Science Doesn’t Sleep (8.14.08)

Granny Smith
Nutritous and delicious.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Navarro

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

For the 2008 Olympians, what’s nutritious and delicious? Powdered apple peel.

Humans and wild elephants in Indonesia have come into repeated conflict over habitat - resulting in property losses for humans and deaths of wild elephants. So, locals have developed a squadron of trained “flying elephants” that patrol the perimeter villages and warn their brethren away.

Insects that dive underwater create an “underwater lung” – an air bubble they carry with them as they swim – in order to breathe. Scientists have just figured out how it works.

Don’t forget to sleep on it: sleep plays a sophisticated role in what we remember – and what we forget.

Geographic profiling: what works for bees also works for serial killers.

Ready the wonderment: the Moon goes into partial eclipse this Saturday night.

Where have all the sea monsters gone? A variety of factors are transforming Earth’s oceans into “simplistic ecosystems dominated by microbes, toxic algal blooms, jellyfish and disease.”

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.

Titanic and Today

April 14, 2008: Ninety-six years ago this evening, the temperature in the North Atlantic had just dropped below freezing while the RMS Titanic steamed toward America at 22 knots, racing through the calm cold water, heedless of iceberg warnings.

arctic.jpg

The Arctic, today.

The captain and crew knew far less about ice and Arctic conditions than we do today. If they had, could this tragedy have been averted?

So many factors contributed to the tragedy: the temptation to set a transatlantic crossing record in calm seas, the lack of binoculars in the crow’s nest, the radio room’s focus on sending passenger messages, the Captain’s preoccupation with running out of coal, the unusual conditions in the North Atlantic and the lack of sunspots – the list of factors goes on and on.

But perhaps the most significant was the news article labeling the RMS Titanic an unsinkable ship.

If the improbable is called impossible, it becomes inevitable!

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This video features photography of the ship, news coverage of the tragedy,
the discovery of the wreckage and photos of survivors – and people who
were not as lucky.

And there are other factors – after impact, sinking might have been avoided and more passenger could have been saved – but the poor decision-making continued. This is a story with many lessons to be learned.

On Monday night, April 14, Museum visitors can experience the Arctic today and the Titanic’s fate a century ago.

chris-linder.jpg

Chris Linder, researcher and photographer
from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Chris Linder, researcher and photographer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has spent the last year near the Poles and will take you on his Arctic and Antarctic adventures. His images of research expeditions during the International Polar Year will show what we now know about the Poles and how we are learning more.

His story will highlight Arctic changes and their potential effects on global climate change and our ability to avoid the “icebergs” currently in our path. After his presentation, you will experience the Night of the Titanic in immersive full-dome video.

Please join us for this very exciting and thoughtful evening.

Consider it a date with destiny!

Science Doesn’t Sleep (4.7.08)

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

As if we don’t have enough weather possible natural disaster to worry about: a magnitude 3.7 earthquake struck south Texas this morning at 4:51 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey. The Chronicle’s SciGuy has more.

Creative Commons License photo credit: magical-world

Location, location, location – it seems Houston’s poor air quality may be due, in part, to close proximity to the coast. A new study shows sea salt may be the culprit.

On the flip side, our proximity to the coast means you won’t have too far to go if you want to help Adopt-A-Beach clean it up. Off the Kuff has information on how you can help.

Because criminals care about the environment, too. Chemists have developed a test that will detect the presence of ‘green’ (lead-free) ammunition. Check out the link for a great picture of a single gunshot residue particle that has been magnified 200 times.

So now I have to worry whether my Mac thinks I’m having a good hair day? Scientists at Tel Aviv University claim they’ve taught a computer to recognize beauty in women. Researcher Amit Kagian says it’s the next step towards artificial intelligence. I say, where’s the program that evaluates attractiveness for your gender, Mr. Kagian?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Beger Photography  

(Beger.com Productions)

I still wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley, but alligators may be our new best friend. Researchers have discovered proteins in alligator blood that may fight “superbugs” that don’t resond to conventional medications – as well as infections associated with diabetic ulcers, severe burns and AIDS.