Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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November 25

Algorithm for accommodating multiple preferences about work groups?

A person is asked to select five other people from among a larger group of, say, 90 people with whom they would particularly like to work. Each of the other 89 people does the same thing. An overseer is charged with forming three groups of 30 people each (give or take one or two people, if that makes it easier) that best accommodates the most preferences. What algorithm would the overseer use? [more inside]
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:58 PM - 18 answers

November 22

Probability and choice

I was reading a book on probability and decision making several years ago and it mentioned a rule of sorts that could be used when making a selection from a sample that would help you make an efficient decision that was likely to gave a good outcome. [more inside]
posted by 517 at 6:12 PM - 7 answers

November 21

Spaaaaaaace! Spacespacespace

I've really enjoyed watching some of JPL's von Karman lecture series on YouTube. I'd really like to have more good quality stuff to watch online about solar system exploration - "good quality" meaning probably lectures and even rather technical ones, but not the slick, graphics-heavy, ominous voiceover discovery-channel sort of stuff (and definitely not the endless PROOF OF ALIEN LIFE ON TITAN stuff that makes searching for the good stuff so difficult). Any recommendations?
posted by Wolfdog at 4:37 PM - 3 answers

November 19

Why doesn't NOT Hawking Radiation also radiate energy?

What happens to the Hawking Radiation particle and antiparticle AWAY from a black hole? Why does't the annihilation of the particle and antiparticle go BOOM? [more inside]
posted by skybolt at 12:09 PM - 5 answers

November 18

Small Home Electrical Generating Windmill - Squeezing out Some heat

I have a small home windmill and wish to extract even the tiniest bit of heat from the 12v DC electricity it generates. The heat would be used to help warm water. [more inside]
posted by bricksNmortar at 7:42 AM - 15 answers

November 16

What telescope should I buy?

I have approximately a $1,500 USD budget and want to buy a telescope. I am pretty sure I want a Cassegrain (SCT or Mak of some sort) for portability. And I am pretty sure I want a German Equatorial Mount (GEM) for ease of manually tracking objects and the potential of maybe one day exploring astrophotography. I had selected the Celestron VX 8" SCT as it seemed to give me everything I was looking for. Then I learned about Push-To as an alternative to GoTo and that has given me pause. [more inside]
posted by pwb503 at 10:28 PM - 2 answers

November 14

Why are dogs so extra afraid of thunder?

This is really a multiple-part, branching question. 1. Are wolves that afraid of thunder? 2. If they aren't, why are dogs? (Subquestion: Did we have something to do with it?) 3. If they are, why haven't they evolved out of it? And it goes on from there. Cats in my experience don't freak out nearly as much. I don't know about things like elephants or hyenas, who also must face grave threat from lightning. There doesn't seem to be a shred of anything worth reading about this anywhere.
posted by Camofrog at 9:19 PM - 14 answers

November 12

Microscope fun for toddlers - household substances edition

Dear hivemind: I'm going to bring a 300X video microscope to my daughter's preschool. What easily obtainable substances will be super cool to view? Bacteria are too small, red blood cells are a biohazard. Toddlers could care less about onion skins, cork, and plant vasculature in my experience, and I am not doing anything that requires fixing/staining. [more inside]
posted by benzenedream at 10:14 AM - 21 answers

November 11

Heron ID

Can anyone identify this specific species of heron?
posted by sindark at 8:12 PM - 8 answers

National Geographic is dead, long live ????? what?

My highly intelligent 10 year old loves national Geo. I am afraid it is over with Murdoch buying it. I hesitate to re-up for another year to find out. Knowing what it did for me when I was growing up (11th grade vocab by 6th grade), I'd like to find something to replace it. Her main interests in NatGeo are articles about animals, indigenous peoples, mostly nature rather than hard science. Any suggestions?
posted by rudd135 at 5:33 PM - 19 answers

November 8

What was the source of the glow trailing the missile the Navy tested?

Like a lot of Californians, I saw this light in the sky last night. The Navy has revealed that it was testing a Trident-launched missile, so that part of the mystery is resolved. But why did it look like that? [more inside]
posted by aws17576 at 11:36 AM - 11 answers

November 7

Looking for a good picture book showing the biodiversity of the Earth

I'm looking for a giant book of life on earth for a kid. A book with real pictures (not drawings) that highlights the biodiversity of the earth. A book with 400+ pages that would have pictures of things like the dragon blood tree, the jewel caterpillar, the banyan tree, the cashew tree, the iridescent sky blue Hoplia coerulea. Not just pigs, zebras, and lions. And not anything framed as "weird!" If there was an updated version of the Illustrated Wildlife Treasury Cards, that would be fantastic and ideal. But I don't see such a thing, so a book will have to do. Any suggestions?
posted by cashman at 8:11 PM - 2 answers

Water if life. What would life be like with less water?

What would happen to earth if we suddenly had 10% less water? The mass of the planet would change, so would our orbit? Would weather and seasons change? Would it affect tides and the moon? At what point would we begin to suffer? Is it 10% or 20% or 50%? [more inside]
posted by krautland at 4:49 AM - 7 answers

November 5

What was this planetarium show, c. 1984-5 about nuclear winter?

Help me remember this presentation I think I saw as a child during the Reagan administration, featuring a Michael Jackson song. [more inside]
posted by johngoren at 9:36 PM - 2 answers

November 3

I just want to make crazy science with you

Good sources for science trivia? [more inside]
posted by Sara C. at 8:19 PM - 5 answers

You know, so she can cure cancer or collect cool rocks and stuff.

What can I do to turn a play room into an awesome laboratory for a six-year-old? [more inside]
posted by Missense Mutation at 3:38 PM - 19 answers

Do any medical conditions cause you to blow LOW on a breath test?

Are there any medical conditions that would cause someone to "blow" a BAC level on a breath test that was misleadingly low for actual BAC? Or do I have some metabolising superpower? [more inside]
posted by anonymous at 2:16 AM - 7 answers

November 2

Why hasn't daylight savings time been done away with in the USA?

Why is it still happening? What is the benefit of having standard time and then changing it for a few months?
posted by josher71 at 3:21 PM - 36 answers

November 1

Parasite or disease that resembles centipede?

So there is a local myth in my part of the US (New Mexico) -- usually told by the hispanic people whose families lived in the region for ages -- that centipedes burrow into your skin and live parasitically, and that if not caught they will get all the way into your heart and eat it. Any idea what these people are talking about? [more inside]
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 9:45 PM - 9 answers

October 31

Can a molecule walk?

What is going on in this animation? Is this real?
posted by Tom-B at 9:58 AM - 8 answers

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