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 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]
I'm looking for scientific or mathematical examples, ideas, which could rightly refer to the imagined class of dynamic systems I'm trying to describe. [more inside]
I am looking for something in the area of science biography. Particularly, I enjoy reading about the inner lives of great minds. I'm not really interested in gossipy type info, but more about the personal growth and development of the scientist him/herself that paralleled their work. [more inside]
Hello, qualitative researchers! I'm doing a qualitative research project. i have a series of interview questions i wanted to ask some people. to make sure the questions were good, i asked them to my pre-test subject. the questions seemed clear and their responses seemed interesting. but is there some more scientific way of saying (or deciding) "Yup, seems good."? I need to write in my thesis how i came to the conclusion that the pre-test was successful. I can see how this would be easy(or more precise) in quantitative research, but i don't have any numbers. How do you do this? And how do you word it? Thank you!
Any ideas on making discovery fun for a princess obsessed 5 year old girl? [more inside]
Why don't we have HD video of Earth rotating in space? You know, relatively close-up, as if the Enterprise had just dropped out of warp and the planet was being majestically introduced to the cinema audience. An extended, multiple pass/rotation exposure, so that it could be watched by appreciative viewers wanting to get a bit of perspective/peace. I imagine I would sit and gaze at this for extended periods. What are the technical limitations which have prevented this?
I need help finding a Christmas gift for my dad. I'm looking for: - Something that requires occasional hands on -- a project, but not a full-time project - Something a little science-projecty and geeky, but that does not involve a computer (he's 72 and not terribly computer literate; he does have an iPad, though) - Something that has a definable end result - Something he can attend to while my folks spend three months in their RV this winter - Most likely something plant-related More... [more inside]
You know how you can just remember a few details about some subject from your youth, and it's going to bother you until you can reveal the full scope of that memory? Yeah, I'm right there. I'm looking for a series of books. They were in the SF/F section in the 1980s. They were probably popular because their covers resembled Frazetta prints, and they tended to be really violent (i.e. jumping on the popularity of Conan). [more inside]
My soon-to-be-17-year-old niece is interested in pursuing forensic science as a career. What are the best books on the subject that would both entertain and inform her? Fiction and non-fiction suggestions are welcome.
I have a large road case (2.5 / 2.5 / 3 feet) that I need to weigh. It is too big to fit on one scale. Would it work to place one scale under each of the 4 wheels and average the 4 weight readings? My physics-fu is not strong enough to figure this one out on my own. Help!
Say someone broke into your house and dripped some blood on the carpet. What does the forensics guy do with it? How long would the tests take? And what information could be gleaned from it? [more inside]
Can you help my friend identify this scifi short story about aliens and a shield around the earth? [more inside]
I recently saw a great animated piece expressing exasperation (that I share) with the anti-vaccine, pro-feelgood-pseudoscience crowd. It was from Australia or New Zealand (maybe somewhere in the UK?), it rhymed, it was clever and stylized in a way I want to reference to an artist friend. Ringing any bells for anyone, or have the vaccines rotted your brains, too?
So my nephew is turning 7 in a few weeks. We live at quite a distance from each other, but have good contact via FaceTime, etc. im flying up to be at his birthday and want to get Hume THE BEST PRESENT EVER! He's very into science, and has said that he wants to win the Nobel prize when he gets older. So... I need advice on the best thing he could ever want. Steer me in the right direction!
There is a concept I remember reading about but can't remember the name of, and none of my flailing Google searches are coming up with anything. Basically it's the concept of... repeatability? Our assumption that the laws of physics remain constant? The notion that if something occurs once, that given the same circumstances it will happen again, eg every time you add vinegar to baking soda it will foam up and after repeating things enough times we can assume that it will always happen- it won't suddenly burst into flames or turn into a radio or whatever. I remember reading that this assumption is both what science is based on and something we can never know for sure, since all it takes is one instance of flammable baking soda and vinegar to disprove it and maybe that'll happen tomorrow. I'm also not 100% sure this is a real scientific concept and not something I read in science fiction. :[
I'm working on a new book and I need to name a genome. I can't handwave it-- while the book is SF, I don't want people in the know to be able to look at it like people look at Law & Order address (ie, nobody from New York would ever think that's a real address. Nobody in science would ever think that's a real genome.) [more inside]
What are the pros/cons of using a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine vs. 3.0 Tesla MRI machine for imaging the brain, from both the patient's perspective and imaging perspective? [more inside]
We've had PG&E SmartMeters installed at our building for awhile, and our landlord is very concerned about the health risks and surveillance risks he believes they pose. He's sent us a bunch of "literature" to read and it all reads like wackadoodle conspiracy theories with no basis in science, as does everything else I've found online. As easy as it is to just roll my eyes and dismiss his concerns, I feel like I should make a good faith attempt to discover if there's really anything to be concerned about. Are there any good, reality-based reasons to be anti-SmartMeter? Any science-based studies from reliable sources on their safety? Any well-thought-out articles on the subject that don't include the phrases "molecular earthquakes" or "like hundreds of cell phones being on at the same time"? Help a skeptic out!
This is one I likely encountered in the 80's so my memory is foggy here. Most likely in some anthology or maybe even a magazine like Omni. I think it was by a major writer. Salient memories inside: [more inside]
I'm trying to remember the name and author fo a sci-fi novel that predicted the idea of Google glasses and their impact on society. I can clearly remember one of the characters, a youung person, complaining that all these old people had these glasses that recorded everything that happened around them and could send that data directly to the police. It was kind of an Orwellian Big Brother feel to society. You were always being watched, recorded, reported, etc. I was reminded again about this after reading an article on NPR about the first police arrest recorded on Google Glass. Does anyone else remember this book or the author? Thanks in advance for the help.
So I take it that the OkTrends blog was killed off after Match bought OkCupid. Where can I now get my regular fix of really interesting statistics presented at a level that the lay person can understand? (I already know about Nate Silver and xkcd's What If.)
Why do we not launch rockets out of tubes? If the most expensive bits of launching a rocket are the first few feet off the ground, why don't we put the rockets into a tube to make launching more efficient? [more inside]
I've noticed that most of what I read about science and technology is universally optimistic about the pace of knowledge (if not necessary its use). From tech journalists to science fiction writers everyone seems to believe that the possibilities of technology are boundless and the pace of scientific discovery is, if anything, accelerating and always will be. My question is: Is anyone credibly arguing the opposite? [more inside]
I'm looking for movies and TV shows that have futuristic depictions of education. Can you help me find them? [more inside]
What are some good resources to help explain the Big Bang, evolution and, the meaning of life to my delightful 5 year-old nephew? Fairly equal emphasis for each, but I am stumped most by "but why are all the things and people here, mayurasana?" than the rest. [more inside]
I am a scientifically-minded person who is trying to sort out my religious beliefs. I think it would be helpful to read some debates between deism, atheism, pantheism (Spinozism), and/or a scientifically-grounded theism. Can anyone recommend me books or essays that discuss these topics in ways that are engaging, well-thought-out, and thorough? [more inside]
I am looking for people's experiences of demonstrating the basics of how a clinical trial works to the lay person. My audience will be pretty broad - from school children to adults - so I will need to keep it pretty sort and simple. I need something I can use when visiting schools to big events - I have heard of people using cake and chocolate to demonstrate randomisation/placebo etc - has anyone on here done that and have any pointers? TIA!
What is the best book to introduce pre-teens to how science works in space? [more inside]
Can anyone point me to reliable sources that can tell me how much alcohol actually gets absorbed in your system when you eat food cooked with it? [more inside]
I'm wondering, after breakfast, and a shower, and a commute, and coffee - what is next? [more inside]