Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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July 6

Why is a fire weather warning called a Red Flag Warning?

When weather conditions are ripe for wildfires in the US, the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Warning. All other types of hazardous weather forecasts are more descriptive (e.g. Tornado Watch, Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory, etc.), Why does a warning for fire weather have this more obscure name, especially in light of the fact that the less imminent ‘watch’ forecast is called a ‘Fire Weather Watch’? Why isn’t the ‘warning’ level called a Fire Weather Warning instead of Red Flag Warning, so the average uninformed person knows what it means?
posted by theory at 12:11 PM - 5 answers

July 5

Best practices: convincing someone to surrender a cute wild bunny

I know someone who is keeping a healthy and relatively unstressed wild young bunny -- in actually pretty good conditions for that, but still inside and possibly illegally. Looking for rhetorical strategies to help her decide whether to give the rabbit to a wildlife rehabber for release. Hoping to avoid being personally lectured or yelled at -- I'm doing my best here. [more inside]
posted by amtho at 6:24 PM - 18 answers

July 4

Accounts of 'discovering' fireflies

I'm wondering if there are any written accounts of people's first encounters with fireflies. Surely the Vikings, landing in Vinland, or the wave of colonials who washed up on the east shores of the Americas, must have suddenly discovered bugs that light up, unlike anything in England or Iceland. Did they view them as magic, as forces of evil or good, or just "huh, bug is weird?" I would like old historical accounts of people encountering fireflies for the first time, if you can suggest any. Thank you.
posted by The otter lady at 5:30 PM - 4 answers

July 3

Physics filter: Sweat alternatives outside water

I don't sweat. I have anhidrosis / hypohidrosis. Is there a liquid I could put inside my sweat-alternative water bottle that would work better than water? [more inside]
posted by bbqturtle at 5:19 AM - 12 answers

July 2

How do I keep my snake plants thriving and growing new sprouts?

I'm a new plant dad; got two snake plants a few months ago. I've been trying to water them sparingly, but noticed the soil dries up fast. Want some tips on best maintenance to-dos. [more inside]
posted by dubious_dude at 12:25 PM - 19 answers

July 1

Who or where do I ask this shrimp question?

My Amano shrimp lady has been carrying a huge load of black sad sort-of-gross eggs around for months. I'm pretty sure they're not going to hatch and she's not going to drop them. Where do I even start to find out what to do? [more inside]
posted by amtho at 8:24 PM - 5 answers

June 22

Charting the latitude at which the sun stops setting

I would like a chart of the latitude at which the sun stops setting (never dipping below the horizon) over time. This seems like it should be pretty easy to find, but I'm having trouble. [more inside]
posted by wesleyac at 3:53 PM - 8 answers

June 21

Is Tufte still required reading in 2022?

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information was a landmark book when it came out. Does it hold up in this world where graphing and charting have become so ubiquitous ? I have a young friend who is taking an intro stats/data visualization class. I'm wondering whether I should buy them a copy of this book to set them on the path of righteousness. Is it too dated? Is there some other landmark book in the field that has taken its place?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:04 AM - 22 answers

June 15

Will Ozone dissolve my socks?

I have a small ozone generator I once used to get rid of some nasty smells in my cellar. Now I want to try two things: 1. Sterlilizing my footwear, like socks&shoes 2. Getting rid of some critters in the kitchen Ozone oxidizes organic materials. So if I put my cotton socks and leather shoes in a box with my Ozone generator, will they melt or something after a certain amount of time? I guess any bacteria, spores etc. will be dead after an hour, but if I would leave them longer, would maybe the glue soften? The cotton fibers get brittle? Or what? Same for my kitchen, I think the critters will die, but for example what would happen to an apple if I leave it for a longer period in my ozone box? Potatoes that are lying around? Is this all a bad idea? I know not to be around during and after using my generator.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 11:54 AM - 7 answers

June 14

What are the physiological processes that make up personality?

I'm sure if I'm wording this right, but basically I'm asking what are the biological processes that make me, me (or you, you)? What are the current theories or proven knowledge that details how a 3 pound bit of tissue and some electricity make us, us? I'm specifically not asking about metaphysical theory, but biological ones, thanks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 AM - 7 answers

June 12

The dire wolf collects his due while the boys sing 'round the fire..

Books about ancient mammals? [more inside]
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:39 AM - 9 answers

June 11

Applying technical indicator knowledge outside of investing?

A friend really likes using technical indicators for investing. Things like various moving averages overlaid on candle and bar charts for example. Since the markets are frustrating right now, this friend is looking for other areas where this knowledge may apply, and especially if they can learn about new types of indicators while learning about those new areas. They also mentioned throwing in some of those neat-looking & free math or statistics software packages out there, but are generally unfamiliar with them. [more inside]
posted by circular at 8:18 PM - 15 answers

June 7

Are there any good papers on lithium/psilocybin interactions?

The only paper I’ve found so far is this one [pdf] which has extremely unreliable data due to sample bias. Has any solid data been produced?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:17 AM - 4 answers

June 3

A rational animal is still an animal

I'm looking for quotes, mottos, longer writings, and even images that illustrate the idea that human beings, for all our big brains and fancy trappings, are still biological organisms who need to defecate, give birth, and are at the whims of hormones, brain chemicals, diseases, etc.? Basically the opposite of most classical thought that places mankind at the pinnacle of the natural world.
posted by Rora at 5:54 PM - 19 answers

Where to find old (archaic) Sigma Plot 2.0 installation discs?

My husband likes, and uses extensively, the old Sigma Plot 2.0 software. Where to find installation discs? [more inside]
posted by ragtimepiano at 3:07 PM - 1 answers

June 2

Durable chemical resistant gloves for the workshop

I have a variety of substances (ethanol, acetone, kerosene, etm.) that I occasionally need to work with. Permanent gloves would be best although I'm open to disposables. The complication is that they need to safely survive storage for long periods at a minimum of 110°F. 130°F would be better. Recommendations would be gratefully received. [more inside]
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:09 AM - 2 answers

May 31

How far to get to *actual* zero gravity?

I know -- in a layperson sense -- that crewed missions in orbit, such as the International Space Station, aren't actually in zero-gravity, they're in constant free-fall around the Earth that gives the illusion of zero gravity. And I know that LaGrange points are places where the pull between the Sun and the Earth "cancels out", allowing things to remain stable. So my question is, how far would one need to get from the Earth, the Sun, the entire solar system, before the effect of gravity is negligible enough that it could be honestly rounded down to zero? Assuming some kind of magic spacecraft that could get you wherever you want and stop on a dime.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:58 AM - 26 answers

May 27

How should I learn Linear Algebra?

I'm a mathematically-minded person, but informally; I was great with math in high school and so-so in college, didn't deal well with calculus, love recreational mathematics on my own terms, and do best when I have a good conceptual basis for any bit of mathematical theory. (I do great with planar geometry. I do okaaay with symbolic algebra.) But I never learned linear algebra and matrices, despite them applying to a *lot* of things I'm otherwise interested in. Where's a good, accessible, concept-driven way to get familiar with lin alg territory?
posted by cortex at 4:46 PM - 25 answers

May 21

Are there more true statements or false statements?

My 11yo son asked me this at bedtime. Are there more true statements, or false statements? At first I assumed that there were more false statements, because while there's only one correct answer for, say, 1+1=?, there are infinite wrong answers. But then we realized that if you change = to ≠ then it evens out. Is this answerable?
posted by rouftop at 11:01 AM - 52 answers

May 19

low-tech eco-fixes

I'm looking for examples of environmental remediation projects that could be (or are being) executed by communities without access to sophisticated tools, materials, or training. Bonus points if they are ocean, river, or lake related. Bonus-bonus points they use natural, renewable materials. [more inside]
posted by signal at 12:23 PM - 17 answers

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