Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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April 28

Channel your inner Archimedes.

What is the most efficient way of replenishing bubbles in a bubble bath? [more inside]
posted by joshwa at 7:34 PM - 11 answers

What is this plant? Will it kill my cats if they eat it?

Pretty straightforward question. New housemate is bringing this plant with her. We don't know what it is, so we don't know if it's poisonous to cats. Can anyone identify it?
posted by tzikeh at 6:30 PM - 8 answers

April 23

Help me bird

After going to a park to see a great horned owl and some babies yesterday, I'd like to explore getting into bird watching. My local Audubon Society meets on a night when I have a conflict. They do have some bird watching events on weekends that I can go to. But as a complete novice, what can I do on my own? [more inside]
posted by FencingGal at 10:42 AM - 15 answers

April 21

Are you an engineer or an engineern't

In other words, why am I good at abstract & theoretical math and so horrible at applied/computational math? [more inside]
posted by stoneandstar at 1:08 PM - 18 answers

April 20

Why did the USSR help North Korea with their nuclear program?

I've been doing some research on North Korea's nuclear program just so I know more about the current situation. I am trying to find out if the Soviets actually helped the North Koreans get nukes, and what motivated the USSR to help North Korea with their nuclear program in the first place. [more inside]
posted by loganabbott at 3:43 PM - 1 answers

April 15

Deciduous hoof capsules on other ungulates?

Thanks to mefi, I know the horror that is baby foal feet. But according to giraffe cam, baby giraffes do not have the hoof capsules. Why not? Do any other ungulates have them?
posted by jeather at 5:36 AM - 10 answers

April 11

What are these man-made structures off the coast of Grand Manan Island?

Are these fish traps, or fish farms, or oyster farms? Google Maps
posted by cyclicker at 8:46 PM - 4 answers

What is the current thinking about race and genotype?

I have heard informally that the Human Genome Project has changed how scientists are thinking about race. Are there any great articles or documentaries that explain the current thinking about race and genotype? Or, if you are a scientist or someone otherwise well-versed, could you explain it to us? I am interested in both understanding the science, as well as how it is changing how we think about society. [more inside]
posted by mortaddams at 6:54 AM - 11 answers

April 10

What do social scientists think of IQ?

How respectable and/or embarrassing is the IQ / 'g' literature in the halls of academia? [more inside]
posted by mark k at 10:36 PM - 12 answers

How many genetic ancestors does the average person have?

Because of crossing over during meiosis, our genetic ancestry is a mix of a bunch of our ancestors. But how many ancestors, on average? (Or, better, what does the number-of-genetic-ancestors curve look like?) I know that it's probably not all of our ancestors, because there are a limited number of crossovers during a given recombination event. But how does all that math work out? What are the chances that we have lineal copies of at least a chunk of a chromosome from all of our great-grandparents? What about 5 generations back? 10?
posted by clawsoon at 8:46 AM - 11 answers

April 8

Excuse my sorry English

Hi everybody, non-native English speaker here trying to find out if there is a word for the opposite of the term 'equalizer'. Thanks for thinking with me! [more inside]
posted by Litehouse at 2:37 PM - 29 answers

April 7

No, really: how does my Glasgow garden grow?

Where can I learn everything there is to know about growing edible plants indoors, but with the slight hindrance of Scotland's lack of sun? [more inside]
posted by Vrai at 12:32 PM - 5 answers

April 5

i Want Leftover Gem Chips Fir Art

So, I know a lot of artists and I know that some artists incorporated diamond dust into their paintings to add special sparkle and raise prices. I want to give, as an Easter present to my artist friends, some diamond (or diamond like! They can be sapphires or whatever) factory made chips and dust. Surley there has to be a source for factory made diamonds not good enough for gems but fine for being mixed into some oil paint. Tell me how to get them.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 PM - 5 answers

March 27

Calming, educational but fun things to watch with young children

We have developed a habit of watching TV once a week with our six year old. It's something we all look forward to (and it means he's not the weirdo at school who doesn't watch ANY TV). We've worked our way through two box sets of Planet Earth and last night we watched Alone in the Wilderness which was wonderful as the narration isn't a million miles away from being like an American Attenborough. [more inside]
posted by dance at 4:15 AM - 24 answers

March 26

What is this generalization of formal grammar called?

I have been reading a little about formal grammar in the context of computer language parsing. I understand that a formal grammar G is defined as the tuple (N, Σ, P, S), where N are nonterminal symbols, Σ are terminal symbols, P are production rules, and S is the start symbol. N, Σ, and P are all finite sets. But what is it called if they're infinite? [more inside]
posted by biogeo at 10:43 AM - 7 answers

March 25

Best examples of interactive dichotomous keys

I am looking for examples of interactive dichotomous keys to use in a lesson on creating dichotomous keys. The few I've found have been... too cutesy and aimed at younger people. Do you know of any that are simple to follow, but not dumbed-down? [more inside]
posted by Acari at 4:56 PM - 5 answers

March 24

Blundering around in statistics

I am trying to understand some statistical data in a piece dealing with a historical text corpus and am in over my depth, which doesn’t take much doing. I’d be grateful for a simple explanation of what’s going on, plus the technical terms for this phenomenon, if it is one. [more inside]
posted by ogorki at 6:44 PM - 9 answers

March 21

Term for the mental image you form about radio personalities?

Is there a term for the phenomenon of imagining what a person looks like based on their voice? [more inside]
posted by Ms. Toad at 6:04 AM - 2 answers

March 13

I want to watch trout run

There's a park in the Bay Area that has a fish run to allow rainbow trout to migrate upstream. I've never seen fish migrating and I am oddly fixated on watching trout go up the fish run. Are there even trout in these streams anymore? [more inside]
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:35 PM - 5 answers

March 11

I, uh, have to, uh, think a long backspace very hard about the words

Why do I suck at dictating texts? I can speak at the rate I can think (or faster, oops), and I can type (key and touch) at nearly stream-of-consciousness speed, but dictating SMS messages is always a really fraught process. I find that I stumble over words, need to start over, miss important points and basically just fail for anything more complex than "yes" "no" "cheddar please". Why is that? Is there a cognitive reason? Am I using under-exercised parts of the brain or something? [more inside]
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:14 PM - 5 answers

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