Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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January 27

Best or most appropriate Statistic method to Use.

I have a statistics and/or probability question and the last time I took a statistics class Vanilla Ice and Andrew "Dice Clay" were multi-millionaires. I am not looking for a problem to be solved, I am asking what statistical technique should I use to determine if a time series of data is due to randomness or not. [more inside]
posted by otto42 at 6:35 AM - 12 answers

January 26

Special snowflake question about actual special snowflakes

Look at these weird snowflakes! How do they work? Photo one and two. [more inside]
posted by Juicy Avenger at 3:34 PM - 7 answers


how is benzonitrile less soluble than methylbenzene? I'm baffled [more inside]
posted by iamcharity at 8:54 AM - 4 answers

January 25

Will air-flow creation promote even greater air flow in existing wind?

Say there is a flat plane/field and there is a consistent amount of wind in one direction across it across a wide area, at speed x mph. If a device that creates air movement is placed on the surface of that field, and creates air movement with the existing wind but just slightly faster (x+n same direction), will the wind in front of the air-mover travel faster than the air-mover's speed (x+n+b)? [more inside]
posted by Quarter Pincher at 11:16 PM - 4 answers

January 24

A Martian Bolt of Thunder

Does Mars have thunder? [more inside]
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:10 PM - 5 answers

January 21

About DNA polymerase...

Tomasetti and Vogelstein recently published an analysis that suggests the variation in the number of stem cell divisions leads to cancer incidence rates that are higher for tissues with relatively greater numbers of divisions. They recently posted a follow-up which attempts to address some of the counterarguments to their results. Acting on the premise that their work is correct or at least "in the right direction", are there labs or drug companies working on gene therapies that attempt to improve DNA polymerase fidelity (even in model organisms), as a means to one day perhaps reduce cancer incidence in higher-risk tissues? While it is easy through mutagenesis to worsen fidelity rates and increase cancer rates (as has been demo'ed in mice, say) can this aspect be engineered to be improved — that is, what biochemical aspects of (human) DNA polymerase have evolved to control its fidelity rate such that it might be possible to improve upon it?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:56 PM - 3 answers

Gameshow Inspired Statistics Question

I recently came up with a statistical thought experiment from watching too many reality game shows, but I'm having trouble remembering how to solve a problem like this. Help me figure out this problem that's been bugging me (and by extension relearn some statistics I've forgotten). [more inside]
posted by fremen at 2:15 PM - 4 answers

January 20

Should a temporary resident feed a nesting hummingbird?

There's a hummingbird nesting in a tree by my door in San Diego. Is it a bad idea to set up a feeder when I'm only here for 10 weeks? [more inside]
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:20 PM - 14 answers

January 18

a GMO a day keeps the doctor confused.

I'm a medical student and a few of my patients have come in with questions about the safety of GMO / transgenic foods. I have no background in food sciences, and it's been difficult to figure out the current state of research. A lot of what's easily accessible out there seems less than rigorous and highly editorial in one direction or the other. What are some well-respected, well-designed studies and/or books on the subject that I could start with?
posted by saturday_morning at 5:25 PM - 14 answers

January 17

How many species have humans put out of business?

A colleague of mine says humans have caused the extinction of "millions of species," but that strikes me as hyperbole. Can you point me to any credible sources on this question? [more inside]
posted by LonnieK at 7:23 PM - 5 answers

Fish in desert oases?

Do oases in deserts such as the Sahara or in Arabia have fish? [more inside]
posted by dhruva at 6:03 PM - 11 answers

Chaos Theory Explained for Non-Math People?

My curiosity whetted by the first few paragraphs (and double pendulum illustration) of the Wikipedia entry, I want to learn as much and as deeply about chaos theory as possible without needing to know mathematics. Also interested in philosophical implications. Videos? Books or apps or web sites? My math may be weak, but I'm otherwise intelligent, so I'd prefer something much more thorough than, say, "Through the Wormhole" (I realize the math limitation's a huge hindrance, though).
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:49 AM - 8 answers

January 16

Open-ended survey data, short time frame: help me brainstorm!

I've been handed a massive chunk of open-ended survey data. I have a short time frame to work with it--just a few days--and I would appreciate advice on ways to analyze or mine what I have beyond the most basic approach I know for this kind of thing. Exciting details inside! [more inside]
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:00 PM - 3 answers

Calling all meteorologists!

We found lightning damage at our cottage that had occurred sometime in July last year, and I want see if I can figure out the date it most likely happened. [more inside]
posted by lizbunny at 1:33 PM - 3 answers

January 13

What would happen if you transplanted an animal's eyes into a human?

Would a human brain be able to make sense of the information? Would the person see anything at all. Or would the person see exactly like the donor animal (very unlikely I'm guessing).
posted by Gabriel ricci at 3:32 PM - 15 answers

Looking for BBC program about Winnie the Pooh from 2001

Does anyone know where I might be able to see this footage or the whole program?
posted by bq at 7:53 AM - 1 answers

January 12

A still more glorious dawn awaits - or does it?

Tricky query to formulate so bear with me... I'm curious to what extent that astrophotography images represent the form of their subject matter, and whether the chorus to this song could ever actually happen. More inside.... [more inside]
posted by 5imon at 10:31 AM - 5 answers

January 9

Low, frequent rumble in the San Juan Islands?

Mefites in the Pacific Northwest coastal area, Anacortes and San Juans in particular - have you been hearing a low, extended rumble every few minutes? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:38 PM - 4 answers

January 8

Chix In Space!

Could an ostrich fly on the moon? Expand that out, what flightless birds could fly on other celestial bodies? For that matter, what birds would be rendered flightless if they went to a different planet? [more inside]
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:16 PM - 8 answers

January 7

Statistics 101

I have 754 tickets in our development ticket system. All tickets are considered "minor" so they are not very disparate (you would not get one ticket with 4 hours, and another ticket of 4 days). Given that I have ~200 of these items estimate by hand, how can I generate estimates for the rest of the items? [more inside]
posted by geoff. at 10:14 AM - 13 answers

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