Tag Archives: science

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science in America

This is a great video featuring the always watchable Neil deGrasse Tyson about what science is and why it is important. It is also slightly depressing. Essentially, if you are against science, you probably don’t understand what science is. From a purely personal point of view, I would also like to add that you are an idiot who needs to assess the way you get information. Science is simply a way to find out information. To test stuff. To learn.

I remember a friend of mine whose mother sold crystals that allegedly helped plants grow. I was young enough to think this was amazing but old enough to be slightly sceptical. I assumed that this had been tested and that was why people spent so much cash on them. But I then discovered that they hadn’t been tested and everyone bought into it on belief alone. Even then, (I was around 10,) I was baffled about this. I wanted to get some identical plants and put crystals in half and see what happens. Sadly I didn’t have enough cash to try this myself and I soon found out that my questioning was actively discouraged. People, especially the people who sold or bought the crystals, didn’t want it tested. It was a valuable lesson.

If you are against science, you are against the kind of progress that allows you to read this on a computer anywhere in the world. I guess it just annoys me that so many are wilfully choosing ignorance and opinion over facts. Actually, I am getting pissed off just writing about it so I will hand over to someone more eloquent – Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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What it’s like to land on Pluto

Pluto

If we ever stop dicking about being mean to each other on this planet, we may start exploring space. Or maybe the lunatics taking over the asylum (aka Earth) will give science the impetus to escape our gravity well and start over elsewhere. Either way, I spend a lot of time dreaming about going to other planets. Or even dwarf planets.

It seems NASA is much the same as they have stitched together 100 photos from the New Horizons flyby in 2015 to give an idea of what it would be like to land on Pluto. In colour! Enjoy.

 

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Earth temperature timeline by xkcd

I saw this on the always awesome xkcd (www.xkcd.com) site. It is a timeline showing the average temperature of the Earth from 20,000BC to now. It is brilliantly done and is essentially a superb counter argument to people who argue that the Earth has always warmed up and cooled down. It has, but global temperatures are currently going mental.

Word of warning – if you are a creationist, you won’t like this. Also, you’re an idiot. Same goes for climate change deniers.

In case this doesn’t work or is hard to see in your browser, you can find the original here. The Earth is getting toasty, enjoy.

Earth temperatures

Earth temperatures

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Robotic stingray made from rat cells

Robotic Stingray

Robotic Stingray

This is very cool and step in the right direction of mankind playing god. A scientist called Kevin Kit Parker went to an aquarium with his daughter and saw a stingray. Thinking, as I have often thought myself, ‘That’s pretty cool, we should have robots built from gold, silicone, and rat heart-cells that behave and act like that.’ Fortunately Mr Parker was an applied physicist/roboticist/bio-engineerist/very smart man at Harvard and has made is happen.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.27.45 PMI won’t go into the science in too much detail because I don’t know what I am talking about. But basically, he got some rat heart cells, some silicone, some gold and has made an artificial creature. There are 200,000 heart cells, the silicone has a precise template that guides everything, and the gold is the skeleton. The stingrays are small – about half an inch –  and are controlled by light thanks to a virus that delivers a gene that affects a switch that- Ok, I am out of my depth.

Find more information here from from a science magazine: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/robotic-stingray-powered-light-activated-muscle-cells

Or if you want more information from a less science-y source: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jul/07/made-of-gold-powered-by-heart-cells-of-rats-meet-the-robo-ray

There is a point to all this beyond just creating something that looks cool. Mr Parker wants to grow a human heart. I know you can grow human organs in pigs these days but if we can make organic body parts, it would be a huge step forward. Especially for the pigs. Here is a video that you should have just watched rather than read any of the above. Sorry about that but I have to make living.

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Genuine wrinkle cream that really works

Before and very soon after.

Before and very soon after. Wrinkle cream magic.

Anyone who has not seen this site before will now assume that I am a spammer thanks to a headline about wrinkle cream. I’m sure you have all seen those stupid ads at the bottom of websites that claim to clear wrinkles better than botox. They often have a picture with a wrinkled visage being peeled off to reveal what looks suspiciously like a completely different person’s 20 year-old face. Obviously they are huge liars and don’t seem to care that they are making the internet a worse place to live. Pricks.

Anyway, this is not a scam! It is science and magic. MIT and Harvard teamed up and did some science and then a company called Living Proof made the actual magic potion. It is essentially an invisible second skin. It really seems to knock a decade off your age – at least for a while. Have you seen the end of Game of Thrones season 6 episode 1? Melisandre clearly has some of this stuff.

There is a video that shows it all off better than I can explain. It even has science graphics. I want some of this stuff stockpiled for when I need it a couple of decades from now and my awesome looks begin to slip slightly. Until then my testicles will look magnificent. Enjoy.

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Brilliant explanation of the Big Bang – space stuff on Youtube

Youtube is normally just a repository for videos of adorable kittens falling over, or adorable humans falling over, or adorable blurry UFOs flying over, or adorable viral events that are soon to be over, or… Ok, I’ll stop as I am running out of ideas. Plus we all know there is a lot of other great stuff on there – trailers, clips of Felix Baumgartner falling from space, new fan made Star Trek movies, cool but stupid retro scifi movies like Space Probe Taurus, and so on.

There are also lots of youtube clips that teach you things. You can get totally educated and shit watching exciting animated clips and documentaries. I am currently watching a lot of astronomy related videos on youtube. This was partly inspired by a recent interest in physics (mostly particle physics but it is all related and bloody fascinating), and partly because I am a pretentious prick who likes to sound clever down the pub. There are some great clips out there like this one that explains the Big Bang for beginners:

The people who made this clip have a page called Kurzgesagt and they explain all sorts of things – astronomy, fracking, global warming etc. Click this for Kurzgesagt’s youtube channel. I am only mentioning all this as it is riveting and there are a surprising amount of people with time on their hands and internet connection. Why not learn stuff?

Here's a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

Here’s a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

On a similar note. Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on youtube while you are about it. I watched this as a kid on TV and it sparked a lifelong interest in in astronomy and science. Here is the first episode. Enjoy.

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The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

This comes courtesy of Richard Dawkins – a man who loathes anyone who believes in anything that is provably bollocks. Which is a hell of a lot of stuff. If you believe in any of the below then fair play to you. Just don’t look into it too hard. Like testing things under controlled conditions or really doing research into the topic or anything like that.

To be honest, I would quite like a lot of these to be true. Finding Bigfoot or being able to levitate or seeing a ghost (when you haven’t coincidentally just woken up) would be amazing and make the world much more interesting. In my superb opinion – if they make you feel good then go for it. I honestly don’t care what you believe. Just please, I beg you, don’t try and talk others into your point of view.

Anyway, prepare to have your cynicism levels seriously boosted.

 

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

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The Mars Rover

A photo from Mars.

This is a picture of Mars. Mars! How awesome is that? This was taken by the Mars Rover – a 10 foot nuclear powered robot that is wandering around the red planet doing scientific analysis with the aid of lasers that shoot from its eyes. The picture was beamed across the vast vacuum of space back to NASA who then put it on their website which I then accessed at home on my shiny laptop through the genius of the internet and a wireless network.

There are times when humanity makes me despair (see buying magic on eBay). But there are times when we rule. Like now. I feel so proud of my fellow humans.

I really hate people who think it is all a waste of money. These small minded bores think that the money should be spent on hospitals to make everyone live longer on this already crowded planet. They believe that we should risk having humanity wiped out by a disaster because funds could go elsewhere. Basically these collections of human-shaped yawns are of the opinion that we shouldn’t reach for the stars and dream big planetary spanning dreams. We should just stay here, use up all the resources and die out. Of course the people who think we shouldn’t expand into space won’t be around when the remnants of humanity struggle Mad Max-style over a piece of boiled rat and some car fuel. It will be their kiddywink’s kiddywinks.

Essentially, if you don’t want to go to space you want your children’s children to suffer a slow and agonizing death. You are dooming your ancestors. You’re obviously a wanker and probably don’t have any friends.

Conversely, if you want to go into space and expand humanity then you are awesome and probably fun to be around. Hooray for you!

Ok, sorry, went a bit off topic there. I basically just wanted to share this photo because it is incredible and inspiring. As you can probably tell, I hope you share this sense of wonder. Go humans!

Even cooler: 360 degrees of Mars.

 

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Britain spent more on bank bailouts last year than they have spent on Science since Jesus.

Yes you read that unnecessarily long headline correctly. How depressing is that? There is something deeply amiss with the world today, although to be fair it has always been pretty fucked. World Wars, the plague, horned helmeted hordes and so on.  These days, most of us are not immediately under threat and we have better means of seeing the world and all its flaws. And seeing how bollocks a lot of it is. We can do all this thanks to science.

Some people – morons or poorly educated mostly – seem to think of science as some kind of elite white jacketed group with their own agenda. Like a political party or all organized religions for example. This is not the case. Anyone can be a scientist and they all disagree, question and compete with each other. You are allowed to question and the consequences won’t be being kicked out of your politcal party or burnt at the stake. Science is simply the quest for knowledge. If you are interested in something you can do a test yourself and then write about it. You. At home right now. If your study is convincing more scientists and interested laymen will try and pick holes in your work. If it’s still sound they might conduct different experiments to see if your theory still holds true.

The only reason why science can be hard to get into is that it usually helps if you know a bit about your topic. A lot of science builds on what went before. It also helps if you learn scientific method so you can conduct a decent experiment. Other than that anyone can go for it and it is a noble pursuit. Read a science magazine they are great.

To be fair the scientific method wasn’t really in action around the time of Jesus. The first 1000 years was a struggle to survive against invasions and famines (although there was a bit of experimenting with farming and fun with fertilizers). Then religion pretty much kept everyone in check and in poverty for half a millennium. Then, thankfully, the renaissance happened and people were allowed to start looking at things that might make life better. I’m just talking the UK here. We started the industrial revolution and invented trains and TVs and computers and the Worldwide Web, for example. Other countries were also inventing things like cars and flying machines. Most of this on very little funding. In Britain the average person’s life and their life expectancy has improved decade after decade and it is nearly all down to science.

So let’s hear it for science. Imagine what we could achieve with a bit more cash. It would be nice if we could invade a few less countries, start a few less government campaigns that haven’t been fully thought through and perhaps persuade bankers that if they donated 10% of their bonuses to the betterment of mankind they may be more popular, and maybe mankind will progress a bit quicker.

Just a thought.

In case you are wondering where I heard the headline first, it was uttered by the always awesome Professor Brian Cox. Thanks to science, you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=164OOKmx_rE&feature=colike

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