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Author Topic: Everybody Loves Science!  (Read 39533 times)

mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #250 on: 16 Jun 2015, 21:34 »

I find it somewhat disturbing when someone says "this bad weather proves global warming."  It's too much like "this snowy weather disproves global warming."

I'm somewhat curious if filling dry lake beds with sea water pumped in via aqueducts would slow desertification in the south west, but that's kind of an expensive science project.
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #251 on: 19 Jun 2015, 04:08 »

I find it somewhat disturbing when someone says "this bad weather proves global warming."  It's too much like "this snowy weather disproves global warming."
Boiling down the entire video to "this bad weather proves global warming" is more than a bit disingenuous, methinks.
Quote
I'm somewhat curious if filling dry lake beds with sea water pumped in via aqueducts would slow desertification in the south west, but that's kind of an expensive science project.
Land plants and animals can't live on seawater. So, my guess is no.

Hallucinations by Google's image recognition algorithm.

Detecting animal features in a painting:


Detecting building features in random noise:


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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #252 on: 19 Jun 2015, 04:15 »

I'm somewhat curious if filling dry lake beds with sea water pumped in via aqueducts would slow desertification in the south west, but that's kind of an expensive science project.
Land plants and animals can't live on seawater. So, my guess is no.

Your guess would be wrong.

It's feasible by creating a system of artificial salt marshes. You'd need to be a lot of other things at the same time but yeah, completely doable from a simplistic perspective. The big risk is that geo-engineering can throw up unexpected results.
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Active Madness

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #253 on: 19 Jun 2015, 05:18 »

Holy salinification, batman!
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mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #254 on: 10 Sep 2015, 18:56 »

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cesium133

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #255 on: 24 Sep 2015, 12:57 »

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mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #256 on: 20 Jan 2016, 18:31 »

The hunt is back on for Planet X.  Seems like it should be called Planet IX now.  :claireface:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/planet-nine-evidence-grows-for-1347529463955510.html

Not a valid vimeo URL
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mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #257 on: 11 Feb 2016, 18:21 »

Gravitaional waves:  they exist!
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #258 on: 11 Feb 2016, 21:06 »

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #259 on: 18 Feb 2016, 10:38 »

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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #260 on: 18 Feb 2016, 19:14 »

Next year comes a smaller version that holds twice the data.
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Akima

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #261 on: 12 Mar 2016, 01:06 »


This is a sample of Linear A. It has survived for thousands of years. Nobody can read it.
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #262 on: 12 Mar 2016, 02:04 »

See?  It's not just digital storage that has problems in that regard!

When the recording of Nelson Mandela's speech to the court after he was jailed were found, the only remaining machine that could play it was already in the Science Museum in London.
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #263 on: 12 Mar 2016, 03:43 »

Exactly my point. An everlasting recording medium is not useful without a similarly long-lived ability to read it. Which is not just a matter of hardware, but software, including that running in human brains. All of that assumes the sort of cultural continuity that allows Oracle Bone Script (the oldest examples dating back to about 1400BCE) to be read where Linear A cannot.
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mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #264 on: 12 Mar 2016, 18:18 »

Will anyone decipher this gobbledygook?

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #265 on: 16 Mar 2016, 16:08 »

I hope not, that one on the left has our address.
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A "buttload" is an actual measurement, next time someone tells you that they need a buttload of something, tell them 126 gallons might be a bit too much.

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #266 on: 30 Mar 2016, 14:25 »

well, by the time anyone finds it we'll have probably moved somewhere bigger. it's the next tenant's problem.
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mustang6172

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #267 on: 19 Apr 2016, 18:00 »

I've always wondered what would happen if it were discovered by aliens that live at a very different atmospheric pressure than our own.  Would they realize how much that changes the sound quality?

Sarah Palin says we should listen to her because she's as much of a scientist as Bill Nye.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/04/18/fact-check-sarah-palin-scientist-bill-nye/83206808/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories

I remember my sixth grade science teacher telling us that anyone, whom employs the scientific method, can rightly be called a scientist.  It is unclear if Sarah Palin has ever used the scientific method.  8-)
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #268 on: 29 Apr 2016, 16:05 »

It's crazy enough how drastic the effect of the gut microbiome is on the human body (and mind!) and now they're saying that even having intestinal worms could protect you from disease!
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #269 on: 29 Apr 2016, 16:12 »

What do you think makes the special sauce so special?
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"Being human, having your health; that's what's important."  (from: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi )
"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #271 on: 07 Jun 2016, 06:10 »

Electric eels seen leaping out of water to attack land predators

I still have a hard time believing that electric eels are real and didn't come straight out of Pokémon.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #272 on: 08 Nov 2016, 15:31 »

A theoretical physicist from the University of Amsterdam published a paper that presents evidence that dark matter may in fact not exist, and that the discrepancy in gravitational force can be explained by an additional force called dark gravity. I actually haven't got a clue how, the abstract alone is almost completely indistiguishable from sci-fi technobabble. I'll paste it so you can share in the experience of having something fly so far over your head that it classifies as an astronomical event. It all sounds really cool though!

Quote
Recent theoretical progress indicates that spacetime and gravity emerge
together from the entanglement structure of an underlying microscopic theory.
These ideas are best understood in Anti-de Sitter space, where they rely on the
area law for entanglement entropy. The extension to de Sitter space requires
taking into account the entropy and temperature associated with the cosmological
horizon. Using insights from string theory, black hole physics and quantum
information theory we argue that the positive dark energy leads to a thermal
volume law contribution to the entropy that overtakes the area law precisely at
the cosmological horizon. Due to the competition between area and volume law
entanglement the microscopic de Sitter states do not thermalise at sub-Hubble
scales: they exhibit memory effects in the form of an entropy displacement caused
by matter. The emergent laws of gravity contain an additional ‘dark’ gravitational
force describing the ‘elastic’ response due to the entropy displacement. We
derive an estimate of the strength of this extra force in terms of the baryonic
mass, Newton’s constant and the Hubble acceleration scale a0 = cH0, and provide
evidence for the fact that this additional ‘dark gravity force’ explains the
observed phenomena in galaxies and clusters currently attributed to dark matter.

Here's the paper.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #273 on: 15 Nov 2016, 02:00 »

Randall Munroe has this to say about that topic:
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Case

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #274 on: 21 May 2017, 08:30 »

"When scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big"

Quote
Kari Alitalo had studied lymphatic vessels for more than two decades. So he knew that this network, which carries immune cells throughout the body and removes waste and toxins, didn’t extend into the brain: This had been accepted wisdom for more than 300 years. “Nobody questioned that it stopped at the brain,” says Alitalo, a scientist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Turns out the brain has two lymphatic networks ...  :-o

Quote
This was surprising, to say the least: In the 21st century, major findings involving basic human anatomy are rare. “These days, you don’t make discoveries like this,” Alitalo says. “But every once in a while in science, you stumble on something really unexpected. You open a new door, to a whole new world.”

And it may help a lot of people:
Quote
The discovery is much more than a historical footnote. It has major implications for a wide variety of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke and traumatic brain injury.
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LeeC

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #275 on: 24 May 2017, 11:20 »

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Case

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #276 on: 01 Jun 2017, 13:55 »

"You Look Familiar. Now Scientists Know Why."

Quote
The brain has an amazing capacity for recognizing faces. It can identify a face in a few thousandths of a second, form a first impression of its owner and retain the memory for decades. Central to these abilities is a longstanding puzzle: how the image of a face is encoded by the brain. Two Caltech biologists, Le Chang and Doris Y. Tsao, reported in Thursday’s issue of Cell that they have deciphered the code of how faces are recognized.

Quote
Advances in machine learning have been made by training a computerized mimic of a neural network on a given task. Though the networks are successful, they are also a black box because it is hard to reconstruct how they achieve their result.

“This has given neuroscience a sense of pessimism that the brain is similarly a black box,” she said. “Our paper provides a counterexample. We’re recording from neurons at the highest stage of the visual system and can see that there’s no black box. My bet is that that will be true throughout the brain.”
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #277 on: 22 Aug 2017, 12:57 »

To answer the question of why there are so many heavy elements in the universe, astrophysicists have proposed an interesting scenario: what if a black hole collided with a neutron star?

They say the neutron star won't simply be absorbed in one big gulp, because black holes can only consume matter bit by bit. So what'll happen is that the black hole will actually end up inside the neutron star, wearing it like a shell while devouring it from within. A side effect of this is that the neutron star shell - which already tend to rotate thousand of times per second - will accelerate its rotation, eventually spinning so fast that the surface on its equator will break apart and the material gets flung into space, eventually forming conventional matter by gathering protons and electrons.

So to clarify, a black hole - the gravitational pull of which is literally impossible to escape - collided with a neutron star - which is merely pratically impossible to escape from - results in an object with enough energy to launch matter out of both its gravitational wells!

Fucking metal.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

LeeC

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #278 on: 29 Nov 2017, 08:01 »

The Yeti, or abominable Snowman (which is itself a mistranslation of "that thing there") may have been figured out.  After hundreds of reports of yeti sightings, footprints, and remains found, the mystery appears to have been solved.  After extensive mDNA testing it appears the Yeti is the Himalayan brown bear and the the Himalayan black bear and in some cases a hybrid of both.  The bear species are critically endangered and can be rare to find.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/so-much-abominable-snowman-study-finds-yeti-dna-belongs-bears

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/health/yeti-scientific-proof-study/index.html
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #279 on: 22 Jan 2018, 15:20 »

The Myopia Boom (Nature, 2015). The prevalence of myopia has skyrocketed in China, and it's hypothesised that this increase is because children who spend all their time indoors receive too little light for their eyes to develop properly. While children's eyes are developing, they should be spending significant time in illumination of at least 10,000 lux, which is the brightness of an overcast day. Not coincidentally, this is also the strength of illumination used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light can be pretty essential for good health.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

Akima

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #280 on: 22 Jan 2018, 17:07 »

Yes, this is a thing. Chinese school-children typically have a "nap-time" at lunch, rather than going out to play in the playground. Various reasons/excuses have been offered for this (the terrible air-pollution in most Chinese cities, for example), but I suspect that it is simply easier for the teachers.
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pwhodges

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #281 on: 23 Jan 2018, 00:57 »

In parts of my childhood I had an enforced post-lunch "rest".  That that didn't prevent me having ample time outside as well.
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Case

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #282 on: 10 Feb 2018, 10:54 »

"Shared molecular neuropathology across major psychiatric disorders parallels polygenic overlap"

Quote
Genes overlap across psychiatric disease

Many genome-wide studies have examined genes associated with a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the degree to which the genetic underpinnings of these diseases differ or overlap is unknown. Gandal et al. performed meta-analyses of transcriptomic studies covering five major psychiatric disorders and compared cases and controls to identify coexpressed gene modules. From this, they found that some psychiatric disorders share global gene expression patterns. This overlap in polygenic traits in neuropsychiatric disorders may allow for better diagnosis and treatment.

Would be great if this lead to advancements in the diagnostic process. Everybody with mental health trouble can relate to the feeling of wanting to "finally know what is wrong with me, already!" and wanting to have a diagnosis that is reliable, not another addition to a series of 'horrible words' that people with medical degrees have attached to them over the years (*).
 Counter to what many people may expect prior to a consulting a mental health professional, a diagnosis doesn't have to feel like a condemnation to a life of medically confirmed deviancy and in-validity, but can rather feel like finally getting an answer to questions that has haunted them for long stretches of their lives. The first step of the four-steps method for dealing with OCD is derived from just such a moment of joy: "It's not me! It's (my) OCD" (to a young Case, OCD felt "like watching yourself go crazy, in full possession of all my mental faculties", so I can definitely relate to the feeling of relief: No, you're not crazy, it's just a part of your brain having a hiccup again).

But mental health diagnostic is rarely simple and clear-cut, it is hard to exclude subjective elements, and it requires a lot of experience.

As far as I can see, this may open the promise of giving psychiatrists another powerful tool.



(*) My last therapist could go on for quite a while about her young trainees' tendency of diagnosing a positively stunning number of female clients with Borderline Personality Disorder. In her opinion, such a diagnosis should not be given earlier than after half a year of weekly consultations, and not to clients younger than 25
« Last Edit: 10 Feb 2018, 11:06 by Case »
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #283 on: 10 Feb 2018, 14:46 »

I don't know what's actually correct.  But to me, Dark Matter and Dark Energy are both profoundly unsatisfying ideas.  These forces, this matter, are completely undetectable EXCEPT for the sole phenomenon which we interpret as evidence for it, and to me that seems like a warning that something is wrong with our thinking.

To me it seems that's more a matter of precisely describing the phenomena we need a theory to explain, than it is like formulating any kind of testable theory. 

And I can't help thinking that the evidence we've got for them is no more evidence than we started with; we observe phenomena that do not match up with our model, and we're handling it by simply adding things that behave sort of but not really like things in  our model, the way the Greeks added epicycles to the orbits of the planets even though, in violation of their own laws of the spheres as they understood them, these epicycles were ill-formed because there was nothing to anchor their centers.

Without any hint as to what's the actual reality, I just can't escape the feeling that these ideas, these things that "don't interact with matter" except by the *only* phenomena we need them to give us explanations for, are things that may be only imagined, the way perfectly sober and serious physicists of an earlier day believed in phlogiston and luminiferous ether.  I think maybe they don't reveal things in our model that we can't otherwise detect; our need to invent them to make our model fit, may reveal that our model is itself flawed.
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #284 on: 10 Feb 2018, 15:00 »

Wow Case, I didn't know you were into neurogenetics. This is pretty heavy stuff, I think I got the gist of it, but I'm not entirely surprised that mental disorders are genetically linked this way. It's pretty well known that mental disorders are strongly comorbid: statistically, having one puts you at much higher risk of having more. Autistic people are more likely to be schizophrenic, people with OCD are more likely to be depressed, you name it. That disregulated activity of many of the same genes are behind all of them makes perfect sense.

Even knowing that didn't make it any easier to treat them, though. As with this result, I'm not sure what powerful tools you envision coming from this. It might open up more avenues for drug development, knowing which genes are involved and what resulting neurochemical imbalances require addressing, but that's just step one in a series of many, many steps towards a workable intervention. Theoretically you could devise a treatment that targets the disregulated genes and modifies their activity, but I don't know whether anything like that even exists, and if it does, it's probably highly invasive.

I'd still call it a very promising result and a win for science, but not a reason to throw a parade just yet.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

Case

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #285 on: 10 Feb 2018, 16:48 »

Wow Case, I didn't know you were into neurogenetics.

Neither did I. Is it dangerous? Does it come off in the wash?  :oops:

(I followed a link from a German-language article in a "science-mag" called Quanta. Linking the popsci-article on an English-speaking board seemed pointless, so I linked the actual paper)

Even knowing that didn't make it any easier to treat them, though. As with this result, I'm not sure what powerful tools you envision coming from this.

They should be very manly and powerful, but not too manly to make me a coffee.

Jokes aside: I thought this might lead (at some point in the future) to procedures, tools ... wackamaguffins that make diagnosis easier and more reliable, by giving additional quantifiable & measurable results. I probably added a good dose of cheerful mal-comprehension to my cheerful ignorance.



P.S.: On top of that, I'm finalizing a paper right now ... seems the lingo ('rich new physics', 'promising avenues' - you know the drill) has started bleeding into my regular blurbing.
« Last Edit: 10 Feb 2018, 16:54 by Case »
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"Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter" - Rosa Luxemburg
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LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #286 on: 11 Feb 2018, 03:18 »

Quote
Jokes aside: I thought this might lead (at some point in the future) to procedures, tools ... wackamaguffins that make diagnosis easier and more reliable, by giving additional quantifiable & measurable results. I probably added a good dose of cheerful mal-comprehension to my cheerful ignorance.

We can only hope. If I'm not mistaken, the data they gathered to do this research mainly came from cutting up post-mortem brain samples. So a direct diagnosis of disregulated gene expression would be... rather terminal.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

LTK

Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #287 on: 05 Mar 2018, 14:37 »

In what is undoubtedly both the most fascinating and annoying demonstration of everyday fluid physics, my tea always manages to defy gravity and pool onto my desk while I leave the mug to cool. It happened a few times before I figured it out: it leaks out because the tea bag string is acting as a siphon. The string gets wet and sticks to the side of the mug, giving gravity a pull on the tea that lets it dribble out via the path of least resistance. Leaving me with a puddle to clean up. I hate it, but it's so cool!
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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #288 on: 06 Mar 2018, 02:26 »

In what is undoubtedly both the most fascinating and annoying demonstration of everyday fluid physics, my tea always manages to defy gravity and pool onto my desk while I leave the mug to cool. It happened a few times before I figured it out: it leaks out because the tea bag string is acting as a siphon. The string gets wet and sticks to the side of the mug, giving gravity a pull on the tea that lets it dribble out via the path of least resistance. Leaving me with a puddle to clean up. I hate it, but it's so cool!

I know someone who's house got flooded because of the same thing...

They had a dripping tap, which was fine.
And they went on holiday for two weeks, which was fine.
Except for the fact that they had a towel hanging over the edge of the bath, the end of which was under the dripping tap...

Replacement bathroom floors all round!
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #289 on: 06 Mar 2018, 05:55 »

I actually use that to water my office plant while I'm on holiday. A bottle of water, and some string, works a treat.
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #290 on: 19 Apr 2018, 19:20 »

Jupiter's tidal like effect on the asteroids in the asteroid belt.

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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

Morituri

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #292 on: 12 May 2018, 22:01 »

Sometimes I look around and I think, here we stand on the verge of becoming an interplanetary civilization - with no good reason why we can't go on to be interstellar, or even galactic - and most of us have no idea how lucky we are. 


We got the Theia impactor to give us a huge moon with tidal effects, and Jupiter to keep our area swept reasonably clear of asteroids, at least since the Late Heavy Bombardment.   We got abiogenesis within 700 million years of the crust of the planet cooling, when our g2 yellow dwarf still had five billion years left on the odometer before it definitely will cook the place.   

But we weren't given that five billion years at the outset.  The sun was getting warmer, and would have cooked the place in just two to two-and-a-half billion years if we hadn't reset the clock.

It was a last-minute save that reconfigured the planet.  We breathed out oxygen which broke down the powerful greenhouse gas methane.  If we hadn't, the warming sun would have cooked the place.  But we did, so we got the Huronian Glaciation instead.  Volcanos finally broke us out of that with CO2 greenhouse effects, meanwhile destroying the atmospheric oxygen.  The albedo rose as the ice melted, and the planet would have cooked with the runaway feedback loop, except we started breathing again and took the CO2 out of the atmosphere. 

So .... we'd have cooked except that we breathed out enough poison to destroy our warming effect plunging us into eternal winter.  And we'd have frozen, except that volcanos restored a weaker kind of warming effect while removing the poison.  And we'd have cooked again, except that we destroyed the weaker kind of warming effect while restoring the poison.  And we'd have died of poisoning except that in the nick of time we got saved by the coincidental appearance of a completely unprecedented kind of freak that actually breathed the poison.  And the new version of the planet had another few billion years before the warming sun will cook it, and the new oxygen-breathing life could get more energy from what was otherwise the same food.

That was all sheer luck.  There is no reason why the timing of these things had to line up as perfectly as it did.

Now, as a side benefit, Oxygen in the upper atmosphere gave us ozone.  That shielded the land from ultraviolet, and made it possible to survive outside the water.  Which, admittedly, wasn't very important at the time, but it mattered later.

Next on the list of bizarre inexplicable strokes of luck, you have eukaryotes.  Life up to that point had been prokaryotes.  Prokaryotes are small and simple.  Eukaryotes are incredibly complicated by comparison.  They are huge cells thousands of times larger than a prokaryote, with hundreds of different organelles having specialized functions, nuclei containing DNA and specialized machinery for keeping the DNA checked and repaired, cell walls that form vacuoles, and a million other structures that prokaryotes had no precedent for.  And most of them make no sense without most of the others already in place.  But, bam, half a billion years after the Oxygen Crisis, there we are.  With about 2.8 billion years left on the clock. 

2.8 billion years is a pretty aggressive schedule for a eukaryote to build a launch vehicle, but here we are just 1.8 billion years later, so we're doing all right.  We'd never have made it if we hadn't found a few more ways to hurry the schedule along though.  And about 600 million years after that, we hit the evolutionary motherlode.  This is the discovery whose anniversary we still celebrate every year with our annual Big Bang party:  The invention of sex.  We got there with about 2.2 billion years left before the clock runs out.

Sex allows macroorganisms to exist and evolve, which is to say plants and animals.  It's really hard for one-celled organisms to develop a space program.  And allowing for a way for macroorganisms to blend and exchange genetic information  is essential for them to evolve.  It allows mutations that took place in separate lineages to both or all appear in a common descendant.  Sex sped up the evolutionary process by dozens of orders of magnitude, at least.  Without it, we'd never have made this launch date.

Now, these aren't the only points where we got lucky.  I could go on for days about stuff that's weird and quirky and bizarre that had to happen for us to survive this long and for us to get this advanced this fast.  Earth is like a hothouse where conditions and blind luck have lined up so perfectly it's utterly crazy! 

And yes, I'm aware of the Anthropic principle; we can't observe all the possible universes that didn't produce us, so we can't know how likely we were.  But, gentle people, I direct your attention outward.  To the great silence, where we have been diligently searching for any evidence of any civilization like us, or only a century or two more advanced than us, and we have not seen it.  All those hundred billion stars in this galaxy that could have produced something like us, as far as we can tell, did not.  All the quadrillion stars in the thousand galaxies close enough for our observations to be meaningful, as far as we can tell, did not.   The Anthropic principle means we can't tell by our own existence anything about the likelihood of the events that created us, but The Great Silence means we can tell that there are a quadrillion stars where those events didn't happen and only one we know about where they did.

And the Anthropic principle cuts both ways.  Time after time, life on Earth has survived.  Disaster after disaster, hasn't happened.  There is no ordered mechanism that keeps our climate stable in the long run; there is only a chaotic process, and chaotic processes sometimes crash.  Ours hasn't crashed in the last three billion years, but we can't know whether that's because it was unlikely or because we were incredibly lucky.  We only think there is an ordered mechanism because we have never seen it crash.  And nothing prevents us from destroying ourselves. Obviously, we wouldn't be here to think about it if we had.  We are not dwellers in a safe universe.  We are Mister Magoo, the blind man who escapes death every twenty seconds and doesn't even realize he was ever in danger. 

It is by sheer luck that we have not, so far, joined the Great Silence.  And symbolic intelligences, like humans, are so far the rarest known survival strategy. We only have about a billion years left on the clock so humans are probably our last shot at this.

Don't blow it now.
« Last Edit: 07 Dec 2018, 11:03 by Morituri »
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LeeC

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #293 on: 21 May 2018, 18:40 »

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LeeC

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #294 on: 07 Dec 2018, 06:52 »

The Science of Flint's Water Crisis:

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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #295 on: 07 Dec 2018, 20:05 »

Noam Chomsky on climate change and the US efforts to accelerate it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdAOgNTxxt0

Chomsky is widely regarded as a way-out-there liberal, but as far as I know he has never made a scientific claim not backed by actual science. 

Science is not a liberal conspiracy.
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Re: Everybody Loves Science!
« Reply #296 on: Yesterday at 09:02 »

Noam Chomsky on climate change and the US efforts to accelerate it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdAOgNTxxt0

Chomsky is widely regarded as a way-out-there liberal, but as far as I know he has never made a scientific claim not backed by actual science. 

Science is not a liberal conspiracy.

In many parts of the USA, they will vehemently argue it is....Just like in similar parts, it has come to the point where going to college is almost considered treasonous....(unless it's for business of course)

Bolding is mine.

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