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Nerds and Words: Week 37

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I have dug through the Internet this week and uncovered all this geeky goodness. You can find the thousands of links from previous weeks here.


I have marked my favorite links with a. Enjoy.


Science to Read, Write, and Watch

Can mass hysteria now spread even faster because of Facebook? Great writing, interesting hypothesis.

An Excerpt from the Mad Scientist’s Handbook: “In this chapter you will learn just how many Joules it takes to turn your enemies (or interns) into atomic mist.”

T. rex may be the poster dinosaur, but other species have done the scientific heavy lifting

It may have been ignorance that killed Chris McCandless of “Into the Wild”…and a deadly neurotoxin

Regarding Beijing, some experts say, “I would rather breathe the air at the World Trade Center.”

A sweeping, fascinating article on how evolution (quite visibly) takes the path of least resistance

Scanning the skies for the ruins of alien civilizations. But will we know them if we see them?

Absolutely fascinating: How traffic is a giant experiment in human psychology and engineering

Lightning rods aren’t exactly impervious to lightning

Couldn’t agree more: In Defense of the Blobfish

Grab your bongos, The Feynman Lectures on Physics are now free online

With a special kind of photography, you can see shock waves as they happen. Pretty amazing

What amazes me about insect gears isn’t that it has them, but that evolution totally beat us to the engineering punch

We nailed it! Interstellar space does sound like theremins!

What happens if you take astrology seriously? “Astrology breaks up human life into less possible variations than for a 2x2x2 Rubik’s Cube.” It’s absurd.

Beach erosion and the isopod housing crisis. How could you harm that cute face?

Last year, I read one of my now favorite longreads on chemical weapon disposal. Seems poignant now: The Deadliest Catch

Our “normal” solar system is not at all normal, thanks to exoplanet discoveries

Predators learn to see through incredible camouflage” is a cool study, not a way Arnold can kill Predator cleverly

I have the science behind, I guarantee, the best photos you’ll see today

Thinking about candles lately, there’s still more to them. The smoke has ions, we can prove it

PIIIIGGGSS INNNN SPPAACCEE: How NASA wants to take the farm into orbit

Do you really remember 9/11? The memory may seem vivid and exact, but it’s probably not

Great piece on the ridiculous numbers at work in migratory beekeeping

Drowning in Hoaxes: Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists

What do you find nearly kilometer down in a cave system? Translucent snails!

How to get out from the shadow of a spy who was also a legendary finder of frogs

How many helium tanks and what size balloon do I need to survive a free fall?

No. Artcic sea has NOT increased 60% in the last year

Mercenaries with chemical weapons protect farmers against raiders. Oh, and they’re all ants

A physics experiment that left sciencey YouTubers scratching their heads: Which block goes higher?

The monuments we love don’t just show our history, but the cosmos’

Why “The Big Bang” was neither a bang nor a good term for what actually happened

What will our last words in the universe be? What were our first?

“GMO OMG” is an emotionally manipulative film that skimps on the science

Kelvin–Helmholtz instability describes Jupiter’s Red Spot, and we can reproduce it in the lab

I so hope this becomes a thing: Playing animal decomposition videos in reverse

Reviewing the science of Moby Dick. Are we actually any closer to understanding whales’ mysteries?

 

Nerdery at its Finest

Nicely done. All 80 Original “Star Trek” Episodes Rendered As Movie Posters

Love the reversal here: Are male cosplayers just fake geeks?

Snake oil or Superfood? A visualization of the scientific evidence behind commonly touted “superfoods”

Hmmmm. Did Star Trek Into Darkness writers insert 9/11 Truther elements into the movie?

This artist has been painting petri dishes everyday for 9 months. I don’t want her to stop

If you want to survive a lightning strike, don Michael Faraday’s suit, or something like that

Manga art for ocean outreach. Lovely

You are stardust: An inspiring bit of CG

Have you ever seen an x-ray of a person drinking? How about putting a hook through their nose and mouth?

Get some lycopodium powder, a 50 Hz speaker, and a macro lens. Prepare to be amazed

 

GIFs and Images for 2-Seconds of WOW

If even 1 ton is above this train wheel, the contact point experiences 30% the pressure in the Mariana Trench

Yes, now you have to check all your old books for secret paintings

When a plane cuts a cloud in half

Yessss, make turbo turtles!

That thing where whatever kickass engineering project you are doing snaps metal like chalk

“Inebriate of air am I, And debauchee of dew, Reeling, through endless summer days, From inns of molten blue

“Good evening,” said the Madagascar leaf-tailed gecko to his eye

Geologists must now treat all quartz with titanium

A tilt-shift camera can give you a false-miniature effect. It can also make a rocket launch look incredible

Pretty sure a deep-sea submarine voyage would absolutely blow a stoner’s mind

Seriously, I could watch a bait ball ALL DAY

FYI: A housecat could outrun Usain Bolt

A C-17 releases flares, which then betray the fluid dynamics trailing behind the craft

DEATH STAR WILL BE IN RANGE IN FIVE MINUTES

Pretty sure this GIF solves a ton of problems in physics textbooks

A shockwave on the Sun

If only you could watch a match work in slo-mo

 

Pop Culture Happenings

“If I believed in a pissed-off dude in heaven with a lightning-bolt gun, I wouldn’t want to anger him or her either.”

Airplanes don’t dump waste, turbulence won’t kill you, and other tidbits from “Cockpit Confidential

Have to agree with XKCD here (it’s just like having no “single page” option for longreads)

Play Portal 2 with your kids. Seriously, it’s great

Some oddball reasons why you aren’t dead, from cows to window screens

The frog caught in the middle of NASA’s rocket launch

Something to think about: The ethical quandaries of photographing insects

DC’s explanation of why Batwoman can’t get married is nonsense

Some amazing technology here: This girl ages into an old woman before your eyes without you noticing

Sometimes the only way to debunk “qi” pseudoscience is to punch an old man in the face

This is a list of unproven cancer treatments. Be aware, there are charlatans about

On Twitter, I also tried my hand at some sci-fi (very) short stories, which I have reproduced below.

It wasn’t the glint of the creature’s teeth that scared her, it was the hand. She hadn’t seen the wires that now ran away from the tattered wrist it since she assembled it years ago.

It twitched.

Without a sound, Number 19 was at the creature’s throat. Grisly and efficient. A twist of Number 19’s fingers split the creature’s spine. Number 19 leaned down to retrieve the hand, helped her to her feet. Wires re-twisted themselves.

“Such fragile beings,” she said, now standing.

The two headed towards the next human settlement.

“You should reload,” she whispered, flicking switches burned into memory.

“I can handle myself.” His breath wavered.

A yellow glow carried a shadow across her fear-stricken face. Anywhere else she would wonder if they were tungsten. The pale light only lit her ammunition counter: 0017

With a hand signal he know to stay back. She always took point, but they never ran a search-and destroy sim on their own ship. She turned the corner. The blaring siren almost muffled what she heard next, but not enough:

“Child…”

In a millisecond the beam past through her and into the hull. Her mind clawed at darkness. “Duncan?” she rasped as her atoms dispersed.

Can you tell I’ve been reading DUNE?

Kyle Hill About the Author: Kyle Hill is a freelance science writer and communicator who specializes in finding the secret science in your favorite fandom. Follow on Twitter @Sci_Phile.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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