Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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January 28

What would it be like to ride a Space Elevator?

Assuming it travels at a constant speed for most of the trip up or down, what would it feel like to be a passenger inside of a space elevator car? [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:37 PM - 13 answers

Where does the idea that being cold will lead to a cold come from?

In Chinese culture (and probably others), there is a strong belief that cold things (cold water, cold air, cold anything) will give you a cold, like, immediately. I have some questions around this belief. [more inside]
posted by wooh at 12:39 AM - 19 answers

January 27

How is a new virus identified?

So there is a bunch of news about the novel coronavirus and it got me wondering. How do doctors (scientists?) identify a new sickness? Like wouldn't they just assume that it is the flu or something?
posted by Literaryhero at 6:50 PM - 5 answers

January 25

Anesthesiologist Maneuver Involving Inner Edges of Eye Sockets?

"[A] maneuver that anesthesiologists use on patients who are having difficulty regaining consciousness after sedation: they press hard on the inner edges of the eye sockets, and the pain shocks people awake." (link) Can someone provide more information, or proper terminology to turn up legitimate information? My Google-fu fails.
posted by WCityMike at 3:34 PM - 3 answers

January 24

What do doctors do when they see Wuhan coronavirus?

I'm curious about the process for identifying/processing people who are suspected to have come down with Wuhan coronavirus. [more inside]
posted by miltthetank at 1:52 PM - 10 answers

January 17

Why aren't Australia and Canada geographically closer?

I saw this question the other day and was hoping it would be about Pangaea or the movement of tectonic plates. So now I'd like to know: why aren't these two places geographically closer to one another? Any landmark paleogeographic papers or books/documentaries on the topic? Maybe some academic/museum websites for checking out continental drift?
posted by rather be jorting at 6:22 AM - 4 answers

Molecular biology audiobook?

Any recommendations for an audiobook about molecular biology (stuff along the lines of Molecular Biology of the Cell) that would make for good listening while driving?
posted by clawsoon at 4:25 AM - 2 answers

January 15

Interesting Text Analysis things

I've got a dataset mainly sourced from newspapers and I'm looking for interesting analysis to do to it. What fun things could I do? I will be using R. Caveat, I only have an example subset for now. So I'd like to prepare some analysis based on that. [more inside]
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:28 AM - 6 answers

January 12

XX, XY, XHow

I'd like to read about methods for increasing the odds of conceiving a baby of a specific sex. Anecdotal, traditional, superstitious, or, better yet, supported by (even vanishingly small) scientific data- open to all.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:34 PM - 13 answers

Books about how cool vegetables are… but not diet books and cookbooks

I recently read this NYT article on how good fruit is for you, that broke down the process of digestion and how our body uses fruit as fuel. It motivated me to eat fruit, in a "Wow! Nature is f’ing awesome!" way and not an "Ugh I need to eat 5 servings of this so I don't die early" kind of way. What credible, scientific, *non-diet* sources are there of information about how humans digest food, why some foods are awesome for us, and how fruits and vegetables help our bodies? [more inside]
posted by rogerroger at 9:43 PM - 7 answers

January 11

Earth Physics for kids?

My kids (6 and 10) were asking the greatest questions last night. [more inside]
posted by silsurf at 6:14 AM - 3 answers

January 10

Houseplant Botany

I'm not a millennial, but I have been having fun building my houseplant collection of late. Now I find that I'm wanting to learn a bit more about these lovely creatures in my house. What's the best way for a non-science person to learn something about the botany of houseplants? [more inside]
posted by bluedaisy at 4:34 PM - 7 answers

January 9

Non-canonical transcription? Dark DNA?

I suspect that I'm about to misinterpret this paper. Could someone who knows what they're talking about explain "non-canonical transcription" and "dark DNA"?
posted by clawsoon at 4:41 PM - 3 answers

January 6

Is there a mathematical measure of 2D squiggliness?

I'd like to rank several irregular 2D shapes by how "squiggly" their borders are, so I need a good ordinal numerical scale. Their scale varies, so circumference won't cut it. What would be a measure that's valid to, say, a topologist? Maybe a ratio of circumference to area? Is there a better term? Help me help myself on!
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:29 PM - 16 answers

January 3

Meta-analyze me

I'm a scientist in industry and I've been asked to write a systematic review with meta-analysis. I got the Cochrane book, and I am super-stoked about this opportunity. But I'm an industry scientist, and my company makes some of the products in the published studies to be included in the systematic review. I think I need one or more academic coauthors -- but how? [more inside]
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 5:45 PM - 3 answers

January 1

Seasonal wildlife events in the San Francisco Bay area?

My spouse and I like to go watch animals. We live in the south SF Bay area. What are some once-a-year things we should see? [more inside]
posted by reventlov at 9:59 AM - 9 answers

December 31, 2019

Tire Chain Topology Problem

Okay, so I have some tire chains (that my neighbor hand-made for me). When not on the tire they are laid out like a ladder -- one chain on each side, with a large number of 'rungs' across (i.e. like this. This is great, they are super heavy duty.... but it's somewhat important I don't let them loop through themselves. Is there a topologically sound solution to preventing them from ever accidentally looping through themselves? [more inside]
posted by so fucking future at 5:25 PM - 6 answers

December 28, 2019

A book conservation question

I have just acquired a book from the 1880s which has colour plates in it. The colour plates are starting to stick to the facing page (I think it's specifically the coloured ink which is becoming tacky). I presume that there is some sort of non-stick paper that I can put in the book to deal with this - but I'm not au fait with the language of book conservation, so I'm not sure how to start looking for this. [more inside]
posted by Vortisaur at 7:00 AM - 7 answers

December 27, 2019

Lemmings? Or?

Biological MeFites, my friend who is writing a novel asks: "Are there examples in nature of self-culling in plants, animals, or bacteria? It could be war, could be suicide, could be contraception - anything which might keep a species from hitting the wall of carrying capacity or environmental degradation."
posted by exceptinsects at 1:45 PM - 12 answers

December 22, 2019

Quotation about early nuclear physics research

I'm trying to find the source of a half-remembered quotation from (or about) an early nuclear physics researcher, talking about how they didn't initially realize that their work would lead to the development of nuclear weapons. It's along the lines of: "We were innocent, like children playing in a sandbox, with no idea of what would come after." [more inside]
posted by leslietron at 11:46 AM - 4 answers

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