Around 10 years ago I read a science fiction paperback novel (that I think had been recently published) and I can't remember what it was called. All I can remember is that it was largely set on a spacecraft and there were a group of Humans investigating a series of horrible deaths on a planet and on another spacecraft. They found the bones of the missing people buried on the planet they were investigating.
Help me find interesting, unique jobs in the sciences - physics, biology, or chemistry. [more inside]
Hey MeFites, I'm really trying to expand the use of digital technology in my classroom. Unfortunately, the resources at my school are fairly limited. However, I do have access to $1200 in grant money, assuming I can write a compelling enough proposal. Help me find some affordable tech for my classroom! Needs of class inside. [more inside]
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.
Chemists! I have a question about chromatography. Specifically, what is the best way to isolate a specific molecule, if I want to produce large volumes of this isolated molecule? [more inside]
I'm looking for well-written and researched "objective and scientific" studies of the paranormal. I am aware that those are loaded words, particularly around this topic, and I doubt there is a book that settles questions about paranormal activity and abilities once and for all, but essentially I would like to read books written by authors who don't have a pre-determined agenda in favour or against these types of phenomena being real.
I am part of a large collaborative lab-based project. We are currently disorganized and inefficient and are are looking for some project management systems or tools. [more inside]
Is there a way to learn chemistry that is 1) fun/funny/in some way entertaining 2) via audio? [more inside]
I'm currently exploring artificial intelligence as a potential field to go into. What books (fiction or nonfiction), films, or resources would you recommend for learning about artificial intelligence, the possibilities of AI, and its future? What should I know? [more inside]
How will changing variables in this microwave chocolate cake recipe change the outcome? [more inside]
I saw -- maybe here, maybe on the blue -- a link to a webpage with discussions of all sorts of future-science problems. I can't find it again. Help? [more inside]
What are basic pieces of kitchen science that would be helpful for me to know? I'm most interested in baking but cooking is okay too. Things like the effect of salt or liquid on a recipe or whether I want my bread dough to rise in a dry or humid area and why would be really great. I'm okay at following recipes but I'd absolutely love to know why different ingredients and combinations have different effects and how I can use that to my advantage. [more inside]
We have a naming convention for our cats - so far they are all science related terms that start with M. We have Magnet, Möbius and Meniscus. Now we have a new little fluff ball - a black kitten with a white tuft on her chest. Can you help think of a name for her? So far we've thrown around Muon, Mendel (too masculine) and plain ol' μ.
In a discussion elsewhere on the internets a twist on a common science fictional transportation technology was proposed. A spaceship leaps from one point in space to another, but while it is instantaneous for the passengers, the transit actually takes some small amount of time longer than light would take to cover the distance (let's say the Planck time). Would the time delay prevent the violation of causality? It appears that everyone is staying in their light cones, what am I missing? [more inside]
Assuming nothing goes catastrophically wrong (which might not be a good assumption to make, unfortunately), I should be getting a PhD in about 18 months. I'm about 90% sure that I don't want to stay in academia. What steps can I start taking now to have a smoother career change? [more inside]
What kind of skill sets does one need to be of best help to addressing climate change? It would seem like the most obvious choice is to major in environmental science. Otherwise, maybe political science to deal with legislators and capital hill? Or "who cares what you study undergrad" and go to law school?
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]
So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to land a career in market research analysis. Below are the steps I’ve laid out for myself. Could you tell me if this is a good game plan to get where I want to go? [more inside]
I love thinking about the vastness of space, the long arc of the cosmic time scale, the complexity of connections in various systems. I find thinking about these big ideas creates a pleasurable feeling in my body, and putting them to music is even more moving. Examples of favorites include Peter Mulvey's "Vlad the Astrophysicist" and Symphony of Science's "We Are All Connected". What other songs combine music and big scientific ideas about how small and insignificant humans are?
I'm due in traffic court at 9 am. Help me use math to prove I didn't do it. [more inside]
I could really use some tips on networking and well, not panicking. Difficulty: I'm pretty strongly introverted and have some social anxiety as well, although I can fake it for a few hours if I have enough energy. I'm a senior PhD student who is expected to be better at this than I am. [more inside]
As a by-product of this FPP about a very large water slide, have just been involved in an inconclusive and heated argument about the physics aspects. Hypothetically, what would happen if, halfway down this very fast waterslide in a raft, you (accidentally or deliberately, it doesn't matter) defecated? [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)?
After browsing John Comenius' Orbis Sensualium Pictus (per this fine Mefi post), I came across this curiously worded statement in the The Fruits of the Earth section: [more inside]
The coolest, smartest almost-three-year-old I know is having his birthday next month. He's really into explosions--what kind of experiments can we perform that will blow his little mind (beyond baking powder volcanoes)? Thank you!
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]
I'm planning to get a Masters in Library and Information Science. There are no schools that offer this program that are close enough to me at present. There are several online programs that are ALA accredited that I'm interested in. Does anyone have any experience with whether online masters programs are looked down upon when hiring in the library field? (Primarily looking at being a public librarian, if it matters.)
The recurrant scientist character has some distictive speech patterns. What do they reveal about his thought patterns? [more inside]
Once we develop the technology of manned, long-term space travel (such as star trek, for example), how would our spaceships hulls and housing be protected from things such as solar wind, other "energy debris", and deterioration? [more inside]
I keep running into very influential people who can cite craploads upon craploads of sources for their beliefs in a world conspiracy involving chemtrails and/or climate engineering. Is there any truth to their beliefs? If so, how much is truth and how much is bullshit or truthiness? [more inside]
My second grader is doing a presentation on magnets. He's read books and can tell you all sorts of cool things about magnets, which is probably fine for second grade. But the really interesting question is not "what do they do?", but "why do they do it?" Can anyone explain how magnets work at a level second graders might understand?
Cosmos has me very intrigued. Assume I know less than a 5th grader. I am looking for: book recommendations for basic astronomy concepts; blogs; podcasts for beginners; good audio books; and documentaries. If you wanted to teach an adult about astronomy where would you start?
In studying for my Behavioral Statistics final (it’s a statistics class dealing with psychology research methods) I’ve realized something. I actually kind of enjoy math. As long as I don’t have to memorize formulas (as long as they are right there as I’m going through the work) it’s actually kind of comforting and fun. In fact, every math class I’ve taken in college (I’ve taken two remedial algebras, college algebra, and regular statistics before this class) I’ve enjoyed and made an A in. I’m really struggling about what I want to major in (I’m in psychology but I don’t have it in the gas tank to get a PhD), but I know that a lot of people don’t like math. They don’t get it. I do, so I’ve got something there, right? The only problem is, I don’t know what to do with it. These are the parameters… maybe you can think of something that fits? [more inside]
I'm trying to remember a series of shows broadcast in the late 1970s or maybe as late as 1980 or so. It explained science topics through the lens of recent discoveries or advancements. It might have been PBS but I think it was a "special broadcast" on network tv. I loved them and got all excited when one would be on, so I don't think it was regular or weekly. The only one I specifically remember was on the brain, told through the story of a little girl (?) who needed brain surgery. It wasn't for specifically for kids, but I recall them being very upbeat and "yay science!" They were broadcast in prime time, probably 8 PM. Also: it's definitely not Connections. Apologies - this may the the vaguest TV-related AskMe yet!
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]
We can't figure out a good title for my daughter's Science Fair Project. The school wants the 4th grade children to basically do the whole project at home with guidance from the parents. My daughter's experiment is on why apples turn brown and she is learning about why the lemon juice worked (learning about acids and bases, etc.) The poster board we will use will have a title on it. The teacher wants us to think of a good title, and it does not necessarily have to be the question, "Why do apples turn brown". It can be a clever, or interesting title that goes with the experiment. At first we thought about, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." But then we thought it was too long, and it also might be presumed that her project is about apples and how they are healthy. [more inside]
So I posted one simple chemistry joke to Facebook for my friends, and they loved it - but now they want more. Give me some science jokes! [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.
I am a research student who may have inadvertently invented something commercializable. What do I do now? [more inside]
For the grad-level education I want, I need an understanding of chemistry, physics, and calculus at a minimum. I have a BA in a tangentially related field (or will in a couple months). What are the best resources for learning these subjects without spending even more time/money on tuition? [more inside]
I'm looking for academic papers (but also stories, movies, news articles, or anything else!) that talk about this: most of the ideas we come up with about alien life involves those aliens being carbon-based lifeforms with eyes of some sort and internal organs and appendages. But where are the other, more wild (and probably likely) ideas? [more inside]
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 in a PhD program pursuing a degree in conservation biology. When I finish (and possibly after completing a postdoc or two) I'd like to end up in a job where I can maximize my real-world conservation impact. I'd like to hear some suggestions on how I can do that; lots more detail to be found inside, as well as my reasoning on the subject so far. [more inside]
I would love some suggestions for science experiments with the Cambridge BrainBox electronics kit. [more inside]
My ignorance of science and engineering concepts, procedures, and methods of calculation is holding me back from tackling a whole mess of fun stuff. But what fields am I even interested in, and how can I learn more? Where do I begin? [more inside]