Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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July 19

How to say "Earth's Building Blocks" in Spanish?

I'm helping to build an exhibit about common rock-forming minerals. The entire exhibit has been translated into Spanish by a professional translator, but one phrase was missed (wasn't sent). Can you give me a translation for the phrase "Earth's Building Blocks"? [more inside]
posted by Secretariat at 4:21 PM - 9 answers

Do the Rails not buckle in Spain?

One one of the hottest days of the year here in the UK, train delays and outright cancellations are being explained as due to Hot Rails and the threat of rail buckling. Can someone explain this to me? More specifically why I have not heard of this in Southern countries such as Spain or Italy where temperatures like this (33C) are the norm during summer and where winters can be even colder.
posted by vacapinta at 12:58 PM - 13 answers

July 18

Falling out of an airplane in a tank of water

If a person were in a super strong tank of water and then got tossed out of the airplane, would they die on impact (assuming that the tank was strong enough to not break when it hit the ground)? How would it work? I tried to Google this, but am not sure what exactly I am looking for.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:31 PM - 29 answers

July 17

What kind of snake is this?

What kind of snake is this? Found this critter on my porch in Washington, DC.
posted by schmod at 8:16 PM - 7 answers

July 12

Insects that don't eat, how do they make more insects?

Some insects live short lives and don't eat or even have mouths. How do they breed? Wouldn't you run out of insects eventually if there's no input into the system of insect breeding as a whole? If I built and set free autonomous robots programmed to "breed" by assembling new robots out of each other, and they built other robots without picking up any spare parts or materials, wouldn't I eventually run out of functioning robots? What am I missing that this is so confusing? There has to be a logical answer to this.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:26 PM - 9 answers

Another aerial photo mystery

Any idea what this ruined or unfinished building is at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Flathead Rivers, near Paradise, Montana? It looks complicated for a barn, but I can't imagine what else it might be at this location.
posted by Bruce H. at 3:07 PM - 9 answers

July 11

Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults

Need to find documentaries on RAD, watched Child of Rage and there seem to be others but cannot find them. This for an adult with the disorder who is seeking desperately to heal from inner rage and relational difficulties. [more inside]
posted by watercarrier at 9:32 PM - 2 answers

July 9

Always at Least 50 Paper Wasps in my Small Backyard During the Day

I live in North California. Moved into a new neighborhood house a month ago. Since moving in, I haven't really been able to use the backyard because of what I believe I've identified as 50-75 hovering paper wasps! I have a 2-year-old, so I'd like to get rid of them so that we can enjoy our backyard again. [more inside]
posted by jason9009 at 6:38 PM - 8 answers

NYC Backcountry Camping from Public Transportation

I'm thirsting to get outdoors this summer, and would love to do some hiking/camping a bit off the beaten path. But I live in Brooklyn and don't have a car. What are my options? [more inside]
posted by vecchio at 7:17 AM - 12 answers

July 5

Excel Formula to Weight Ratings By Number of Ratings?

How do I write an Excel formula to weight a rating by the number of ratings, so that a 4 with tens of thousands of ratings weighs more than a 5 with three ratings? [more inside]
posted by WCityMike at 9:14 AM - 12 answers

July 4

Is a GPS receiver for me?

My partner and I are amateur hikers, with me being a relative newbie. I'm interested in buying a GPS receiver but I'm not sure how they work and whether they'd be useful for us. We live in New York state and we like hikes of about 4 - 7 miles of moderate woodlands terrain. We've purchased some good trail maps (showing marked/blazed trails, woods roads, and unmaintained trails) with topographical features (and uses UTM coordinates, if that's relevant) and a basic magnetic compass (which we're learning more about using as we go). [more inside]
posted by OsoMeaty at 6:37 PM - 12 answers

GIS Shapefiles of old country borders

I am looking for historic GIS shapefiles, or actual drawn maps that are in the public domain that could be rectified in a GIS system, of the world during the 1820s to 1830s, showing national boundaries at the time and with names for countries and cities that were used at the time, for example "Van Diemen's Land" for Tasmania. [more inside]
posted by Jimbob at 5:18 PM - 5 answers

June 30

Your hair is spun like what?

Chemists of Metafilter: Please help me decipher the second formula on this old-timey comic strip. [more inside]
posted by sparklemotion at 12:06 PM - 8 answers

DNA test for Hispanic heritage

For her birthday, my adopted sister would like a DNA kit. She was adopted from Mexico (though since she was adopted from a border city full of a transient population, she could very well be from a Central or South American county) and her main interest is learning more about her ethnic heritage (e.g., Maya, Nahuatl, etc.) She is, right now, less interested in using a DNA test to find biological relationships or medical information. I have looked at a few different kits and am having trouble figuring out which ones offer the most data related to Hispanic ethnicity. [more inside]
posted by megancita at 9:06 AM - 13 answers

June 29

Baby daddy or baby granddaddy?

Can genetic links in this particular scenario be diferentiated? [more inside]
posted by Promethea at 2:04 PM - 2 answers

What natural phenomena are worth a trip?

I just returned from a trip to Central Mexico, where there was much talk of how I had to come back in fall when the monarch butterflies would return. This got me to thinking of other natural phenomena that are worth a trip to go see. What are your favorites? [more inside]
posted by benbenson at 1:40 PM - 34 answers

June 28

Can I see the northern lights-5 days free to drive from Louisville KY?

Please tell me all the stars are aligned to do this or am I crazy. I am off the next five days. Thanks.
posted by usermac at 7:20 AM - 11 answers

June 26

who wrote that welfare is not charity but protection money?

I'm looking for an article which argues that even if one has no interest in helping the less fortunate, one should still support strong welfare programs because it is dangerous to have a large, disaffected underclass. [more inside]
posted by d. z. wang at 6:20 PM - 3 answers

June 25

New Scientist Live, worth going?

I'm in London in September and wondering if it's worthwhile to attend the New Scientist Live exhibition. There's a 4-day pass available and a variety of single-day passes. Anyone been to this in the past? What was it like?
posted by storybored at 10:54 AM - 1 answers

June 24

Ate something bad - but what?

Often when I am feeling unwell due to eating something bad, I'll think back over what I've eaten, and one particular item will stick out and make me feel queasy. Is there any science or fact to this?
posted by gorcha at 1:19 AM - 7 answers

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