Questions in the Science & Nature category.
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December 9, 2020

Fun sciency things for stocking presents?

In the past I've gotten things like supertaster test strips, pH test strips, and miniature UV flashlights for my family as gifts. What other fun, inexpensive things are there that you can use to do little experiments around the house? Preferably under $5 each.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:31 AM - 15 answers

Study where people justified an advantage they'd been randomly assigned

I'm looking for a study I read about, probably in the last 10 years, where participants were put in groups and played a game. One player, randomly chosen, was given an advantage like extra start money or an extra die to roll. The researchers found that the person with the advantage would quickly begin to justify their winning by saying they were good at the game or things along those lines. [more inside]
posted by Awfki at 9:48 AM - 2 answers

December 6, 2020

How do I reassure ppl i know about the upcoming covid-19 vaccines?

Difficulty level: for residents of provably authoritarian countries who've been actively pro-democratic and thus reflexively skeptical of govt actions (which is usually warranted). They don't want to be antivaxxers, but they've been susceptible to 'skeptical' claims right now. I'm usually okay with countering the misgivings about the vaccine development turnaround time, but the new one I'm hearing is they're 'not sure' about the mid-term to long-term impact. How should I reply? (I have basic grasp of biology, public health and medical practice)
posted by cendawanita at 9:09 AM - 17 answers

December 5, 2020

What type of scientist do I want to be?

At the tender age of 32, and with no college degrees whatsoever, I have decided that I am going to become a scientist. I'd like to start pinning down, however roughly, which STEM field I'm aiming for. Are you a scientist or otherwise working in a STEM field? Do you love, hate, or just tolerate your job? Does your job fit any of my criteria below, or do you know of one that definitely does - or definitely does not? Please let me know! [more inside]
posted by quiet_musings at 9:01 PM - 14 answers

December 1, 2020

How does clinical trial efficacy work (simply put)?

Confused about the data provided on the recent COVID studies, and why they mean vaccines were judged to be 95% effective [more inside]
posted by troywestfield at 4:05 PM - 11 answers

November 25, 2020

ID this nocturnal bird (probably)

This bird in Minnesota seemed to be crepuscular and/or nocturnal. It was first noticed in July and it was still around as recently as early October, audible at dusk and for a few hours after sunset. I don't know if it was active at other hours as well. In summer the calls were spaced roughly 5 seconds apart, while in October they were about 30 seconds apart. It was kind of like a screech but with a shift in tone that gave it a slightly drawn-out, plaintive quality. What was it? Audio links and additional details inside: [more inside]
posted by theory at 5:51 PM - 7 answers

November 24, 2020

Twin Cities Forest Picnic

For Thanksgiving, my little family wants to have a picnic in a pine forest. But which one? Can you recommend a place within 90 minutes of the Twin Cities that has a pine forest where we can lay our blankets on a bed of pine needles? Bonus points for: not crowded, not a 5 mile hike from the car with picnic, and postprandial pretty hiking options.
posted by shadygrove at 6:13 AM - 3 answers

November 23, 2020

What Could This Be?

I found this in a coffee can of seashells in the basement of my new house. It's about three inches long, and an inch and a half wide. It has a somewhat rough texture. The house is in Illinois about 7 miles from the Mississippi. Anyone have any ideas? Photo here
posted by Westlake71 at 4:29 PM - 8 answers

November 20, 2020

Eye protection - laser edition

What should I look for in inexpensive protective goggles/glasses to make sure their lenses actually protect my eyes effectively from an 810nm class 1 diode laser (for home hair removal)? [more inside]
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:26 AM - 10 answers

November 18, 2020

Chemical composition of a supplement

What's the best and/or least expensive way to test a supplement for the actual chemical content? Is there another way to go about something similar? [more inside]
posted by dozo at 12:22 PM - 3 answers

If you know who Scott Lilienfield is, this question is for you

I was both saddened and dismayed to read that Prof. Lilienfield died recently at the too-young age of 59 (link to NYT). [more inside]
posted by Transl3y at 8:02 AM - 1 answers

November 17, 2020

Oregon Birding Recommendations?

Does anyone have suggestions for early winter birding in Oregon & Northern California? [more inside]
posted by rubatan at 12:35 PM - 3 answers

November 14, 2020

Wow, what's up with iron combustion?

I recently saw an article about burning and then "un-burning" iron powder, allowing the same material to be burned over and over again as part of a renewable energy system. Dang, I have so many questions! [more inside]
posted by Lirp at 7:39 PM - 17 answers

November 12, 2020

What are the best books/resources for Rapid Math /Arithmetic Hacks?

I've always been interested in quick mental math/arithmetic. e.g. Sometimes I find myself checking a bill by adding it up the way we were taught in school. I'm sure there are better ways. What are the best books/resources? Looking for math techniques that can be used often, are easy to remember and easy to use!
posted by storybored at 6:36 PM - 9 answers

November 9, 2020

writing on the history/philosophy of pharmaceuticals?

I'm interested in understanding the historical paradigms of thought around pharmacology and the concept of medicine - not medical practice in general, but specifically ingesting various substances to produce healing. [more inside]
posted by funeralcult at 5:32 PM - 7 answers

November 8, 2020

(2000lb) Birds on a Plane?

From the perspective of an external observer watching a cargo plane with a 2000lb bird(s) flying around inside, what happens to the bird and plane when the cargo plane opens its cargo-bay doors? [more inside]
posted by rubatan at 1:51 PM - 10 answers

November 7, 2020

What are some exciting non-fictional books on Science for beginners?

I am keen on learning more about Science since my background is mostly social sciences and humanities. What are some interesting enriching science-oriented non-fictional a beginner would enjoy reading? [more inside]
posted by RearWindow at 5:13 PM - 20 answers

Help me remove this lid!

Help! Any ideas in how to remove the metal top from this this vintage glass cocktail shaker? [more inside]
posted by at 2:25 PM - 12 answers

November 5, 2020

Lab-quality (low tolerance) graduated cylinders / pipettes?

Working with my psychiatrist, I'm continuing a years-long taper off of a psychiatric medication (in IR tablet form) that I have developed an extreme physiological dependence on. Compounding services aren't financially viable for me in the long term, so I am planning on preparing my own solutions of appropriate dosages. Because of the therapeutic dose of this medication, I am going to need to have the ability to accurately measure liquid in very small amounts. Any professional chemists (or the like) have suggestions for me? [more inside]
posted by vocativecase at 8:05 AM - 24 answers

November 2, 2020

Science magazines for layperson

What are the best science magazines written for the layperson? Ideally, these feature articles that are well-written and high quality. Ideally articles put new ideas/discoveries/findings in appropriate context in the field and discuss the degree of validity / extrapolation appropriate, and are written by science-focused journalists. I'm fine with some sensationalism (to provoke interesting thoughts!), but would like it strongly tempered with appropriate skepticism and adherence (duh) to the scientific method. [more inside]
posted by ellerhodes at 8:29 PM - 16 answers

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