9/25/2009 5:21:07 PM
Australian Professor Thomas Parnell’s Pitch Drop Experiment has been occurring since 1927—just ever-so-slowly, and unseen by anyone. Cabinet reports that the professor wanted to illustrate to his class that even though some substances seem to be solid, they may actually be fluid, so he rigged up a glass container with a heated sample of pitch, a petroleum substance, and let the magic begin. Unfortunately, none of his students have been able to observe the lesson. It took eight years for the first drop to fall through the funnel-shaped container, and subsequent drips have taken between seven and 12 years to fall. Eight drops have fallen so far, and in 2000, “the viscosity of the pitch was finally calculated to be roughly one hundred billion times that of water.”
“The closest anyone has ever come was in April 1979 when Professor John Mainstone, who now maintains the experiment, came to work on a Sunday afternoon. He noted that the pitch drop was just about to touch down, but he did not have time to say and watch. On returning the following morning, Mainstone saw, much to his chagrin, that the drop had fallen. Even modern technology has been foiled in its attempt to capture direct evidence of the pitch’s clandestine maneuvers; a video camera placed to monitor the experiment happened to fail at the very moment the eighth drop fell.”
Image by AMagill, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/25/2009 12:22:17 PM
For the past ten years Lockie Gary, a former U.S. ranch manager and livestock reproductive specialist has been living in countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq, leading dairy training programs to help people establish local dairies in their war torn surroundings.
Supported by Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes, Inc. and protected by the U.S. Marines, Lockie is currently teaching Iraqi widows in Fallujah how to make their cows more comfortable in a war zone, and how to make a living by yielding higher quality milk, locally, writes Graeme Wood in the September issue of The Atlantic. He writes:
Somehow in a counterinsurgency where communicating with the civilian population has proved difficult, Gary’s cattle sounds and imitations of newborn calves, or calves in the late stages of Clostridial infection make immediate sense to his students. Gary squats a little when he pretends to be a calf with the scours (that’s calf diarrhea, for the uninitiated), and the veiled women of Fallujah nod in appreciation.
Image by eierea, licensed under Creative Commons.
Source: The Atlantic
9/22/2009 4:29:29 PM
José Gómez-Márquez builds strange-looking medical equipment: pregnancy tests that look like Lego kits, inhalers inspired by plastic toy helicopters, and centrifuges made from toilet plungers. His inventions aren’t destined for high-tech hospitals——they’re headed to poor countries where electricity, high-tech medical materials, and health personnel are often scarce.
Gómez-Márquez’s innovative work earned him a spot in Technology Review’s TR35, the magazine’s annual list of innovators under 35: He’s their 2009 humanitarian of the year.
His designs are practical, functional, and innovative, and one of his new projects aims to spread that spirit around. “He is now creating development kits for medical technology—sort of like Erector sets for medical professionals—which will initially be used in Nicaragua,” writes Technology Review. “The kits will enable doctors and medical students to devise diagnostics, drug delivery devices, microfluidic chips, and more.”
Read more about Gómez-Márquez’s incredible story, which involves lots of childhood visits to doctors’ offices in his home country of Honduras, and watch him demonstrate some of his inventions in this short video.
Source: Technology Review
9/21/2009 5:06:27 PM
People in need of a creative boost should take a long nap, according to new research highlighted by ScienCentral. The researchers found that naps increase people’s ability to solve problems creatively, but only if the nap includes REM, the deep sleep when dreams occur. REM sleep happens only after about an hour of sleeping, so a long nap is recommended. According to researcher Sara Mednick, “if you take a nap with REM sleep, you’re actually going to be boosting your ability to make these new associations in creative ways.” Mednick has tried to put her findings to good use by taking a nap at least three times each week.
You can watch a video of the study below:
Image by procsilas, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/21/2009 5:03:40 PM
The Obama administration has plans to use science as a kind of diplomacy, increasing scientific and technological collaboration with Muslim-majority countries. They’d better watch out, according to Sheila Jasanoff in Seed Magazine. There’s a minefield of misperceptions that America’s new science diplomats should avoid, Jasanoff writes, including the basic idea that “science diplomacy will promote cross-cultural understanding.” Science today is often too wrapped up in corporate interests to function as an effective diplomat. Jasanoff writes that people need to decide: “Which versions of science and technology will our expert ambassadors carry when they travel abroad: science for the people or science for profit and power?”
Source: Seed Magazine
9/21/2009 4:45:08 PM
By age 32, nearly 3 out of every 5 people will have suffered from depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol dependence, or marijuana dependence, according to a new study highlighted by the Science News. That’s almost double what previous studies estimated. And the numbers could get higher, the older people get.
Does the data show that more people are getting sick? Not necessarily. This study followed people over time, while most previous studies relied on self-reports. According to the article, some have suggested “many adults forget periods of depression, and even hospitalizations for depression, from earlier in their lives.”
The study also calls into question what people define as a “disorder,” according to the article. Some have suggested that the evidence is a call-to-action for more urgent care. Others, including New York University social work professor Jerome Wakefield, believes that defining “depression” too broadly risks “pathologizing the entire population and opening the way for increases in medicating our society.”
Depression sufferers could also try taking Progenitorivox (video below), but just be careful for the side effects.
Source: Science News, Prescription for Change
9/16/2009 4:53:56 PM
A frosty, cold beer can aid patients before and after surgery, according to the anecdotal evidence in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. The article details the many benefits that beer has over acetaminophen—like Tylenol—including helpful vitamins, minerals, and sleep-aid properties. Drinking beer also involves the physical activity of arm curls, which is largely absent in the administration of acetaminophen. Medicate responsibly.
Journal of Irreproducible Results
(Article not available online.)
9/10/2009 3:32:01 PM
Family feuds can be deadly, especially when the two sides have armies. Research reported by Foreign Policy indicates that “countries are far more likely to go to war with other countries whose populations are genetically similar to their own.” The problem isn’t simply that genetically similar populations are close to each other. The trend holds true even when correcting for proximity by removing countries that border each other or are close together. Since genetically similar people tend to have more interaction, the research validates the old saw: Familiarity breeds contempt.
Source: Foreign Policy
9/4/2009 4:02:15 PM
Thinking about love makes people better at creative problem solving, while sex is more shortsighted. That's according to research highlighted by Miller-McCune. The idea is that love “is dreamy, and dreams are linked to creativity. Sex, on the other hand, is about achieving an immediate goal.”
, licensed under
9/3/2009 4:21:03 PM
As of January 1 of 2009, the state of California has the right to take a DNA sample from everyone arrested in the state, analyze it, and stick the profile in a criminal database. This applies whether or not the person is ever convicted or even charged with a crime. According to Michael Risher in GeneWatch, the new law allows “a single law enforcement officer the power to place people under lifetime genetic surveillance. “
The new law could also magnify racial disparities in the criminal justice system. “Given the ubiquity of racial profiling” in this country, Risher writes, “people of color will largely populate the databanks.” This places people of color under increased scrutiny from the law for the rest of their lives. He writes, “a racially skewed databank will produce racially skewed results.”
9/2/2009 2:48:27 PM
Imagine a contact lens that could connect you to the internet, providing information about what you see in a format invisible to other people. Or a contact lens, powered by radio frequencies or solar power, that could monitor cholesterol or glucose levels for diabetics. Babak A. Parviz, writing for IEEE Spectrum, is already working on the technology, and has successfully tested early versions on live rabbits. Parviz envisions the contact lens turning into a platform like an iPhone, where developers create new applications and inventions to improve the human eye.
Source: IEEE Spectrum
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