Posts

December 20, 2014

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10:55 AM | Physics Week in Review: December 20, 2014
The Christmas holiday approacheth, and for those of a Maker bent, here’s how to Build A Sled For Slinging Snowballs — Winter Warfare Will Never Be the Same.  If you’re more the... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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10:00 AM | La línea entre lo que consideramos vivo y lo que no [Charla TED de Martin Hanczyc]
Está claro que si nos enseñan un cristal y un lindo gatito y nos preguntan cuál de los dos podemos considerarlo como un organismo vivo todos responderíamos que el gato. ¿Y los virus? Pues seguro que habría algún tipo de mini-polémica y no todo estaría tan claro. ¿Dónde ponemos el límite? Obviamente en la definición biológica de vida y en este caso los virus quedarían fuera. Y […]

December 19, 2014

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6:25 PM | ‘Tis the season to be shameless
I received two nice holiday gifties: My recent essay on race, genetics, and the Nicholas Wade affair heads up Nature’s top 10 list of Books & Arts pieces for 2014. <blows […]
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6:21 PM | Here’s something we’re sure many of our readers will find...
Here’s something we’re sure many of our readers will find interesting. This week The New Yorker delves into the strange properties of graphene, the first two-dimensional material ever discovered. Despite its unparalleled strength and conductive properties, scientists are still struggling to find a world-changing, everyday use for it. But be quick; the story will go behind their paywall next week. Image: A layer of graphene only a single atom thick is stronger than an equivalent […]
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6:21 PM | Here’s something we’re sure many of our readers will find...
Here’s something we’re sure many of our readers will find interesting. This week The New Yorker delves into the strange properties of graphene, the first two-dimensional material ever discovered. Despite its unparalleled strength and conductive properties, scientists are still struggling to find a world-changing, everyday use for it. But be quick; the story will go behind their paywall next week. Image: A layer of graphene only a single atom thick is stronger than an equivalent […]
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4:58 PM | Greek Mystery Tomb Occupant to Be Revealed Soon
Details about a skeleton found in a mysterious Greek tomb, which may be Alexander the Great's mother, will be revealed next month. Continue reading →

December 18, 2014

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3:28 PM | Someone is Wrong on the Internet.
Many of the readers of this blog will probably recognise the title of this post, as the punch line to one of the best ever xkcd cartoons. Regular readers will also know that the Renaissance Mathematicus cannot resist stamping on … Continue reading →
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2:45 PM | Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt
The remains of a child from more than 1,500 years ago were found among remains dating to the time when the Roman or Byzantine Empire ruled Egypt.

December 17, 2014

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6:30 PM | US, Cuba Declare Historic Breakthrough
The United States and Cuba made a historic breakthrough in their Cold War stand-off Wednesday, moving to revive diplomatic ties and launch measures to ease a five-decade US trade embargo.
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4:24 PM | Distillations Podcast: Life with HIV: Success without a Cure?
Thirty years ago an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, sophisticated drug cocktails known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, have dramatically changed the fates of people with the disease.  Yet in many ways we’re treading water: each year the U.S. sees around 50,000 new HIV cases, and estimates show that 20-25% of these people don’t know they’re infected. And, while the drugs are effective, many people throughout the world can’t afford […]
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4:24 PM | Distillations Podcast: Life with HIV: Success without a Cure?
Thirty years ago an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, sophisticated drug cocktails known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, have dramatically changed the fates of people with the disease.  Yet in many ways we’re treading water: each year the U.S. sees around 50,000 new HIV cases, and estimates show that 20-25% of these people don’t know they’re infected. And, while the drugs are effective, many people throughout the world can’t afford […]
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4:05 PM | Explainer: How Powerful is Japan?
While Japan is a strong economy, it's military spending is comparatively slight. Do they make up for it in other ways? Tara explains the status of Japan among the world's powers.
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3:09 PM | Technology & Deafness
What can the history of technology tell us about the lived experiences and cultural history of the hearing impaired? During the nineteenth century, acoustic aids became ubiquitous objects, varying in design, form, and amplification. The “Deafness in Disguise” exhibit at … Continue reading →
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6:30 AM | Celebrating the Silly and the Sublime: the Best Physics Papers of 2014
It’s tradition for various science media outlets to publish their lists of biggest scientific breakthroughs of the year right about now. And no doubt those breakthroughs deserve the attention... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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3:19 AM | Paleopixels
In my day (and night and weekend) job as a freelance designer and illustrator, I recently was hired to do some advertising illustrations in a pixel art style, emulating the look of 8-bit video game graphics. It was a reminder of how much fun I had drawing on the old Tandy personal computer my family had in the late eighties, in which I would draw elaborate scenes inspired by the Sierra games I loved - especially the King's Quest and Space Quest series (for some reason, I was never allowed to […]

December 16, 2014

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11:16 PM | Best Physics Videos of 2014
It’s that time of year, when we all look back over 2014 and reflect on all the cool science stuff that happened. Today, Jen-Luc Piquant has compiled her Top 20 physics-themed videos of 2014... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:55 PM | Explainer: The Growing Unrest in Mexico
November rioting in Mexico City suggested a boiling point may be near for Mexican citizens unhappy with their leaders' lack of success against the country's drug cartels and the disappearance of 43 students.
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1:27 PM | Franco Moretti: The very small, the very large and the object of digital humanities
La visualisation de données pose problème: on y navigue entre le très petit et le très grand sans intermédiaire susceptible de permettre une lecture critique. Ce billet est le compte-rendu de la conférence Micromégas: the very small, the very large and the object of digital humanities donnée par Franco Moretti le 15 décembre 2014 à l’Université de Lausanne. Elle entre en résonance avec mes propres […]

December 15, 2014

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5:28 PM | All Good Things must End…
Eventually everybody has to face change and his personal Chicxulub and so will the History of Geology blog end as part of the Scientific American Network. I’m very grateful to the Scientific American Staff and the many bloggers in the network for the support, opportunities and especially the fun offered in these past three years. [...]
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5:28 PM | All Good Things must End…
Eventually everybody has to face change and his personal Chicxulub and so will the History of Geology blog end as part of the Scientific American Network. I’m very grateful to the Scientific... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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4:43 PM | Explainer: The Chechen Jihadist Movement
A recent attack in Chechnya's capital city of Grozny by militants has once again turned the spotlight on a country with a long history of violence. Trace details the growing threat posed by militant Islamists in the country.
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2:26 PM | Intellectual Cooperation: multi-level network analysis of an international organization
This paper presents an analysis of the work and functioning of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC) between 1919 and 1927 by setting up a database containing metadata of thousands of documents contained in the ICIC funds (UN Archives, Geneva)1. Visualized as a network of nearly 1700 people (tens of thousands of relationships), this archive gives us a new understanding of the internal organization of the Intellectual Cooperation under […] The post Intellectual […]
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11:04 AM | A very similar luminous lustre appears when one observes a burning candle from a great distance through a translucent piece of horn.
On 15 December 1612 (os) Simon Marius, Court Mathematicus in Ansbach, became the first astronomer to record a telescopic observation of the Andromeda Nebula. The importance of this observation was that whereas other known nebulae such as the Orion Nebula, … Continue reading →

December 13, 2014

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8:30 PM | San Francisco's Deadliest Shipwreck Found
In dark waters just outside the Golden Gate Bridge, archaeologists have pinpointed the final resting place of the worst shipwreck in San Francisco's history.
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10:06 AM | Physics Week in Review: December 13, 2014
If you missed this week’s Virtually Speaking Science, the theme was This Is Your Brain on Movies. I chatted with cognitive neuroscientist Jeffrey Zachs, author of  a fantastic new book —... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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3:50 AM | The mystery of the magnetic train
This past week, thanks to Laughing Squid and other sources, a lot of people watched and were amazed by this simple demonstration of electromagnetism in action. It is billed as the “world’s simplest electric train,” and it is almost certainly … Continue reading →
Editor's Pick

December 12, 2014

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10:13 PM | Penn State’s attempt to auction off 112 of its 540 active...
Penn State’s attempt to auction off 112 of its 540 active patents was disappointing. Only two bids were publically placed, one purchasing a license for a “metal-electroactive ceramic composite transducer” for $5,000. Penn State is the first institution in the country to sell patent licenses through an online auction modeled after eBay. In fact this was their second attempt. In April 2014 the University sold only 2 of 73 engineering patents. The winning bidder received an […]
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10:13 PM | Penn State’s attempt to auction off 112 of its 540 active...
Penn State’s attempt to auction off 112 of its 540 active patents was disappointing. Only two bids were publically placed, one purchasing a license for a “metal-electroactive ceramic composite transducer” for $5,000. Penn State is the first institution in the country to sell patent licenses through an online auction modeled after eBay. In fact this was their second attempt. In April 2014 the University sold only 2 of 73 engineering patents. The winning bidder received an […]
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8:20 PM | Deaf Soundscapes
This is the story of how my professor threw chalk at me. During my second year of undergraduate studies, I took a Philosophy of Mind class that started at 8:30am. I’m far from what you would call a “morning person,” … Continue reading →
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4:53 PM | Founding Fathers-Era Time Capsule Found in Boston
A 219-year-old time capsule is carefully extracted from a corner stone of the Boston Statehouse.
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