bankbryan + science   180

What if everything we know about dark matter is totally wrong?
"In April, ADMX delivered its latest results – null results, that is. For Rybka, they are important though, because it shows that the detector actually has the correct sensitivity to find the axion. 'If we end up with a null result after having swept over all the plausible masses, it would become important in a different way: axions are important to explain some phenomena in nuclear physics, so we expect axions to exist,' he says. 'If we don't find axion dark matter, then we're faced with the problem that either we don't understand our nuclear physics, or we don't understand how the early universe works well enough. So a null result would cause our questions to multiply.'"
a:Katie-Moskvitch  p:Wired★★  d:2018.09.28  w:5000  space  science  experiment  from instapaper
4 weeks ago by bankbryan
The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It
"The scientists seem to have begun to master the science and art of cosmos creation. They are applying the laws of physics to a smooth, hot fluid of (simulated) matter, as existed in the infant universe, and seeing the fluid evolve into spiral galaxies and galaxy clusters like those in the cosmos today. 'I was like, wow, I can’t believe it!' said Tiziana Di Matteo, a numerical cosmologist at Carnegie Mellon University, about seeing realistic spiral galaxies form for the first time in 2015 in the initial run of BlueTides, one of several major ongoing simulation series. 'You kind of surprise yourself, because it’s just a bunch of lines of code, right?'"
a:Natalie-Wolchover  p:Quanta-Magazine  d:2018.06.12  w:2500  space  science  from instapaper
september 2018 by bankbryan
What Happens If China Makes First Contact?
"China has learned the hard way that spectacular scientific achievements confer prestige upon nations. The 'Celestial Kingdom' looked on from the sidelines as Russia flung the first satellite and human being into space, and then again when American astronauts spiked the Stars and Stripes into the lunar crust. China has largely focused on the applied sciences. It built the world’s fastest supercomputer, spent heavily on medical research, and planted a 'great green wall' of forests in its northwest as a last-ditch effort to halt the Gobi Desert’s spread. Now China is bringing its immense resources to bear on the fundamental sciences. The country plans to build an atom smasher that will conjure thousands of 'god particles' out of the ether, in the same time it took cern’s Large Hadron Collider to strain out a handful. It is also eyeing Mars. In the technopoetic idiom of the 21st century, nothing would symbolize China’s rise like a high-definition shot of a Chinese astronaut setting foot on the red planet. Nothing except, perhaps, first contact."
a:Ross-Andersen★  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2017.12  w:6000  space  China  nuclear-weapons  science  future  history  from instapaper
january 2018 by bankbryan
There’s No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence
"No matter how the details play out, I do predict in a very general sense that there will be no fire alarm that is not an actual running AGI—no unmistakable sign before then that everyone knows and agrees on, that lets people act without feeling nervous about whether they’re worrying too early."
a:Eliezer-S-Yudkowsky★★  p:Machine-Intelligence-Research-Institute  d:2017.10.13  w:7500  future  artificial-intelligence  nuclear-weapons  science  history  technological-singularity  technology  from twitter
january 2018 by bankbryan
The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics
"'Every intelligence service in the world works conferences, sponsors conferences, and looks for ways to get people to conferences,' said one former CIA operative. 'Recruitment is a long process of seduction,' says Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and former special advisor to the British foreign office. 'The first stage is to arrange to be at the same workshop as a target. Even if you just exchange banalities, the next time you can say, "Did I see you in Istanbul?"'"
a:Daniel-Golden  p:The-Guardian★★  d:2017.10.10  w:4000  intelligence-gathering  academia  nuclear-weapons  Iran  science  from instapaper
december 2017 by bankbryan
My Dinners With Harold
"At the Yale biology library, he discovered that plenty of food-science research had been published by and for the food manufacturing and packaging industries, but little of it had been shared with chefs or home cooks. 'I spent hours in that library because I had never seen anything like it,' McGee told me. 'Poultry science and agricultural and food chemistry. I would just flip through random volumes and see microscopic studies of things I eat every day. It seemed so cool and unexpected.'"
a:Daniel-Duane  p:The-California-Sunday-Magazine  d:2016.12.01  w:4500  food  cooking  science  from instapaper
april 2017 by bankbryan
Should You Wash Your Chicken or Not?
"Sure, it’s a challenge to convince home cooks to keep invisible hazards in mind, or change daily habits, or correct misconceptions. That makes strategy especially important. Here are a few moves that have proved to be counterproductive: Misrepresent very preliminary science as settled scary fact. Discourage behavior that’s rooted in an instinct for cleanliness. Caricature what cooks actually do. Make strong statements and then mostly retract them. Provoke ridicule from leaders in the community you’re trying to influence."
a:Harold-McGee★  p:Lucky-Peach★★  d:2017  w:2000  safety  cooking  science  from instapaper
march 2017 by bankbryan
How an AP reporter took down flossing
"I found that the federal government had been promoting floss for decades, chiefly in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By law, the guidelines must be based on science, so I asked staffers at the responsible agencies — the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture — for the documentation behind the floss recommendation. Weeks of requests failed to turn up anything. So I filed a formal FOIA request. Six months passed. On Jan. 7, the government put out a new edition of the guidelines, as scheduled. The flossing recommendation had quietly been dropped. The next day, HHS wrote a letter to me in reply to my FOIA request. It said that no relevant records could be located and then added that floss had never been researched by the committees that review science for the guidelines. It said that flossing had simply been taken as a 'general public health recommendation'. In the end, this appeared to be a rare instance where simply filing a FOIA changed government policy."
a:Kristen-Hare  a:Jeff-Donn  p:Poynter  d:2016.08.04  w:1000  interview  science  health  policy  from instapaper
august 2016 by bankbryan
The sugar conspiracy
"A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a 'thought collective': a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling. This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice."
a:Ian-Leslie  p:The-Guardian★★  d:2016.04.07  w:6500  science  nutrition  community  ideas  food  health  weight-loss  from twitter
july 2016 by bankbryan
How Much Does 1 Kilogram Weigh?
"Every scale in the world—even those that measure in pounds—is ultimately based on the IPK, which was commissioned by the General Conference on Weights and Measures. But the IPK’s uniqueness may be its downfall. 'The problem with the kilogram in Paris is that it’s so precious that people don’t want to use it,' said Stephan Schlamminger, a physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in an interview with the American Institute of Physics. Even handling the model kilogram with your fingers will leave oil, changing its weight ever so slightly. It’s rarely removed from its enclosure, and never transported to other areas. Most people who care about exactly how much a kilogram weighs (chemists and physicists, mostly) calibrate their most precise instruments using replicas of the IPK, not the real thing. Problematically, these replicas vary slightly in weight when compared to one another. That’s why in 2005, the International Committee for Weights and Measures proposed that the kilogram be slightly redefined, anchored not to a physical object but to some fundamental property of nature that could be easily replicated in labs across the world."
a:Matt-Miller-vet  p:Slate/Future-Tense  d:2016.06.30  w:1000  science  physics  from instapaper
july 2016 by bankbryan
A Theory About Religion
"If we were to ask the same New Guinea tribe to follow Jewish food taboos one week and American food taboos the next, I’m not sure they’d be able to identify one code as any stricter or weirder than the other. They might have some questions about the meat/milk thing, but maybe they’d also wonder why cheeseburgers are great for dinner but ridiculous for breakfast. People get worked up over all of the weird purity laws and dress codes in Leviticus, but it’s important to realize how strict our own purity laws are."
a:Scott-Alexander★★★  p:Slate-Star-Codex★★★  d:2016.04.08  w:2000  religion  food  culture  USA  science  history  Jews  from instapaper
july 2016 by bankbryan
Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience
"At times, the Whole Foods selection slips from the pseudoscientific into the quasi-religious. It’s not just the Ezekiel 4:9 bread (its recipe drawn from the eponymous Bible verse), or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, or Vitamineral Earth’s 'Sacred Healing Food'. It’s also, at least for Jewish shoppers, the taboos that have grown up around the company’s Organic Integrity effort, all of which sound eerily like kosher law. There’s a sign in the Durham store suggesting that shoppers bag their organic and conventional fruit separately—lest one rub off on the other—and grind their organic coffees at home—because the Whole Foods grinders process conventional coffee, too, and so might transfer some non-organic dust. 'This slicer used for cutting both CONVENTIONAL and ORGANIC breads' warns a sign above the Durham location’s bread slicer. Synagogue kitchens are the only other places in which I’ve seen signs implying that level of food-separation purity."
a:Michael-Schulson  p:The-Daily-Beast★  d:2014.02.23  w:1500  food  science  religion  Whole-Foods  from iphone
may 2016 by bankbryan
Dunning-Kruger and other memes
"I can see why false memes might spread quickly, even when they directly contradict reliable sources. Reading papers sounds like a lot of work. It sometimes is. But it’s often not. Reading a pure math paper is usually a lot of work. Reading an empirical paper to determine if the methodology is sound can be a lot of work. For example, biostatistics and econometrics papers tend to apply completely different methods, and it’s a lot of work to get familiar enough with the set of methods used in any particular field to understand precisely when they’re applicable and what holes they have. But reading empirical papers just to see what claims they make is usually pretty easy. If you read the abstract and conclusion, and then skim the paper for interesting bits (graphs, tables, telling flaws in the methodology, etc.), that’s enough to see if popular claims about the paper are true in most cases. In my ideal world, you could get that out of just reading the abstract, but it’s not uncommon for papers to make claims in the abstract that are much stronger than the claims made in the body of the paper, so you need to at least skim the paper. Maybe I’m being naive here, but I think a major reason behind false memes is that checking sources sounds much harder and more intimidating than it actually is."
a:Dan-Luu★★  p:Dan-Luu★★  d:2015  w:2000  science  happiness  psychology  memes 
december 2015 by bankbryan
A message to the aliens
"The masses and radii of Jupiter and the Sun are given, Jupiter above the illustration and the Sun below. The (external) temperature of the Sun is also given, 5763 kelvins. This should be visible to the aliens because the Sun is a blackbody emitter and the spectrum of blackbody radiation is a clear indicator of its temperature. This data should allow the aliens to locate us, should they be so inclined: they know which way the message came from, and can look for a star with the right size and temperature in that direction. When they get closer, Jupiter and the sizes of the planets will provide a confirmation that they are in the right place. Later pages explain that we live on the Earth, so the aliens will know where to point their fusion cannon in order to obliterate our planet."
a:Mark-Dominus★★  p:The-Universe-of-Discourse★★  d:2015  w:10000  space  science  math  biology  map  physics  from twitter
december 2015 by bankbryan
Light dawns
"These arguments leave open the possibility that there are other universes in which the constants are different. And though it might be the case that those universes are inhospitable to intelligent observers, it’s still worth imagining what one would see if one were able to visit. For example, what if c were faster? Light seems pretty quick to us, because nothing is quicker. But it still creates significant delays over long distances. Space is so vast that aeons can pass before starlight reaches us. Since our spacecraft are much slower than light, this means that we might never be able to send them to the stars. On the plus side, the time lag turns telescopes into time machines, letting us see distant galaxies as they were billions of years ago. If c were, say, 10 times bigger, a lot of things would change. Earthly communications would improve. We’d cut the time lag for radio signals over big distances in space. NASA would gain better control over its unmanned spacecraft and planetary explorers. On the other hand, the higher speed would mess up our ability to peer back into the history of the Universe."
a:Sidney-Perkowitz  p:Aeon★★  d:2015.09.18  w:2500  science  nature  space  physics  from instapaper
december 2015 by bankbryan
I Asked 12 Scientists: What Is The One Fact Humanity Needs To Know?
"The greatest invention of history is the scientific method itself – the knowledge-generation machinery that we have been using for over 350 years now to come to understand how the world works. So if you could preserve only one single sentence, I would push for: ‘The natural world is not governed by whimsical gods, but is essentially mechanical and can therefore be understood and then predicted by people, using careful observation, experimentation, and measurement, and importantly by testing your explanations to try to refute them.’ It’s this reiterative process of refinement that sets science apart from any other system for explaining how the world works."
a:Tom-Chivers  p:BuzzFeed★★  d:2015.08.27  w:2500  list  science  math  physics  biology  from instapaper
november 2015 by bankbryan
The Cook and the Chef: Musk's Secret Sauce
"History is full of the stories of chefs creating revolutions of apparent ingenuity through simple first principles reasoning. Genghis Khan organizing a smattering of tribes that had been fragmented for centuries using a powers of ten system in order to build one grand tribe that could sweep the world. Henry Ford creating cars with the out-of-the-box manufacturing technique of assembly-line production in order to bring cars to the masses for the first time. Marie Curie using unconventional methods to pioneer the theory of radioactivity and topple the “atoms are indivisible” assumption on its head (she won a Nobel Prize in both physics and chemistry—two prizes reserved exclusively for chefs). Martin Luther King taking a nonviolent Thoreau approach to a situation normally addressed by riots. Larry Page and Sergey Brin ignoring the commonly-used methods of searching the internet in favor of what they saw as a more logical system that based page importance on the number of important sites that linked to it. The 1966 Beatles deciding to stop being the world’s best cooks, ditching the typical songwriting styles of early-60s bands, including their own, and become music chefs, creating a bunch of new types of songs from scratch that no one had heard before. Whatever the time, place, or industry, anytime something *really* big happens, there’s almost always an experimenting chef at the center of it—not being anything magical, just trusting their brain and working from scratch. Our world, like our cuisines, was created by these people—the rest of us are just along for the ride."
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.11.06  w:21500  instructional  Elon-Musk  music  innovation  science  hardware  software  children  process  future  society  from twitter
november 2015 by bankbryan
How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
"Today, no one is talking about Mars, and very few people think of Mars as a relevant part of the near future. But unless I’ve missed something big or something unexpected happens, in about 10–20 years, *people will start going to Mars*. *You* could go to Mars in your lifetime. Crazy things are on the horizon. This is one of those topics that’s tough to absorb, because as you think about it, your mind will keep drifting back to, 'Nahhhh.' Learning about what SpaceX is doing and why they’re doing it can take you from a place where thinking the prospect of humans moving to Mars is totally ludicrous to a place where you accept the logic that it’s actually an important thing to do and something that’s possible and even likely to happen. But that’s different than really *believing* it’ll happen. As you read this post, even if you agree with what you’re reading, if you had to quickly bet $1,000 on whether people will be moving to Mars in 20 years, there’s a good chance you’d bet against it, because deep down, your brain hasn’t *really* accepted it. And that’s fair—your brain bases things on experience, and experience tells it that moving to Mars is not something that people ever do. But I’m pretty sure your brain’s in for some big surprises over the next few decades."
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.08  w:38000  space  engineering  SpaceX  Elon-Musk  science  history  future  Russia  disaster  travel  aviation  management  Mars 
october 2015 by bankbryan
How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
"Imagine the current air travel industry with one key difference: an airplane works for one flight only. Each flight is on a brand new plane, and after the flight, passengers exit into the terminal and the plane is broken down into scrap metal and possibly-reusable parts that are sent off to be refurbished for use in a future plane. An airplane costs around $300 million to build. So in this new model, in addition to paying for the crew’s time and fuel, airlines have to spend $300 million extra each flight to build a plane. How would that change things? First, there would be very few flights available—the schedule would be limited by the pace of plane production. Second, the price of a round-trip ticket between Chicago and San Francisco would now cost about $1.5 million per person. For economy. Air Force One would still exist. Wealthy countries would have a small military air fleet. A few governments would fly in order to perform certain types of science experiments. People with 10 billion dollars would probably fly a decent amount, but people with only one billion dollars couldn’t really afford it. And you? You would be born, live your life, and die without ever riding on a plane. If this were the situation, people would probably look at the non-existent air travel industry and determine that clearly, there was no public will to travel by air. Politicians would argue against putting much government funding into the exorbitant activity. Most people wouldn’t even fully understand how airplanes worked, and they wouldn’t waste any time imagining what the world would be like if everyone could use them. It would become a non-topic. We’d travel by car and railroad and ship and that would be that. Can you see where I’m going with this?"
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.08  w:38000  space  engineering  SpaceX  Elon-Musk  science  history  future  Russia  disaster  travel  aviation  management  Mars  from twitter
october 2015 by bankbryan
How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
"Almost every person I talked to at both Tesla and SpaceX emphasized how much of an expert Musk is at their particular field, whether that field be car batteries, car design, electric motors, rocket structures, rocket engines, rocket electronics ('avionics'), or aerospace engineering. He can do this because of a combination of his immensely thick tree trunk of fundamental understanding of physics and engineering and his genius-level ability to retain information as he learns it. It’s that insane breadth of expertise that allows Musk to maintain such an abnormally high level of control over everything that happens at his companies. I asked SpaceX’s VP of Software Engineering, Jinnah Hosein, about Musk’s nanomanagement. He said: 'The biggest surprise for anyone first joining the company—SpaceX throws around term “nanomanager,” and you’re like, “Okay he likes to go down in the weeds, that’s cool”—but you have no idea. For the CEO of the company, he has an incredibly deep stack—he has all that info available to him, and he can drill down on any one thing, and often does. He’s making very low-level decisions and very low-level course directions for the company, with high fidelity, and I can’t imagine it working with anyone else at any other company. The thought of one person being a key decision point for so many things is remarkable to me—he can hold it all it in his head and recall it on demand in real time, as necessary, in order to be able to make good decisions.'"
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.08  w:38000  space  engineering  SpaceX  Elon-Musk  science  history  future  Russia  disaster  travel  aviation  management  Mars  from twitter
october 2015 by bankbryan
How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
"Can we just acknowledge how good living on *Earth* sounds right now?? Imagine the privilege of living in *room* temperature weather, one atmosphere of pressure, *g* gravity, light breezes, watery rainstorms, plentiful liquid oceans, magnetic and atmospheric protection from the sun, food everywhere, and air you can just *breathe in*. You need a huge number of different conditions to be *precisely* correct in order for you to be able to just stroll around outdoors without a spacesuit. So let’s all appreciate the *luxury* of living on Earth for the next seven minutes until we all simultaneously forget to give a shit about it again forever."
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.08  w:38000  space  engineering  SpaceX  Elon-Musk  science  history  future  Russia  disaster  travel  aviation  management  Mars  from twitter
october 2015 by bankbryan
How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
"When I look at what’s going on with humans and space today, I should think it’s incredible. Just 58 years after the Soviets put the first man-made object into orbit, we now have a swarm of high-tech equipment soaring around our planet, giving humans magical capabilities in vision and communication. There’s a team of flying robot messengers spread out through the Solar System, reporting back to us with their findings. There’s a *huge flying telescope high* above Earth, showing us exactly what the observable universe looks like. There’s a football field-sized *science lab* 250 miles above our heads with *people* in it. Everything I just said is *amazing*. But unfortunately, the 60s happened."
a:Tim-Urban★★★  p:Wait-But-Why★★★  d:2015.08  w:38000  space  engineering  SpaceX  Elon-Musk  science  history  future  Russia  disaster  travel  aviation  management  Mars  from twitter
october 2015 by bankbryan
The Man Who Found the Titanic Is Not Done Yet
"Ballard has assembled, over the years, an astonishing roster of experts in many fields, all volunteers. When the Nautilus is at sea, towing its cameras through the depths, and it finds something interesting, the crew needs to know whether to stop and explore further or move on. And they can’t keep fifty experts on board at all times. So the Nautilus has a phone system with a 401 area code. 'The ship thinks it’s in Rhode Island at all times, no matter where on the planet it is,' Ballard says. 'When we need an expert, we just pick up the phone. It goes like this: "Hi, Deb? I know it’s 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, but can you boot up your laptop? We got something. We wanna know what it is. The ship is hovering in twenty thousand feet of water wondering, up or down?" And we do this literally all the time. All. The. Time. Within twenty minutes we have to deliver the brightest mind in America on whatever subject it is to the spot of the discovery to tell us what to do. If you tell us go, we go into a response strategy.'"
a:Ryan-D'Agostino  p:Popular-Mechanics  d:2015.08.04  w:4500  science  nature 
october 2015 by bankbryan
Unhealthy Fixation
"If you’re like me, you don’t really want to wade into this issue. It’s too big, technical, and confusing. But come with me, just this once. I want to take you backstage, behind those blanket assurances about the safety of genetic engineering. I want to take you down into the details of four GMO fights, because that’s where you’ll find truth. You’ll come to the last curtain, the one that hides the reality of the anti-GMO movement. And you’ll see what’s behind it."
a:William-Saletan  p:Slate★★  d:2015.07.15  w:10000  agriculture  public-health  genetics  food  Chipotle  science  safety  from twitter
september 2015 by bankbryan
The Surprisingly Imperfect Science of DNA Testing
"In New York City, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner has embraced LCN; it is the only public forensics lab in the country to have done so. Lab officials say they only use the technology in ways that are scientifically valid and reliable, and the New York State Commission on Forensic Science sanctioned the method in a series of contentious votes. Last fall, commission member Barry Scheck voiced his concern about the method at a hearing of the DNA subcommittee. Before Scheck made his name disputing DNA as O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, he founded the Innocence Project, which has used DNA to exonerate hundreds of wrongfully convicted people. He said he opposes the use of cutting-edge DNA forensics in court because he doesn't think they have been sufficiently proven. Scheck had been demanding the Office of Chief Medical Examiner make public its internal validation studies on LCN, which it has refused to do. At one point, after an otherwise subdued hearing, he yelled to some of the subcommittee members: 'YOU ARE ALL FUCKING LYING!'"
a:Katie-Worth  p:FRONTLINE  d:2015.06.24  w:7000  law  science  law-enforcement  biology  from twitter
september 2015 by bankbryan
Project Exodus
"According to Conway, there is a 'disconnect' between the desire to travel into space and the desire to understand it. This 'disconnect' is a more fundamental difficulty for NASA than decades’ worth of budget cuts. It’s a contradiction that’s built into the agency’s structure, which includes a human exploration program on the one hand and a scientific program on the other. The planning for Mars missions so far has been left largely to the science types, but sometimes the human-mission types have insisted on getting involved. Whenever they’ve done so, Conway writes, the result has been 'chaos'. Conway puts himself on the side of science, and, as far as he’s concerned, humans are the wrong stuff. They shouldn’t even be trying to get to another planet. Not only are they fragile, demanding, and expensive to ship; they’re a mess. 'Humans carry biomes with us, outside and inside,' he writes. NASA insists that Mars landers be sterilized, but 'we can’t sterilize ourselves.' If people ever do get to the red planet—an event that Conway, now forty-nine, says he considers 'unlikely' in his lifetime—they’ll immediately wreck the place, just by showing up: 'Scientists want a pristine Mars, uncontaminated by Earth.' If people start rejiggering the atmosphere and thawing the regolith, so much the worse. 'The Mars scientists want to study won’t exist anymore,' Conway writes. 'Some other Mars will.'"
a:Elizabeth-Kolbert★  p:The-New-Yorker★★  d:2015.06.01  w:3000  science  space  travel 
august 2015 by bankbryan
A Very Naughty Little Girl
"They changed the needle design because of one incident with a burned girl on the Great West Road. Vaughan arrived and found a little girl, horrifically burnt after she had taken alight from the house electric fire. She left the girl to die, because she had to see who she could save and who she couldn’t, but after saving who she could she returned to the girl and found her still alive. Her legs and arms were so burnt, she had no veins. And Janet again remembered something she had read, that you could give blood into bones. 'That was the great thing about medicine in the war, you could take risks because people died so they were no worse off if they died because of what you did.'"
a:Rose-George  p:Longreads★★  d:2015.03.10  w:5500  medicine  science  World-War-II  war  from instapaper
june 2015 by bankbryan
Is the Many Worlds hypothesis just a fantasy?
"Most MWI popularizers think they are blowing our minds with this stuff, whereas in fact they are flattering them. They delve into the implications for personhood just far enough to lull us with the seductive uncanniness of the centuries-old Doppelgänger trope, and then flit off again. The result sounds transgressively exciting while familiar enough to be persuasive. You see, for some reason, Tegmark doesn't trouble his mind about the many, many more almost-Maxes, near-copies with perhaps a gene or two mutated – not to mention the not-much-like Maxes, and so on into a continuum of utterly different beings. Why not? Because you can't make neat ontological statements about them, or embrace them as brothers. They spoil the story, the rotters. They turn it into a story that doesn't make sense, that can’t even be told. So they become the mad relatives in the attic. "
a:Philip-Ball  p:Aeon★★  d:2015.02.17  w:3500  science  physics 
may 2015 by bankbryan
Absolute English
"The past polyglot character of modern science might seem surprising. Surely it is more efficient to have one language? How much time would be lost learning to read and write three languages in order to synthesise benzene derivatives! If everyone uses the same language, there is less friction caused by translation – such as priority disputes over who discovered what first when the results appear in different tongues – and less waste in pedagogy. By this view, contemporary science advances at such a staggering rate precisely because we have focused on ‘the science’ and not on superficialities such as language. This point is much easier to sustain if the speaker grew up speaking English, but the majority of scientists working today are actually not native English speakers. When you consider the time spent by them on language-learning, the English-language conquest is not more efficient than polyglot science – it is just differently inefficient. There’s still a lot of language‑learning and translation going on, it’s just not happening in the United Kingdom, or Australia, or the United States. The bump under the rug has been moved, not smoothed out."
a:Michael-D-Gordin  p:Aeon★★  d:2015.02.04  w:2500  science  language  history  Germany  from instapaper
may 2015 by bankbryan
5,200 Days in Space
"Spacewalking is a window into how dangerous space is, how a single connector not properly mated can lead to disaster, and how NASA has grappled with that risk by wringing all the spontaneity, all the surprise, out of it. That’s why every scheduled space walk is scripted, and then rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed in a pool big enough to immerse two space shuttles. Working in space to construct or repair a spaceship that weighs 1 million pounds is so challenging that the station’s exterior elements have a remarkable engineering feature: although the station is made up of more than 100 components, with a surface area spanning almost three acres, most bolts the astronauts work with are a single size. That way astronauts almost never have to worry about changing sockets. Imagine constructing a whole building that way."
a:Charles-Fishman  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2014.12.27  w:7500  space  engineering  future  communication  health  science  from twitter
april 2015 by bankbryan
Max Read, Kurt Metzger "Girls Named Heather Fixing Their Skirts" Episode 78
“I do believe that germs spontaneously, sort of, come into existence, even though science has proved that isn’t the case. We are in a place right now where we can invent our own ideas having to do with science.”
a:Julie-Klausner★★  p:How-Was-Your-Week?★★  d:2012.08.31  podcast  science  from twitter
february 2015 by bankbryan
Dave Arnold and Harold McGee Bust Food Myths at Harvard
"Most books tell you that the pan needs to be hot when you saute mushrooms; otherwise, they release too much moisture as the pan heats up, and you end up stewing them instead. But as it turns out, the mushrooms that start in a cold pan — and more importantly, a *crowded* pan — are the real crowd-pleasers. They don't absorb as much oil as mushrooms that are added to a hot pan, and as it turns out, oily mushrooms don't taste as good as non-oily mushrooms. 'Why do you hate mushrooms?' Arnold now demands of anyone he sees not crowding mushrooms in the pan. 'You *must* crowd the mushrooms.'"
a:Rachel-Leah-Blumenthal  p:Eater★★  d:2014.09.09  w:3000  instructional  cooking  science  food  Dave-Arnold  from twitter
november 2014 by bankbryan
Randall Munroe Of xkcd Answers Our (Not So Absurd) Questions
"One thing that bothers me is large numbers presented without context. We’re always seeing things like, 'This canal project will require 1.15 million tons of concrete.' It’s presented as if it should mean something to us, as if numbers are inherently informative. So we feel like if we don’t understand it, it’s our fault. But I have only a vague idea of what one ton of concrete looks like. I have no idea what to think of a million tons. Is that a lot? It can be more useful to look for context. Is concrete a surprisingly large share of the project’s budget? Is the project going to consume more concrete than the rest of the state combined? Will this project use up a large share of the world’s concrete? Or is this just easy, space-filling trivia?"
a:Walt-Hickey★  a:Randall-Munroe★★★  p:FiveThirtyEight★★  d:2014.09.02  w:2000  interview  journalism  science  climate-change  from twitter
october 2014 by bankbryan
Hervé This: The world’s weirdest chef
"He has determined, for example, that a single egg white has enough proteins (if you continue to add water) to support a whipped volume of between nine and 1,000 litres. He became excited when explaining. 'Now if you turn this foam into one single bubble'—he scribbled rapid calculations—'it would have a radius of 30m!' A very very large bubble indeed. 'But this is theoretical,' I said. 'Because a bubble this big would burst!' He just shrugged. 'Maybe it could exist in space…' 'But this is of no use,' the cook in me protested. 'Aha!' This had caught me in his favourite trap. 'No use? You must be very careful! It reminds me of what [Michael] Faraday said when he was asked to explain his invention of electrical induction to the king and the king asked him, "What is the use of this?" And Faraday answered, "Don’t worry sir, the day will come when there will be a tax on it!"'"
a:Wendell-Steavenson  p:Prospect  d:2014.08.20  w:4000  food  cooking  science  from instapaper
october 2014 by bankbryan
Dr. Ecstasy
"When Shulgin had his first psychedelic experience in 1960, he was a young U.C. Berkeley biochemistry Ph.D. working at Dow Chemical. He had already been interested for several years in the chemistry of mescaline, the active ingredient in peyote, when one spring day a few friends offered to keep an eye on him while he tried it himself. He spent the afternoon enraptured by his surroundings. Most important, he later wrote, he realized that everything he saw and thought 'had been brought about by a fraction of a gram of a white solid, but that in no way whatsoever could it be argued that these memories had been contained within the white solid... I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.'"
a:Drake-Bennett★  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2005.01.30  w:4000  history  science  recreational-drugs  pharmaceuticals  from instapaper
july 2014 by bankbryan
This is a Generic Brand Video
And advancement
Are all words we chose from a list."
a:Kendra-Eash  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2014.02.06  w:500  satire  business  race  science  environment  branding 
february 2014 by bankbryan
B.E.E. - Michael Ian Black
“If Nat Geo wants me to do a science show, fuck yeah I’ll do a science show! I like science and I like checks!”
a:Bret-Easton-Ellis★  a:Michael-Ian-Black★★  p:Bret-Easton-Ellis-Podcast  d:2014.02.03  podcast  work  comedy  science  film  Girls  from twitter
february 2014 by bankbryan
The Decline of Falsifiability and the Rise of Ideology
"Our national security laws have moved us to a non-falsifiable world. That is, a government official may claim that these policies have 'made us safer' or a company spokesperson can deny involvement in the programs, and it is essentially impossible for us to determine whether their statements are true or false (or more broadly to know the extent of the surveillance programs: who is involved, how, and what they're doing). The key aspect to falsifiability is not that we care about something being true or false, right or wrong, but rather that we care that something *can be shown to be* true or false, right or wrong (or even some shade of gray). That gives us confidence that we can use evidence to guide our decisions and change course. When no evidence can be presented one way or the other, we exit the realm of the falsifiable."
a:Barath  p:Daily-Kos  d:2013.06.21  w:1500  surveillance  government  science  from twitter
november 2013 by bankbryan
Ant farm
"The word ‘parasite’ comes from the Greek for ‘person who eats at someone else’s table’. It’s a fitting etymology, given that we lose 40 per cent of the plants destined for our dinner tables to parasites — including viruses, bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. The fungi alone are capable of catastrophic damage. Writing in Nature last year, the Imperial College epidemiologist Matthew Fisher calculated that if severe fungal epidemics simultaneously struck the five most important crops — rice, maize, wheat, potatoes and soybean — they would leave enough food to feed only 39 per cent of the world’s population. The chance that all five crops would be hit at once is unlikely, but even now these diseases consume enough food to feed 9 per cent of the globe. And the problem is hardly confined to food production; history tells us that when pestilence brings famine, then war and death follow shortly behind. Plant diseases offer all four horsemen rolled into one."
a:Ed-Yong★  p:Aeon★★  d:2013.07.30  w:5000  agriculture  future  disaster  biology  nature  science  food  history  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
Has Carl June Found a Key to Fighting Cancer?
"In 2004, June and Porter won a $1 million grant from a small foundation, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, created by two parents whose daughter-in-law had died of breast cancer. It was enough to get started. But before they could make much progress, scientific opinion shifted against them. By 2006 and 2007, teams at other universities had run their own trials of engineered T cells in cancer patients. Invariably, the cells didn’t replicate well and simply died in the blood. In one trial, they only lasted a day. The cells had no effect. They didn’t work. The whole idea was starting to seem like a bust. This is a story about science. But science is performed by people, and people are fallible, and people are stubborn. Carl June had seen before how a field could get it wrong."
a:Jason-Fagone★  p:Philadelphia-Magazine  d:2013.07.26  w:9000  medicine  science  experiment  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
Pandora’s Boxes
"Chemistry and physics work differently if you’re a nanoparticle. You’re not as small as an atom or a molecule, but you’re also not even as big as a cell, so you’re definitely not of the macro world either. You exist in an undiscovered country somewhere between the molecular and the macroscopic. Here, the laws of the very small (quantum mechanics) merge quirkily with the laws of the very large (classical physics). Some say nanomaterials bring a third dimension to chemistry’s periodic table, because at the nano scale, long-established rules and groupings don’t necessarily hold up."
a:Heather-Millar  p:Orion-Magazine  d:2012.12.28  w:4000  science  experiment  public-health  physics  from instapaper
february 2013 by bankbryan
My Apology
"That is how, one day, I will restore a measure of the trust that I have lost. Not with the arrangement of words, not with the apology, but with the commitment to a set of decent rules. To not have these procedures and processes in place is to expose myself to the possibility of indifference. It is to slip down a slope and not even notice."
a:Jonah-Lehrer★  p:Jonah-Lehrer  d:2013.02  w:3500  speech  process  science  design  engineering  trust  from twitter
february 2013 by bankbryan
Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Quantum-Branching Multiverse On Alternate Hyperdimensional Plane
"Despite the apparent political value of the speech, some Democratic insiders expressed concern that he is leaving himself open to criticism by the many thinkers who view non-empirically-observable constructs such as the one he visited Monday to be fundamentally invalid. Other critics have noted that the president runs the risk of being crushed in universes where gravity is 10,000 times more powerful than in our own, and where all the matter in his physical makeup could at any moment be converted into powerful, condensed energy in a miniature 'big bang' event that would hasten the destruction of every universe, including our own."
p:The-Onion★★  d:2012.10.02  satire  2012-election  Barack-Obama  science  from twitter
october 2012 by bankbryan
From Bench to Bunker
"What Chapman found in his study immediately excited him: When subjects viewed any stimulus, there was a quick change in brain activity, the size of which depended on how bright the stimulus was. But when subjects were shown a number, crucial to performing the task before them, the EEG registered a huge spike in brain activity about 300 milliseconds after the stimulus appeared. When a plus sign was shown instead of a number, the spike was notably smaller. That simple task had revealed something profound: a clear EEG marker of the perception and processing of information relevant to a decision. Samuel Sutton, in a series of experiments published in 1965 in the journal Science, continued to explore that class of responses, focusing specifically on the spike that occurred 300 milliseconds after the stimulus. Eventually, that spike was named the P300 response. Since those early findings, the P300 has been used to study almost every conceivable topic in neurology and neuroscience: decision-making, consciousness, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and, quite prominently, as a brain-computer interface to allow paralyzed people to spell using EEG."
a:Jon-Bardin  p:The-Chronicle-of-Higher-Education  d:2012.07.09  w:3500  military  science  biology  ethics  intelligence-gathering 
august 2012 by bankbryan
food coloring and fragrance
"It's all food coloring. Food coloring and fragrance. I tell 'em they're working with real chemicals, but they're so fucked up from a lifetime of helicopter parenting they'd all go blind and infected if I let them touch anything stronger."
a:Drew-Fairweather★  a:Natalie-Dee  p:Married-to-the-Sea★★★  d:2012.08.26  comic  parenting  education  chemistry  science 
august 2012 by bankbryan
What Kind of Genius Are You?
"Cézanne was an experimental innovator. He progressed in fits and starts. Working endlessly to perfect his technique, he moved slowly toward a goal that he never fully understood. As a result, he bloomed late. The highest-priced Cézannes are paintings he made in the year he died, at age 67. Cézanne is well represented in art history textbooks; he’s the third-most-illustrated French artist of the 20th century. But of all his reproduced images, just 2 percent are from his twenties. Sixty percent were completed after he turned 50, and he painted more than one-third during his sixties. Picasso and Cézanne represent radically different approaches to creation. Picasso thought through his works carefully before he put brush to paper. Like most conceptualists, he figured out in advance what he was trying to create. The underlying idea was what mattered; the rest was mere execution. The hallmark of conceptualists is certainty. They know what they want. And they know when they’ve created it. Cézanne was different. He rarely preconceived a work. He figured out what he was painting by actually painting it. 'Picasso signed virtually everything he ever did immediately,' Galenson says. 'Cézanne signed less than 10 percent.' Experimentalists never know when their work is finished. As one critic wrote of Cézanne, the realization of his goal 'was an asymptote toward which he was forever approaching without ever quite reaching.'"
a:Daniel-H-Pink  p:Wired★★  d:2006.07  w:3500  creativity  art  economics  time  science 
august 2012 by bankbryan
Why Explore Space?
"Among all the activities which are directed, controlled, and funded by the American government, the space program is certainly the most visible and probably the most debated activity, although it consumes only 1.6 percent of the total national budget, and 3 per mille (less than one-third of 1 percent) of the gross national product. As a stimulant and catalyst for the development of new technologies, and for research in the basic sciences, it is unparalleled by any other activity. In this respect, we may even say that the space program is taking over a function which for three or four thousand years has been the sad prerogative of wars."
a:Ernst-Stuhlinger★  p:Letters-of-Note★★  d:1970.05.06  w:3000  space  government  science  future  environment  food  logistics  war  technology  medicine  letter 
august 2012 by bankbryan
A Mole of Moles
"This smothering ocean of high-pressure meat would wipe out most life on the planet, which could—to reddit’s horror—threaten the integrity of the DNS system. So doing this on Earth is definitely not an option. Instead, let’s gather the moles in interplanetary space."
a:Randall-Munroe★★★  p:what-if?★★  d:2012.07.26  w:1000  science 
july 2012 by bankbryan
Twitter / sciencegoddess: In case this was not made
RT : This is why Fahrenheit is the most useful temperature scale for everyday life:
science  death  visualization  from twitter
july 2012 by bankbryan
Relativistic Baseball
"A careful reading of official Major League Baseball Rule 6.08(b) suggests that in this situation, the batter would be considered 'hit by pitch', and would be eligible to advance to first base."
a:Randall-Munroe★★★  p:what-if?★★  d:2012.07.10  w:1000  science  baseball 
july 2012 by bankbryan
King of the Cosmos
"Tyson takes care not to oversell. If someone asks about string theory--the idea that all matter is ultimate made of multidimensional vibrations--he’s happy to talk about it, but he will also point out that it’s short on evidence. 'The more your ideas are untestable, either in principle or in practice, the less useful they are to the advance of science,' Tyson said. 'It’s a seduction, really, and it's controlling the hiring in physics departments. Every department feels like they need a string theorist. Meanwhile, there are other people who are doing actual experimental physics, or have testable hypotheses that are getting aced out of university appointments.' Still, Tyson thought something important might someday come out of string theory. 'They're pretty cheap to keep around. Pencil, pad, throw in a laptop--you’re done with the string theorist.'"
a:Carl-Zimmer  p:Playboy★★  d:2012.01  w:6500  profile  Neil-deGrasse-Tyson  space  science  education  physics 
july 2012 by bankbryan
Beam Me Out Of This Death Trap, Scotty
"Estimating a cost of $5 billion to $6 billion, NASA got its launch-commit for this design in 1972. The agency explained that having a crew of pilots aboard would add 'flexibility' and 'new dimensions' to space flight, but otherwise NASA wasn't terribly specific about what the astronauts would do. It was assumed that with the horse under construction some carriage maker would build something for it to pull--a space mission only a shuttle could handle. Meanwhile, petting the animal became an obsession. It would be 'the dawn of a new age' (Nixon), a 'breakthrough' (Ford), the first 'commuting to space' (Carter). James Gehrig, staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee's space and science subcommittee, sums up the two features that shuttle backers have cited again and again: its 'wonderful advantages of higher payloads and lower costs.' NASA planned the first launch for 1977. Didn't quite make it that year, and won't this year. NASA officials won't be too upset if it doesn't fly next year either because when you're not launching them, you don't have to explain awkward things like higher costs and lower payloads."
a:Gregg-Easterbrook★  p:Washington-Monthly★  d:1980.04  w:8500  space  economics  science 
july 2012 by bankbryan
NASA Announces Plans To Put Man On Bus To Cleveland
"'For almost as long as our nation has existed, man has gazed upon a map of the eastern United States and dreamed of traveling to Cleveland, the largest metropolitan area in Ohio,' NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. said at a press conference announcing the agency’s first major initiative since the discontinuation of the space shuttle program. 'Until now, the immense physical and psychological risks involved in any manned mission had put that dream sadly out of reach.'"
p:The-Onion★★  d:2012.04.30  w:1000  science  satire  travel  Cleveland 
april 2012 by bankbryan
Why I am an atheist and a naturalist
"I should warn you that if you are a person of faith, I’ll probably offend you gravely with this tome. Make no mistake: I have no compunctions about doing so. I’m not one to hide the truth behind deferential embroidery. Still, if you are the type who is likely to take offense and refuse to continue reading, it would be most courteous of me to offend you early on, so as to respect your valuable time. To that end: God is almost certainly a lie, religion is a scourge upon the world, and you are wasting your life with a cultish devotion to nonsensical superstitions and soul-crushing dogmas. Also, you don’t have a soul."
a:Mark-Jaquith★  p:Tempus-Fugit  d:2012.01.09  w:13500  religion  science  children  education  teens  sex  ethics  9/11  health  death  government  reference 
february 2012 by bankbryan
The Human Lake
"The microbes in your body at this moment outnumber your cells by ten to one. And they come in a huge diversity of species—somewhere in the thousands, although no one has a precise count yet. By some estimates there are twenty million microbial genes in your body: about a thousand times more than the 20,000 protein-coding genes in the human genome. So the Human Genome Project was, at best, a nice start. If we really want to understand all the genes in the human body, we have a long way to go."
a:Carl-Zimmer  p:The-Loom  d:2011.03.31  w:4000  biology  medicine  nature  animals  science  genetics  microbiome 
february 2012 by bankbryan
This is my brain on drugs
"Even though they seem quite different and even contradictory, both of those things — the difficulty in accepting the placebo effect and the difficulty in accepting that I’m suffering from a disease as opposed to, say, a deficiency in willpower — draw from the same source. They’re both there because on some level I’m afraid of not being in control of my own mind (or maybe unwilling to completely reject a BS sort of dualism, but same thing). If depression is a disease that can be fixed with a pill, then my thoughts are subject to the vagaries of whatever the hell the rest of my brain is doing. And if the placebo effect works on me, then I can recognize something as irrational on one level while the rest of my brain decides to ignore that and fix me up. All this would mean that I’m a spectator in my own head. My brain has its own momentum regardless of my conscious thoughts, and I’m along for the ride."
a:Sandip-Biswas  p:This-Is  d:2012  w:2500  psychology  science  depression  medicine  pharmaceuticals 
january 2012 by bankbryan
What decisions in American history did not appear to be very important at the time, but had absolutely terrible consequences for the nation?
"Answering this question has caused me to examine our American body politic. We could have worked harder at finding a commonly respectful solution to this conflict and we didn't. If there is a takeaway for me from this, it is that we need to find ways to function that respects each others convictions and core values. Too often our response is to press our legislators to impose our version of what is good and right on others. However correct we may be, this behavior does not come without consequences. If mere compassion for our fellow human beings is not enough to work hard at finding mutually respectful approaches to public policy in general, and school curriculum in particular, then pragmatic interest in promoting our own values should direct us to act accordingly, because in a democracy sooner or later the opposing group's time to exercise their electoral power will come."
a:Bill-McDonald★  a:Paul-Frank  p:Quora★★  d:2011.11  w:2500  government  future  history  alcohol  taxes  regulation  economics  race  education  work  terrorism  Afghanistan  war  housing  law-enforcement  religion  science  environment  voting  medicine  smoking  AIDS  immigration  gay  United-States  recreational-drugs 
december 2011 by bankbryan
Radiolab: An Appreciation
"And so you end up with this super-polished production work where every note and phrase and breath is worked out to the microsecond. The timing and entrance of every little note, each of the sound effects, the quotes, the echo on the voices and music, the tinniness or bassy-ness of each element in the mix, it’s all calibrated and machined like an expensive handmade watch. No other radio show sweats the production work to that extent; it’s not even close. And all that meticulous work is in the service of something that’s the opposite of careful and meticulous: this totally chatty, happy, loose, spontaneous-sounding conversation between Jad and Robert and their interviewees. So you have looseness set on top of a perfectly-ordered audio architecture. Dancers freestyling it on an architect’s blueprints. Okay, that metaphor’s forced, but you get the idea. To me, this sounds very new."
a:Ira-Glass★  p:Transom  d:2011.11.08  w:4500  Radiolab  radio  education  science  conversation  journalism  flow  music 
october 2011 by bankbryan
What we SHOULD have been taught in our senior year of high school
"I'm going to save you a huge heap of marriage trouble and teach you how to load a dishwasher, because I'm guessing that most of you currently load it like complete retards."
a:Matthew-Inman★★  p:The-Oatmeal★★  comic  education  math  science  sex  pornography  children  teens 
september 2011 by bankbryan
Starting Over
"Imagine—much as Feynman asked his audience—that in a mission to change everyone’s thinking about the world, you can take only one lesson from your field as a guide. In a single statement, what would it be? Here are their answers."
p:Seed  d:2011.04.22  w:1000  science  biology  society  politics  economics  environment  social-interaction  culture  math  time  information 
august 2011 by bankbryan
The Brain on Trial
"If I seem to be heading in an uncomfortable direction—toward letting criminals off the hook—please read on, because I’m going to show the logic of a new argument, piece by piece. The upshot is that we can build a legal system more deeply informed by science, in which we will continue to take criminals off the streets, but we will customize sentencing, leverage new opportunities for rehabilitation, and structure better incentives for good behavior. Discoveries in neuroscience suggest a new way forward for law and order—one that will lead to a more cost-effective, humane, and flexible system than the one we have today. When modern brain science is laid out clearly, it is difficult to justify how our legal system can continue to function without taking what we’ve learned into account."
science  law  psychology  sex  society  gambling  biology  a:David-Eagleman★  p:The-Atlantic★★  incentives  recreational-drugs  pharmaceuticals 
july 2011 by bankbryan
A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business
"What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang 'em back. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head. And you've got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You've got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head."
a:Charles-Munger★★  d:1994  w:13500  instructional  business  finance  education  math  accounting  science  engineering  statistics  biology  psychology  economics  marketing  government  television  work  technology  Warren-Buffett 
june 2011 by bankbryan
Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good
"The flavor industry is highly secretive. Its leading companies will not divulge the precise formulas of flavor compounds or the identities of clients. The secrecy is deemed essential for protecting the reputations of beloved brands. The fast-food chains, understandably, would like the public to believe that the flavors of the food they sell somehow originate in their restaurant kitchens, not in distant factories run by other firms. A McDonald's french fry is one of countless foods whose flavor is just a component in a complex manufacturing process. The look and the taste of what we eat now are frequently deceiving -- by design."
food  McDonald's  science  a:Eric-Schlosser  p:The-Atlantic★★  vegetarianism 
may 2011 by bankbryan
Face Blind
"'People think of the brain as one seamless intelligence, because that's how it feels to us from the inside,' says Nancy Kanwisher, an MIT vision researcher. 'But if you look at prosopagnosia, you start to realize that the brain may actually be a grouping of stand-alone computational machines that are wired together.' The question is, how many machines are there and how do they work? On a basic level, we know that there are distinct visual, auditory, memory, and motor systems. But within each of these, are there further specializations? For instance, within the visual cortex, is there a specialized part of the brain devoted to faces? And, if so, are there further specializations within that for gender, skin color, age, and even attractiveness? It's akin to discovering the molecule, only to realize that there may be atoms, electrons, and quarks as well."
medicine  science  internet  community  a:Joshua-Davis★  p:Wired★★  from instapaper
april 2011 by bankbryan
Radiation Dose Chart
"I'm sure I've added in lots of mistakes; it's for general education only. If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself."
a:Randall-Munroe★★★  p:xkcd★★★  d:2011.03.19  visualization  science  reference  nuclear-energy  disaster  safety 
march 2011 by bankbryan
The Japan syndrome
"It could have been worse. If the zirconium melts, the fuel pellets embedded in it can melt, too, sinking to the bottom of the pressure vessel. If enough molten fuel gathers this way, a critical mass may be assembled, reigniting the fission reaction. The fuel could also burn through the vessel and start forcing radioactive steam continuously into the sky and spreading it around. (The fire within the reactor core at Chernobyl, which had only token containment, did this quite effectively.)"
disaster  Japan  nuclear-energy  science  p:The-Economist/Babbage 
march 2011 by bankbryan
Nuclear energy 101: Inside the "black box" of power plants
"For the vast majority of people, nuclear power is a black box technology. Radioactive stuff goes in. Electricity (and nuclear waste) comes out. Somewhere in there, we're aware that explosions and meltdowns can happen. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that set of information is enough to get by on. But, then, an emergency like this happens and, suddenly, keeping up-to-date on the news feels like you've walked in on the middle of a movie. Nobody pauses to catch you up on all the stuff you missed. As I write this, it's still not clear how bad, or how big, the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant will be. I don't know enough to speculate on that. I'm not sure anyone does. But I can give you a clearer picture of what's inside the black box. That way, whatever happens at Fukushima, you'll understand why it's happening, and what it means."
disaster  reference  Japan  science  nuclear-energy  p:Boing-Boing  a:Maggie-Koerth-Baker 
march 2011 by bankbryan
Space Stasis
"To employ a commonly used metaphor, our current proficiency in rocket-building is the result of a hill-climbing approach; we started at one place on the technological landscape—which must be considered a random pick, given that it was chosen for dubious reasons by a maniac—and climbed the hill from there, looking for small steps that could be taken to increase the size and efficiency of the device. Sixty years and a couple of trillion dollars later, we have reached a place that is infinitesimally close to the top of that hill. Rockets are as close to perfect as they're ever going to get. For a few more billion dollars we might be able to achieve a microscopic improvement in efficiency or reliability, but to make any game-changing improvements is not merely expensive; it's a physical impossibility."
a:Neal-Stephenson★★★  p:Slate/Future-Tense  d:2011.02.02  w:2500  space  history  technology  politics  science  environment  future  engineering  innovation 
february 2011 by bankbryan
Scientific regress: When science goes backward
"Decades ago antibiotics, vaccines, pesticides, water chlorination and other public health measures were vanquishing diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, polio, whooping cough, tuberculosis and smallpox, particularly in First World nations. In 1967 U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart said that it was 'time to close the books on infectious diseases' and shift resources toward non-infectious killers such as cancer and heart disease. The global eradication of smallpox in 1979 seemed to fulfill Stewart's vision. Hopes for the end of infectious disease were soon crushed, however, by the emergence of AIDS, mutant flu viruses and antibiotic-resistant forms of old killers such as tuberculosis."
list  science  medicine  aviation  space  health  history  future  energy  biology  a:John-Horgan  p:Scientific-American 
february 2011 by bankbryan
Q&A: Astronomer Mike Brown on How He Killed Pluto
"What does your 5-year-old daughter think of having a planet-killer for a father?
She has learned from general discussions that I killed Pluto and that killing is bad. Therefore, I’ve done something bad, and so she’s kind of mad at me."
interview  space  children  science  p:Wired★★  a:Mike-Brown  a:Olivia-Koski 
february 2011 by bankbryan
Ash Ash Baby
"If I had way more free time and motivation I would figure out a way to impregnate a tree with copper and lithium ions, then (safely) burn it down."
science  a:Lee-Bishop  p:Science-Minus-Details 
february 2011 by bankbryan
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