Posts

February 19, 2015

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12:50 PM | Explainer: Swiss Banking Under Scrutiny
The old line about "Swiss bank accounts" being discreet places for people to hide their money has persisted for many years. But is it still true?

February 18, 2015

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11:01 PM | February 18 is National Battery Day. In honor of this day we’re...
February 18 is National Battery Day. In honor of this day we’re offering an excerpt from a magazine piece about an ancestor of the modern battery, the Leyden jar.At its simplest the Leyden jar is a glass bottle that is partly filled with water with a wire running into it (later jars had metal foil wrapped around the inside and outside of the glass and no water). Musschenbroek [the inventor] recorded what happened when he first touched the wire after charging the jar: “Suddenly I […]
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11:01 PM | February 18 is National Battery Day. In honor of this day we’re...
February 18 is National Battery Day. In honor of this day we’re offering an excerpt from a magazine piece about an ancestor of the modern battery, the Leyden jar.At its simplest the Leyden jar is a glass bottle that is partly filled with water with a wire running into it (later jars had metal foil wrapped around the inside and outside of the glass and no water). Musschenbroek [the inventor] recorded what happened when he first touched the wire after charging the jar: “Suddenly I […]
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8:13 PM | Largest Trove of Gold Coins Found off Israel
The largest cache of gold coins ever found in Israel was discovered by chance by divers at Caesarea National Park. The treasure includes at least 2,000 gold coins from the Fatimid period, approximately 1,000 years ago. Continue reading →
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7:23 PM | 'Medicina sin engaños' de J.M. Mulet [Reseña]
¿Sabes como llaman a la medicina alternativa cuando se prueba que funciona? El británico Tim Minchin se hacía esta pregunta en su archiconocido Storm, una divertida canción/poema de este excéntrico genio del humor que compartí por aquí hace ya la friolera de casi tres años. Tendrás que ver el monólogo para saber la respuesta a la pregunta. O leer el último libro de Mulet. Te recomiendo las dos cosas, pero […]
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4:45 PM | Explainer: How Powerful is Nigeria?
Nigeria is expected to surpass the population of the United States sometime before the year 2050, which would put it third in the world behind India and China. Experts expect to see major economic growth during this time. So, how powerful is Nigeria?
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4:03 AM | Dr. SkySkull and the mystery of the subluminal superluminal light!
References in a scientific paper are supposed to answer questions, not raise them, but sometimes they inadvertently create a minor mystery for the reader.  A few weeks back, I blogged about the curious phenomenon of subluminal vacuum beams of light, … Continue reading →

February 17, 2015

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1:20 AM | Mardi Gras at the Leprosarium
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Tomorrow is the final and momentous hurrah of the Carnival season, which culminates with Mardi Gras, otherwise known as Fat Tuesday. In New Orleans, the city I call home, Carnival is a season of festivities, decadence, and tradition, one that is celebrated amongst neighbours and visitors alike. Our revelry is an egalitarian one - everyone is welcome to come witness and participate in Carnival. But, for over a century, just a couple of hours […]

February 16, 2015

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4:09 PM | Tweeting the life of the mind
Academic colleagues of mine who are only slightly or not at all involved with social media often ask me why I do it, while those of us who are involved often seem to find ourselves defending or proselytizing (see special essay series…). Yet one of the most important reasons for me is that it gets […]
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11:07 AM | A Biologist´s Dream: The Lost Continent of Lemuria and Human Evolution
“Yet if hope has flown awayIn a night, or in a day,In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone?All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream.”“A Dream Within A Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)In the 19th century naturalists realized that similar species are found on different continents or remote islands. For short distances this was explainable by (voluntary or involuntarily) migration […]

February 15, 2015

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12:51 PM | Eppur non si muove - Galileo Galilei and the impossible biomechanics of giants
Until the 17th century the discovery of skeletons of giants was a quite common event. In January 1546 and then in the years 1564, 1580 and 1613 bones were unearthed near the castle of Chaumont (France). The bones were identified as the bones of the giant Teutobochus, king of the barbarians, and exhibited in many French cities. Jesuit Jacques Tissot describes the discovery as follows:“The real story of the life and the bones of the giant Teutobochus, king of the Teutons, Cimbrians and […]

February 14, 2015

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1:00 PM | What You Missed in Science: Feb. 9-13
Here's a selection of DNews content from the past week that you may not have seen, but should.
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12:12 PM | Love Can Move Mountains
January 11, 1996 a single seismograph of the Geological Survey of Canada buried in a quiet wooded area on central Vancouver Island started to record an unusual strong seismic signal – slowly, but perpetually increasing in amplitude over time it was recorded only at this station – nearby station (located within a radius of 20km) didn´t show any movements – this was no ordinary 6.8 magnitude earthquake as could occur along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.Fig.1. Seismogram […]
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10:43 AM | Physics Week in Review (Valentine’s Edition): February 14, 2015
Today is Valentine’s Day. In love? Or just the opposite? Express how you feel with physics-inspired Valentines—and anti-Valentines for those who perhaps aren’t huge fans of the holiday.... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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7:14 AM | 25 años de 'Pale blue dot'
Hoy se cumplen 25 años desde que la sonda Voyager 1 tomó esta imagen a 6.000 millones de kilómetros de la Tierra.Creo que es un buen momento, siempre lo es, para tomar perspectiva y recordar las inspiradoras palabras de Carl Sagan ante tan distante imagen de nuestro planeta, con un vídeo extraído de la reciente Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. Que lo disfrutéis ;-)

February 13, 2015

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11:19 PM | What Does It Take to Change a Mind? A Phase Transition
This week’s Virtually Speaking Science episode featured yours truly in conversation with Laurie Paul, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
Editor's Pick
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10:46 PM | Rube Goldberg’s approach to technology was designed to be...
Rube Goldberg’s approach to technology was designed to be amusing. But behind all the ridiculous impracticality was a truth about much of early -20th-century technology: you could see and interact with the workings of it. Twenty-first-century technology is mostly black boxed, its workings invisible and unknowable by most.Our upcoming podcast on technology and obsolescence (due out on iTunes and our website February 18) inspired me to read Nicholas Carr’s The Glass Cage: Automation […]
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10:46 PM | Rube Goldberg’s approach to technology was designed to be...
Rube Goldberg’s approach to technology was designed to be amusing. But behind all the ridiculous impracticality was a truth about much of early -20th-century technology: you could see and interact with the workings of it. Twenty-first-century technology is mostly black boxed, its workings invisible and unknowable by most.Our upcoming podcast on technology and obsolescence (due out on iTunes and our website February 18) inspired me to read Nicholas Carr’s The Glass Cage: Automation […]
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9:29 PM | Top 10 messages to send to E.T.
Fears that sending signals to alien civilizations would provoke an invasion shouldn't prevent transmitting important messages.
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8:43 PM | Top 10 messages to send to E.T.
Fear of alien invasion shouldn’t prevent pursuit of ‘active SETI’ ContextAstronomy by Tom Siegfried 4:29pm, February 13, 2015 In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico beamed a message toward the star cluster M13, 21,000 light-years from Earth, in hopes that an intelligent civilization might receive it. Scientists with the SETI project, which has […]
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8:22 PM | Skeletons in 6,000-Year-Old Embrace Found in Cave
The prehistoric remains were positioned curled into the fetal position, as if spooning each other.
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3:28 PM | Explainer: Jordan's Fight Against ISIS
Jordan's King Abdullah II has promised a relentless and punishing campaign against ISIS militants attempting to destabilize his country and the Middle East. Can Jordan win the fight against ISIS?
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1:25 PM | Explainer: Venezuela in Crisis
In the throes of economic chaos, Venezuela seems in dire straits. What has brought the country to its current state?
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12:00 PM | Villa Owned by Ben-Hur's Rival Identified
Archaeologists recover the remains of the villa belonging to the real- life individual that inspired the epic tale of Ben-Hur.
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12:00 PM | Excavating an Ancient Villa: Photos
On the Tuscan island of Elba archaeologists find remains of lavish, ancient villa.
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12:00 AM | Richard III Killed by Sword Thrust Upwards Into Neck
The lethal stabbing that killed the English king was determined by finding a major mark on the interior surface of the skull.

February 12, 2015

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5:19 PM | Explainer: The Death of Alexander Litvinenko
Eight years after his mysterious death, a public inquiry is finally trying to determine what really happened to former KGB officer and dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Trace explains what we know so far.
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4:20 PM | Do you believe in magic?
I’m in a bit of a quandary about this post for two different reasons. Firstly I didn’t really want to write yet another negative post at the moment and was considering various positive options when somebody drew my attention to … Continue reading →
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4:02 PM | Charles Darwin - the Monster Slayer
Today geologist Charles Darwin is not remembered as great monster hunter, despite some Victorian paleontologists and geologists were interested in the topic, but after discussing how geologists tried to capture “Nessie“, it´s time to hunt for “Bigfoot“:Since ancient time people were fascinated by monsters – a term adopted for mythical creatures, but also real animals or humans with grotesque anatomical deformations. In the 18th and 19th century such […]

February 11, 2015

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7:37 PM | 'It's your turn now.' Dippy and the Blue Whale
'It's your turn now.'Ink on watercolour paper, 202 x 100mm.Scarcely had I mentioned how well Sophie the Stegosaurus complemented the presence of the beloved Diplodocus at their respective entrances to London's Natural History Museum than news of the latter's planned retirement emerged, apparently splitting the public and experts alike into 'Team Dippy' and 'Team Whale' across social media. Of course I'm sad -- very sad -- to see 'Dippy' retire (no, I don't much care for the name either, but […]
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