Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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February 18

What's this flowering plant called?

What's this flowering plant called? It's short, has thin grass-like leaves, and seems to pop up every spring in the middle of Alabama (Zone 8a).
posted by gregr at 1:51 PM - 13 answers

February 17

Can using a ipod on a louder volume drain the battery quicker.

Was thinking if I listen to my Ipod louder will it drain the battery quicker than if I listen to it at a quiter volume? However, I'm just using an Ipod as an example. I guess the same could be asked of any electrical item; say a TV set will it use more power if watched at a louder volume.
posted by maxmix at 9:55 AM - 11 answers

February 14

When will the Sun shine on Sunshine?

My four story apartment building is about 15 feet from a nearly identical four story apartment building to the south. I live on the third floor, and my apartment windows face south into the space between the buildings. Today at midday I can see the sun shining fully on the windows of the fourth floor apartment above mine, with the shadow from the other building starting just below their windows. How many days until it starts shining into my apartment and onto my cat? [more inside]
posted by carsonb at 12:18 PM - 7 answers

February 13

Fish out of water

Can fish see through air? If you take a fish out of the water, can it resolve images and see as clearly as it presumably does in water? Or does its sight go all blurry the way mine does underwater?
posted by tavegyl at 11:56 PM - 3 answers

February 12

Why aren't seasons different lengths? Or are they?

Because the earth has an elliptical orbit, it travels at different speeds depending how far it is from the sun. Does this make some seasons longer than others? If not, why not? [more inside]
posted by Literaryhero at 6:27 PM - 9 answers

Looking for picture of the 'Brentus firmus' straight-snouted weevil

Looking for a picture of the 'brentus firmus' straight-snouted weevil, taxonomy here. [more inside]
posted by Brentusfirmus at 5:27 PM - 3 answers

February 11

Astronomy terms for nearest and furthest distances in established orbits

Is there a generic astronomy term for the least or greatest possible distance between two bodies orbiting the same mass? [more inside]
posted by peeedro at 11:46 PM - 5 answers

February 6

First-time poster

If all goes well, and my poster abstract is accepted -- I'll be going to a scientific conference as a presenter for the first time! I found a lot of great resources online about making my poster, and about presenting it. But I would also like your best hard-won tips on those things, and your input on my own unusual situation. [more inside]
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:59 PM - 15 answers

February 5

What is something fun to do with 50 lbs of rock salt?

I have a 50 lb bag of rock salt in my basement that has been there for at least 10 years. It is possible that it was there when I bought the house more than 15 years ago (don't judge me.) I have tried to give it away on the friendly neighborhood bulletin board and on craigslist with no success. I need some ideas for something fun to do with it. [more inside]
posted by mumblelard at 5:32 AM - 18 answers

February 1

Book about evolutionary traits which are no longer helpful.

I am trying to remember the name of a book about the evolutionary traits (possibly three/four of them) which historically were advantageous to humans through their evolution, but are now unhelpful. One was storing fat so efficiently, previously it helped us get through lean times, now (in the west at least) our storing excess calories as fat is leading to ill health. The other evolutionary traits I cant remember. Does this jog anyone's memory? I only heard a snippet of an interview with the author (a guy) on radio last year so it may have been published in 2016.
posted by therubettes at 1:29 AM - 2 answers

January 29

1932 cloud chamber: how are the elements physically introduced?

I am working on a project for which I need to understand how a cloud chamber works. Specifically, I am trying to understand how real physicists working in Berlin in 1932 used a Wilson cloud chamber to measure "the range of protons after collisions with neutrons", right after the discovery of the neutron. [more inside]
posted by tessmartin at 10:10 AM - 9 answers

January 25

Climate Justice In the Age of Trump

How can I help defend scientists and promote climate justice under Drumpf? [more inside]
posted by thedarksideofprocyon at 6:47 AM - 9 answers

January 24

How do oil pipelines work?

The Keystone XL and DAPL are back (like a bad comic book villain). And I'm curious about how they are actually constructed. Where is a good place to look? [more inside]
posted by Hactar at 2:54 PM - 6 answers

Telescope tips for an "intermediate" astronomy buff

Looking for advice and references on how to get the most out of my refracting telescope. [more inside]
posted by mysticreferee at 1:26 PM - 4 answers

January 23

How Does Spaghetti Squash Do The Thing?

Spaghetti squash looks like any other squash when raw, but when cooked the flesh turns into a whole pile of squiggly bits that appear and behave remarkably like noodles. How? What's the science behind this? My Google skills are only getting me an infinite number of recipes and the history of the squash's development, which, while interesting, are not answering the basic question of HOW?
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 7:28 PM - 7 answers

January 19

So Just Got Back From Hospital After Ingestion of Psychoactive Plant-ID

For the record, it was NOT on purpose, but a mistake in ID-ing the plant. Had thought it was a type of cabbage growing wild. Usually I do my homework on these things and do post photos to a certain group online to help with the ID-ing this time I just went with my gut. I [more inside]
posted by watercarrier at 9:08 AM - 15 answers

January 18

The case of the missing clouds

So I have been blessed with proximity to a large window at work, and given that the days have gotten short enough that the sun sets during the work day, I thought that a nice silver lining (or red-orange lining) to the short, cold days would be watching the sunset right before the workday ends. The DC area is not exactly known for its spectacular sunsets, but I have been noticing the strangest recurring sunset fizzle. [more inside]
posted by space snail at 6:00 PM - 3 answers

Why aren't my contacts available for daily wear?

I wear contact lenses only occasionally, so I wanted to switch from monthlies to dailies. But it turns out they don't make a daily lens with my prescription (for astigmatism). Is there some specific reason they do not do this -- I was told they only do a 180 +/- 20, and my astigmatism is 30. But why do they stop at 20?
posted by jeather at 1:31 PM - 8 answers

January 17

Data Munge: Uknown combination of 7 numbers produces a given number.

Data Munging Pros: In a spreadsheet with ten data columns, Column "A" is related to columns "B" through "J" in that some unknown combination or interaction of some or all of them will produce the data in Column "A". How do we determine what that combination is? (I can't even find what this type of problem is called, and I've not been able to find any productive Google search terms.) A more thorough explanation/example is provided in-thread. [more inside]
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:20 AM - 13 answers

January 13

Math For Spacing Out Three-Day Weekends, But Accounting for Holidays

I'm a big honkin' geek, and I would like to figure out an Excel formula I could reuse from year to year to space out my vacation day choices -- but including holidays, which would prevent even distribution. How can I still get as close as possible? More inside. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike at 3:28 PM - 10 answers

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