Posts tagged science
Posts tagged science
Forget the science of Star Trek. The weather of Game of Thrones needs your attention.
In a universe that includes dragons and blood magic, scientific accuracy is not a major focus. Still, fans have been puzzling for years over the meteorological mysteries of Westeros. What kind of planet allows for such erratic seasons, including winters that show up seemingly at random and can last for an entire generation?
A group of physics and astronomy grad students from Johns Hopkins University are trying to find out.
Written for the “Oldtown Journal of Evil Omens” (which we wish was a real thing) and posted to Cornell’s open archive arxiv.org, the students’ paper is succinctly titled “Winter Is Coming”. Not only do they investigate possible reasons for the random nature of Westeros winters, they also try to find a way to predict them… [READ MORE]
Reminder of: reason for eggplant’s name
OH MY GOD I HAVE WONDERED ABOUT THIS MY WHOLE LIFE
EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE NOW
If you’re not watching SciShow Talk Show…this is what you’re missing
47 pounds of ecstasy
At first I thought this was someone just being dramatic about how much they love a cereal.
Exact Same. I thought it was just the marshmallows from lucky charms and I was like “47 pounds of DIABETES!”
that doesn’t look like enough to weight 47 pounds, though?? that’s like 10 pounds, tops.
These vegetated surfaces don’t just look pretty. They have other benefits as well, including cooling city blocks, reducing loud noises, and improving a building’s energy efficiency.What’s more, a recent modeling study shows that green walls can potentially reduce large amounts of air pollution in what’s called a “street canyon,” or the corridor between tall buildings.
For the study, Thomas Pugh, a biogeochemist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and his colleagues created a computer model of a green wall with generic vegetation in a Western European city. Then they recorded chemical reactions based on a variety of factors, such as wind speed and building placement.
The simulation revealed a clear pattern: A green wall in a street canyon trapped or absorbed large amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—both pollutants harmful to people, said Pugh. Compared with reducing emissions from cars, little attention has been focused on how to trap or take up more of the pollutants, added Pugh, whose study was published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
That’s why the green-wall study is “putting forward an alternative solution that might allow [governments] to improve air quality in these problem hot spots,” he said.Compared with reducing emissions from cars, little attention has been focused on how to trap or take up more of the pollutants, added Pugh, whose study was published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
That’s why the green-wall study is “putting forward an alternative solution that might allow [governments] to improve air quality in these problem hot spots,” he said.
This is what progress looks like.
unfortunately, as you probably already know, BUGS.
The water bottle sold me. Very nice touch.
WHAT IS THIS MY BRAIN DOES NOT COMPREHEND IT.
Turn your head sideways.
The bullhorn acacia is kind of sad as acacias go. You know how most acacias produce alkaloids that taste nasty and keep things from eating them? Well, bullhorn acacias don’t. It’s like, get on the bus, bullhorn acacias.
Of course, bullhorn acacias are not hearing your noise, because they’re thinking outside the metabolically-expensive-poison box.
And what they’re thinking is that maybe if you like eating them, you’re really gonna like this face full of motherfucking ants they’ve got for you.
Yes, you read that right. Instead of playing fair and making their own toxins to keep everything and their brothers off of their leaves, this plant outsourced that shit to ants. Presumably this is because ants are easily bribed with food, generally looking for a fight, and, most importantly, can run really fast. Acacias in general, while also easily bribed and kind of ornery, are not known for their speed and mobility.
You’re probably looking at that picture and going “Man, I am just not seeing a real place for those ants to live. This plant is a terrible employer if it’s not even going to provide housing. Also, those thorns are kind of nasty-looking, but they’re awful big. I bet I could just avoid them and not step on the ant mound and be fine.” And this is not an unreasonable thing to think! Which is probably why the acacia already thought of it, and decided to keep its ant legions in its thorns.
Yup. This plant has evolved a way to shoot stinging insects out of its thorns, just in case stabbing you didn’t get the point across. This is because this plant is hardcore.
Now you may be sitting there going “I don’t know, ants are pretty metal, and that ant looks pretty metal even by ant standards. Maybe they just really liked the idea of living in hollowed-out thorns and did this all on their own.” And I can see why you’d say that, because it totally sounds like something ants would do, but you’d be tragically wrong. You know how some ants will properly farm or half-assedly shepherd aphids because they suck out plant juices and process and concentrate the sugars in their waste, which the ants then treat like gatorade?
The acacia tries to cut out the middle man there. They produce little bundles of protein and fat called Beltian bodies and then stick them on their leaflet tips, which is basically just mocking herbivores at this point, and then on the leaf stalks they’ve got these fancypants glands that produce nectar, to further rub it in. I mean, seriously. This plant is just hanging out going “Oh, yeah, my leafy greens taste like cake, assholes. You want this? Hope you like ants, too, because that’s what else is there.”
So the ants are getting a super fucking sweet deal here, and it’s like, man, this plant is going way out of its way to keep these sons of bitches around. Is it sure it wouldn’t be easier to just pony up with the alkaloids and taste gross? Because it seems like it wouldn’t be nearly so cool, but it would be way simpler than growing these ant apartments and ant cafeterias and whatnot, and this plant probably isn’t vain enough to evolve based on sheer coolness.
Well, ants aren’t stupid, but they are pretty fucking territorial. Remember how acacias are generally just not capable of getting up and wandering around? The ants do that for them. Any vines and shit trying to climb on the acacia get ant-murdered the same way herbivores trying to eat it get all face-stung, and the ants will go the extra distance of killing anything that tries to grow around the base of the tree. They send out fucking ant doom-patrols looking for weeds. And then they kill the shit out of them.
So, fucking bullhorn acacias, right? They really hit on a cool scheme. Surely they are the only plants that could pull this off. Nope! There’s a bunch of plants that have figured out how to make deals with ants, to the point where there’s a name for them: myrmecophytes. (“Myrmecophyte” is Greek for “Yo, dawg, there may have been a slight miscommunication after you said you liked plants.”). Some of them don’t even do anything for ants except make a nice living space, because that way when the ants die and start their little ant graveyards in random unused spaces, the plant can use their little tenant corpses as fertilizer. (Note: Do not trust plants. Ever.)
The World’s Quietest Room
Scientists at Minneapolis’ Orfield Labs created their own soundless room, an anechoic chamber. Their studies have found that when putting subjects within the chamber, they begin to hallucinate within 30 minutes.
With an average quiet room having a sound level of 30 decibels, the anechoic chamber’s sound level is -9 decibels. The ceiling, floor, and walls of the chamber absorb sound rather than have it bounce off as normal objects do. The chamber is so quiet that the subjects can even hear their own organs functioning.
Although extremely interesting, the experience is rather unpleasant. Not one subject has spent more than 45 minutes in the chamber alone. Leaving a person to only their thoughts, the chamber could drive them insane.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that the room looks like it’s straight outta some obscure art horror film, between the pointy bits and the chickenwire floor.
That said, and while I am sure it is an awful experience, is it just me who kinda wants to give it a try? Minneapolis isn’t that far from here….
People say some darn loopy things about acoustic anechoic chambers. I mean THEY ARE AWESOME, they’re one of the few scientific instruments that look exactly as badass as they are -and this is pretty badass as science goes.
But to my knowledge, they don’t make you have a 2001-like encounter with the Universe, nor do they open a portal to hell. They’re just very quiet and a bit odd. You can find one in most research universities and industrial research facilities. Sound designers use them, physicists use them, all audio equipment and a lot of loud heavy machinery gets tested inside one.
The sounds-of-your-body stuff is true though. There’s a famous story about John Cage’s experience with an anechoic chamber, when all he could hear was his blood circulating, and his nervous system.
You can HEAR your NERVOUS SYSTEM??
Few people outside of Australia know about James Harrison, but he is likely responsible for saving over a million lives. Born in 1936, he underwent major chest surgery at the age of 13 that required a critical blood transfusion. Realizing the importance of blood donations, he made a pledge to donate regularly once he turned 18 (the required age at the time. He started donating in 1954, and after the first few donations, it was discovered that his blood contained a very rare antibody, which prevents infants who receive his blood plasma from dying of Rhesus disease, a form of the hemolytic disease of the newborn. The research based on his donations created a vital vaccine, and his blood plasma has since been given as treatment to 10% of pregnant women whose blood is not compatible with that of their children. Since blood plasma can be donated as often as every 2-3 days, he was able to reach his 1000th donation in May 2011 — meaning an average of one donation every three weeks during 57 years. His donations have helped to save over 2.4 million babies — including his own daughter Tracey