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Posts

April 18, 2014

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7:38 PM | Distillations April Webcast: Alchemy's Rainbow
Our latest webcast explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservationists who save paintings from the ravages of time and accidental chemistry. "Alchemy’s Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation" features art conservator Mark F. Bockrath and art historian and CHF fellow Elisabeth Berry Drago. Our guests discuss and show the messy and occasionally dangerous process of making paints from pigments and the transition to using […]
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3:00 PM | How did being buried for 36 hours become three days?
Something that puzzled me about the resurrection was how a period of thirty-six hours or so became three days. There are other things too, but the period from death to Easter morning isn’t even forty-eight hours. Where does three days come from? Couldn’t ancient people count? It turns out they could, but they counted differently.…
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2:17 PM | Amelia Earhart Wreckage: Real or Not?
A court case surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the famous pilot claims that video of the supposed plane wreckage is not convincing.
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10:00 AM | 19th century Indian Women in U.S. Medical School III
I haven’t been able to find much on Dora Chatterjee’s career online. I imagine there’s much more to her story in the archives somewhere, but this will be a project I’ll have to save for another time. In the Drexel … Continue reading →

April 17, 2014

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7:20 PM | The Fix Was in for Ancient Wrestling Match
Researchers have deciphered a Greek document that shows an ancient wrestling match was fixed.
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3:00 PM | 5 Years On — Chemotherapy Works
I wrote someone out of my will today. It was five years ago I had chemotherapy for cancer. It should have been six, but I held off getting a diagnosis because I was in the last year of my PhD and helping out with elderly relatives. I wasn’t strictly in denial about having cancer, but…
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1:52 PM | Some first class history of science reading for the holiday weekend: Giants’ Shoulders #70: The Sir Hans Sloane Birthday Collection
At a lose end on Good Friday or Easter Monday? Read up on the best history of science bloggage from the last thirty days gathered from the far reaches of cyberspace for your pleasure. Lisa Smith (@historybeagle) has put together … Continue reading →
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1:52 PM | Vitruvian Geology – Leonardo da Vinci and the Realistic Depiction of the Earth’s Surface
Leonardo da Vinci studied rocks and landscapes not only to improve the realism of his paintings, but also in an attempt to understand how the earth works. Leonardo was obsessed with water, which he considered a vector to erode ancient rocks and to deposit new sedimentary rocks, reshaping so over time the “living” earth. The running water is for earth what blood is for the human body – it flows from the mountains to the sea, then – so Leonardo – in […]
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1:47 PM | Physics demonstrations: The Phantom Lightbulb
Some of the most spectacular physics demonstrations rely on surprisingly simple science.  Throughout history, for instance, very simple optics has been used to great effect to terrify and amaze audiences (see, for instance, Robertson’s Phantasmagoria).  I recently came across such … Continue reading →
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12:17 PM | Vitruvian Geology – Leonardo da Vinci and the Realistic Depiction of the Earth’s Surface
In the Renaissance (1450-1600) architecture and pictorial arts, but also scientific disciplines like astronomy, physics and medicine, experienced a rebirth and important improvements – but what about geology? There were some lone geniuses in the earth sciences – Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci (born April 15, 1452-1519) recognized fossils as petrified remains of former living [...]
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12:17 PM | Vitruvian Geology – Leonardo da Vinci and the Realistic Depiction of the Earth’s Surface
In the Renaissance (1450-1600) architecture and pictorial arts, but also scientific disciplines like astronomy, physics and medicine, experienced a rebirth and important improvements – but what... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 16, 2014

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7:56 PM | Vintage Dinosaur Art: About Dinosaurs
It might have one of the most generic titles going, but About Dinosaurs (1972) distinguishes itself with Michael Spink's highly distinctive illustrations. Ditching the normal quasi-realistic style that illustrators attempt in educational books like this, Spink instead opts for monochrome, crosshatched beasties against simple backgrounds with bold washes. It's a delightfully unusual approach.The book is presented as the story of a time-travelling...male in a safari outfit named, for no […]
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2:49 PM | Lists!
People appear to love list. The Internet is full of lists. The 10 most popular dog breeds, the 10 biggest waves ever ridden by a surfer, the 10… you get the idea. The lists very often have ten entries, it’s … Continue reading →
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2:30 PM | Mysterious Siberian Mummies: Photos
Explore mummies and artifacts found among 34 shallow graves in Siberia.
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1:37 PM | Siberian Mummies in Copper Masks Pose Mystery
An unusual find of 34 mummies in Siberia has archaeologists wondering who these people were -- and why they wore copper masks. Continue reading

April 15, 2014

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2:00 PM | Art and Science: Two Parts of a Whole
By Michal Meyer Are art and science ying and yang, essential yet opposite parts of our world? We can trace the origins of material science to the first cave drawings made thousands of years ago. The artists who left these pictures likely began with trial and error attempts made with burned wood and colored dirt. Even then art and science were mingling, taking physical form through pigment. Art and science also meet in fascinating ways in the Dutch alchemical paintings that were so popular in […]
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10:30 AM | Dieting Deafness Away
I’m sure some of you have heard of London-based undertaker William Banting (1797-1878), who was the first to popularize a low-carb diet that formed the basis of modern-day diets (think Atkins). Banting was an upper middle-class funeral director whose family … Continue reading →
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6:46 AM | Looking up to Marius
One of the principle goals of the Simon-Marius-Anniversary-2014 has been achieved. The committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) responsible for the naming of minor planets, comets and natural satellites has announced that the asteroid “1980 SM” will in future … Continue reading →
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6:14 AM | Yellow fever stops at the Miami airport.
Initially, new infectious diseases could spread only as fast and far as people could walk. Then as fast and far as horses could gallop and ships could sail. With the advent of truly global travel, the last five centuries have seen more new diseases than ever before become potential pandemics. The current reach, volume and […]

April 14, 2014

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2:07 PM | Microbial Misadventures: A Malaria Outbreak Without Mosquitoes
Microbial Misadventures is a recurring series on Body Horrors looking at instances and incidents where human meets microbe in novel and unusual circumstances that challenge our assumptions about how infections are spread.  Shout “fire” in a crowded room and watch the occupants fly for the exits. Speak the word “malaria” and watch as all within earshot […]The post Microbial Misadventures: A Malaria Outbreak Without Mosquitoes appeared first on Body […]
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2:14 AM | “Recombinant Gold” teaser
Had a request for a teaser of my recent review of Nic Rasmussen’s Gene Jockeys from Nature (April 10). If you want the whole thing, log in to Nature or shoot me an email.   In 1969, the molecular biologist Gunther Stent published one of the most spectacularly inaccurate predictions in the history of modern science. In The Coming of […]

April 13, 2014

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9:28 PM | Episode 3: Bonus Clip One (Gustaf Dalén)
A lot of people seem to think that doing well at school is a critical step along the pathway to success. And let’s be honest, it helps. All those acquaintances of mine who scaled the academic ladder before the age of 18 have gone on … Continue reading →
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6:12 PM | The Harmony of Colors
The first "geological" maps used symbols to characterize single outcrops; later maps introduced shaded areas to display the distribution of specific rock-types, but due the high printing-costs these maps were printed only in black & white, making them hard to read - so let´s put some colors on that map...
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1:22 PM | A Concise History of Geological Maps: The Harmony of Colors
The first maps used symbols to characterize single outcrops; later maps introduced shaded areas to display the distribution of specific rock-types, but due the high printing-costs these maps were printed only in black & white, making them hard to read. Maybe the first colored map was hand drawn by the German mineworker and later mine [...]
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1:22 PM | A Concise History of Geological Maps: The Harmony of Colors
The first maps used symbols to characterize single outcrops; later maps introduced shaded areas to display the distribution of specific rock-types, but due the high printing-costs these maps were... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 12, 2014

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9:19 AM | Physics Week in Review: April 12, 2014
There were several physics news items this week, coming on the heels of the APS April Meeting in Savannah Georgia. Like a BOSS: Astronomers make the most precise measurement yet of the expanding... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 11, 2014

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8:50 PM | painting like it's 1699
How did 17th-century painters create their masterpieces without Dick Blick, tupperware, or modern conveniences like paint in tubes? To explain the matter Elisabeth Berry Drago, a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Delaware and a fellow at CHF, takes us on an artistic tour of Philadelphia. This video will screen as a part of our live webcast with Elisabeth Berry Drago and Mark F. Bockrath, a paintings conservator for Barbara A. Buckley and Associates Painting Conservation. […]
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4:53 PM | How many quarks would a charm quark charm if a charm quark could charm quarks?
Fundamental physics is having quite a spectacular season.  In mid-March, the collaborators of the BICEP2 telescope announced the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, answering a long-standing question about the beginnings of the universe. Now, on the heels of that … Continue reading →
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3:33 PM | Green Light: Mr D.
This is the fifth installment of my autobiographical series on my experiences with hearing loss. You can view earlier posts: Prologue; Chapter 1: Seeing Sounds; Chapter 2: Fearless Leader; Chapter 3: The Black Box. Posts appear every other Friday.  Sometime when I was six or … Continue reading →

April 10, 2014

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7:00 PM | A Concise History of Geological Maps: Mapping Noah’s Flood
Sometimes a geological map supports an intriguing idea not by showing the rocks that are there, but by showing the rocks that aren’t there anymore, eroded by a flood of biblical proportions. “No one with an eye for land forms can cross eastern Washington in daylight without encountering and being impressed by the “scabland.” Like [...]
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