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Archive for the ‘Science!’ Category

I accumulate a lot of links. Work links, sure, but on my way to the data mines I often come across  fun, interesting, obscure or downright delightful corners of the web. They inform me when I need a bit of learning with lunch, cheer me up when the news is too newsy, and otherwise remind me that the internet, like the world, is not 100% terrible.

What sort of links? I’m so glad you asked:)

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Look Up! An Introduction to Identifying Raptors in Flight

  • Helpful, although I’ll probably continue to just say “hawk!” every time I see something predatory with wings. My bird enthusiast father’s reply is always (honestly, can he really be right all the time?*) “turkey vulture.” Just once I wish he’d say “dragon.”

* The answer is yes.

20 of the Best History Podcasts to Help Us Actually Learn From the Past

  • History is cool.

Honest Government Ad | Carbon Capture & Storage – YouTube

  • Is there swearing? There is. It’s warranted.

Introducing the Icelandverse – YouTube

  • Look out, Zuckerberg, Iceland is coming for you.

Bohemian Catsody – A Rhapsody Parody Song for Every Cat Queen and King! – YouTube

  • Since you’re already on YouTube. And like cat videos.

This man won a Guinness World Record for his tree that bears 10 types of fruit

  • “Hussam Saraf says his record-breaking tree with 10 different types of fruit is a metaphor for how he sees the world. … ‘[It’s] mother nature that’s united us all together. Doesn’t really matter how different we are in colour or culture or tradition. We are one, and we can respect each other as one.’” If that’s not nice then I don’t know what is.

rroll.to

  • Each time a user clicks on your generated link, there is a 50% chance that they will be rickrolled.

The True Story of the Blue People of Kentucky

  • Genetics, man.

Photos of the world above and below the sea by David Doubilet

  • Nature, man. These images are amazing.

Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words

  • How many of these have you used today?

How to Identify that Light in the Sky

  • Brought to you by NASA and The League of Lost Causes, which is just about the most awesome name ever.

Scientists Create 3,000 TB Simulation of the Universe You Can Download

  • I don’t have the space for this, but maybe you do?

And since I’m a baker, here’s one last link:

All You Could Ever Want to Know About a Pumpkin Slingshot

  • I dunno, I want to know A Lot.

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Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

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Part of what good fiction does is to create a world and place the reader in it, allowing you to imagine yourself battling the Empire, slaying the dragon, or rescuing the fair prince in distress. But I get it, fiction is also a distancing mechanism.

Satisfying stories open with a problem and close when that problem is resolved, leaving the reader with the sense that they’ve helped and no more needs to be done. I think that can be particularly true when it comes to real challenges like climate change. 

Sometimes what’s needed is a picture.

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Meet ThisClimateDoesNotExist, a project by a group of scientists from the Quebec AI Institute in Montreal. They’ve put together a tool that lets you visualize the impact of climate change not on the world in general, or even a region, but on an address.

This Montreal-made website uses AI to show the potential impact of climate change on any address | CBC News

Take Killian Court at MIT, overlooking the Charles River. What would it look like flooded?* Or the US Capitol Building? Or the Sam’s Club parking lot in West Palm Beach, The Alamo in San Antonio (and I’m pretty sure we can kiss the River Walk goodbye), Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, or (now it’s getting real) the Guinness Brewery in Dublin?

* Not worried about flooding? Try the options for wildfire or smog. Also unpleasant!

Then picture yourself there too. Who better to be the hero of that story?

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Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

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xkcd

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Grey and rainy? Not on Mars! Photo by Nicolas Lobos on Unsplash

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I found this visualization of ocean denizens and depth fascinating. It looks simple but keep scrolling down (and scrolling, and scrolling) to see what lives where and how.

The Deep Sea

Elephant seals can dive to 2400 meters deep? That may be why the Headless Chicken Fish (real name) goes 500 meters deeper. Then there’s the Cookiecutter Shark, Flabby Whalefish, Dumbo Octopus, Sea Pig, Faceless Fish (who comes up with these names, they’re awesome) and not-really-related to jellyfish Comb Jelly.

And did you know that Orange Roughy can live up to 200 years? Or that the Patagonian Toothfish is found down to 3900 meters and has antifreeze in its tissue? I didn’t.

Next time there’s a choice of fish for dinner I think I’ll head over to Seafood Watch to find the most sustainable options. And skip the Orange Roughy.

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Photo by 毛 祥 on Unsplash

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What am I reading with lunch? How about a graphic novel about a woman, space, and a spunky little robot? App and interactivity are optional (but could be fun).

NASA – First Woman (read onlinedownload PDF)

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NASA

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Today’s Astronomy Photo of the Day is a video, two and a half minutes of the Perseid meteor shower as seen from the  Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, India.

Video Credit & Copyright: Vikas Chander & Dorje Angchuk; Music: Tea Time via PremiumBeat

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Watching this takes me back. We would wake up at three in the morning and head to the back yard to watch meteors burn through the atmosphere. I’d anchor myself on Orion, my first and still favorite constellation, then watch the sky for the next magical streak of green.

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Let’s Play Ball

How long would it take for a ball to drop on Venus or Jupiter or Mars? This cool visualization knows!

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Yesterday I took a brief break to check on my butterfly weed (blooming happily!) and noticed an interesting beetle by the door.

“Ooh,” I asked myself, “could that be a firefly?”

It could. It was.

Last night, between brightly-colored expressions of Canadian joy (aka celebratory fireworks), we spotted brightly-colored expressions of firefly joy above the cedar hedge. The lone Lampyridae had a hard time competing, but he gave it his best shot.

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I have great memories of family nights outside in the garden when I was a kid, watching hundreds of fireflies looking for love. It was magic.

We don’t have hundreds now, but I’m working to make our yard as firefly-friendly as I can, particularly around mating season (aka now). Here’s how:

Save The Fireflies

Some of the things you can do:

  • turn off outdoor lights (who can get any action when that giant porch light is acting like the worst wingman ever?)
  • leave logs and leaves on the ground (I’ve totally got this covered)
  • add water (we have birdbaths, so check)
  • say no thanks to pesticides (no problemo, that stuff’s nasty)
  • let your lawn grow (skip mowing this weekend? yes please!)
  • add trees (I’ll see what I can do to keep the ones we have happy)

Time to recapture a bit of that summer magic.

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How are stars made? You know, those celestial bodies illuminating the sky, happily burning until they get tired of that and become star dust, the components of which we are made.

“The cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff.”

— Carl Sagan

Check out this simulation of a star forge.

If this is the forge, is dark matter the anvil?

How do stars form? Most form in giant molecular clouds located in the central disk of a galaxy. The process is started, influenced, and limited by the stellar winds, jets, high energy starlight, and supernova explosions of previously existing stars. The featured video shows these complex interactions as computed by the STARFORGE simulation of a gas cloud 20,000 times the mass of our Sun.

— APOD: 2021 June 23 – STARFORGE

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I’m also making today, although nothing as dramatic as stars. More like yogurt, a project that required the sewing machine, and a hack for our leaky dishwasher (yes, another appliance is on the road to obsolescence; they really don’t make them like they used to).

I’m also heading into the workshop to make things out of wood. Well, to remember how to make things. And find my tools. And my respirator. And my wood turning clothes. It’s been a while (thanks, Covid)!

My projects won’t be as dynamic or lovely as a star (or Chopin’s music, for that matter).

I’ll still try.

After all, I want to do my ancestors proud.

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Today in vaccine news: We’re just back from shot #1. It was great to see the parking lot full as other Ontarians came in to do their part, for themselves and the community. 

I will now dedicate the rest of my Sunday afternoon to bolstering my immune system. In the back yard. With a frosty and refreshing beverage.

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"vax and relax" on a painted rock

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