some pictures of the skull. The skull is from western Montana, which includes prairies. It was given to a friend of mine. It is about six to seven inches across and about 8-9 inches long. [more inside]
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:35 PM - 13 answers

February 18

What's this flowering plant called?

What's this flowering plant called? It's short, has thin grass-like leaves, and seems to pop up every spring in the middle of Alabama (Zone 8a).
posted by gregr at 1:51 PM - 13 answers

February 17

Can using a ipod on a louder volume drain the battery quicker.

Was thinking if I listen to my Ipod louder will it drain the battery quicker than if I listen to it at a quiter volume? However, I'm just using an Ipod as an example. I guess the same could be asked of any electrical item; say a TV set will it use more power if watched at a louder volume.
posted by maxmix at 9:55 AM - 11 answers

February 14

When will the Sun shine on Sunshine?

My four story apartment building is about 15 feet from a nearly identical four story apartment building to the south. I live on the third floor, and my apartment windows face south into the space between the buildings. Today at midday I can see the sun shining fully on the windows of the fourth floor apartment above mine, with the shadow from the other building starting just below their windows. How many days until it starts shining into my apartment and onto my cat? [more inside]
posted by carsonb at 12:18 PM - 7 answers

February 13

Fish out of water

Can fish see through air? If you take a fish out of the water, can it resolve images and see as clearly as it presumably does in water? Or does its sight go all blurry the way mine does underwater?
posted by tavegyl at 11:56 PM - 3 answers

February 12

Why aren't seasons different lengths? Or are they?

Because the earth has an elliptical orbit, it travels at different speeds depending how far it is from the sun. Does this make some seasons longer than others? If not, why not? [more inside]
posted by Literaryhero at 6:27 PM - 9 answers

Looking for picture of the 'Brentus firmus' straight-snouted weevil

Looking for a picture of the 'brentus firmus' straight-snouted weevil, taxonomy here. [more inside]
posted by Brentusfirmus at 5:27 PM - 3 answers

February 11

Astronomy terms for nearest and furthest distances in established orbits

Is there a generic astronomy term for the least or greatest possible distance between two bodies orbiting the same mass? [more inside]
posted by peeedro at 11:46 PM - 5 answers

February 6

First-time poster

If all goes well, and my poster abstract is accepted -- I'll be going to a scientific conference as a presenter for the first time! I found a lot of great resources online about making my poster, and about presenting it. But I would also like your best hard-won tips on those things, and your input on my own unusual situation. [more inside]
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:59 PM - 15 answers

February 5

What is something fun to do with 50 lbs of rock salt?

I have a 50 lb bag of rock salt in my basement that has been there for at least 10 years. It is possible that it was there when I bought the house more than 15 years ago (don't judge me.) I have tried to give it away on the friendly neighborhood bulletin board and on craigslist with no success. I need some ideas for something fun to do with it. [more inside]
posted by mumblelard at 5:32 AM - 18 answers

February 1

Book about evolutionary traits which are no longer helpful.

I am trying to remember the name of a book about the evolutionary traits (possibly three/four of them) which historically were advantageous to humans through their evolution, but are now unhelpful. One was storing fat so efficiently, previously it helped us get through lean times, now (in the west at least) our storing excess calories as fat is leading to ill health. The other evolutionary traits I cant remember. Does this jog anyone's memory? I only heard a snippet of an interview with the author (a guy) on radio last year so it may have been published in 2016.
posted by therubettes at 1:29 AM - 2 answers

January 29

1932 cloud chamber: how are the elements physically introduced?

I am working on a project for which I need to understand how a cloud chamber works. Specifically, I am trying to understand how real physicists working in Berlin in 1932 used a Wilson cloud chamber to measure "the range of protons after collisions with neutrons", right after the discovery of the neutron. [more inside]
posted by tessmartin at 10:10 AM - 9 answers

January 25

Climate Justice In the Age of Trump

How can I help defend scientists and promote climate justice under Drumpf? [more inside]
posted by thedarksideofprocyon at 6:47 AM - 9 answers

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