December 2011 Archives

I Witnessed Duck Cannibalism

There are moments in our lives that are so shocking, so utterly strange that we remember them forever. This was one of mine:A hot, humid summer Saturday in Mankato, Minnesota. A day where the sun's rays beat on your back like lashes from a whip, and ripples...

Blame the Government for Bureaucracy, Not Obesity

Cameron English seems to think that "...the government has caused America's obesity problem." I would like to impart upon Mr. English my sincere 'props' for penning a thoroughly interesting piece, but I also feel inclined to offer my dissenting 'two cents.'...

Are Full-Body Scanners Dangerous?

We've all seen conflicting reports about the hazards posed to our health by the full-body scanners that are now used in many US airports. Two concerns have been raised about the machines. First, no one likes being ogled through their clothes! Second, we...

Why You Are Very Special

There are now seven billion humans on planet Earth. In light of our burgeoning population, one can be inclined to feel indistinguishable amongst the masses; just a face in the crowd. But make no mistake, you are unique. You are special. And it's not just your...

Khan Academy is Revolutionizing Education

"I think you just got a glimpse of the future of education."                                 -Bill...

We Are Not Alone in the Universe, Just Effectively Alone

"[W]e are alone, and we had better get used to the idea."This is a statement that's hard for any Trekkie to swallow. Indeed, it's even discomforting for anyone who's ever glanced into the night sky and wistfully dreamed of what's up there, of new worlds and...

'Mysterious Webs' on Nuclear Waste: 'Totally Awesome!'

In case you haven't heard, there's a "mysterious white web" growing on nuclear waste out at the Savannah River nuclear reservation in South Carolina. According to a Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report, "The growth, which resembles a spider web, has...

A Science Perspective on Black Holes

What happens when things are swallowed by black holes? Physicists think they know the answer, but they've never watched it happen live before. Thanks to new observations by astronomers at the Max Planck Institute, they will have the chance in about three...

Ancient Artists and the Wonders of Chauvet Cave

When you hear the term "cave drawings," what kind of images come to mind? Think for a moment... ...OK. Now, common stereotypes might cause you to visualize something like this:These drawings are primitive to say the least. They're something you might expect...

The Science of You

Dozens of noteworthy scientific studies are released each day, originating from a diverse spectrum of disciplines. While most people are probably not interested in the materials or methods involved in these studies, almost everyone wants one question...

GDP Narrowly Focuses on Wealth, Forgets Happiness

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) refers to the value of all finished goods and services produced within a country in a set period. Among economists, GDP is often considered to be the best measurement of a country's success. When calculated per capita, it is...

Higgs Boson: Live Blog Hosted by 'Science'

The live blog hosted by Science is scheduled from 3-4 pm EST on Thursday, December 15.If you are having trouble viewing the live blog with this page, please go here.<a...

Why Are Faster-than-Light Neutrinos Such a Big Deal?

Nothing can go faster than the speed of light! This has been a mantra of physics for the past century. The central pillar of Einstein's famous theory of relativity, this core experimental truth in physics is now facing a slightly greater...

Sorry! Orange Juice Will Not Cure Your Cold

Winter is coming. Ladies and gentlemen, unwrap your lozenges. The onset of cold and flu season signifies that your school or workplace will soon be flooded with a chorus of coughs and a veritable menagerie of maladies. The sick season also harkens the return...

Humans Should Rethink Contempt for Rats

Rats often get a bad rap from humans. It's a an inherent disdain that likely stemmed from their apparent role in spreading the gruesome Black Death of the 1300s. In many cultures, rats are overwhelmingly viewed as dirty, smelly, and sinister. We even employ...

Can Quantum Mechanics Solve 'Missing Socks' Mystery?

Putting a load of laundry in the wash can be both a joyous and somber occasion. Joyous, in that your laundry will soon be refreshingly clean and the overflowing clothes hamper will be relieved of its smelly burden; but somber, in that you may never see some...

A Sci-Fi Perspective on 'Monster' Black Holes

The universe as we know it just got a little bit denser.Two new black holes were recently discovered by astronomers at the University of California, Berkely, and they're big. No, they're bigger than big. Wait, no, they're gargantuan. Whatever... you get the...

Need Extraordinary Materials? Look to Nature

A gecko's toes stick to a pane of polished glass like glue, allowing it to scurry straight up a window. An ant floats on water and a water-strider walks on it. Raindrops falling on the leaves of a lotus plant form into tiny spheres and roll away carrying dirt...

Science Takes the Magic out of Dragons

Does science remove wonder from the world?That's the question that British comedian Robin Ince asked the audience at TEDGlobal 2011. Ince, along with his physicist partner Brian Cox, host a BBC Radio show, The Infinite Monkey Cage, in which they take a...

Woolly Mammoth Will Be Cloned Like Dolly the Sheep

Everyone remembers Dolly the Sheep. She was cloned in 1996 using a process called "nuclear transplantation." To do this, a cell was taken from Sheep #1's mammary gland and fused with an egg cell (whose nucleus was removed) from Sheep #2. The resulting cell...

Why Did Sneezy Sneeze So Much?

ah - ah - ah - AH - AH CHOOOO!Most of you can probably remember Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Some of you might even be able to remember Sneezy, who was one of the dwarfs. His calling card? You guessed it: sneezing. Sneezy sneezed a lot, and...

Fighting a Contagious Cancer

In 1996, a wildlife photographer in Tasmania captured a strange image of a Tasmanian devil with large, bulbous tumors on its face. At the time, little was thought of this sighting; after all, strange tumors are fairly commonplace in the animal kingdom....