Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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December 4, 2016

Meditation: explanations without woo

Can you recommend some readings that explain the science behind meditation? [more inside]
posted by LonnieK at 6:01 PM - 7 answers

December 2, 2016

Should I purchase carbon offset credits?

I'm looking to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible, and then purchase carbon offset credits to make up the rest. Is this merely a feelgood way for me to waste my money, or do they have real value? Do you know of any good resource that rates them? [more inside]
posted by whistle pig at 8:28 AM - 3 answers

November 29, 2016

I'd unravel every riddle...

How do you rebuild cognitive strength while dealing with an extended illness? [more inside]
posted by mochapickle at 7:14 PM - 12 answers

November 28, 2016

How "precise" is 23andme?

My husband is curious about 23andme, and I'm thinking of buying him and me a kit for Christmas. What could we really learn from it? [more inside]
posted by Liesl at 1:36 PM - 13 answers

November 23, 2016

Making Crop Rotation The Standard

Crop rotation sounds like such a great lo-tech tool for food production with a plethora of environmental good tacked on. So why isn't the usage of this tool commonplace? If it's economics, could we as consumers shift the incentives? [more inside]
posted by shaqlvaney at 10:34 PM - 10 answers

Quantifying economic outcomes for whites of minority-targeted programs

In personal experience, many programs notionally or popularly perceived to be aimed or benefiting primarily minorities end up making me (white dude) better off as well, e.g. Section 8 housing assistance. I'm trying to identify data and research sources that either support or diminish this claim. [more inside]
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 PM - 9 answers

November 22, 2016

Best way to quantify results from bacteria sample growth on petri dishes

3rd grade edition! My son grew bacteria on petri dishes for his science fair project. He collected samples from apples (unwashed, rinsed with water, rinsed with vinegar solution and water). The unwashed section grew fields of bacteria. The other sections are countable sometimes, sometimes with colonies. Does he just display photos or is there a way to graph or otherwise show the stark difference between unwashed and washed? [more inside]
posted by LKWorking at 8:16 AM - 12 answers

November 20, 2016

The future of climate change research under Trump

How fast and hard can Trump shut down climate change research? Can Congress pass a law that says "as of tomorrow, all federal grants touching on climate change are revoked and work must stop?" Can they pass a law which literally forbids climate change research? [more inside]
posted by Frowner at 7:59 AM - 3 answers

November 14, 2016

In photos it's always a supermoon

Why does the moon appear so much bigger, relative to other elements in a photo, than it does in real life?
posted by LonnieK at 5:57 AM - 9 answers

November 13, 2016

How do I get accurate ambient temperature?

I've discovered that the variety of indoor and outdoor themometers I have disagree with each other wildly. Is there some device I can buy that will give a temperature that is known to be accurate so I can calibrate the others? [more inside]
posted by primethyme at 9:43 PM - 13 answers

November 11, 2016

Ok, so YSearch doesn't work.... is there anything similar around?

I paid for a Y-DNA test about 5 years ago. I can't find any site, besides ysearch, (no longer works) which allows me to enter my results and compare to others. Any suggestions? The company I used was DNA Consultants, which gives you the results but has no database of its own which can be used to compare to others.
posted by brownrd at 12:56 PM - 4 answers

Long term bad news

I've seen lots of discussion over the years about how we send clear messages across time, for example nuclear waste sites and how we warn 50 generations down the road. This is a corrollary, what substances are the most dangerous over the long term? I assume it's some form of radioactive material , but which is the worst for the longest?
posted by Unioncat at 7:05 AM - 2 answers

November 9, 2016

highest mountain ever

Mount Everest is 29,029 ft. Mauna Kea is something around 33,000 ft from base to peak. Since Olympus Mons is 69,650 ft about the mean for Mars, these are not absolutes for Earth. What is the highest mountain in Earth's history,and how high was it?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:57 PM - 4 answers

Resources on most impactful individual actions on climate change

I've seen a decent amount of writing about the relatively negligible impact that individual action can have on climate change. Is there any kind of data-based analysis of exactly which individual actions make the biggest difference? [more inside]
posted by mchorn at 11:34 AM - 8 answers

November 8, 2016

Barbershop talc scent in the wild?

Thrice now in the last two or three weeks, a scent just like that talcum powder you might have smelled at a barbershop has come wafting in through my bedroom window-- on the top floor of my nine story apartment building. Any ideas what it might be? [more inside]
posted by kimota at 7:22 AM - 7 answers

November 3, 2016

The Effectiveness of 'The Pill'??

Why is the combination birth control pill effective after only 7 days? How do birth control manufacturers determine that this is the amount of time after which bc pills are effective? Speaking of, how much time (hours?) does it take for the bc pill to get in the blood stream after taking it. [more inside]
posted by twill at 7:09 PM - 11 answers

October 30, 2016

Unlikely cousins on 23andme

My knowledge of biology is minimal, so bear with me. I'm on 23andme, which shows me a list of relatives. From the names and biographical information, most look accurate (same South Indian ethnicity as mine). However, there are 2 people on the list who are white American and don't appear to have any Indian connection, who share about 0.10% of my DNA. I don't have white ancestors either, AFAIK. Is this a sequencing error? A coincidental common mutation? Or an actual shared ancestry?
posted by redlines at 7:57 PM - 16 answers

October 28, 2016

Body Position Classification System

Is there some system to describe the ways that the human body can be positioned? Something like the International Phonetic Alphabet where you can notate the full range of human speech sounds, but for the human body? I have a project where I want to compare different body positions mathematically.
posted by gregr at 2:45 PM - 12 answers

October 25, 2016

I wish to know my world better

Specifically the natural world around me. I recently moved back to California (southern, but interested in all) and have a growing desire to know and understand the 'natural' world around me. The flora and fauna (ID & cultural/commercial/ethnobotanical qualities), weather, and the changes to this aspect of the world, all interest me, especially in an environment so dynamic and exceptional, yet heavily culled and altered by human hand. Books, articles, websites, film, writers; any and all resources are welcome. Thank you. [more inside]
posted by shaqlvaney at 4:48 PM - 15 answers

October 24, 2016

Who are history's most incompetent scientists?

I'm curious if there are scientists who, while not evil (so I'm not thinking here about the measure of The Worst Scientist meaning the one with the highest body count as a result of their work or most unethical practices), have achieved some historic notoriety for their general incompetence or stubborn wrongness in the face of all available evidence. [more inside]
posted by StopMakingSense at 8:05 PM - 39 answers

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