(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]
(asking for an author pal!) This scifi writer wonders: If electromagnetic waves were linked to cancer, what systems (electronic/political/social) would be impacted, and how? [more inside]
I'm a grad student and lucky to have people I work with who are often thinking about my future and putting me in touch with people who might be able to offer me good advice. I'm never sure how to respectfully handle these introductions. [more inside]
I love the book Expecting Better by Emily Oster, and I want to find more nonfiction in that style (doesn't need to be the same subject). Basically research based/centered while giving the reader room to make their own decisions. [more inside]
Dear The Internets: I have had this shiny odd-shaped thing on my desk for over a decade now. People often ask me what it is. I have no answer. No one else has been able to figure it out either. Can you help me? Sincerely, frogs. [more inside]
I've flip flopped on what I want to go to school for and/or what kind of career track I want to aim for. Can you help? [more inside]
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 had an entry-level science communications role in quasi-academia. Due to funding cuts I was let go, and fell into a job as a tech writer. But I strongly prefer my previous role and would like to advance in that career path. How do I do this? Career details inside. [more inside]
So we just got a surprise shipment that contained about ten pounds of dry ice. I know there's all sorts of fun that can be had, but I'm unclear on the extents of said fun. Something science-y, or just cool looking, or...? [more inside]
I am an anthropologist-in-training who spends time in living with a community with a strong medicine-man institution. The medicine-men claim to see various sorts of spirits, and often in very casual settings, like during walks in the forest or while sitting in the house. They'll say stuff like, "there's one sitting right there. It's red with hair on top." I want to know - is there a scientifically compelling way to investigate whether they actually "see" spirits? [more inside]
I am travelling to meet my favorite science fiction author at a convention, but I haven't done this before. What do? [more inside]
I applied to intern/assist at a number of research labs under the same university, and unexpectedly received multiple positive replies asking to meet in person. I don't think each professor knows I applied to other professors at the same university at this point, but they probably all know each other. How do I handle this properly and politely? (I don't want to offend anyone...) Help! (Longer explanation inside.) [more inside]
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 am thinking that I might want to learn German as a language of beer and cheese for career advancement. Good choice? Should I take a class or set out on my own? [more inside]
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!
My son has mostly outgrown Lego but still loves building things from instructions. Challenging things. What are some building kits I could get for him? [more inside]
How would you test whether the affinity of a tetramer for a particular ligand proceeds stepwise, i.e. assuming that the tetramer can bind one ligand per subunit, how would you test whether an initial binding event made subsequent binding events on the same tetramer more likely? I can't think of a good way to isolate a single molecule in solution, so any experiments would have to be on a aggregate population which would make stepwise cascades in affinity impossible to measure. Maybe if the measurement was really really time sensitive? Thoughts?
I've really enjoyed watching some of JPL's von Karman lecture series on YouTube. I'd really like to have more good quality stuff to watch online about solar system exploration - "good quality" meaning probably lectures and even rather technical ones, but not the slick, graphics-heavy, ominous voiceover discovery-channel sort of stuff (and definitely not the endless PROOF OF ALIEN LIFE ON TITAN stuff that makes searching for the good stuff so difficult). Any recommendations?
I am trying to think of the title/author of a science fiction story I read and loved from a couple of decades ago... [more inside]
How do I co-author a book? How do I make a contract with the other author? [more inside]
I'm a young professor working in an interesting but crowded field. The main reason I got into academia is that I love communicating ideas. I also tend to have a stream of side projects, some of which are too small or vague to merit a research paper. And I like writing. So I was thinking of starting a blog of sorts... [more inside]
My fiancee is considering a career change and is looking at options in the vet tech field. It seems like there are plenty of job opportunities where we live (Toronto) but not a lot of reliable information about salary, working conditions, etc. compared to info from the US. [more inside]
Dear hivemind: I'm going to bring a 300X video microscope to my daughter's preschool. What easily obtainable substances will be super cool to view? Bacteria are too small, red blood cells are a biohazard. Toddlers could care less about onion skins, cork, and plant vasculature in my experience, and I am not doing anything that requires fixing/staining. [more inside]
I'm looking for a giant book of life on earth for a kid. A book with real pictures (not drawings) that highlights the biodiversity of the earth. A book with 400+ pages that would have pictures of things like the dragon blood tree, the jewel caterpillar, the banyan tree, the cashew tree, the iridescent sky blue Hoplia coerulea. Not just pigs, zebras, and lions. And not anything framed as "weird!" If there was an updated version of the Illustrated Wildlife Treasury Cards, that would be fantastic and ideal. But I don't see such a thing, so a book will have to do. Any suggestions?
Good sources for science trivia? [more inside]
What can I do to turn a play room into an awesome laboratory for a six-year-old? [more inside]
I am trying to find a science fiction story which I read in the late 50s to early 60s. It featured a group of boys in a far future who attend an educational event in an auditorium where they witness a ceremonial ritual involving a group of Viking or Viking warriors and a religious specialist or shaman or priest in a sort of transtemporal portal enclosed by a bubble forcefield. [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.
I'm trying to remember a books series I read when I was a kid. It was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA series (at least four or five books I think) aimed at a Christian audience. [more inside]
I'm looking for more science fiction to read, along the lines of The Martian or Seveneves, where solving engineering challenges is a major part of the story. Lots of technical detail is good.
If I greatly enjoyed Ted Chiang's "Understand", Lucy, Flowers for Algernon and Limitless, what other works along the same "superintelligence", "hyperbrain" or "gifted with superhuman intelligence amongst a world of normal people" theme would I enjoy? [more inside]
My Girl Scout troop has voted to do the "Science Wizardry" and "Jeweler" badges. I'm looking for a way to combine two of the requirements: "melt something into something else," and any of the steps where they make jewelry. Suggestions? [more inside]
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 researching examples of great online engagement focused on the natural world. [more inside]
Which accomplishments, artistic projects, records, businesses, enrollments, discoveries, inventions, etc came about as a result of a dare?
I'm looking for stories of clever academic detection. [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?
I'm trying to think of hands-on things that both kids and adults might like doing with astronomy apart from stargazing. [more inside]
Looking for interesting, readable (if dense) books aimed at professional colleagues, rather than the general public. [more inside]
I was looking for a good place to buy equine chorionic gonadotropic (eCG) hormone for science reasons today and stumbled across this listing for the more commonly used hCG. It's listed as being sourced from "Human Pregnancy Urine." Where on earth do biomedical companies get enough human pregnancy urine to distill a compound like this? Is there some sort of secret cottage industry of pregnant ladies selling their pee to biotech companies? Where does the pee come from?
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]
I'm looking for YouTube channels that are dedicated to providing education about or insight into interesting subjects. They can have humor in them, but I'd prefer for them to be primarily informative rather than humorous. [more inside]
So the school year is close to starting here and I was recently told I need to teach a STEM elective course. This is a brand new course and there are no real guidelines so I need to build it from the ground up. I have some ideas but I need to quickly find ways to get material resources most of all, but also a strategy to plan a cohesive year-long course. [more inside]
Where do graduate students (especially in STEM disciplines) hang out online for the purpose of complaining about grad school and/or getting support for common grad school challenges?
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]
DirtyOldTown and I have a pretty great six year-old boy child who is spending the week at his grandma's house and during that time, we're moving him into a larger bedroom. His last room was Lego-themed, but we want to give him a room that's a little broader and a little less merchandising specific this time around. Really, we are less about a theme and more about filling the room with cool stuff he would like, so that when he comes home and sees it, he'll be drawn to it and start enjoying some independent time. (He never enjoyed hanging out in his tiny bedroom he was in before). Looking for fun (and not overly expensive) ideas for knick knacks, doo dads, wall art, etc. to make an inquisitive junior scientist excited about his new lair. [more inside]
Hi everyone, My younger sister is 12, very smart, and has expressed interest in becoming a scientist. She loves physics and astronomy, especially, but she may have some untapped interest in other scientific fields as well. [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]