Categories
inspirational Science

Atlantis’ Final Launch

It’s the end of an era as the the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off for its last flight this morning. Watching Atlantis lift off gave me a great shot of nostalgia from the early days of the shuttle program when I was a kid. Here are some screen shots I took from NASA’s broadcast this morning.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen ShotSpace Shuttle Atlantis Screen ShotSpace Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot

Categories
biology friends Science

David Logue on Quirks and Quarks

One of my good friends, David Logue, was on this week’s episode of Quirks and Quarks.

The interview is about cricket songs. We tested the H that aggressive signals mitigate the costs of fighting by muting and looking at a population that had lost its song. Turns out they fight like crazy if they can’t signal.

Quirks and Quarks April 17, 2010

From Quirks and Quarks Website:

Silent means Deadly

When crickets fight, there’s a lot of noise. Not just the clashing of mandibles and the clicking of legs, but the cricket equivalent of “trash talking” as well. Dr. David Logue, a biologist at the University of Puerto Rico and his colleagues from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, were interested in what would happen when the crickets couldn’t make the sounds associated with their fights. What they saw was mayhem. Crickets, who were either naturally silent or had their noisemakers removed, fought viciously, longer, and more violently than those full of sound and fury. Apparently, these insects use bluster not to provoke, but to avoid violence.

http://web.archive.org/web/20130618233607/http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/episode/2010/04/17/silent-means-deadly-caterpillars-walk-the-talk-mysterious-eclipse-devon-ice-cap-loses-its-cool-the-a

Categories
biology

Dancing Frog Legs

Just add salt and the magic begins!

Frog Legs Dancing with a Little Salt | YouTube

I understand this happens because salt contains sodium ions which, when in contact with the cells, change the electrical potential within each cell. This change is the ‘signal’ for the muscles to contract. Energy is stored in the muscles in the form of ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphosphate) and the twitching stops when the ATP runs out.

Apparently this is more likely to happen with cold blooded animals (like frogs) because they do not take on rigor mortis as quickly as warm-blooded animals (chicken, for example).

(via)

Categories
biology language

X-Ray Animated Gifs

Check out this tremendously interesting x-ray image made for speech research by Christine Ericsdotter:

x-ray animated speech

Christine Ericsdotter says “bÃ¥de” (“both”). The sequence is an excerpt from a 20 second X-Ray film registred at the Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm in March 1997.

And a couple more:

Categories
backmasking psychology

Pareidolia

The Best of Wikipedia is a continually updated collection of some of the most interesting Wikipedia articles. Here’s one from yesterday:

Pareidolia – Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. There have been many instances of perceptions of religious imagery and themes—in 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on a tortilla she had made appeared similar to the traditional western depiction of Jesus Christ’s face. Thousands of people came to see the framed tortilla. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.

(via Best of Wikipedia)

Categories
article economics psychology

Cocksure

Malcolm Gladwell’s new article, Cocksure, is about the psychology of overconfidence. In it he postulates that the brashness of experts caused the current financial crisis.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis, there have been two principal explanations for why so many banks made such disastrous decisions. The first is structural. Regulators did not regulate. Institutions failed to function as they should. Rules and guidelines were either inadequate or ignored. The second explanation is that Wall Street was incompetent, that the traders and investors didn’t know enough, that they made extravagant bets without understanding the consequences. But the first wave of postmortems on the crash suggests a third possibility: that the roots of Wall Street’s crisis were not structural or cognitive so much as they were psychological.

Categories
biology

The All Important Tail

Biologist Robert Full explains how bio-mimicry not only teaches us how to make better robots but also helps us to better understand the world around us. Case in point, while investigating how to replicate gecko feet and in turn to make a gecko robot, Full’s team discovered that the machine didn’t operate well without a tail. When his team asked Full what was the purpose of the gecko’s tail, to his surprise, he wasn’t quite sure, so he set out to investigate. He discovered an entire universe of surprises, which he describes in this TED talk.

Categories
friends physics Science

Herschel Launch

An Ariane 5 rocket launched two scientific space observatories, Herschel and Planck, at 13:12 GMT this morning that will help scientists better understand the formation of the universe.

The launch took the better part of 30 minutes from ignition to spin-up and separation of the Planck and Herschel.

The launch:


[Herschel and Planck Launch – YouTube]

My physicist friend Richard Querel works with the group that built SPIRE, an infrared imaging camera and low-resolution spectrometer that was aboard the Herschel. He tells me the instruments will be sensitive down to picojoules, which is the equivalent to the energy emitted by one living cell, or to a dim star, very far away.

It’ll take 3 months for them to get to their orbit, but they’ll likely start collecting science validation data immediately.

Herschel has the largest mirror of any space telescope now in orbit. Its 3.5 metre diameter primary mirror is one-and-a-half-times the size of the Hubble Telescope’s main reflector.

From the Herschel Space Observatory entry on Wikipedia:

The mission, formerly titled the Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope (FIRST), will be the first space observatory to cover the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband. At 3.5 meters wide, its telescope will incorporate the largest mirror ever deployed in space. The light will be focused onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures below 2 K. The instruments will be cooled with liquid helium, boiling away in a near vacuum at a temperature of approximately 1.4 K. The 2,000 litres of helium on board the satellite will limit its operational lifetime. The satellite is expected to be operational for at least 3 years.

Categories
entertainment Science

Mythbusters- Lego Ball Myth HD

A group of friends in San Fransico built a giant ball of lego, dressed one of the friends up as Indiana Jones and then had him run from the ball. “Fun times”.

The original Lego Ball video:


[Giant LEGO Boulder – YouTube]

On a recent episode of Mythbusters, the gang decided to find out if such a ball can actually be created:


[Mythbusters- Lego Ball Myth – YouTube]

Categories
Science

White blood cell chasing a bacterium

Neutrophil granulocytes, generally referred to as neutrophils, are the most abundant type of white blood cells in humans and form an essential part of the immune system. Watch as this crawling Neutrophil chases down a bacterium in this short video from the 1950s.


[Crawling Neutrophil Chasing a Bacterium – YouTube]

How does it know how to track things? It’s amazing to think this kind of activity is happening inside our bodies all the time.