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claymisher 06-15-2009 06:41 PM

Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Origin of life science has had a little growth spurt:


Quote:

“We finally have a molecule that’s immortal,” he said, meaning one whose information can be passed on indefinitely. The system is not alive, he says, but performs central functions of life like replication and adapting to new conditions.
NYT: New Glimpses of Life’s Puzzling Origins

I'm SO awesome! 06-17-2009 02:59 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0616122106.htm

EVERYBODY'S GAY!

yay! this makes me excited to see "Bruno" when it comes out.

I'm SO awesome! 06-17-2009 03:54 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
synchronized fireflies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBgq-_NJCl0

Starwatcher162536 06-19-2009 09:14 AM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Not really sure if this counts as a story, but the below links to a fun little read about why experiment is the king of science, and not those gay math fags :D.

http://www.maa.org/pubs/Calc_articles/ma010.pdf

bjkeefe 06-19-2009 10:46 AM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 117042)
Not really sure if this counts as a story, but the below links to a fun little read about why experiment is the king of science, and not those gay math fags :D.

I had to read your comment three times before I realized you weren't saying meth. I blame the MSM.

Also, I wonder, is someone who's a "gay fag" in fact straight?

No need to answer. I can't get no satisfaction.

[Added] Except by following your link. Thanks. It was a fun read.

claymisher 06-19-2009 11:04 AM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 117049)
I had to read your comment three times before I realized you weren't saying meth. I blame the MSM.

Also, I wonder, is someone who's a "gay fag" in fact straight?

No need to answer. I can't get no satisfaction.

[Added] Except by following your link. Thanks. It was a fun read.

It's going to take me an hour to read through the math on that one. But I take this as a challenge! I'm going to do it. Maybe not today though.

bjkeefe 06-19-2009 11:17 AM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 117050)
It's going to take me an hour to read through the math on that one. But I take this as a challenge! I'm going to do it. Maybe not today though.

It's worth reading at least the first bit to contemplate the idea that when the tip of the latter nears the ground, it must be moving faster than the speed of light, according to the model typically taught in Calculus I.

I remember doing ladder problems, but I don't remember ever thinking about the y in the denominator. I guess the mechanical way we were taught to do them rearranged the terms before that possibility became apparent.

Like you, I will have to invest some more effort before I can say anything more.

claymisher 06-19-2009 12:25 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 117053)
It's worth reading at least the first bit to contemplate the idea that when the tip of the latter nears the ground, it must be moving faster than the speed of light, according to the model typically taught in Calculus I.

I had never thought of that before! That's true for anything with a limit in it. Yikes.

This has been another lesson in everything you know is wrong.

bjkeefe 06-19-2009 01:27 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 117062)
I had never thought of that before! That's true for anything with a limit in it. Yikes.

This has been another lesson in everything you know is wrong.

Well, no, not exactly. It's true, nominally, for anything with a limit tending to zero where the relevant variable is in the denominator. But recall from your calc classes that much time was spent on learning algebraic techniques to rearrange the terms to clear that apparent problem. Indeed, in the very limit definition of the first derivative:

x' = lim ((f(x+h) - f(x)) / h ), as h -> 0

you always appear to have, to start, a zero in the denominator.

Nonetheless, the hare does eventually catch the tortoise. Rabbits are renormalizable.

Starwatcher162536 06-19-2009 01:37 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 117053)
I remember doing ladder problems, but I don't remember ever thinking about the y in the denominator. I guess the mechanical way we were taught to do them rearranged the terms before that possibility became apparent.

You had a bad teacher then. You usually start getting into these related rates problems right after lerning about the chain rule, he should have had you all make it into a differential equation and solve for dy/dt algebraically, to show why you really need to be careful about the assumptions you make in your model.

bjkeefe 06-19-2009 02:01 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 117075)
You had a bad teacher then. You usually start getting into these related rates problems right after lerning about the chain rule, he should have had you all make it into a differential equation and solve for dy/dt algebraically, to show why you really need to be careful about the assumptions you make in your model.

No, I had great math teachers. Don't blame them for anything that I might have missed or forgotten.

I do remember, in general, that one has to watch out for implicit assumptions, and now that you mention it, sure, the caveats related to blind application of the chain rule come to mind. I just meant that I don't remember this aspect of the ladder problem, specifically.

Starwatcher162536 06-23-2009 04:42 PM

This is kind of cool
 
http://www.siliconvalley.com/ci_12590357

boom!

bjkeefe 06-24-2009 03:35 PM

Re: This is kind of cool
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 117405)

I hope they clear it with Satya Harvey first, given that she had this to say about the earlier, similar Japanese mission (emph. added):

Quote:

There is a Japanese lunar orbiter named Kaguya that is scheduled to crash into the moon today at about 2:30 pm ET. Scientists hope to learn something about the moon’s composition by observing the debris that is kicked up.

In many traditions, including astrology, the moon represents the feminine. It is the yin, the intuitive, the emotions. Women are connected to the moon by their menstrual cycles while they are fertile, and all beings, including the earth herself, are affected by the pull of the tides.

Purposefully crashing something into the moon just to watch what happens is akin to a schoolboy cutting up a live frog to see what makes it jump. It is an example of the domination of the left-brained rational scientific approach over the intuitive.

Did these scientists talk to the moon? Tell her what they were doing? Ask her permission? Show her respect?

When we are connected into the web of life, we know that what we do to one part is what we do to all. Gaining knowledge by destruction is an empty victory.

Aren't you glad we already have the word moonbattery?

Starwatcher162536 06-30-2009 11:19 PM

Playboy bunnies bounce back.
 
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/sh...cing-back.html

Starwatcher162536 07-10-2009 10:32 PM

A slightly bigger........boom.
 
A Slightly bigger....boom.

Quote:

It has been established that, owing to the proximity of a resonance
with Jupiter, Mercury’s eccentricity can be pumped to values large
enough to allow collision with Venus within 5 Gyr (refs 1–3). This
conclusion, however, was established either with averaged equations1,2
that are not appropriate near the collisions or with nonrelativistic
models in which the resonance effect is greatly
enhanced by a decrease of the perihelion velocity of Mercury2,3.
In these previous studies, the Earth’s orbit was essentially unaffected.
Here we report numerical simulations of the evolution
of the Solar System over 5 Gyr, including contributions from
the Moon and general relativity. In a set of 2,501 orbits with
initial conditions that are in agreement with our present knowledge
of the parameters of the Solar System, we found, as in
previous studies2, that one per cent of the solutions lead to a large
increase in Mercury’s eccentricity—an increase large enough to
allow collisions with Venus or the Sun. More surprisingly, in one
of these high-eccentricity solutions, a subsequent decrease in
Mercury’s eccentricity induces a transfer of angular momentum
from the giant planets that destabilizes all the terrestrial planets
3.34 Gyr from now, with possible collisions of Mercury, Mars or
Venus with the Earth.
Interesting, completely useless, but interesting.

SkepticDoc 07-11-2009 02:07 PM

Re: A slightly bigger........boom.
 
This was supposed to be a fun thread...

bjkeefe 07-11-2009 02:11 PM

Re: A slightly bigger........boom.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SkepticDoc (Post 120056)
This was supposed to be a fun thread...

I thought Starwatcher's post was fun. You just don't know how to party.

;^)

SkepticDoc 07-16-2009 05:25 PM

why some animals have a short stature
 
http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jul2009/nhgri-16.htm

slightly funny, definitely amusing (to me)

claymisher 07-22-2009 04:22 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Really delightful video of life in the oceans:

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_gallo...nishments.html

claymisher 08-07-2009 02:21 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators
Biologists have created a living computer from E. coli bacteria that can solve complex mathematical problems

Quote:

The research, published today in the Journal of Biological Engineering, proves that bacteria can be used to solve a puzzle known as the Hamiltonian Path Problem. Imagine you want to tour the 10 biggest cities in the UK – one route might start in London (number 1) and finish in Bristol (number 10), for example. The solution to the Hamiltonian Path Problem would be the route that takes in each city just once.

This simple problem is surprisingly difficult to solve. There are over 3.5 million possible routes to choose from, and a regular computer must try them out one at a time to find the one that visits each city only once. Alternatively, a computer made from millions of bacteria can look at every route simultaneously. The biological world also has other advantages. As time goes by, a bacterial computer will actually increase in power as the bacteria reproduce.

Programming such a computer is no easy task, however. The researchers coded a simplified version of the problem, using just three cities, by modifying the DNA of Escherichia coli bacteria. The cities were represented by a combination of genes causing the bacteria to glow red or green, and the possible routes between the cities were explored by the random shuffling of DNA. Bacteria producing the correct answer glowed both colours, turning them yellow.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/bl...teria-computer

bjkeefe 08-07-2009 02:38 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 124015)
Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators
Biologists have created a living computer from E. coli bacteria that can solve complex mathematical problems

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/bl...teria-computer

Bacteria that can operate as computers? Computers that can breed like bacteria?

WASN'T THIS SUPPOSED TO BE THE FUN SCIENCE THREAD???

;^)

Starwatcher162536 08-07-2009 03:01 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
That is a pretty cool proof of concept, but really is not that exciting from a results standpoint, that article really blows thing out of proportion. Isn't a hamiltonian path with three vertices...just a triangle? :/

claymisher 08-07-2009 03:09 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 124020)
That is a pretty cool proof of concept, but really is not that exciting from a results standpoint, that article really blows thing out of proportion. Isn't a hamiltonian path with three vertices...just a triangle? :/

Of course, you're right, but the point is that it was FUN! :)

claymisher 08-11-2009 05:19 PM

Are our brains evolving?
 
In real time???!!!

Quote:

Rather than sticking to a single DNA script, human brain cells harbor astonishing genomic variability, according to scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The findings, to be published in the Aug. 5, 2009, advance online edition of Nature, could help explain brain development and individuality, as well as lead to a better understanding of neurological disease. The team ... found that human brain cells contain an unexpected number of so-called mobile elements—extraordinary pieces of DNA that insert extra copies of themselves throughout the genome using a "copy and paste" mechanism.

"This is a potential mechanism to create the neural diversity that makes each person unique," says Gage. "The brain has 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion connections, but mobile pieces of DNA could give individual neurons a slightly different capacity from each other."

The only other human cells known to remodel their genome are the cells of the immune system. There the genes coding for antibodies are shuffled to create the necessary variety of antibodies capable of recognizing an infinite number of distinct antigens. ...

When Coufal measured matched samples (brain versus other body tissues) from numerous individuals, she found that some brain samples had as many as 100 extra copies per cell. "This was proof that these elements really are jumping in neurons," explains Coufal. Strikingly, it also means that not all cells are created equal—humans are true chimeras since the DNA in their brain cells is different from the DNA in the rest of their cells.

In this way, mobile elements may actually drive evolution, creating more diversity than would occur through normal cell division (which makes an exact copy of the genome, save the occasional typo). "It's a different way of looking at diversity," says Gage. "The brain lives for 80 years with the environment coming at us unpredictably, and this provides an added element of adaptability. It makes sense that there would be this added level of complexity."

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2009/08/05/on.move

Simon Willard 08-11-2009 10:12 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 124015)
Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators
Biologists have created a living computer from E. coli bacteria that can solve complex mathematical problems

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/bl...teria-computer

Yeah, but can they master Windows Vista?

claymisher 08-25-2009 05:31 PM

Quantum Solution to the Arrow-of-Time Dilemma
 
Seen at http://delicious.com/cshalizi

Quote:

"The arrow-of-time dilemma states that the laws of physics are invariant for time inversion, whereas the familiar phenomena we see everyday are not (i.e., entropy increases). I show that, within a quantum mechanical framework, all phenomena which leave a trail of information behind (and hence can be studied by physics) are those where entropy necessarily increases or remains constant. All phenomena where the entropy decreases must not leave any information of their having happened. This situation is completely indistinguishable from their not having happened at all. In the light of this observation, the second law of thermodynamics is reduced to a mere tautology: physics cannot study those processes where entropy has decreased, even if they were commonplace."
http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/serv...cvips&gifs=Yes

I can almost understand this. I know what the parts mean but I can't put it together. Arg.

claymisher 08-25-2009 05:37 PM

Re: Quantum Solution to the Arrow-of-Time Dilemma
 
Aha!

http://focus.aps.org/story/v24/st7

Hey, that links to Sean Carroll. I didn't know he had an Arrow of Time FAQ:

http://preposterousuniverse.com/eternitytohere/faq.html

claymisher 08-27-2009 10:20 PM

First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis
 
Are plants quantum computers?

First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis

bjkeefe 08-27-2009 10:34 PM

Re: First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 127112)

Interesting. Thanks for the link.

<cynicism>
I give it about a week before the woo crowd starts using this to claim that there is a scientific basis for mental telepathy.
</cynicism>

claymisher 08-27-2009 11:04 PM

Re: First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 127117)
Interesting. Thanks for the link.

<cynicism>
I give it about a week before the woo crowd starts using this to claim that there is a scientific basis for mental telepathy.
</cynicism>

You should hear what my plants say about you.

bjkeefe 08-28-2009 01:10 AM

Re: First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 127123)
You should hear what my plants say about you.

LOL!

(It's killing me that I can't riff off of this.)

SkepticDoc 08-29-2009 11:14 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Awesome molecular picture:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...ured-time.html

SkepticDoc 09-14-2009 07:22 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...JtTZlAedqtHQBg

Starwatcher162536 09-25-2009 01:12 PM

Moon. Water.
 
Most of you that would care about this have probably already heard about this, but I think this guy gives did a good summary of whats happening.

Its kind of nice seeing a finding like this come from a country like India.

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithab...dehydrated.php

Starwatcher162536 10-05-2009 01:52 PM

Superman,disclosed.
 
A unified theory of superman's powers

claymisher 10-07-2009 07:13 PM

new periodic tables
 
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24204/

I like Kibler's because the rare earth elements don't pop out and the groups still line up!

http://img.skitch.com/20091007-j347i...2xppx2ycfk.png

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0408104

bjkeefe 10-08-2009 08:52 AM

Re: new periodic tables
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 132846)
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24204/

I like Kibler's because the rare earth elements don't pop out and the groups still line up!

But if I were to pick one to hang on my wall, I would definitely go with Abubakr's. (One nail, right through the center.)

Me&theboys 10-08-2009 01:03 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Does Ardi count as fun? I think so. (Free access to the articles in Science with registration.) And Nat Geo, too.

bjkeefe 10-08-2009 01:41 PM

Re: Fun Science Thread! (only fun science! no depressing stories!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Me&theboys (Post 132887)
Does Ardi count as fun? I think so. (Free access to the articles in Science with registration.) And Nat Geo, too.

Yes. At least I thought so, thanks to Wonderment.

Thanks for the additional links.

JonIrenicus 10-11-2009 11:16 PM

Hold it hippies, let's not get rid of nuclear power just yet
 
nuclear batteries !

http://www.softsailor.com/news/8931-...wn-pocket.html


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