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Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 9875 | Comments: 4
Last by Nelson on Feb 01, 2011, 9:11am
This week's guest blogger is Waddell Robey. He has eighteen years of aerospace engineering and management experience and thirty plus years in health and human services research. He is a strong space exploration activist and maintains a steady commentary on Twitter as XiNeutrino and through direct mailings to NASA leadership. He has several blogs devoted to space exploration. His philosophy is that we are here to explore, and in exploring we discover, and in discovering we seek to explain, and in explaining we enrich that which we call science.

Introduce a topic about space elevators within a group of space travel enthusiasts and you will usually get a variety of reactions from eye-rolls, to snickers, to nods of acceptance and interest. Although there is continuing encouragement, especially from NASA, for design research into the total space elevator concept, there remains several critical areas that pose serious barriers. One of the most important and the most challenging to address is the exposure of the space elevator to intense radiation.

Anchored to an ocean platform on the equator and to a geo-synchronous space terminal 100,000 k . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 9715 | Comments: 13
Last by Laura Maaske on Jan 08, 2013, 7:58pm
What comes to mind when you think of a medical and scientific illustrator? Is it a kind of art you admire? How do you respond to highly detailed drawings? Do the fleshy human interiors make you squeamish, which is a remark I have sometimes received from clients regarding medical images in general? Does the precision impress you? Does the stiffness offer you stillness or rigidity, something to explore? Do you love the great masters of the field: Leonardo DaVinci, Andreas Vesalius, Max Brödel, Frank H. Netter, John James Audubon?

As a student medical illustrator, I knew what I wanted to learn. I wanted to wrap my mind around the science and the drawing skills I would require in the future. I already had an undergraduate degree in zoology, and our courses in the Division of Biomedical Communications were to be shared with the medical students at the University of Toronto, so science was heavily on my mind. There were . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 10291 | Comments: 12
Last by Unhappy on Jun 09, 2012, 1:16pm
Angela Monaghan is a geophysicist living in southwest Montana. In her spare time she trains and field trials her Hellfire Springer Spaniels, sporadically blogs as GeoFizz and tweets as MTHellfire.

*This entry contains a YouTube video*

"Tide goes in and tide goes out...you can't explain that." Bill O'Reilly recently told Dave Silverman of American Atheists, during a recent airing on Fox News as they debated the integrity of religion.

Although I was disappointed Dave couldn't just blurt out "It's the MOON, moron" and melt Bill into a gooey puddle of religious ignorance, I did sympathize with him. (Just look at his stunned facial expression!) He was probably thinking the same thing I was, it's impossible to rationally argue with a person who thinks facts don't matter anyway.



The frightening aspect to a highly paid TV personality being so ignorant should be obvious. There are thousands, if not millions, of people watching who might be even more ignorant than "Bill-O The Clown", and who might believe every ignorant thing he says is true.

Recently, I was told through a Facebook i . . . More
Author: David Manly | Views: 9365 | Comments: 5
Last by Evie on Nov 27, 2010, 2:12pm
Plants never quite held an interest to me. I understood their vital roles in the ecosystem, I admired their beauty and their survival in the harshest of climates, and I spent a long time learning how they grow, evolve and reproduce.

But, they never were able to keep my interest compared to animals, which is why I studied zoology and not botany.

However, there are a few species of plants that I do like, and here they are:

Sundew



From the family Droseraceae, these plants look and act in an interesting way. At first glance, they appear to have some dew on the ends of their long leaves. But, like most plants, looks can be deceiving - they are true killers.

The droplets of dew are not dew at all, but a sticky substance known as mucilage that will trap any unlucky insect that happens to be attracted to the glistening globs.

Once the insect touches down to sample the fake dew, the true marvel of the Sundew is revealed. The plant then contorts its tentacles to the centre of the leaf, and traps the insect with a barrage of sticky globs of mucilage.

Once the insect is cornered, there is no escape.

It is survival of the fittest at its best.

*This entry conta . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 8488 | Comments: 6
Last by Suzy on Feb 17, 2011, 10:19am
OK, let’s pick up our discussion where we left off last week, at feasibility. You did it. You successfully convinced a room full of vice presidents and directors, or maybe even the CEO that they should take your fabulous product idea to the next level. You’ve got marketing on board, excited to promote it and now it’s time for the work to begin.

You are the lead scientist so this will be your baby. You most likely are working on other projects too so you have to divide your time wisely. An R&D scientist always has multiple projects as various stages of the development process. You don’t get to spend full time on one thing. You know what your deadlines are and the target dates for giving updates to the committee and you make it a point to meet them.

I think to fully explain how a product is developed it would be helpful to have an example. Let’s use an example of something that no one has ever figured out how to do yet but almost everyone wishes they had a solution for. How about:

A novel method that allows for any protein of any size or sequence or species to fold correctly when recombinantly expressed in E.coli cells.

No inclusion bodies, no toxic . . . More
Author: Cynthia McKelvey | Views: 9735 | Comments: 0
For over two decades, Shark Week on Discovery Channel has been raising awareness of one of the ocean's most mysterious and powerful predators. Discovery originally started Shark Week with the purpose to dispel myths about the dangers of sharks, and to heighten the public's respect for the creatures. However, this year, many fans have felt outraged that Discovery may be straying further away from the original purpose of Shark Week. This year, Discovery unveiled the faux-documentary, Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives.

Megalodon, for the record, are definitely, absolutely extinct. They were super-sized sharks that once roamed the oceans some 2 million years ago.

Relative size of Megalodon (red and grey) vs. human. Source.
The Discovery special, on the other hand, suggested an alternative. Megalodon still roams the oceans, somewhere off the coast of South Africa. The documentary looked and seemed like any other documentary about real life events (however fantastic.) It convinced 70% of viewers that Megalod . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 9325 | Comments: 13
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Feb 07, 2011, 10:23am
"This is the one thing you never want to mess around with. You'll wake up in the middle of the night crying like a baby and you'll have no idea why." These were the sage words of my undergraduate advisor, it's too bad they got discarded with everything else that I learned in undergrad.

------

My scientific career has been filled with plenty of misadventures and screw ups. Most of them are really boring mistakes that didn't involve bodily harm, and only resulted in weeks of repeated work or extended nights in the lab re-preparing samples. Though, every good scientist has an epic fail story locked away in their skeleton closet. I think many of us go into science in the beginning thinking that we're unstoppable know it alls. That is until some event punches us in the gut to tell us, "Open your eyes and pay attention or else next time I'm going to aim a little lower and negatively affect your chances of reproduction."

When I was in undergrad, I worked on a bunch of projects ranging from ecology field studies to molecular biology projects in plants and fish. One of the last projects I worked on was one where we were trying to determine if fish bacterial infections could be transferred from mother to egg. This project involved c . . . More
Author: Jeffrey Martz | Views: 8910 | Comments: 7
Last by duasatu on Feb 26, 2013, 11:05am
A genus is a group of very similar species (the plural is genera). The practice of naming genera and species is called alpha taxonomy. When we name a species, we say both the genus and species names together. For Tyrannosaurus rex, “rex” is the actual species. “Tyrannosaurus” is a genus (notice that both words are italicized; genera and species names can also be underlined). This means that you could have a bunch of closely related species which are all grouped under Tyrannosaurus. In fact, there is a form from Mongolia called Tarbosaurus bataar, which lived just a few million years before Tyrannosaurus rex, and which is almost identical to it. Some paleontologists think should be considered a species of Tyrannosaurus: Tyrannosaurus bataar. It is acceptable to give the genus name as just the first letter followed by a period, for example T. rex (but not as T-rex, T-Rex, as it is sometimes given). So, we could say that there are two species of Tyrannosaurus: T. rex and T. bataar.

Unfortunately, we are even vaguer on how to recognize a genus as how to recognize a species. As with the morphological species concept, it is pretty much based on similarity. But how similar? The genus Tyrannosaurus belongs to a group of theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs) called tyrannosaur . . . More
Author: Evie | Views: 9556 | Comments: 12
Last by Evie on Nov 10, 2011, 6:08pm
It would seem as though the end of an era is upon us. Tomorrow, will be the last scheduled launch of the NASA Space Shuttle. Or at least, that's what the current plan says. Never know with that Florida weather. Regardless of the date, there is only one mission left in the old bird. After which, NASA will recall it's vehicles, and the shuttle will be retired. For good.



I'm not typically one who cares much about so called historical events. However, I do find myself thinking: 'Awww.. no more shuttle.. Awwww'. Yes, there are 2 'Aww's in there. I'm as surprised as you are.



Being the space nut that I am, I spent much of my childhood day dreaming about what it would be like to take a ride up to space in that thing. So much so, that I in fact became the first person to land on the newly repaved landing strip runway at Cape Canaveral.



It was back in the early 80's. My family and I flew to FL to spend the summer with my grandma. During our stay, we took a road trip up to the Cape, and the eager little toddler that I was got on a facility tour bus with the big kids. My parents came along too. The bus took us all around the complex. No I don't remember any of this, but I do h . . . More
Author: LabSpaces.net | Views: 7888 | Comments: 42
Last by Evie on Sep 21, 2010, 11:12am
Last night, I retweeted Genomic Repairman’s request for the twitterverse to sign up for an account at LabSpaces. He wanted users to join in on the discussions he was having in the group he created. We were greeted moments later by a tweet from DrugMonkey saying that THE Facebook for science is dead. Considering I just wrote a blog post on that exact topic, I found his tweet Ironic. The emphasis in that previous post being that there probably will never be ONE single social hub for scientists, but that doesn’t preclude the formation of multiple niche venues. Please excuse me while I get this out of my system:

(rant)What exactly is a FaceBook for science anyway? Is any site with a science spin, groups, a forum, and/or user profiles a “FaceBook.” If that’s the case, then there are hundreds of FaceBooks for science out there. I’d argue that the term is deprecated. Many sites employ social tool . . . More
Author: Evie | Views: 7720 | Comments: 4
Last by Evie on Nov 01, 2010, 9:06am
DonorsChoose.org is a great idea. It allows anyone and everyone to help out with as little or as much as they choose.



Basically school teachers in the US who find themselves in need, make a request, explaining exactly what they are missing from their classroom. They tell you what it is they need that would be of tremendous help, they explain what they need it for. And how it's gonna help the kids learn, and love science, possibly just as much as you do!

If you can spare a few minutes and a couple of bucks, you can be responsible for making a kid fall in love with science. A love that can last a lifetime.

You the donor, get to pick exactly where your money goes. There are literally thousands of 'projects' you can choose from. I am sure if you browse through the list, at least one will be near and dear to your heart. And perhaps you will choose to donate a few dollars to the cause, in place of your morning coffee.

As a huge bonus, this month, under 'Science bloggers for students', all us science bloggers are trying to get as many people involved as possible. You see, for every dollar you donate, HP will match it, and we'll get double the impact and double the help!

So what do you say? Can you throw a couple of . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 8263 | Comments: 0
I'm willing to bet you've made fun of the expression-less faces on heavily-Botoxed people.

With their vanished crow's feet, missing smile lines, lack of forehead wrinkles, and paralyzed cheeks, eventually we just can't tell whether Botox abusers are happy, sad, angry, worried, or just plain crazy. We can only assume the latter.

As it turns out, this side effect may actually be a good thing for individuals with depression who are resistant to other forms of treatment.

Back in March, I blogged about the neurochemistry of Botox (click here to read). Botox is the trade name for botulinum toxin, a powerful neurotoxin which, in very small medical doses, functions to paralyze the muscles of the face (or wherever it's injected). On the other hand, severe botulism poisoning, which occurs primarily through food contamination, can result in paralysis of respiratory muscles, leading to respiratory arrest, coma, or death if untreated.



Botox functions by blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from being released by the axon terminal of a neuron. Typically, acetylcholine binds to receptors on muscle, causing contraction; inhibiting th . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 7628 | Comments: 0
I am a New York City public high school Earth Science teacher. Before this, I devoted my life to the theater arts. These days, my audience consists of thirty-four tenth graders per class period from the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. To gain any inkling of their attention, I experimented with numerous tactics. I put on the mean face: I scolded, I scoffed- it didn't work. I began to pull out the tools of improvisation and character work that I utilized in my first career of acting, then mixed it with my over flowing enthusiasm for Earth Science. My classes became a science stand up routine, including improvised songs (the Attitude Song became quite a hit) a plethora of accents, and random impersonations (including Chewbacca) to suit the moment . Combine that with a serious love for science and behold- I am now the ultra-hyper Ms. Frizzle with questionable sanity. After being initially frightened, they began appreciating this approach: “Yo Miss- you make me hype... you make me want to learn”, regularly suggesting that I should host my own science show on television. So I decided to create my own channel, “Introducing Earth” on You Tube.

At around the same time, I was accepted into the Columbia University Research Fellowship Program for Science Teache . . . More
Author: Jeffrey Martz | Views: 7792 | Comments: 4
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 26, 2011, 6:57pm
Tom Holtz, a well-known expert on tyrannosaurs, recently posted a blog entitled "What Should Everyone Know About Paleontology?" It is worth checking out.

The next few posts will discuss the subjects of taxonomy and systematics. In biology and paleontology, the word “taxonomy” refers to a system of naming living organisms, and (more importantly for this discussion), figuring out how to classify them (group them together). “Systematics” is a broader subject which includes taxonomy, but also considers the evolutionary relationships and history of organisms.

The word “species” refers to one of the most fundamental groups of living things. Intuitively, it isn’t hard to grasp more or less what a species is: a group of living things that are the exact same “kind” of thing. Apples are one species, oranges are another. Humans are one species, chimpanzees are a different species. However, saying that all humans are the same “kind” of thing is a little vague; what exactly does that mean?

There are several different definitions which have been proposed for species, but I’ll just mention a couple here. The “biological s . . . More
Author: David Manly | Views: 7533 | Comments: 1
Last by Suzy on Dec 05, 2010, 2:02pm


Yesterday was just an odd day.

So, I decided to listen to a bunch of music to brighten my mood. And while I was listening to my happy music, I remembered a song that totally and completely defines ME.

Therefore, I decided to post this video here for you all to enjoy! And, if you've never truly understood me ... this video should help!

P.S. There are TONS more weird animals than are in the video, and eventually I'll do a post on the weirdest/most interesting.

P.P.S. Can you name all the animals in the video?

Author: genegeek | Views: 7782 | Comments: 6
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 06, 2010, 5:46pm
This post is in honour of 007, the unbeatable secret accountant, who is getting ready to join the Terry Fox Challenge - after she finds out about options for chemo.

I have several friends around the world who are dealing with cancer diagnoses and they have had some general questions about the treatment options. None of them are science experts and instead of writing the same email to everyone, I thought I would try a general post.

Warning: this post is not advice for anyone and it is a general introduction to the topic. I won't try to explain the specifics of any particular drug because that is beyond my level of expertise.

What is chemotherapy? Why take it?

It depends who you ask. Many patients will say, 'poison'. But really, the term means 'drug therapy' although we generally use it in Canada to mean drugs to kill cancer cells. Please note that chemo is used in many diseases but I'll focus on cancer applications as that is where most of the questions have started.

In cancer treatment, chemo is usually offered when there is a concern that there might be tumour cells that were not or can not be removed with surgery or radiation. For ex . . . More
Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 7582 | Comments: 0
Last Friday I was watching 20/20 with my fiancee. Shows like 20/20 or Dateline are usually about some unsolved murder mystery that is just creepy, but TV offerings on Friday evening are slim pickings so we gave this one a shot. This episode by Chris Cuomo (son of former NYS Governor Mario Cuomo and brother of current NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo) dealt with the unexpected consequences of facilitated communication- a technique used to give autistic people a chance to communicate when they're unable to audibly. Of course it is mostly garbage, but we'll get to that.

The idea is that autisic people can't speak- at least not audibly. But give them a keyboard and they can type out ideas- in fact very well put together ideas. Most times they still need help to type, so a facilitator literally holds their hand, or wrist or arm, and helps them guide their finger to the key they're looking for. That's right, someone else "helps" autistic people type what they're trying to say.

It sounds almost miraculous. People who were previously thought to be uncommunicative all of the sudden can create thoughts and sentanc . . . More
Author: Angry Scientist | Views: 7784 | Comments: 3
Last by Moderates_Rule on Mar 26, 2013, 11:56am


. . . More
Author: David Manly | Views: 8481 | Comments: 10
Last by Emma Rose on Jun 04, 2012, 9:21am
The past few days have been very interesting and filled with questions and mysteries, but the surprising thing is that none of these events happened while I was awake. For the past four nights, I have experienced some of the craziest dreams in recent memory.

Four nights ago, I had a dream that I hunted poisonous snakes in my den using nothing but a woven blanket and my wits. There were copperheads, asps, king cobras and more. And yet, surprisingly, I only had to deal with one at a time.

It was like the snakes would wait their turn to be confronted by me and my most trusted sidekick, an old friend from elementary school who I hadn’t seen in well over a decade.

Three nights ago I dreamt that I was back in my high school and had to solve calculus equations that took up all the walls in the school. I was able to ask one person for help, so I invited Sheldon Cooper from TV’s The Big Bang Theory, but as soon as he saw them he ran away.



And the brutal taskmaster, my heavily accented calculus teacher from university, said that if I didn’t solve them all perfectly by the end of the school day, the school would blow up.

No pressure, eh?

Two nights ago resulted in one of the weirdest dreams, where space aliens took over C . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 7159 | Comments: 0
A teacher calls on you when your hand isn't raised, and you feel the familiar sensation as your classmate's eyes immediately dart toward you. Mrs. So-and-So watches expectantly, smirking. A surge of blood races from your gut to your head and your cheeks become warm. Hot. A sheepish smile involuntarily follows. You know you're bright red, and that embarrasses you even more.

Everyone knows what it feels like to blush—whether from embarrassment, emotional stress, or even just receiving a compliment. Perhaps worse than the act itself is knowing that everyone else can see the physical manifestation of your discomfort, which inconveniently functions to further redden your face.

But for 5-7% of the population, blushing is a chronic problem—happening both more frequently and with greater magnitude than the average person. Physically, it's rather harmless—but psychologically, it can be devastating.

In late May, Brandon Thomas, a 20-year-old University of Washington student, committed suicide by jumping from his 11-story dorm. "I am tired of blushing," read his suicide note. "It is exha . . . More
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