Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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October 17

Do gravitational-wave observatories measure distance

Do gravitational-wave observatories give us a new way to measure distance? [more inside]
posted by rdr at 5:33 AM - 9 answers

October 13

How will planet nine be named

I read that NASA believes there is a ninth planet in the solar system, but its specific location is not known at this time. If the planet is discovered (and what constitutes discovery?) How might the naming process proceed? Are there any likely name choices? Some cursory googling led me to information about naming of extrasolar planets and minor planets but not major planets in the solar system.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:11 PM - 5 answers

October 12

Math assistance: Building a tesseract/hypercube model

Howdy Hive Mind! I'm planning on making a nested cube version of the hypercube/tesseract model in glass. The inner and outer cube measurements are easy, I know the angles of the diagonal pieces are 45 degrees, but for the life of me I can't figure out their length. Let's say the outer cube is 6" on a side and the inner cube is 3", what are the lengths of the connectors?
posted by Lighthammer at 11:41 AM - 6 answers

Need telescope recommendations for kids, please!

Short and sweet: a 10-year-old niece and her 7-year-old brother have requested a telescope for Christmas, and while I'm more than willing to encourage anything to do with STEM, I'm afraid I just don't know enough to get them something decently useful to a couple beginners plus not too wildly expensive. Help! [more inside]
posted by easily confused at 9:34 AM - 12 answers

October 11

Hoo-HOO. Hoo-HOO.

I’m going to be driving from SF to LA sometime in the next 4-5 days. I have camping gear and some very nice microphones. I need more echoing, reverberant owl sounds in my sleeping library. Where can I camp out and record a midnight chorus with the greatest possible density of owl calls?
posted by mykescipark at 12:10 AM - 10 answers

October 10

Video in utero

What are the best video resources for learning about fetal development & childbirth? [more inside]
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:12 PM - 1 answers

October 9

Do "psychics" who perform cold readings believe in their own "powers"?

I met a woman who calls herself a medium at an artist's retreat. She spontaneously (and without compensation) performed readings on several people at this retreat, using cold reading techniques. I'm curious if such individuals believe that they themselves have psychic powers, or if they're always/usually aware that they're perpetuating a falsehood. [more inside]
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:43 PM - 29 answers

October 2


Is there a word for a overwhelming feeling that something you are currently experiencing in your waking life is something you dreamed out previously. Sort of like Deja-Vu, but not because I don't feel like I've DONE it before, but rather I DREAMED it. Is this a common situation for people? (And no, I don't think I'm clairvoyant.) [more inside]
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:33 AM - 9 answers

September 29

I assume it's not because sugar could be causative too.

According to an aside in this article, modern ethics boards frown on useless “sugar pill” placebos in medical studies. Really? Why? Tell me more about this! [more inside]
posted by mosst at 11:15 AM - 11 answers

September 26

When toothpicks and marshmallows just won't do

The lab where I work wants to buy some sort of molecular model kit. There are MANY options out there -- far more than I anticipated when I agreed to help find one. It's also not totally clear what sets are compatible with what other sets/brands. Any suggestions? [more inside]
posted by aecorwin at 2:16 PM - 4 answers

Nuclear War: What’s In It For You – Then What?

I’m reading Nuclear War: What’s In It For You?, which is great, but which was published in 1982. What should I read next to catch me from 1982 to the present?
posted by thursdaystoo at 6:33 AM - 3 answers

September 25

Is there a material that oxidizes in air but not water? Or vice versa?

Assume normal Earth air and Earth water. "Material" can be an element or a compound or a sheep or whatever.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:53 AM - 5 answers

September 22

Laundry soap vs detergent: hygiene, and the environment.

I read a site that claims that soap doesn't get laundry properly clean, that detergents found in most commercial laundry powders are more effective. Is that true? And are laundry detergents still ecologically damaging? [more inside]
posted by tangerine_poppies at 4:19 PM - 2 answers

How do you do archaeology without the gun and the whip?

I'm looking for good sources on the practice and process of conducting archaeological digs. My Google-fu is coming up short on good sources because I probably don't know the right questions to ask, and university textbooks are expensive. Can anyone point me to good sources (video, books, websites) showing the process of surveying, extraction, etc? [more inside]
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:29 AM - 16 answers

September 20

When would it be possible to completely lose a sense of rhythm?

In wondering whether my dog enjoys having his paws moved to the beat of a song, I wondered whether one can have a sense of rhythm without a sense of math? Or, can one lack a sense of rhythm completely? I guess another way of saying this is: is there an equivalent of colorblindness for rhythm? Not just a tone-deafness, but a complete inability to perceive it? If so, what causes it? It seems to me like it should be related to the ability to understand math, but maybe it is something else? [more inside]
posted by stillmoving at 12:15 PM - 21 answers

September 19

Why did it have to be snakes?

This is on behalf of a friend who keeps finding these guys in her apartment. Can anyone identify them and safe ways of removing this unwanted houseguest? [more inside]
posted by ultranos at 9:00 PM - 9 answers

Weather phenomena, delusional edition...

I woke up in intensive care on January 13, quite delusional. I "remember" quite a few things which, I am told, didn't really happen. The most vivid memory was of watching the weather Channel from my hospital bed and hearing of weather phenomena (severe storms and even forest fires) on earth caused by a conjuction of the planets including Pluto and Jupiter. I can find no reference to this now that I am in my right mind. Did my subconscious make this up, too?
posted by brownrd at 10:52 AM - 15 answers

September 18

Relationship between Michelson & Morley (1887) table and figure

I'm trying to understand Michelson & Morley (1887), and as part of this I'm trying to reproduce their figure 6 from the data in the table. I do not understand how they relate. [more inside]
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:56 AM - 2 answers

September 9

Need a crash course on the enviromental justice movement, your recs plz

I'd like referrals to the latest podcasts, blogs, book titles and twitter accounts to follow on thought leaders in the enviromental movements and enviromental justice arenas. I would love general stuff but issue specific is fine. Looking to consume this in a relatively short period of time (the next 3-5 days) to get up to speed on the basics of the movement, what issues are at hand, where it's coming from and where it's headed, policy wise. What am I missing out on? [more inside]
posted by timpanogos at 3:38 PM - 9 answers

What are the final concentrations after mixing these two solutions?

If I mix 15 mL of solution A consisting of 5 mg/mL of compound A, with 15 mL of solution B consisting of 5 mg/mL of compound B, what will be my final concentrations of compounds A and B in the resulting 30 mL volume? Similarly, what if I mix 15 mL of solution A with 15 mL of solution C consisting of 2.1 mg/mL of compound A and 5 mg/mL of compound B. [more inside]
posted by pwb503 at 2:25 PM - 4 answers

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