Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Poopy Nuclear Reactors

March 23, 2011

I saw this on Street Anatomy. I was really excited to watch it because…yeah – how do you explain the science of the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan to children? My initial reaction – it’s FREAKING WEIRD and HILARIOUS. But it’s also not too bad of an explanation. Little kids don’t know much about nuclear reactors, but they do know poop.

And as one of the commenters said on youtube: “Kudos to the Japanese for taking the time out to calmly explain this to the kids. Not like the fear mongering thats so rampant in the States.”

From Street Anatomy (via HuffPo)

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you most certainly know that Japan has quite a problem on their hands with their nuclear power plant they have been trying to cool down. One can only imagine what it must be like to live it and hear it all day, everyday since the quake. In an effort to educate and quell the fear among the kids that have to live through this terrible event, they made this funny video to help children understand what’s going on.  What better way to explain science than by equating the problem with certain bodily functions? I wonder how accurate the translations is, but the concept is simple and light. If I were a kid, this would most likely make me feel a bit better; hang in there kids!


Science – Do it Right

March 2, 2011

Seen over at Temple of Conflict

What are you doing for Darwin Day?

February 11, 2011

Tomorrow is Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. How are you celebrating?

I’m going to the ZOO!

I’m pulling together an event with the Minneapolis Skeptics to celebrate International Darwin Day. We’re going to visit the Como Park Zoo’s primate house, chat Darwin, share our favorite evolution books, movies, and news, take pictures with our primate cousins and/or whatever else people feel like doing. We’ll be meeting inside the main entrance at 1pm, and I invite you to join us. If you come out, look for me – I’ll be the woman holding the Happy Darwin Day sign! 

If you’re not into the zoo, you could visit the Science Museum of Minnesota tomorrow between 1pm-4pm; they’re holding a Darwin Day event and showing a film called A Portrait of Charles Darwin.

And/or, go pick up a copy of Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth at Big Brain Comics in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday.  Bonus: The cartoonists, Zander and Kevin Cannon, will be signing their graphic novel about evolution at 4pm.

And finally – you can help celebrate Darwin Day and the importance of scientific inquiry by signing a petition hosted by Rep Pete Stark and the American Humanist Associateion in support of H. Res 81, which would recognize every February 12th as Darwin Day.

From the AHA website:

In a statement, Representative Stark said, “Darwin’s birthday is a good time for us to reflect on the important role of science in our society. It is also a time to redouble our efforts to ensure that children are being taught scientific facts, not religious dogma, and to fight back against those who seek to undermine the science of climate change for political ends.”

Go HERE to learn more and to sign the petition.

Happy Darwin Day!

Little Girl Nerd

February 3, 2011

Oh. My. God. She is doomed to geekdom for-EVAH.

I love her.


  • At 3:02 – EYE-RIN!
  • At 4:02 – Alumumumumun…Next card.
  • AT 5:41 – Einsteinium!
  • At 8:55 – Awk-xygen’s blue.

Did you notice that she’s wearing a girly pony T-shirt AND that she knows the periodic table better than you?

UPDATE: 2/4/11 – 12:30pm:

Go check out Howard at Le Cafe Witteveen.  He’s 2.5 yo and ALSO knows his periodic table better than I do. I think that Howard and Rose should get together in a couple of decades and make smert babies.

The Big Beginning (SoS)

January 21, 2011

Yay – new Symphony of Science!  I like the way this one turned out, but my favorite is still Poetry of Reality.

Stuck in the Lab

December 22, 2010

Work is crazy today; I’m probably going to be pulling a 16-hour shift today.  Yikes!

At my work we’ve got these high-demand instruments.  I signed up to use two of them on this date, so I get them for today.  Tomorrow some other lucky scientist gets to use them.  But my studies just keep going wrong…and by “my studies just keep going wrong” I mean I keep finding new and creative ways to screw them up, whether it’s running the wrong protocol, QNS-ing the samples (Science-nerd points and a hand-drawn picture from me for the first person who tells me what QNS stands for!), using the wrong sample type or screwing around for so long that I’ve left my reagents on the bench past their room temperature stability limit.  Yeesh!

So, if I want to finish my studies before I leave for Christmas break (and my boss assures me that yes, in fact I do) I’m stuck here until they’re done. 

Picture the Jeopardy theme song here.

Luckily, I have Qdoba lunch leftovers (from today, even!) and a full soda machine in the lunch room.  Oooo…and some Ghirardelli chocolate squares that I received as a Christmas present from a coworker!  So I shan’t starve this evening, which makes the prospect of being stuck here a little less depressing.  I’m actually wanting to go sleep on the phlebotomy cot in one of the labs, but I don’t think the night security guy would approve.

Ah, science – you cruel, cruel mistress, you.

Lab Supply Gingerbread Houses

December 16, 2010

A small group of us at work gathered together to celebrate the holidays.  A coworker and I planned the event and we decided to have a contest around building gingerbread houses…made of lab supplies! 

We supplied the glue guns, the cardboard bases and the little blue and green plastic squares (the first person who can tell me what they are will win my admiration and a hand-drawn picture by me!  Of course a drawing by me is more of a punishment than a prize…).  Five groups of two participated, and these are the results.

Now, it is important to remember that one can be a scientist AND an artist.  Indeed, I think science can open our eyes to beauty and elegance in all types of environments and situations which might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Ahem.  All types of environments.  Yeah…


Update: 12/23/10

I finally got around to drawing MPM’s prize for being the first one to correctly identify the blue/green plates in the pictures above.  His answer is in the comments.

Would you like some powdered water with that?

September 2, 2010

Dry Water!

Military Intelligence!

Honest Politicians!

Amateur Expert!

Living Dead!

You get the idea. 

How the heck does one make dry water?  Well, they cheat, sort of.  The powdered water is one drop of “wet” water surrounded by modified silica.  So the water itself isn’t powdered, but it’s stored in a way that keeps the water droplets from coalescing.

Did I mention that the headlines about this story are pun-ishingly horrible?  “Dry water making waves!” “Dry water could make a splash commercially”  *shudder*

I heard about this story on Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (SGU – episode #267) in the Science or Fiction segment.  Several news sources have done a decent job of summarizing the American Chemical Society (ACS) presentation by Dr. Ben Carter (a researcher for study lead, Dr. Andrew Cooper) .  

According to Science 2.0 silica-encapsulated water was first discovered in 1968 by the cosmetic industry.  An article in Scientific American describes the “discovery” of a process to create dry water by coating water in a “hydrophobic powder” in 2001.  It sounds like the technology has been here for a while, but we haven’t yet figured out what to do with it. 

The current focus is on developing dry water technology for use in commercial applications and perhaps in carbon dioxide absorption, which could be useful for that little global warming problem we’re not dealing with.

From an ACS news release:

BOSTON, Aug. 25, 2010 — An unusual substance known as “dry water,” which resembles powdered sugar, could provide a new way to absorb and store carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, scientists reported here today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The powder shows bright promise for a number of other uses, they said. It may, for instance, be a greener, more energy-efficient way of jump-starting the chemical reactions used to make hundreds of consumer products. Dry water also could provide a safer way to store and transport potentially harmful industrial materials.

and later in the article:

Dry water was discovered in 1968 and got attention for its potential use in cosmetics. Scientists at the University of Hull, U.K. rediscovered it in 2006 in order to study its structure, and Cooper’s group at the University of Liverpool has since expanded its range of potential applications.

One of the most recent involves using dry water as a storage material for gases, including carbon dioxide. In laboratory-scale research, Cooper and co-workers found that dry water absorbed over three times as much carbon dioxide as ordinary, uncombined water and silica in the same space of time. This ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide gas as a hydrate could make it useful in helping to reduce global warming, the scientists suggested.

Cooper and colleagues demonstrated in previous studies that dry water is also useful for storing methane, a component of natural gas, and may help expand its use as a future energy source. In particular, they hope that engineers can use the powder to collect and transport stranded deposits of natural gas.

It sounds like things are proceeding along…


I find God at work.

August 7, 2010

Nerdery at work…

Look – God In A Bottle!

Apparently we diluted him in PBS back in 2007.

And who signed off on this?  JCS?  Oh my God-In-A-Bottle, it was Jesus Christ, Superstar!

God’s love and mercy were quantified at 8.103 mg/mL, and while we don’t currently have an expiration assigned, I’m sure we could always justify a date extension if it’s needed.  Or maybe we’ll just dispose of it in biohazard when it starts to grow fuzz.

CONvergence 2010: Day 1

July 2, 2010

Blog note – I’m typing from a strange computer and I’m under a hotel-dictated time crunch, so please excuse the raw photos and hasty descriptions!


CONvergence is off to a great start!

There will be an estimated 4,000 people at this science, science-fiction, fantasy and general nerd/geek/dork convention this weekend.  This is my first time at CONvergence is probably five years, and I don’t remember it being this huge.

My head is spinning – there is so much to see and do!  No matter what I decide to do during any hour, it is guaranteed that I’m missing eight other cool activites.

So far I’ve seen people of all stripes – the victorian/steampunk syle is very popular this weekend, and since this years theme is “Bring in the Bad Guys”, villian costumes are very popular.  But there’s also the “usual” comic, manga, anime, sci-fi/fantasy character costumes.


Dr. Horribles


The Head of the Seamstresses Guild (and her lead Muscle to her left) and Iron Man

These are some of the different areas that we’ve visited so far:

COF2E2 – Mmmm…free cofee.  The sign is a reference to Kevin Smith’s Clerks.

The Pool and Garden Court – this is where all of the party rooms, cabanas and various other types of hanging out goes down.


The Atrium Level – most of the panels take place here, but one can also find the Dealer’s Room (art for sale), Cinema Rex (movies all day and night), Theater Nippon (anime) and Connie’s Quantum Sandbox (various activities of the science-minded sort – a good place for the kids).  The upper levels contain guest rooms.

This is the entrance to the Main Stage.

So far I’ve attended several panels and events.  The first event was “CONvergence 101”.  Speaking as a newbie, this was a really good panel for newbies.  They went over all of the expected common-sense rules and suggestions and at the end they gave all of us the grand tour.

These were some of the memorable phrases, rules and advice from this panel:

“CONvergence – It’s like Vegas for nerds”

The 5-2 Rule: “This is one of the best rules for how to survive any con: Five hours of sleep and two real meals per day – minimum!”

“No sleeping in the hallways, planters, under tables, in shared public areas or anywhere but in a room.”

“Shower.  Seriously.  ‘Cuz Dah-y-mn.”  As an aside, this rule was mentioned not only at CON 101, but at Opening Ceremonies and in another panel.  That’s a little scary.

“Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.”

“Sit down and talk to strangers.”

On photo policy: “Show respect and ask people if it’s okay before you put them on the interwebs.”

The next panel that I went to was all about and by Skepchicks.  They talked about how came about, and they discussed some of their current and upcoming projects.  They spoke  the Women Thinking Free Foundation and their “Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated” campain.  Maria discussed the Atlanta Skeptics and Skepticamp.  Rebecca spoke about the Curiousity Aroused” podcast. There was also an excellent conversation about pubic lice led by Bug Girl.  Two of the fun things I learned from this panel were the National Science Teacher’s Association, the “Draw a Scientist test”.  And my favorite thinking point came from an audience commenter who said “The scientific method doesn’t just apply to science.”

Skepchicks Maria, Rebecca Watson, Amy, Bug Girl, Carrie, Lyra Lynx (left to right).

After the Skepchicks was the Mark Time Radio Show’s production of Villains on Parade at the Main Stage.  I’m not a follower of the Theater of the Mind, but it was neat to attend this live radio show.  (Go CONvergence, introducing me to new things!)

Then on to Opening Ceremonies.  The whole idea behind this year’s theme is that CONvergence’s mascot – a robot named Connie – has been kidnapped by her evil sister, Connie Mark 2, and that CONvergence is now under Connie Mark 2’s evil rule.  All of the presenters were there by Her Benevolent Overlord’s will and together they crafted an atmosphere of paranoid worship of Her Evilness.  They went over rules (again with the Shower.  Seriously, ‘Cuz Dah-y-mn!), and gave updates about the CONvergence group.  There was a moment when one of the presenters quickly whispered to the audience about the resistance movement and it’s efforts to free Connie and overthrow Connie Mark 2 (a set up for a fun game to find the resistence members and join the revolution throughout the weekend).  Opening Ceremonies ended with an awesome swing dance routine to a mix of Star Wars songs.

After that Aaron went to a panel on Professor Moriarity and I went to a panel on Skepticism 101 with Steve Thoms, Pamela Gay, Lois Schadewald and Greg Laden.  Some of my favorite lines and ideas from this panel:

“Look at the data where data exists.”

At some point you have to trust an Authority – you can’t know everything.  But if you are going to trust what an Authority says, make sure you know your Authority.

Don’t take anything on faith, even those topics that you think of as safe.  Do you really know why you support vaccination, why you’re against homeopathy, and how do you know that ghosts don’t exist?

Use google scholar!

It’s easier for humans to accept a false positive than a false negative.  Pattern recognition – it’s safer to run from a shadow that isn’t anything, but it’s really bad to walk into the mouth of a tiger that you didn’t notice was there.

After our panels we walked around to some of the party rooms and cabanas – we had drinks at the Skepchick party, the Seamstresses Guild and the United Federation of Planets – fun!  At 10pm we saw three stand-up comics at the Tongue in Geek Comedy show and then back to the cabanas!  We finally left the hotel and headed home at about 1:30am. 


We arrived back at con at ~10:15am this morning (after taking our showers!).  We missed a talk that I would have loved to attend called “Science and the Internet” with PZ Myers, Greg Laden and others, but that’s because the Hubby and I were busy pulling together our costumes for the day!


And now we have a full day of CONvergence ahead of us!  The computer is about to kick me off, so I’ll see you tomorrow!