Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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March 31

How is global warming measured?

1. Not all points can be measured. 2.Which points are measured affect the result. 3. So how is the global temperature determined? [more inside]
posted by maurreen at 6:54 PM - 3 answers

March 29

help explain how a plumbing snake works in terms of physics

Spouse has been using an electric eel for the past few days and is curious about the physics of how the snake travels through the pipe. He doesn't understand how the machine pushes the snake in to the pipe or how the snake travels through the pipe. We are having a hard time finding good search terms for this. It's easy to find information on how to use a machine auger, but not easy to know what to look up to understand the physics behind it. Does it have to do with springs? How things coil?
posted by bleary at 7:53 AM - 6 answers

I'm constantly shocking people. But why?

I get and give little electric shocks all the time. This means I often get zapped i.e. when touching a computer or door. That's annoying but okay but it gets worse when I zap coworkers, friends or even clients. I'm not so much interested in how to cope with this but more in what causes this issue. Do you know why I fry them?
posted by krautland at 12:20 AM - 28 answers

March 25

Statistical framing of the engineering and extremism article

Reading this article on the blue got me thinking about conditional probabilities, prediction and causality. I came up with an analytical framing of what I think the article is saying and would be grateful if stats/social science Mefites could tell me if it seems accurate or else set me right. [more inside]
posted by mister_kaupungister at 7:01 AM - 3 answers

March 23

App for graphing a phylogenetic tree?

What's the best app for graphing out a phylogenetic tree, including pictures, for a fantasy taxonomy? (OSX or iOS, please.) [more inside]
posted by progosk at 12:25 AM - 7 answers

March 20

Halliday & Resnick Editions

I picked up the first edition of Halliday & Resnick's Physics from my local bookshop. My goal is to work through it (along with a calculus text) for fun and profit. Will I be missing out on anything important by using the original 1960's text, rather than one of the more recent ones (now titled Fundamentals of Physics)?
posted by stinkfoot at 1:00 PM - 12 answers

March 16

Seeking biological weapons science info

(asking for a friend) I'm writing a novel - a thriller - set principally in the Antarctic in WWII which takes the idea of the development of a biological weapon as its premise. What I need is an insight into a suitably nasty bacteria or virus that could have been developed into a weaponisable form; something that the British might have been working on towards the end of WWI; and something that could have been resurrected again in 1943 as a back-stop to deal with two possible scenarios. [more inside]
posted by jessamyn at 3:02 PM - 5 answers

March 14

principles-based Chinese language education?

The grammars of English, Latin, and Spanish are all taught as relatively general principles (families of declensions, verb tenses, etc.). In contrast, I'm now on my third attempt at learning Chinese, and this program like both before it apparently expects me to learn the grammar by memorizing a vast library of fill-in-the-blank templates. Why the difference? And is there anybody teaching Chinese with less reliance on rote memorization? [more inside]
posted by d. z. wang at 8:51 PM - 7 answers

March 12

Help identify these eggs attached to a leaf

Asking this for my five-year-old son. He found these eggs attached to a leaf while we were raking. [more inside]
posted by Brodiggitty at 3:29 PM - 7 answers

March 11

Public health definition of "end of epidemic"?

How does one come to define the end of an epidemic? Whether HIV or Ebola, smallpox or Zika, what are the accepted public health guidelines for defining the end of an epidemic/pandemic? I can't find the answer anywhere and hopefully you fine folks in public health can help.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:22 AM - 10 answers

Quote help: "[animals] are acutely aware of the productivity..."

I remember reading a quote from a book, perhaps about deer, that I cannot locate. Can anyone help? It was discussing the possibility of starvation and it went something like "[animals] are acutely aware of the productivity of their own [foraging] efforts..." Thanks.
posted by Space Dog at 9:17 AM - 1 answers

March 7

Swimming in phosphorescent algae in or near the UK?

I live in the UK. At some point this year I want to play with, and ideally swim amongst, wild phosphorescent (/bioluminescent) algae. Where and when should I go? [more inside]
posted by metaBugs at 4:27 PM - 4 answers

March 3

Bones Unknown

Found some bones. Be they sheep, deer, or monster? [more inside]
posted by popcassady at 12:30 PM - 4 answers

March 1

What is an effective method for obliterating white pine weevils?

I planted a number of native (to Michigan) white pine trees only to see them bedeviled by evil weevils. Specifically, the cause of the damage is white pine weevils and 100% of my trees were affected. Two part question: first, what are tried and true "natural" methods for controlling this pest, and second, what are its most effective pesticides, placing a high importance on minimizing collateral damage to people, flora, and fauna? [more inside]
posted by tempestuoso at 6:45 PM - 3 answers

What animal is making this night sound in northern Minnesota?

My parents recorded this sound at about 2:00 AM on a February night in northern Minnesota. I've boosted the gain in Audacity but haven't fiddled with the recording aside from that. It's in a heavily wooded area not far from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. What is the likely source? [more inside]
posted by theory at 3:42 PM - 10 answers

Hope Calibration

I'm a glass half empty to avoid disappointment type girl. How do I evaluate/survive hopeful news? [more inside]
posted by skrozidile at 7:36 AM - 5 answers

February 29


How exactly do you score this Reactions to Research Participation Questionnaire Revised (RRPQ-R) form? I see some hints on the last page, but what steps would a researcher take to turn a stack of completed forms into data the proper way? I could take a guess but I'm curious to know the actual method. Google is seemingly empty of the answer. I do not think I have access to the sources on the last page.
posted by michaelh at 2:38 PM - 4 answers

February 25

Cognitive Bias Hiding Sexism

I recall reading in Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte about a study in which participants were asked to evaluate how much men and women talked during a discussion. It demonstrated that while both men and women talked equal amounts during the discussion, evaluators thought women talked more. Am I imagining this, or can someone point me to the study? I would also welcome other research in the same vein - cognitive bias that causes people to not see the effects of privilege.
posted by sibilatorix at 10:24 PM - 14 answers

How to maintain a temperature of -5°C in 1 square inch in an office?

Hi, We need to calibrate some sensors at a temperature of -5 degrees C, also -4, -3... +3, +4, +5. The sensor is similar in size of your headphone jack, so we only need 1 square inch of environment at these temperatures. There's also a cord, which will prevent a completely sealed environment. [more inside]
posted by cyclicker at 9:22 AM - 14 answers

February 22

Sleepless in Seattle: Must landlord get rid of mice?

We pay through the nose for a so-called luxury apartment in the middle of our city (we're carless and wanted to live close to our jobs). We feel our place should be rodent-free. Do we have any recourse, legal or otherwise? [more inside]
posted by cartoonella at 3:20 AM - 17 answers

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