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Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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June 17

Where to get algebraic help?
I am working through the mooculus calculus one mooc as a refresher (which I clearly need), and there is one thing I have run across that I just don't see. Can you help me figure out what is going on, and what I can do to work out future problems? [more inside]
posted by carpographer at 8:01 PM - 5 answers
Can anyone identify this... Thing?
One of the kiddos in my Cousin's class found this: rando nature doodad Data points - she is located in Iowa. She describes it as being squishy and the white bit feels kind of like a hard boiled egg. Any ideas?
posted by sleepykitties at 2:08 PM - 12 answers

Resources to better understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity
I'm seeking recommendations for documentaries or books that offer more than a layman's explanation of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, but don't require advanced studies in astrophysics to comprehend. [more inside]
posted by bkpiano at 12:49 PM - 12 answers

June 16

Cosmos - "The Clean Room" Clarification Question about Age of the Earth.
My wife and I just watched the seventh episode of Cosmos called "The Clean Room" which tells us (among other things) about how Clair Patterson determined the age of the Earth. The episode explains Patterson used meteorite fragments, such as those from the Canyon Diablo crater, because they were assumed to be leftovers from the creation of the solar system. My question is one of clarification; specifically, how they could be sure that assumption was correct? [more inside]
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:12 PM - 12 answers

Test for significant change from a menu of choices over time.
A large group of people are asked to choose exactly one option out of 8 options, A B C D E F G H. A year later this is repeated. How to test for significance? [more inside]
posted by 92_elements at 1:54 PM - 14 answers

June 14

What did Robert Oppenheimer say about scientists' drive to get results?
I read a while ago a quote from Oppenheimer that eloquently expressed the idea that once a scientist gets in his or her head the idea that a result is achievable, he or she will not be stopped until that result is achieved. He referred to the scientist, though the sense in which he meant the term might better map to what many consider an engineer. [more inside]
posted by edw at 9:10 AM - 6 answers

June 9

Introductory sources on biological classification
I'm beginning a project that looks partly at biological classification, primarily in western science. I have no background in this, and so I'm digging around. I'm interested to know more about the current rules for nomenclature, and also to know more about historical, philosophical, sociological, knowledge practice, ethnographic, anthropological, science technology and society (STS), sociotechnical, etc., approaches to the study of biological classification. I'll take monographs, articles, papers, web sites, etc. I have access to a university library. What are some good sources that can introduce me to this? Many thanks!
posted by carter at 6:53 AM - 13 answers

June 8

Mathematical moments of wonder like Cantor's diagonal method
I've been reading Godel, Escher, Bach and I want to find more mind-expanding concepts that give the sense of understanding some fundamental truth. [more inside]
posted by StephenF at 3:57 PM - 14 answers

Does cooking time affect heat retention?
Years ago, a friend of mine mentioned something he'd read about the effect of cooking time on a food's cooling time. The example he gave is a pot of chili. If, for example, you were to heat the chili to a certain temp, and then continue to apply heat just enough to keep it at that temperature overnight, it would take longer to cool than if you heated it to that temperature and then immediately allowed it to cool. Is there any truth to this? Can you please point me to articles/resources that can prove/disprove this theory?
posted by phreckles at 3:11 AM - 16 answers

June 7

10 years before the mast?
Do trees respond to a harsh winter by producing a larger volume of seeds in the following spring? [more inside]
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:44 PM - 5 answers

June 6

Looking for a type of self-test on ballpark estimates
A number of years ago (I'm going to say with 90% confidence it was between one and ten years ago) I came across a test that asked you to provide a range for a number of values that you could make a somewhat educated guess at but probably wouldn't know the answer to off the top of your head (so, maybe, the land area of Maui, or the number of words in A Tale of Two Cities). The goal was not to pinpoint the values, but to provide a range that contained the correct answer with 90% certainty, so, the best score was 9 out of 10 questions correct. A score of 10/10 was as bad as 8/10 -- the aim was to get 9, so that your ranges weren't ridiculously broad. [more inside]
posted by payoto at 5:16 AM - 7 answers

June 4

2 problems of combinations and permutations.
How many unique ways are there to put X rocks into Y boxes? (Given two different sets of attributes for both the rocks and the boxes.) [more inside]
posted by CustooFintel at 6:49 PM - 18 answers

Energy efficiency research, where art thou?
Looking for quality sources and data regarding energy efficient and energy outputs. Details inside. [more inside]
posted by Funky Claude at 3:01 PM - 2 answers

Don't drop your gun, Scully.
Is the biotic pump a real mechanism in nature that is accepted, or is it just X-files type-stuff? [more inside]
posted by hal_c_on at 2:42 PM - 3 answers

Monitoring mycotoxins in the home
Is there a way for a homeowner to monitor mildew, mold and/or mycotoxin levels in a room?
posted by retiree at 12:56 PM - 3 answers

What decorative plant is this?
What decorative plant is this? [more inside]
posted by just.good.enough at 8:29 AM - 6 answers

June 3

Grow food in a giant cave?
I'm working on a story where some people live in a cave and have to grow their own food inside. I would like some idea of what could realistically be grown in this situation (more details below). [more inside]
posted by ErikH2000 at 10:16 PM - 20 answers

June 2

What are feelings, really?
How does the brain's circuitry actually create conciousness? What is actually going on at the terminus of all the chemical reactions and processes that creates sensory experience? What about feelings such as pain, happiness, sadness or anger? Yep, I know these are the million dollar questions and there are not definitive answers (yet!), so I'm interested in hearing your ideas or any research/theories you find particularly interesting on the topic. Cheers!
posted by turnips at 9:08 AM - 14 answers

June 1

How long ago did science discover pigs' genetic similarity to humans?
More specifically, when did scientists learn that pig skin is very similar to human skin?
posted by mtphoto at 1:04 PM - 4 answers

May 31

Where can I find some good fact-checking, especially science-related?
What publications or organizations expose false claims of science or misuse of statistics? I enjoy Jon Stewart's style of playing clips where politicians directly contradict their current claims, but those claims are often about their positions or beliefs. I sometimes enjoy reading factcheck.org, but I don't like how often factcheck.org articles end up becoming a matter of comparing different analysts' forecasts, often in areas where I don't have the expertise to appreciate the original falsehood. In general, I'm not looking for areas where reasonable people can disagree. I'm looking for stories that come down to a straightforward misunderstanding and abuse of science or statistics, like "but it's all plaintext under the SSL!" or not correcting for frequency of encountering humans and sharks when comparing risk of rape with risk of death by shark attack.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:49 AM - 12 answers

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