Science Doesn’t Sleep (7.17.08)

Creative Commons License photo credit: watercolors08

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

National Geographic has beautiful photos of the Abrolhos Reef, off the coast of Brazil – which scientists have recently discovered is twice as large as previously thought.

Molecular hula hoops: very tiny fun!

The Maker Faire is coming to Austin. According to the organizers, it’s “a newfangled fair that brings together science, art, craft and engineering plus green, food and music in a fun, energized, and exciting public forum.” Will you enter? Tell us what you’re making!

Ohhh…I see. When you said “lucky” what you really meant was “carcinogenic.”

Stephen Hobley plays a harp made of lasers – that also functions as a controller for Guitar Hero. Best of all – you can build one, too! (Love Guitar Hero – but not DIY enough to make your own laser version? Check out Rockfest in the Grand Hall this Saturday.)

SciGuy‘s got a list of Houston’s most generous science philanthropists – it’s a chronicle not just of their generosity, but also the cutting-edge science facilities we have here in Houston. He’s posting them one at a time, so check back.


Science Doesn’t Sleep (7.1.08)

Huge green lizard
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rosina ♫♪

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

The world’s most organized lizards: not only do members of the chameleon species Furcifer labordi  all hatch at the same time – they also manage to always do so in November. They then live for only four months – making them the shortest-lived, four-limbed vertebrates.

Penguins are dying – sounding the alarm over the health of the world’s oceans.

Scientists have compiled the first complete map of the human brain.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the formal presentation of the theory of evolution. Though it is often credited to Charles Darwin, NPR has an interesting story about whether his contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace, deserves some of the credit.

In laser news: use a beam of light to tweeze your eyebrows; or, fire up a laser to clean a wound of medicine-resistent bacteria.

It’s cheaper to fill your tank in space than in The Netherlands. Speaking of filling your tank, our own Claire was interviewed about how gas gets from the ground to the pump this morning in the Wiess Energy Hall.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (4.15.08)

So here’s what went down since you logged off.

Have you ever wanted to curate an exhibit? Now’s your chance. With Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum is giving you a say in what they put on display. Just visit the site, register and start rating their photographs. The sliding scale is ridiculously easy to use, and the photographs are amazing. Here’s what they say about it:

“Taking its inspiration from the critically acclaimed book The Wisdom of Crowds, in which New Yorker business and financial columnist James Surowiecki asserts that a diverse crowd is often wiser at making decisions than expert individuals, Click! explores whether Surowiecki’s premise can be applied to the visual arts—is a diverse crowd just as “wise” at evaluating art as the trained experts?”

Testing a theory – what a scientific way to create an art exhibit! They need lots of participation for the idea to work, so head on over there, check it out and let us know what you think.

The odds of disaster are tiny, but the risks are cosmically high.” The New York Times weighs in on CERN’s deep desire to create a black hole that swallows the Earth.

With hurricane season looming, it’s good to hear that scientists have developed a safer way of predicting these storms. But if you’re more interested in the crazy-dangerous way they currently use, the Hurricane Hunter is visiting Galveston today.

Creative Commons License photo credit: EÖnn

What’s with scientists and giant lasers, lately? Just a week after UT physicist Todd Dittmire announced that the Texas Petawatt Laser had just become the most powerful in the world, a team of European scientists used another laser to create lightning in thunderclouds.

Electricity, Schmelectricity. Scientists at the University of Utah have developed a circuit that may lead to computers that run on light (specifically, terahertz radiation.)

USGS: “Large California Earthquakes: Odds are High.” Also in breaking news – “Summer in Houston: Humid, Hot.”



Science Doesn’t Sleep (4.8.08)

So here’s what went down since you logged off:

More support for the theory that everything is bigger in Texas: The Texas Petawatt Laser is now officially the most powerful in the world, according to Todd Ditmire, a physicist at UT-Austin. Yesterday, it reached a power output greater than one petawatt, or one quadrillion watts. That’s more than 2000 times the power out put of every power plant in the entire United States.

Immediately following the announcement, Ditmire laughed maniacally and demanded one million dollars

South Korea became a space state – their first astonaut, Yi So-Yeon, blasted off for the International Space Station early this morning.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is good for more than creating black holes to swallow the Earth – physicist Peter Higgs expects its use will confirm the existence of the Higgs boson particle – also dubbed the “God particle.”

A real-life bizarro world? Astronomers have found a solar system orbiting a star much like our Sun, with planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn – leading to speculation that a Bizarro Earth (and perhaps even a Bizarro Jerry?) may not be far behind.

And finally, this morning: Have you ever wondered how long you could survive, if you were ejected from a spaceship, Spock-style? Now you can find out. It’s fun – in a morbid sort of way.

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?

Created by OnePlusYou

Visit the site to see how long you’d last – and get an excruciatingly detailed account of what your last minute or so would be like. Thanks for the Chronicle’s SciGuy for pointing this out – I’ve got him beat by 12 seconds – but I have no idea why, and it seems like this is one of those contests that you probably want to lose. How do you fare?