Posts

February 28, 2015

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2:33 PM | A Swiss Clockmaker
We all have clichéd images in our heads when we hear the names of countries other than our own. For many people the name Switzerland evokes a muddled collection of snow-covered mountains, delicious superior chocolates and high precision clocks and … Continue reading →
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10:01 AM | Physics Week in Review: February 28, 2015
Science fared pretty well at this year’s Academy Awards. Case in point: Here’s Best Actor Eddie Redmayne on Portraying Stephen Hawking. The Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game, also... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

February 27, 2015

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7:40 PM | It’s life, Charlie, but not as we know it – Charles Darwin and the search for Extraterrestrial Life
Actor Leonard Nimoy passed away today aged 83. So to remember his famous role as science-officer Spock on board of the USS Enterprise I will share some space-geology-related posts:In August 1881 the short-lived popular “Science” magazine published an article with a letter exchange by two amateur geologists – British Charles R. Darwin and the German Otto Hahn- discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Just some years earlier Darwin had published a book “On […]
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5:00 PM | Quotable Genius: Omar N. Bradley
Gen. Omar N. Bradley was a huge figure during World War II, as well as afterward. Continue reading →
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5:00 PM | What You Missed in Science: Feb. 23-27
Catch the stories you may have missed this week! Continue reading →
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4:04 PM | Explainer: Edward Snowden's Espionage Timeline
Follow Edward Snowden's trip from IT worker at the CIA and NSA to Russian asylum seeker fleeing espionage charges against him in the U.S.
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2:59 PM | Distillations Podcast: Innovation & Obsolescence—The Life, Death, and Occasional Rebirth of Technologies
Some technologies flash in the pan so quickly they hardly leave a trace (Google Glass anyone?); while others seem to stick around long past their use by date. And still other creations appear to be gone for good, only to make a comeback within a niche—and likely nostalgic—community. We set out to explore the rhymes and reasons behind these ebbs and flows of technological innovation and obsolescence. First we go to a place where digital nostalgia is alive and well: a vintage video […]
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2:59 PM | Distillations Podcast: Innovation & Obsolescence—The Life, Death, and Occasional Rebirth of Technologies
Some technologies flash in the pan so quickly they hardly leave a trace (Google Glass anyone?); while others seem to stick around long past their use by date. And still other creations appear to be gone for good, only to make a comeback within a niche—and likely nostalgic—community. We set out to explore the rhymes and reasons behind these ebbs and flows of technological innovation and obsolescence. First we go to a place where digital nostalgia is alive and well: a vintage video […]
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2:57 PM | A History of the Use of Illustrations in the Geosciences: I. Seeing is Believing...
The progress made in understanding realistic landscape-views and the rediscovery of ancient encyclopedias (like the works by Pliny the Elder) inspired Renaissance naturalists to adopt an exact and systematic approach to describe the curiosities found in the natural world. As most information as possible should be associated to every studied object – compiled from the works of ancient authors, own observations, may also supposed medical and magical properties, a good description should […]
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12:00 PM | Rare Intact Roman Tombstone Found in England
A well-preserved Roman tombstone has been unearthed in a parking lot in western England. Continue reading →

February 26, 2015

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8:06 PM | First Film of Surgery and Use of Anesthesia Identified
The earliest known filmed surgery and use of anesthesia isn't for the faint of heart.
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12:51 PM | Explainer: The Conflict Between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Haiti and the Dominican Republic may coexist on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but historically they've rarely seen eye to eye. What's behind their long-running conflict? Julia explains.
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12:49 PM | From astronomy to literature – Bridging the gap
Recent years have seen more and more people proclaiming a crisis in the humanities. In an age where politicians seem to have mutated into one-track worshippers of the Gods of Mammon anything, which can’t be measured in terms of the … Continue reading →

February 25, 2015

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7:31 PM | Robinson Requests: LOOK at ceratopsians!
Mark Robinson is a long-standing reader of the blog who has contributed a great many very...amusing comments over the years. In his latest, he noted his disappointment that I failed to include any ceratopsians from the so-so '60s children's book LOOK at Dinosaurs in my VDA post. Well, damn it Mark, I hope the following will suffice for you. While (as you correctly pointed out) I just don't have the time to scan every single page of these books, here's every single ceratopsian illustration from […]
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6:42 PM | Pharaoh Brutally Killed in Battle, Analysis Shows
Analysis reveals major cuts to the king's feet, ankles, and lower back, as well as multiple blows to his skull.
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4:20 PM | You wouldn’t know a limpet had teeth from looking at it. These...
You wouldn’t know a limpet had teeth from looking at it. These soft, squishy sea snails cling to rocks and scrape algae into their mouths, which means their teeth need to be stronger than rock. Last week, a paper in the Royal Society’s journal Interface published the results of a limpet tooth stress test. It turns out that these teeth are the strongest biological material on the planet. (We wrote about graphene a few months ago, which is one of the strongest human-made […]
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4:20 PM | You wouldn’t know a limpet had teeth from looking at it. These...
You wouldn’t know a limpet had teeth from looking at it. These soft, squishy sea snails cling to rocks and scrape algae into their mouths, which means their teeth need to be stronger than rock. Last week, a paper in the Royal Society’s journal Interface published the results of a limpet tooth stress test. It turns out that these teeth are the strongest biological material on the planet. (We wrote about graphene a few months ago, which is one of the strongest human-made […]
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3:12 PM | Explainer: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel
By next year, German chancellor Angela Merkel will become the longest-serving female leader in history. Take a quick tour of her career and accomplishments.
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12:10 AM | Mo’ Farms, Mo’ (Plague) Problems
The plague is back, and this time it’s not thanks to far-voyaging ships or caravans traversing some distant trade routes, but to corn. This disease, caused by one of man’s oldest bacterial foes, Yersinia pestis, and spread by flea-infested rodents, is often overlooked in modern times in favor of more headline-grabbing epidemics like Ebola, HIV, and antibiotic-resistant STDs. But the plague has always kept close quarters with mankind and continues to surprise us with its […]

February 24, 2015

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11:06 PM | Islamic science paved the way for a millennial celebration of light
Ibn al-Haytham’s book on optics from a millennium ago serves as a good excuse to celebrate the International Year of Light.
Editor's Pick
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9:33 PM | Islamic science paved the way for a millennial celebration of light
Ibn al-Haytham’s book on optics showed how to make progress in understanding nature ContextHistory of Science by Tom Siegfried 6:06pm, February 24, 2015 Eleventh-century scholar Ibn al-Haytham, known as Alhazen, was a major contributor to the field of optics and one of the most curious characters in the history of medieval science. He was commemorated on this […]
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5:31 PM | A peculiar feeling of worms: giving voice to the shell-shocked
In November 1914, a young Belgian solider called Adolf arrived in London. He was unable to move his legs but had no apparent physical injury that could explain his condition – he was shell-shocked. Adolf was admitted to what was then the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic, in Queen Square, London (now the […]
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1:01 PM | Explainer: How Powerful is Brazil?
It's the fifth-most populous country on the planet as well as Latin America's most influential nation. Just how powerful is Brazil?

February 23, 2015

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8:34 PM | Vintage Dinosaur Art: LOOK at Dinosaurs
As I'm sure I've mentioned before (for how many years have I been writing these, again?), it's always a joy when a truly vintage dinosaur book finds its way into my clutches, as opposed to I Can't Believe It's Yet Another 1980s Dougal Dixon Dino Book or somesuch. Which isn't to say that the post-Dino Renaissance stuff can't be interesting - far from it - but there's an awful lot more of it about. The illustrations in LOOK at Dinosaurs (1962) aren't especially remarkable, but they're another […]
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6:21 PM | Mummified Monk Sits Inside Ancient Buddha Statue
Sitting in the lotus position, the 1,000-year-old mummy fits within the statue perfectly.
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3:46 PM | Explainer: The State of Labor Unions in the U.S.
With labor union membership at its lowest level in nearly 100 years and the modern U.S. economy moving more toward automation for traditional manufacturing jobs, do labor unions still matter?
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1:49 PM | Explainer: How Powerful is ISIS?
With mass executions a routine part of its murderous rampage in the Middle East, is it even possible to overstate the power currently being wielded by the Islamic State?
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1:08 AM | #365papers, part 3!
I’ve joined a group of folks on Twitter who have vowed to read roughly a paper a day for an entire year, and will summarize my reading here occasionally.  Part 1 can be read here, and part 2 can be … Continue reading →

February 22, 2015

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6:16 PM | Charles Lyell´s Quite Futile Hunt for the Sea-Serpent
In October 1845 British geologist Charles Lyell was visiting Boston, when he noted an advertisement proclaiming that a “Dr.” Albert C. Koch would exhibit the 114-foot-long skeleton of “that colossal and terrible reptile the sea serpent” to the paying public. Lyell dismissed this claim soon as a fraud , as the skeleton was in fact from the extinct whale species Zeuglodon, described by Richard Owen just some years earlier.Fig.1. The infamous “Hydrarchos” by […]

February 21, 2015

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3:49 PM | What You Missed in Science: Feb. 16-20
From ruby-red seadragons to one-way trips to Mars, look back and catch up on what you may have missed. Continue reading →
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