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If there's a bloodstain on the carpet, what can you learn from it?

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]
posted by hishtafel on Oct 11, 2013 - 9 answers

How best to respond to anti-science, nonsense-loving folk.

What are some good, persuasive (and good natured) ways to respond to folk who have zero faith in the scientific method but who happily follow every scam and pseudo-scientific nonsense that cross their path? [more inside]
posted by newfers on Oct 11, 2013 - 43 answers

How do you help people have an epiphany about difficult concepts?

How do you describe the basic concepts of a difficult subject you know a lot about that makes it "click" for a beginner? [more inside]
posted by reenum on Oct 11, 2013 - 18 answers

What are Mike & the bots singing in Outlaw of Gor?

There's a song Mike & the bots half-coherently sing a couple of times in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 519 "Outlaw of Gor." What is it? [more inside]
posted by prize bull octorok on Oct 4, 2013 - 4 answers

A Potentially Electric Question

What is "electric potential"? I've dug through the internet, gone to tutoring, asked my teacher, and nothing has helped. [more inside]
posted by runcibleshaw on Oct 3, 2013 - 26 answers

Help ID a scifi story about aliens and a quarantined Earth

Can you help my friend identify this scifi short story about aliens and a shield around the earth? [more inside]
posted by mediareport on Oct 2, 2013 - 3 answers

Concise, fun science treatments like XKCD's "What If" and ASAPScience?

I'm slightly obsessed with well-put-together science-y treatments like those done by XKCD's "What If" and ASAPScience. Given this obsession, where are other places I might be able to get my fix? :) (Note: Video is fun, but I'm not opposed to reading, either!) [more inside]
posted by rinogo on Sep 26, 2013 - 7 answers

Pro-science Anti-anti-vaccine Animated Web Video from Australia or NZ?

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?
posted by windowbr8r on Sep 19, 2013 - 4 answers

Specfic writing workshops in the Midwest

Are there any speculative fiction writing workshops in the Midwest? [more inside]
posted by deathpanels on Sep 19, 2013 - 7 answers

In your opinion what are the most interesting topics in medicine today?

My original proposed topic for a publication I'm writing in was about printing organs and bone marrow but it may be rejected because someone else proposed the same idea. I'm currently brainstorming ideas before tomorrow. Currently I'm thinking of writing of genetically engineered humans. Any other ideas?
posted by JYuanZ on Sep 17, 2013 - 16 answers

I am tired of labeling my microcentrifuge tubes by hand.

This seems like it ought to be a simple question but I'm not finding the answer myself. Someone here must already know. I would like to buy sheets of printable adhesive labels suitable for sticking on 1.5ml/2.0ml microcentrifuge tubes. Ideally I would like both dots for the caps and little rectangles for the sides. They don't need to be able to stand up to particularly tough conditions, except that they shouldn't run if they get wet. Also, they should be cheap as I am a grad student and would be buying them out of my own pocket. I am just sick of writing the same teeny tiny letters over and over and over again with an ultrafine Sharpie. Can somebody here point me to a product that I can buy that would suit my needs? [more inside]
posted by Scientist on Sep 17, 2013 - 15 answers

Awesome gift for science loving nephew.

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!
posted by grimley on Sep 15, 2013 - 21 answers

Fire On Exoplanets?

How likely is it that fire (as in open flame) will exist on extra-solar planets? [more inside]
posted by quin on Sep 13, 2013 - 7 answers

My PhD lab is still paying me post-graduation-Should my CV say postdoc?

I graduated with a biochem PhD a month or so ago. As is common practice at my institution - my thesis advisor offered me a few months of additional funding to finish up some papers while I hunt for industry jobs. Formally, I now have a post-doc appointment and salary, but I'm not actually taking on any new projects or doing any new science, nor do I have funding to stay her for more than another month or two. How should this look on my resume? I'm only applying to industry positions, not to academic positions or proper post-docs. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Sep 9, 2013 - 11 answers

What are the five most seminal books in whatever field you're interested

Imagine you're allowed to give a nobel prize for five of the most seminal books of the past 50-60 years in whatever field you're interested and/or invested in. What would they be? The Nobel is usually given out to applied research and application and theory is eschewed. In this case you can give it to theoretical works as well. [more inside]
posted by RapcityinBlue on Sep 6, 2013 - 9 answers

Solve a physics debate among friends?

My friends and I are having a nearly friendly debate about the effects of superhydrophobic coatings on various items, and we've decided to look here for more input. [more inside]
posted by TomMelee on Sep 5, 2013 - 12 answers

What are some surprising suggestions for better health?

What are some health tips you've recently heard that surprised you? I'm making a list, aiming to get one that corresponds to each body part. For example, for the eyes- wearing blue-tinted sunglasses when on the computer at night to have less exposure to light and therefore better sleep. Any ideas?
posted by three_red_balloons on Aug 29, 2013 - 27 answers

How do I grad school: management skills edition

I'm a grad student in the sciences, going into my (mumble) year. I've been assigned an incoming grad student to show the ropes. Great! What the hell do I do? [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Aug 20, 2013 - 9 answers

Science on depression?

What do scientists currently understand about depression? How, broadly, is this problem formulated as a subject of study? What are various scientists' opinions on the existing treatments, such as medical versus nonmedical approaches? What is the degree of consensus on these various issues, e.g. different schools of thought? What areas or aspects of it are still being poorly addressed? [more inside]
posted by polymodus on Aug 20, 2013 - 10 answers

Software/websites to help manage a scientific project

What software/websites would you recommend to help a team of not more than a dozen individuals at different sites manage a collaborative project? [more inside]
posted by docgonzo on Aug 19, 2013 - 6 answers

what is the name of this scientific (I think) concept?

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. :[
posted by insufficient data on Aug 17, 2013 - 17 answers

What IS human exertion?

Most machines are very predictable when in motion- their movement can be graphed in terms of speed, acceleration and jerk quite easily. Generally, the graph flattens out when you get to jerk. Can the same be done with humans? Or are our movements chaotic at a fundamental level? I know that ultimately we exert motion through force (=ma) but is it possible for us to increase the rate at which we increase the rate of force, and even increase the rate of that? Would we be able to register anything on the graph of m/s5? [more inside]
posted by Greener_pastures on Aug 15, 2013 - 4 answers

Looking for a Chinese and English GCSE science book

I'm looking for two books, one biology, one chemistry. They are related to GCSE, they say that on the front of the books, but I don't know if they're licensed. One has a green cover, one has a blue cover, but they both have pictures on the front. The good thing about these books is that they explain scientific concepts through diagrams in one-pagers, which are conveniently in both Chinese and English. Help me find these books? [more inside]
posted by sarae on Aug 14, 2013 - 3 answers

Help me name a genome!

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]
posted by headspace on Aug 14, 2013 - 11 answers

Help me name our ranks

I work at a Museum and we are about to roll out a new staffing model for our part time staff. Essentially a "career ladder", the program will have four stages of progression starting with general skills (everyone in this stage can float around the Museum providing customer service, essentially). The three subsequent stages add increased specialization, training and skills (employees in stage 4 can lead teach programs like camp, for example). We have a pretty young staff, and are generally a hands-on STEAM (science technology engineering art and math) focused institution. We're looking for creative names for the stages that are descriptive without being too silly. Any thoughts? [more inside]
posted by leastlikelycowgirl on Aug 13, 2013 - 7 answers

New Zealand Honeymoon: Help Us Plan

We're honeymooning in New Zealand in mid-November this year. We have 11.5 days between our flight landing in Auckland on a Monday (early early in the morning), and our flight departing from Christchurch on a Friday (mid-afternoon). Help us plan an itinerary! [more inside]
posted by aabbbiee on Aug 9, 2013 - 12 answers

1.5T vs 3T MRI of the brain. What's the difference?

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]
posted by OTA on Aug 8, 2013 - 8 answers

Epistolary (Science) Fiction

I recently really enjoyed Max Brooks' World War Z and Daniel H. Wilson's Robocalypse. What other books might I also enjoy? [more inside]
posted by alby on Aug 6, 2013 - 20 answers

How can a busy scientist prioritize items that are urgent and important?

I'm a research scientist and I sometimes give presentations. Presentations are unique because, while they aren't the most important part of my work, there is a built-in deadline. I can only work on them until the presentation time, and then I won't get another chance to redo that particular presentation. Most other things I can work on until they are done in the order of what is most important. But giving a good presentation is still pretty important. So when I have a presentation coming up it is hard to decide what to work on first. If I work mainly on the presentation then I feel like I am postponing my important regular research, which isn't great. If I work mainly on the research, then I feel like I am resigning myself to giving a more mediocre presentation, which isn't great either—it makes it less likely that people will understand the work and isn't good for my reputation generally. If I try to switch back and forth I lose concentration and energy due to the difficulty of context switching. Do you have suggestions for how to set priorities in this scenario or what has worked for you?
posted by grouse on Aug 4, 2013 - 6 answers

Creating the Ideal Skeptics' Handbook

I want to write an article explaining where to find scientific information and how to evaluate scientific research. Which quality sources and articles would you recommend that I recommend? Please suggest material that has helped you become a better researcher. Which resources have helped you weed out the pseudoscience and poor quality information? How do you determine which journals have a high standard and which are either predatory or providers of disinformation? Which forums and communities do you use when working on problems above your knowledge paygrade? If you were to design an ideal skeptic's handbook for finding and evaluating research, what would you add?
posted by Knigel on Aug 2, 2013 - 17 answers

Scientists on science, engineers on engineering

I am looking for books where master scientists or engineers describe their philosophy of the field they are working in or/and treat semi-technical topics in a playful, essayistic manner. Examples inside. [more inside]
posted by jarekr on Aug 1, 2013 - 12 answers

Online science resources for a liberal arts major?

I want to learn science. [more inside]
posted by Hawk V on Jul 25, 2013 - 13 answers

Citation, please.

Is there actual scientific research behind this oft-cited UI response time => human perception table? Or is it just "conventional wisdom." If not, I'd love to see the original research and know how it was conducted.
posted by ignignokt on Jul 22, 2013 - 3 answers

Looking for an ideal field bag for science in the bush.

I've just finished a few months of fieldwork and my thoughts are turning to how I might make the next expedition go more smoothly and comfortably than the last. I have realized that I really need a separate bag for field gear -- for camera equipment, dissection tools, chemicals, etc. I think I know what sort of thing I'm after, but I don't know how to find it. [more inside]
posted by Scientist on Jul 17, 2013 - 10 answers

At what pressure is water released from a whale's blow hole?

K, so I've found out through researching this that the water can come out at 200mph, but does anyone know how much pressure the water comes out at? (I've done a fair amount of research on it, but have only found the 200mph bit out. Was hoping I might get some help from the hive.)
posted by sockpim on Jul 15, 2013 - 9 answers

Help me get smarter about SmartMeters

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!
posted by rhiannonstone on Jul 14, 2013 - 16 answers

I can't remember this sci-fi short story: Mass graves hidden by society

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]
posted by sourwookie on Jul 10, 2013 - 5 answers

What was this study where people ate gray mush vs. colorful food?

Somewhere in the last two to five years, I read about a study where a group of women (I believe the women were Asian, possibly Vietnamese or Thai) were given meals that were: (1) either beautifully and colorfully presented, or (2) pureed into a gray mush. The meals had exactly the same nutritional content, but the women receiving the colorful meal absorbed more nutrients. But I can't find any articles or the study itself. I've been Googling up a storm and still nothin'. Anyone remember this, or articles about this? Help me please?
posted by amoeba on Jul 10, 2013 - 2 answers

Sci-Fi novel predicting Google Glass

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.
posted by corwalch on Jul 9, 2013 - 13 answers

OkCupid Blog RIP...

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.)
posted by capricorn on Jul 7, 2013 - 7 answers

Futuristic functional food inspiration needed

I want to write a science fiction story where somebody spends a few weeks or so living off a food that was intended for people colonising another planet, with odd effects. I'm not that scientifically knowledgeable and I want this to be grounded in facts. More details below. [more inside]
posted by KateViolet on Jul 7, 2013 - 14 answers

Rockets and Tubes: Why not?

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]
posted by Freen on Jun 27, 2013 - 13 answers

Other sites like American Science and Surplus?

I do quite a lot of building small music devices using DIY kits and recycled cases and parts. What are the best sites for for weird, bulk supplies? What are the other sites like American Science and Surplus (http://www.sciplus.com)? [more inside]
posted by archivist on Jun 22, 2013 - 17 answers

Science My Beauty - or Debunk it!

Getting married in a few months, which means I want to start any facial/beauty regimens now. I don't usually do this stuff, so am entranced by the field of options. However, I know that this field contains the biggest BS factor of any out there. Please give me your best ideas of things that are scientifically proven to work, or that there is at least some data about why it works or would or wouldn't work. Please also tell me which of the things I'm considering looking at are drecht or dangerous crazytown. Help me not waste my money or wind up maimed. [more inside]
posted by corb on Jun 17, 2013 - 40 answers

What kinds of jobs should I look for other than admin/office stuff?

I've mostly done generic office work but I would like to expand my job search to include more specific things. What fields (with jobs available) would be a good fit? [more inside]
posted by needs more cowbell on Jun 12, 2013 - 17 answers

Just a gram or two of sugar makes the estrogens go down...

Can you answer a few questions related to hormonal birth control? Science questions, I mean! [more inside]
posted by Phalene on Jun 8, 2013 - 9 answers

Please help me speak academic - what is exogenous food?

My google-fu fails me - all I can find are references that talk about research on endogenous and exogenous food, but none of them explain what on earth the terms mean. [more inside]
posted by scrute on Jun 7, 2013 - 15 answers

Hazardous waste: it's a gas!

Please suggest some funny stuff to write on (fake) hazardous waste labels to decorate the office of the hazmat safety guy who's coming back from sabbatical. The labels look similar to this. [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Jun 4, 2013 - 23 answers

Remind me again, why are dinosaurs awesome?

When I was a kid, I was totally enamored of dinosaurs. I seem to have lost my affinity for them in the years since. I quit paying attention to developments in paleontology. Apparently there's been a lot that I missed, like that the dominant theory now is that modern birds are descended from a dinosaur species (I think?). And I hear velociraptors had feathers. So I need not just updates, but a good primer for adults because I've forgotten everything I used to know about them. Can anyone recommend some good modern books or documentaries on dinosaurs to rekindle the flame of dino-love?
posted by Sleeper on Jun 3, 2013 - 10 answers

A Gel of a Problem: running miRNA without acrylamide

Dear MetaFilter, I am new to this forum and this is my first post, hi! I am in a bit of a pickle about a work project, and hope that I may be able to get some help by some fellow sciencey people. The science forums are rarely read and badly out of date, or I would have posted at one of those. I have a deadline for a miRNA PCR experiment, and I have already run the cDNA and PCR for the miRNA. All I have to do is run the miRNA on a gel. The problem: We don't have acrylamide! And neither does our neighboring lab. We only have Agarose with which to make gels, which is only for large fragments, not small miRNA fragments of 20-40 bp. The question: As the percentage of agarose in the gel goes higher, the smaller the size of the base pairs are that can be measured. Could I increase this percentage enough to work for miRNA? Out of respect for the community that doesn't like line returns, I have entered the specifics of this post in the Extended Explanation box, because to me, this post reads like a jumble of nonsense without some kind of organization. [more inside]
posted by Arachnophile on May 30, 2013 - 10 answers

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