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Category: Science

May 28, 2008

Wolverine Frog

wolverinefrog.jpg

Harvard biologists have described a bizarre, hairy frog with cat-like extendable claws. Trichobatrachus robustus actively breaks its own bones to produce claws that puncture their way out of the frog's toe pads, probably when it is threatened.

Link to New Scientist Article

April 12, 2007

Bacon Math

Update: honeyfields sends me a link to bacon band-aids

New York Times' London Journal

Should it be slithery or scrunchy, glutinous or grilled? The answer, British scientists say, may be divined by a formula: N = C + {fb(cm) · fb(tc)} + fb(Ts) + fc · ta.

That is the scientific answer to the question: what makes the perfect bacon sandwich?

via Scalzi

And while we're talking about the nytimes and food:

You can take the sugar out of soft drinks and the fat from junk food. But eliminate the pungent odor from what may be the world’s smelliest fruit and brace for a major international controversy.

The durian, a spiky fruit native to Southeast Asia, has been variously described by its detractors as smelling like garbage, moldy cheese or rotting fish. It is banned from many hotels, airlines and the Singapore subway. But durian lovers — and there are many, at least in Asia — are convinced that like fine French cheeses, the worse the smell, the better the taste.

February 13, 2007

The Eye of Helix watches us

spitzer.helix%20nebula.jpg

The Spitzer Space Telescope caught this awesome image of comets colliding in the Helix Nebula (the red is the comet dust). It would fit well with BSG mythology.

via SpaceWriter Ramblings

December 22, 2006

The Giant Squids Are Coming

squidIf they were pissed when we ripped off one of their tentacles, imagine how angry they'll be now that we caught and killed one of them. And if you're not afraid yet, let me quote the article:

[Researcher Kubodera] also said that, judging by the number of whales that feed on them, there may be many more giant squid than previously thought.

They're Pissed, and there's lots of them.

November 6, 2006

Shuttles from the Space Station and Hubble

I never really thought about orbit angles and such, but apparently its really important if you're sending objects up to service objects in space. The Hubble Telescope is at a very different orbit angle from the International Space Station, which means that it would be very difficult for a shuttle to get assistance from the space station in the event of an emergency. I just assumed in a Space Camp sort of way that, once you're in space, you just bang on some thruster buttons until it all works out. The New York Times has more.

Speaking of shuttles and the International Space Station, here's a shot of a space shuttle launch as seen by the ISS (via Mr. Sun/Warren Ellis):

And here's an aurora borealis shot from the ISS as well (via space.com):

New York Times Article on Hubble + ISS

More photos from Warren Ellis

June 29, 2005

Nuclear Contact

France is going to be the site first nuclear fusion reactor, with Japan picked as the site of the second reactor. This is a major $10B+ undertaking by a six-nation consortium of the US, Japan, EU, China, Russia, and South Korea, and many scientific and engineering challenges will have be solved before the reactor is scheduled to come online in 2015.

This news reminds me of Carl Sagan's Contact. Beyond the similarities of Japan being picked as a second site for a major, international building effort, this paragraph from the article could have come straight out of a faux Contact news report:

Many experts also predict that construction could take much longer than currently foreseen, given the difficulty of coordinating multiple suppliers of costly and highly technical components in many countries. Today's agreement leaves open the possibility that still more countries may participate in the project. India, for example, has expressed interest in getting involved.

December 1, 2004

Sad

Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

At least our pop culture will remain intact:

While cutting the budget of the science foundation, Congress found money for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, bathhouses in Hot Springs, Ark., and hundreds of similar projects.

June 21, 2004

Congrats SpaceShipOne

After seeing photos of SpaceShipOne's crashing landing a half a year ago (the craft wasn't badly damaged, and they had just made history billed as the first supersonic flight by a small private firm), I didn't expect to them to turn things around so quickly, but it looks like the makers of SpaceShipOne have a good craft on their hands. Not only did they get the craft dusted off, but they finished the final phases of their development and made it to space and back. Now they just have to complete two flights within two weeks and the X-Prize is theirs.
- SpaceShipOne Makes History with First Manned Private Spaceflight

June 18, 2004

Another reason to vote not Bush

The past two years have demonstrated that conspiracy theories are justifiable in this administration. My conspiracy theory has been that Bush proposed the Mars/Moon project, not in the spirit of space exploration, but to cripple NASA into cuts/privitization. Perhaps it has more credence now with the latest commission report. All I know is a NASA employee e-mailed me a short message: 'You got it. Two words - "Vote Kerry"!'
- Technology News: Science: Report Favors Privatization of NASA
- Panel dropped idea of closing NASA field centers
- NPR : Commission: NASA Needs Major Changes to Pursue Mars Missions

April 20, 2004

Bioscanning

It looks like the PARC-Scripps partnership is finally out in the open. If there was a previous announcement, I missed it. One of the higher-ups at Scripps gave a forum at PARC where he showed off some of the cool stuff they were doing, such as adding new codons + base pairs + tRNA, growing ears on the backs of mice, etc... (though he spoke with such glee that seemed a complete rejection of any social or moral implications of what they were doing). PARC has now been working with Scripps to figure out how to wonderful world of Xerox technology (printers, scanners, etc...) can be merged with the world of biotech to create interesting, and medically useful technologies. This CNET article talks about how PARC is working on tagging cancer cells and then using lasers to try and scan for them in the blood.

BTW - I think it's funny that CNET has to lead there article with "Xerox Palo Alto Research Center," followed in the next paragraph with, "The research center, known as PARC."

February 24, 2004

NYTimes on autism

Interesting reading, considering that a higher-than-normal percentage of the Bay Area is autistic, and that percentage will likely continue to increase:
- Lifting the Veils of Autism, One by One by One

February 23, 2004

Analysis Mars Spirit crash

After some speculation from various circles, this article reveals what actually happened to the Spirit rover when it went dead for several days.
EE Times - The trouble with Rover is revealed

January 28, 2004

Cool stuff

New form of matter at really cold temperatures:
PhysicsWeb - Fermionic condensate makes its debut

January 4, 2004

Congrats NASA

There wasn't much good news from space in 2003. There were record solar flares (cool images, but not good news), Columbia scattered over Texas, and Britain's attempt at Mars most likely a failure (unless a large crater manages to get out of the way of Beagle 2). Even SpaceShipOne managed to skid across the runway on landing. About the only good news was the new Spitzer Space Telescope, which promises to become surpass Hubble with the beauty and quality of its images.

Well, 2004 promises to reverse this chain of bad luck, and like any great NASA endeavor, it comes with cool photos as well. First, Stardust successfully rendezvoused with Comet Wild II, collected some particles, and snapped some pics. Also, the new Mars Spirit rover is currently trapezing across the red planet and sending back some nice photos. If you look carefully in the larger photos, you can spot Bill Nye's Mars sundial sitting on the rear solar panel.
panorama of Mars

December 4, 2003

O-Cha

Something cool my company is doing:
California Breast Cancer Research Program - Risky Research Pays Off
The researcher claims that it helps reduce risk for several types of cancer, though in its natural form you have to drink at least seven cups of green tea to get the benefit. I better go fill up my teapot.

October 30, 2003

Cat see, monkey do

wu-tang reminded me of this article and was even nice enough to send along the link.
BBC News | Sci/Tech | Looking through cats' eyes

October 20, 2003

Architecture meets Bio (Course 4 Meets Course 7)

MIT researchers are coming up with new ways of growing tissue, including building 3-D scaffolds to encourage specialization.
ScienceDaily News Release: MIT Engineers Report New Approach To Tissue Engineering

(via Ars Technica: The PC enthusiast's resource)

October 15, 2003

Freaky Frogs

purple frogScientists have discovered a species of frog in India that has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. It's unlike any other current frog family around so they have designated a new family for it. It's closest relative is a species of frog that exists in the Seychelles (near Madagascar ), which separated from India 65 million years ago.
CNN.com - Frog that hopped with dinosaurs found - Oct. 15, 2003

September 24, 2003

Don't call it global warming

It's been there for three millenia, but don't link the breakup of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in Canada to global warming, nor the breakup of ice shelves near the opposite pole as well.
- CNN.com - Report: Giant Arctic ice shelf breaks up - Sep. 22, 2003

Bye bye Galileo

JPL News -- Galileo End of Mission Status

September 12, 2003

Coldest temperature ever

ScienceDaily News Release: Biggest Chill: MIT Team Achieves Coldest Temperature Ever

August 25, 2003

Cool vision stuff

My limited exposure to psych makes me think that this is really cool: Scientists Gain Insight From Man's Vision (washingtonpost.com). The guy had his sight restored after 40 years of being blind (he lost his sight when he was 3), which is leading to a lot of discoveries on the development of visual processing in the brain. He is able to sense color, motion, and basic shape, but he not able to recognize objects or people. It remains to be seen whether or not this part of his visual system will develop, or whether its lost to him for good.

More cool space photos on the way

sirtfNASA's latest telescope is on it's way. This one seems to be cool (a) because it's infrared and will see very distant, cold objects, and (b) it will actually be doing a solar orbit instead of staying stationed above Earth.
CNN.com - NASA launches last of the 'Great Observatories' - Aug. 25, 2003 (NASA Press Release)

August 12, 2003

X-Fish

Scientists in Milwaukee are working on mutant Zebra fish infused with firefly DNA. The plan is to outfit the fish in tiny spandex suits and drop them in water sources, where they will use their mutant superpowers to glow in response to contaminated water.
- JS Online: They swim. They glow. And they could fight terrorism, thanks to Milwaukee scientists (via Dave Barry)

August 6, 2003

Seabiscuit II

washingtonpost.com: First Cloned Horse Announced

June 27, 2003

Cool medical news

Antibody could lead to HIV vaccine

February 26, 2003

So long Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10 is now officially silent after 31 years of service (launched March 2, 1972). Not bad for a craft that was designed for a 21-month mission plan. The last transmission from it was received January 27, from a distance of about 7.6 billion miles from Earth.

Accomplishments:
- first spacecraft to get close pictures of Jupiter
- first man-made object to leave solar system
- first spacecraft to pass through asteroid belt

January 13, 2003

Environmentally-Friendly Rocket Fuel

Rocket fuel that's environmentally-friendly, and cheaper to produce. Imagine that: news release, images. Even more weird is that it's paraffin - the stuff was fun to play with in chemistry class, but who'd a thunk it?

October 7, 2002

That's one big asteroid

Astronomer's have discovered the biggest object since Pluto. Dubbed "Quaor," it is 800 miles across (1/10th the size of Pluto) and orbits the earth every 288 years.