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Category: Science
Down in the Antarctic researchers are building an "ice cube telescope" to detect neutrinos. It's one of the stranger telescopes ever built. Popular Science provides this description of it: Using a five-megawatt jet of hot water, technicians are melting two-foot-wide holes 1.5 miles into the Antarctic ice near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Before the water refreezes, they insert a cable strung like a set of Christmas-tree lights with globular camera housings. By the time the technicians are done in 2010, Ice Cube’s 80 vertical strings will adorn a cubic…
Still No Sex In Space
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 06, 2007
Ever since humans first made it into space, there have been rumors of sex-in-space experiments. Such rumors are doing the rounds again, and this time it's the Russians who are the focus of them. Russian officials decided they should go on record to deny them: "There is no proof ... that on any mission cosmonauts had sex," the deputy head of the Institute of Bio-Medical Problems, Valery Bogomolov, told a news conference in Moscow. "Cosmonauts, too, are regular people, but ... I have not heard about any sex in orbit," he said. The Russian scientist referred to…
Categories: Science, Sex/Romance Comments (7)
Sell My Dna
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 05, 2007
SellMyDna.com offers to help you sell a sample of your DNA to a research company, New Line Genetics, who will then obtain a patent for it. They pay $5000! Better yet, you can even sell your friend's DNA, because once a cell leaves their body, it no longer belongs to them. From their website: SellMyDNA.com does not condone the patenting of other’s DNA without their permission. However, what better way to surprise your loved ones for a birthday or holiday event than giving the gift of $5,000 and the knowledge that their…
Categories: Science, Websites Comments (0)
China Moon Controversy
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 03, 2007
Last week Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao released the first photograph taken by the Chang-e 1 lunar probe. The picture showed the surface of the moon. Wen declared, "Chinese people's dream of flying to the moon for more than 1,000 years has started to materialize." But then people on the internet started to point out that the picture looked an awful lot like a NASA picture from 2005. In fact, the two photos looked almost identical. So now the Chinese lunar probe programme is defending itself against charges of fakery. To be fair to the Chinese, the two photos aren't entirely alike. The shadows are different, and the Chinese photo shows an extra crater.…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science Comments (14)
Robot Roaches Coated with Pheromones
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 18, 2007
Jose Halloy, a biologist at the Free University of Brussels, created little robot cockroaches that he programmed to behave in ways similar to real cockroaches. For instance, he could program the robo-roaches to prefer a light or dark shelter. The interesting part is that when he coated these robot roaches with roach pheromones, other roaches seemed to accept them as one of their own, and even would follow their lead: Halloy initially programmed the robots to have the same darkness preference as the cockroaches, and they joined the cockroaches at whatever shelter the majority chose to rest in. Next,…
Categories: Science Comments (3)
Bat Bugs Have Fake Genitals
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 27, 2007
National Geographic has an article about a "hotbed of deception" in the natural world. It involves the genitals of a small, reddish-brown parasite called the bat bug. In order to protect themselves from the unwanted advances of male members of the species, female bat bugs have evolved a region on their body similar to a fake genital: Researchers have long known that male bat bugs ignore females' conventional parts and instead use their sharp penises to stab the females' abdomens, injecting sperm directly into the bloodstream. So the females evolved a defense: structures called paragenitals that guide a male's needle-like member…
Categories: Science, Sex/Romance Comments (2)
Best of the forum - 21st September 07
Posted by Boo on Fri Sep 21, 2007
Due to my ongoing computer problems and personal situation, this is again brought to you by Madmouse. Peruvian Meteorite (eovti) An apparent meteorite landing in Peru has led to reports of illness amongst locals. Original suggestions for the cause of the sickness included radiation poisoning, but that seems unlikely. Sign Language Translator (Madmouse) There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum about this story. A group of UK students have developed a system to translate spoken or written words into British Sign Language that is then displayed by an avatar. Suggested uses include translating for…
Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 29, 2007
I've posted a list of the Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time. The descriptions are all summarized from longer accounts that can be found in my new book, Elephants on Acid. Basically, although the list can stand on its own, it's meant to be one big ad for the book. My hope is that people might be intrigued enough by what they read in the list to want to find out what else can be found in the book. (They'll either be intrigued or horrified. When people hear about some of these experiments those are the two most typical reactions.) There's definitely plenty more material…
Categories: Science Comments (8)
Cheap wine in a fancy bottle
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 08, 2007
Cornell University researcher Brian Wanskin arranged to give diners at a prix-fixe restaurant a complimentary glass of wine. The diners were shown the bottle before the wine was poured into their glass. Some of the diners were shown a wine bottle apparently from a fancy California winery called "Noah's Winery." Others were shown a bottle from a North Dakota winery. But in all cases the wine they were served was actually the same. It was a cheap Charles Shaw Cabernet (familiar to Trader Joes shoppers as "two-buck chuck"). Predictably, the diners seemed to appreciate the wine and their meal more when told that they were drinking a high-class California wine, as measured by how…
Categories: Food, Science Comments (12)
“The Secret”
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jun 26, 2007
Yes, it's another questionable literary enterprise. You've probably heard of "The Secret," a self-help book/cultural phenomenon. As with any such thing, it's Oprah-approved. "The Secret" claims to reveal a Secret of the Universe, which is (SPOILER ALERT!) that you can have whatever you want, if you just think about it REALLY HARD. OK, that's a wee bit flip, but that really is the gist of the "secret." Well, you also have to be a good person and you can't wish for bad stuff, but other than that, if you want it, you can and WILL get it. It's all based on the "Law of Attraction," which author Laura Byrne says…
Jumping Germans
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 06, 2007
Inspired by the urban legend that if all the people in China jumped at once it would alter the orbit of the Earth, German scientists (working in participation with a German TV show) staged an experiment at a music festival. They arranged for all 50,000 people at the concert to jump at once, and then measured the results. They called it a "gang boing." Here's what happened: In the end, the hoppers created "a mini-mini-earthquake," according to Ulrich Grünewald, who produced the segment for a science program on German television. The ground moved one-twentieth of a millimeter, with four oscillations per second.…
Categories: Science, Urban Legends Comments (4)
Intention Experiments
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 06, 2007
Writer Lynne McTaggart has been sponsoring a number of "experiments" to promote her book The Intention Experiment, in which she makes the argument (from what I can surmise without actually having read the book) that we can influence the world around us through our intentions. If we want something to happen, we merely intend for it to happen. Here's a description of the first three experiments: The first experiment was an enormous success when 400 people sat in a hall in London and intended for a leaf in the University of Arizona to 'glow and glow'.…
Categories: Psychology, Science Comments (22)
What is the world record for staying awake?
Posted by The Curator on Sat May 26, 2007
The London Times reports that Tony Wright of Cornwall recently stayed awake for 266 hours. He was attempting to break the world record of 264 hours awake set by Randy Gardner of San Diego in 1964. Wright was also attempting to demonstrate that, thanks to his "caveman diet" of raw food, he was able to "train his mind in such a way as to stay awake for 11 days and remain coherent and aware of what was going on around him." The Times then goes on to report the bad news. Gardner didn't actually hold the world record for staying awake. Gardner's record had long since been surpassed by others. So Wright didn't set a…
Categories: Body Manipulation, Science Comments (208)
Whiskey Floats on Water
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 17, 2007
This YouTube video demonstrates a physics trick right out of high-school science -- how to take a glass of water and a glass of whiskey and swap their contents, without using a third glass. It relies on the principle that whiskey is lighter than water and will float on top of it. The funny part is not the video, which is fairly straightforward, but rather the comments left by YouTube viewers, many of whom seem to think the video must have been faked. I guess they weren't paying attention in high-school science. I had a bottle of cheap whiskey on hand (Rebel Yell), so I tried the experiment myself, and I can attest that it definitely works. You…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science Comments (8)
Did Hillary Clinton Participate in a Menstrual Synchrony Study?
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2007
One of the stranger rumors I encountered in the course of writing Elephants on Acid was the suggestion that Hillary Clinton participated in a menstrual synchrony study while she was a student at Wellesley College during the 1960s. Stranger still, I haven't been able to disprove this. Here are the facts. In 1968, Martha McClintock, while a senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, convinced all 135 of her dormmates to participate in a study of the phenomenon of synchronous menstruation. She recorded the date of onset of their menstrual cycles three…
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