Category Archives: science

Doodle While You Listen

A new study shows that if you doodle while you listen, you are more likely to retain the boring information the yappers are yakking at you. Yada, yada, yada, yada.

Apparently the doodling activity keeps you focused just enough to deter you from actually wandering off into a daydream in lala land. Thus you hear and retain a bit more of the info.

If this is all true, Badger must never let anything slip by her during a conversation.

But I ask, will doodling while watching a video about counting passes make you pay more attention?

My New Nature Boy Crush – Nick Baker

Move over Jeff Corwin.

There’s a new nature boy on the horizon – Nick Baker.

I realize I’m probably behind in finding him as his show has been on the Animal Planet network before, but I caught two hours of “Nick Baker’s Weird Creatures” this morning on the Science Channel and fell in TV love all over again.

Newscoma and I have always enjoyed Corwin’s sense of humor, his pop culture references and his sensitivity to the animals’ habitats and well-being. Unlike Brady Barr‘s proclivity to wrestle and subdue each and every creature he encounters, Corwin was as gentle as possible with the animals he introduced us to – all the while smiling and making me laugh.

Now Baker has a similar take on his show. I also enjoyed the fact that he looked for the exotic right here in North America. One of the two episodes I watched dealt with hellbenders, a giant member of the salamander family. Also known as devil dogs, this ugly swimmer can be found in the rushing streams of Appalachia but is in trouble in the waters of the Ozarks.

Baker does a good job of mixing the science with the curious facts, entertaining and informing at the same time.

I think I’ll tune in again.

Pieces of Canadian Meteorite Found

I’ve been fascinated by the footage of the meteorite that fell over Canada last week.

I’m not normally into astronomy, but for some reason the shot from the cop’s dashboard camera of the sky lighting up and the streak that followed has really captured my attention.

A planetary scientist and a graduate student have found some fragments of the meteorite.

An American is offering a $10,000 reward for pieces of the meteorite weighing one killogram or more.

I’m guessing they’ll maintain them for research and forego the cash.

Lapping It Up In Slow Motion

As a kid the image of that bullet blasting through the apple by Harold Edgerton just fascinated me for some reason.

I guess it’s because it just proved the old magician’s saying, “The hand is quicker than the eye.”

So much happens around us that our human eyes aren’t capable of seeing – the flap of a hummingbird’s wings or the rubber of a balloon coming unwrapped from around a mass of water.

Just admit, we’re all suckers for slow motion photography and the Discovery Channel is trying to capitalize on this fact with their new show Time Warp.

As the owner of a dog which freely uses her tongue for kisses and lapping up water, I found this video from the show pretty informative.

It turns out a dog forms a bowl or spoon with its tongue by curling it down and under toward the chin and lifting the water into the mouth. If the tongue curled upward it would splash the water into the nose.

For more super high speed videos, visit Vision Research. They’ve got tons of super slow motion stuff.

PopFi has links to super slowmo still photography.


Space Race Heats Up

What with all the Joe the Plumber, Caribou Barbie, McCain tongue-wagging talk, some of you may have missed the news about a new lunar mission.

Yes, I know that diaper-wearing, Katie-Couric-on-a-bad-morning-look-alike astronaut Lisa Nowak‘s case has been back in court with her lawyers’ attempts to get the wacko stuff found in her car like wigs, duct tape and maps thrown out as evidence. That’s just loony, not lunar.

Here’s the lunar race I’m writing about.

FYI, India launched its first lunar mission — Chandrayaan-1 which means “moon craft” in ancient Sanskrit — this morning with hopes of mapping the moon’s surface. They’re looking for potential energy sources.

“A principal objective is to look for Helium 3, an isotope which is very rare on earth but is sought to power nuclear fusion and could be a valuable source of energy in the future, some scientists believe.”

The quote above is from an article at Scientific American.

Japan and China are also very interested in the moon and have launched orbiters around the big green cheese.

NASA does have some payload on the Indian lunar lander and will benefit from the exploration.

Is the USA ahead of the game with its Mars rover (which you can follow on Twitter @MarsPhoenix) or overlooking what’s right in our “backyard”?

It makes me wonder just how many more $$$$ will be pumped into space exploration in the coming years as other nation’s take serious shots into outer space.

To the Moon Alice

So when you were a kid (or last week or whenever) you wanted to be an astronaut and make a trip to the moon.

OK, you’re no Buzz Aldrin or even Buzz Lightyear. That dream didn’t work out so well, but how about if you could at least get your name to the moon.

NASA is now allowing folks to submit their John Hancock to a database which will be placed on a microchip and put on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft. The LRO will be in orbit around the big green cheese in the sky for many years.

According to a NASA press release,

“Everyone who sends their name to the moon, like I’m doing, becomes part of the next wave of lunar explorers,” said Cathy Peddie, deputy project manager for LRO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The LRO mission is the first step in NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon by 2020, and your name can reach there first. How cool is that?”

That press release says the deadline to submit your name has passed, but if you click on the link in the release, it states they will still allow you to add your name until the July 25, 2008 deadline.

As future moon orbiters, you also get a pdf of a certificate announcing you’re part of the mission.

Here’s mine.

Eight is Enough – Cool Octopus Video

The Indonesian Mimic Octopus is relatively new on the nature scene, not getting discovered until 1998 and all.

It may not be as big as the giant frozen super squid, but it has its own charms.

The creature is an incredible impersonator and can distinguish which predator to mimic depending on the sea beast that is bugging it.

In the video, note the sudden color change during the battle with the crab. The quote below is posted with the video on youtube.

The Indonesian Mimic Octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus. This fascinating creature was discovered in 1998 off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia, the mimic octopus is the first known species to take on the characteristics of multiple species. This octopus is able to copy the physical likeness and movement of more than fifteen different species, including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp. This animal is so intelligent that it is able to discern which dangerous sea creature to impersonate that will present the greatest threat to its current possible predator. For example, scientists observed that when the octopus was attacked by territorial damselfishes, it mimicked the banded sea snake, a known predator of damselfishes.

I could watch this over and over – or at least 8 times, once for each leg.