Archive for the ‘Science!’ Category

Here’s an interesting puzzle for the science-minded:

A message just arrived from outer space (but not aliens). Decode it!

After decades of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, humanity finally picked up a message from outer space today. Three of Earth’s top radio astronomy observatories detected the signal coming from somewhere near Mars. Its content has yet to be decoded.

Okay, okay, the message is not actually from aliens. Humans arranged for it to be transmitted to simulate receiving a signal from extraterrestrials. Consider it a dress rehearsal — a chance for us all to see how we’d respond if aliens really did transmit a message to Earth.

For more background on the project and the coded message, head to A Sign in Space.

Also, who knew that SETI has an artist in residence (and are we sure she isn’t an alien?)

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Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

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Today’s post is brought to you by fiber optic cable, the innovation currently being inserted into my lawn.

In a discussion about grass vs. clover lawns today, I mentioned that our neighborhood is being wired for fiber internet. For weeks, we’ve had orange-vested dudes (and they’re all dudes) roaming in packs, hauling giant spools of multi-colored cables, digging up driveways and yards (and reseeding with industrial-strength grass seed), and generally doing their best to drag our 1990s development into the modern era.

Now we’ve got cable ends sticking up everywhere, a new panel in the grass looking like a secret bunker entrance, and neighbors wondering whether all this fuss is worth it. 

It also led to the question, how do fiber optics work, exactly?

Answer: I have a layman’s understanding of the technology (data becomes light and zoom zooms down a shiny glass tube) but yeah, better look that up:)

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Here’s a quick backgrounder about fiber optics from the folks who invented it.

Educational Resources | Optical Fiber | Optical Communications | Corning

Corning scientists Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. Donald Keck invented the first low-loss optical fiber in 1970. Inspired by their belief that information could be transmitted through light, Drs. Maurer, Schultz, and Keck spent four years experimenting with different properties of glass until they succeeded, creating the first low-loss optical fiber for telecommunications use.

How does it work?

Encoded into a pattern of light waves, information travels through each optical fiber by a process of internal reflection. The waves move through the fiber from a given source to a destination such as a cable box where it is then decoded.

(So is it a little like a super sophisticated version of an Aldis signal lamp? I guess that’s one way to think about it.)

For more (and more scientific) details, check out this excellent video:

And just for fun, how do they connect North America to Africa to Asia, and everywhere else?

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Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

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For fictional use only, please!

Poisons are a potent tool for murder in fiction – a toxicologist explains how some dangerous chemicals kill

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Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

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Scientists Engineer Human Cells to Have the Camouflage Ability of Squids

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Photo by Ferhat Deniz Fors on Unsplash

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More Mars

You can now explore the highest-res map of Mars ever made


NASA released wild footage of Mars helicopter flying over alien desert | Mashable

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Photo by SIMON LEE on Unsplash

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Today in random things you will never need to know but are oddly fascinating anyway:

Caffenol: A Guide to Developing B&W Film with Coffee | PetaPixel

I used to develop my own film (you know, kids, that thing we had before digital pictures). I also used to drink coffee.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Space Elevator

This is the flip side to the deep ocean explorer post

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Photo by Daniel Ramírez on Unsplash

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Maps Distort How We See the World – by Tomas Pueyo

Maps twist our perception of the world.

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Photo by USGS on Unsplash

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AI re-creates what people see by reading their brain scans | Science | AAAS

A new artificial intelligence system can reconstruct images a person saw based on their brain activity.

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Photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash

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What will the world look, feel and sound like by 2100? For those of us who imagine possible futures, the graphics in this article may be helpful.

Climate change is forcing map makers to redraw the world

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Photo by Patrick Fobian on Unsplash

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