My ten-year old son wants to understand everything. He is a voracious reader and doesn't confine himself to kids books. He loves reading the newspaper (NYTimes, Boston Globe), fiction, and non-fiction books. He's old enough to really learn things by reading. Agatha Christie is fun, but he's ready for more than that. He's full of questions about society, politics, science, economics. I'd like to get him some books that will expand his mind, begin answering his questions, and show him how the world fits together. [more inside]
I would like to know if this statement is scientifically correct, or if it's hyperbole, or if it's basically correct but requires qualification: "Most of the atoms that formed your infant body at birth are now dispersed, as your present atoms will be again, if you have the good fortune to live a few more years on this oxygen-rich planetary home." [more inside]
I'm looking to diversify the Twitter feeds that I follow (out with sports, in with other subjects), so I'm looking for good Twitter feeds by people/publications in the humanities fields, popular science and/or the media. If you can add a bit about why a particular feed is worth following, so much the better. Thanks!
I've got the chance to run a fun, whimsical sort of D&D adventure for a friend of mine. Yay! She's a bit of a science/math geek, and very fond of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. So I was trying to think of fun, whimsical science and math jokes and references I could slip in to a sort of 'journey with sights along the way' in the style of TPT. [more inside]
I've enjoyed Tim Ferriss, Bulletproof Radio, Extreme Health Podcast and ReWild Yourself with Daniel Vitalis. What are some other good podcasts that address innovative/cutting edge health & science stuff? A little woo is OK.
I have a small black eyepiece from my dad's old chemistry set. Its purpose was to teach about isotopes by showing a visual example of radioactive decay. Any clues or knowledge of what the element inside is? Links to original documentation or similar sets? (Bonus question: This set is from the "our friend the atom" era, so, is it actually safe? I hope putting it up to my eye isn't like licking a radium covered paintbrush.) [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of well-designed scientific figures. As a materials scientist I've encountered many horrendous figures that are difficult to understand and read. I've read about collaborations between graphic design and physical science departments, which yield much more attractive and informative figures, but these examples are few and far between. I'm hoping to apply principles from good graphic design and data visualization to my own work. Are there any resources or websites where I can learn more about this?
I'm looking to redesign my personal research site and I'm thinking to use a blogging platform such as WordPress; however, I can't seem to find any good, clean and modern templates. In particular, I would like to add sections for my publications, recent news, scripts I have written, and my upcoming talks / presentations. Does anyone have suggestions for a robust platform and any themes that I could use for the site? Thanks!
What can I do to turn a play room into an awesome laboratory for a six-year-old? [more inside]
My friends and I are having a disagreement. One friend says that if he hypothetically accumulated a "vial" full of black widow venom and injected it into himself that he would die instantly. I think that it would be horribly painful and not instant. Can anyone science me a real answer? No people or spiders will be harmed by this question.
What life forms from Earth are specifically affected by the moon and tides, and do we know anything about how these plants, animals or other living creatures would be affected by putting them in outer space? [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of people who were considered geniuses in science, art, invention and other disciplines, but whose IQ scores were merely respectable, between 100 and 140. Richard Feynman, whose IQ was in the 120s, is a good example. But have there been others?
My cousin needs ideas for a joint class she'll be teaching for a college--she teaches literature, her teaching partner teaches science. (Which science, I don't know, but she says it's not relevant and he can touch on most scientific topics to the required degree.) They need suggestions of literature--poetry, short stories, novellas, or short novels--that she can have the class read, and then he can take them through the science of it. [more inside]
Spoilers for Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora" ahead. So, the story is like this: A multigenerational arkship is on it's way to Tau Ceti, they find their primary target for colonization hostile and discuss whether to move to another planet in the same system, live there in domes while terraforming it. One reason for not doing this is stated thusly: [more inside]
In the mid-1800s, a snail spent years glued to a specimen card in the British Museum before scientists realized it was still alive. What became of this snail? Help me solve a scientific History Mystery, AskMe! [more inside]
I can't find any sources that really explain how they'd work to a science illiterate like me. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Even fiction will help, seeing as it's for a story of my own. [more inside]
Apparently a new law passed in Wyoming last week. Called The Data Trespass Bill, the bill seems to be a ban on citizen science in the state.I'm looking for examples of any laws that specifically support or encourage citizen science data collection. Thanks! [more inside]
Top space science influencers of today's pre-teens? [more inside]
Lately I've been running across a lot of highly theoretical science and technology information that I don't understand. I would like to be able to recognize quackery and fringe science, as well as when technologists (especially programmers) are reinventing the wheel and claiming to revolutionize things, so I don't get steered in the wrong direction. I'm looking for heuristics. [more inside]
I told a friend about a SF story I'd read, but I can't find the title and author. the plot: a person working for a satellite company is mapping Greece, and comes up with the idea of following the most difficult route at any given point. [more inside]
Earlier today I was warming up a test tube in chem lab by placing its bottom in a warm stream of water from a faucet and I noticed something peculiar; the stream of water seemed to capture the test tube and hold it in place. [more inside]
If enriching uranium with a gas centrifuge costs 50 to 60 kW·h (180–220 MJ) of electricity per SWU, is it possible to adapt the formulas given there to calculate the energy needed to extract pure CO2 directly from the atmosphere? (assuming e.g. 0.04% concentration). Asking as a complete science n00b.
NewYorkerFilter: my friend is trying to identify a feature about a writer trying to contact her father's rival. [more inside]
AskMe was the place to ask last time I needed help to find an index of topics for a documentary series, so I am seeing if such a thing also exists for Mythbusters. [more inside]
I'm a physicist, and I'm marrying a biologist. Can Mefi suggest any wedding readings suitable for us? We're looking for something along a sciency theme.
We are working on simple machine language in computer science for data manipulation. All the other problems I have gotten through but this last one. Here is the problem: "Write a short program in machine language to perform requested activity. Assume the program is placed in memory starting at address 00- -If the value stored in memory location 44 is 00, then place the value 01 in memory location 46; otherwise, put the value FF in memory location 46." Lots of questions inside DX Working with very basic Op-code and Operand setups. [more inside]
What question can I ask undergrad research assistant candidates to see whether they are good at looking things up on their own? [more inside]
Why are there so many white men in space? [more inside]
Every year I load up my Mom's Kindle library for Christmas. This year I'm finding a lot of stuff on the non-fiction end but very little fiction that is up her alley. Her fave books: Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" and Gillian Bradshaw's "The Sand-Reckoner." Got a rec? Expanded explanation of her taste inside! [more inside]
I'm looking for media (books mostly) related to technical histories of engineering projects. [more inside]
I have six nieces and nephews ranging in age from 4 to 9 spread over two households, and I am thinking of getting each household a set of Lego Mindstorms for Christmas. The cost of the sets means I would not get them any other presents, so the kids would need to share. [more inside]
Looking for stories/novelllas/novels about civilizations which have survived the "Big Bounce" and persisted into the next universe. Is there any such thing?
I'm considering attending the Geological Society of America conference this October in Vancouver, BC. I'm an undergrad geology student, and a student member of GSA. I'm not making a presentation, receiving an award, or bringing a poster. Do people ever attend conferences like this for fun? Or would I end up feeling like it was a waste of time and money, attending a conference that really wasn't intended for people like me? [more inside]
Can I bring California bay laurel branches to Arizona without potentially causing an ecological problem? [more inside]
Here are a few facts about this old SF story whose author I can no longer recall. 1. It was written by a giant of mid-century SF whose name I can no longer recall. Not Sheckley, not Asimov. I thought it might be Damon Knight, but I can't find it in his work. 2. It's a story about a man who travels to the future as part of a gigantic relief effort to assist future men who are burying themselves in the earth. [more inside]
There's this science fiction story I can recall reading in at least one anthology, if not multiples. It is told from the perspective of a young mother who is going crazy dealing with her kid(s). The writing is very stark and bleak, but it's a fun story nonetheless. I am fairly certain the author was a woman. I believe it's from the late 60s or early to mid 1970s. [more inside]
I hate bugs, and I have one that is in my space. Can the generous and awesome amateur (or professional) entomologists of MetaFilter help me identify it, and perhaps give me a general sense of how dangerous it might or might not be? [more inside]
need some pointers as to research strategies/leads to find out about the state of the art knowledge about the moon in 1878, with particular reference to things arising in or popular in the French scientific community. First thoughts are Times digital archive and to look for an encyclopaedia of similar date. Any leads appreciated.
I have a large tupperware full of a crystalline white powder. It could be sugar, or it could be xylitol. How can I tell? So far I've found two possible ways: burn it and record the energy per gram; feed it to dogs. I would prefer not to do the second, as xylitol kills dogs. I'm open to the first, if someone wants to link me to a good experimental method for such. But I'd really love a third way.
I read a while ago a quote from Oppenheimer that eloquently expressed the idea that once a scientist gets in his or her head the idea that a result is achievable, he or she will not be stopped until that result is achieved. He referred to the scientist, though the sense in which he meant the term might better map to what many consider an engineer. [more inside]
Today, I was enthusing about a photograph from the surface of Mars, and a friend responded along the following lines: "I find it hard to get excited about it when there are so many starving people here on Earth. We should fix our own problems before exploring other planets." How could I have responded? [more inside]
I'm under the impression that factory farming is insane and detrimental to our continuing existence as a species. However, it's difficult to find resources that further explore the environmental impact without the Peter Singer-type ethical concerns of animal welfare, which is appreciated but sometimes lacks a certain scientific rigor. Are there good, go-to resources that explore the environmental impact of factory farming that refrain from diversions into animal rights?
If you had a multivariate equation whose output variable is mean surface temperature on earth, what would be the rough beta value for distance from the sun (in millions of miles or whatever)?
Can you reassure me that majoring in computer science and trying to find a job in technology and software as a woman isn't going to be terrible? [more inside]
So, I recently got selected to do undergraduate physics research this summer. Great! Awesome! Yay me! However, my research advisor has asked me to use something called IDL to analyze tomographic images of compounds and turn them into 3D images. This is good news, because IDL is used a lot by astronomers to analyze astronomical data, and I want to continue my education in astronomy. But, I've never used IDL ever before. I'm not even sure exactly what it is (a programming language?). My question is this: how do I get up to speed so that I can hit the ground running with my research? Difficulty: Research begins in two weeks. Details: [more inside]
I have an odd job interview coming up. I need advise on a children's book to read to a grown up audience and a two minute poem or "fun" monologue to recite. I think it'd be best if these related to the joy of learning or science. For the book, I might just read part of "Corduroy" because its beautiful and sweet, but what about the other requirement? [more inside]
I want to work for the CDC after med school and residency, but I don't know how to show people (particularly med school adcoms) just how serious I am about this. I'm applying to med schools this cycle and want to mention my CDC aspirations, but am afraid that doing so might inadvertently hurt my application because I have no experience with the CDC. [more inside]
Please help me find a mystery book from my childhood. I am stumped. It would have been in the mid 70s, probably between 1974-77. I think it was science/nature-related book that may have been one of a series. What I remember is a hard-cover book, and on the back inside cover there was mounted a round plastic disk with an arrow inside, sort of like a compass. It was visible though holes in the pages and front cover. There were questions with multiple choices on each page, and you would close the book and knock on the cover a certain number of times to make the needle point to the correct answer on a corresponding page. That sounds crazy even as I type it, but if someone could find this book (or even corroborate my memory) I would be eternally grateful.
On late night tv earlier this month I saw a 50s or 60s educational documentary about bees that was made in affiliation with a christian college in America. And it was hilarious. The first half was sort of straight-forward science about how bees work, and then toward the end it takes this turn about how we should all follow the old testament which would make us happy and productive like bees. And now I can't remember the name of the film company (which was named after the college) which apparently did many such educational shorts in that time (either 50s or 60s I don't remember which). Does this ring any bells with anyone?
I'm heading into the Army for OCS in August, but I'm still very interested in keeping current on science and the current research papers. I've devised a contrivance to keep myself plugged in and reading - a personal blog where I summarize the papers that interest me, more simply to give me a place and a reason to do it. [more inside]