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But Not Simpler

But Not Simpler


Thinking way too hard about science and pop-culture
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Nerds and Words: Week 52

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


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But Not Simpler has had a great first year (over 1,000,000 hits in eight months!), of course thanks to all my nerdy readers. I did a lot of experimenting here, from controversial pieces about water fluoridation to a piece on taste perception in full Seussian rhyming scheme to a piece proving that a Pacific Rim punch is like a 747 to the face. I’ve had so much fun learning about this stuff and sharing it with you. Here are the top ten posts of the last eight months, hoping for another uber nerdy 2014:

  1. Squirtle, I (Should) Choose You! Settling a Great Pokémon Debate with Science
  2. The Fungus that Reduced Humanity to The Last of Us
  3. Saving Lives in Serenity: Can a Fanboy and Physics Change a Movie?
  4. What Really Happens When Lightning Strikes Sand: The Science Behind a Viral Photo
  5. The Mechanics of the Pull-Up (and Why Women Can Absolutely Do Them)
  6. I Hate to Break it to You, but You Already Eat Bugs
  7. Why Portland Is Wrong About Water Fluoridation
  8. The Ocarina of Time Travel, Extra Dimensions and Branching Universes
  9. What The Nerdiest Chart of Sci-Fi Ships Says About Our Dreams of Space
  10. Pacific Rim Physics (Part 1): A Rocket Punch is a Boeing 747 to the Face

And, as always:

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, Watch

Is the anti-gluten movement a magic bullet for brain disease, or a bunch of hype?

Could this ancient scorpionfly fossil be showing off some ancient camouflage?

This Wasp-Eating Falcon Laughs at Your Puny Stings

I could watch this video on the amazing physics of ants all day

Sorry astronauts, you can’t really fry food in space (in case you wanted to)

The Angelina effect: Immediate reach, grasp, and impact of going public

All orgasms are clitoral. Wouldn’t Freud be pissed to find that out?”

“The mola deftly slices through the water…like a perpetually surprised saw blade.”

Obsessively wash your hand with hot water? You don’t have to, and not doing so could help the environment

Why today’s biomimicry is only biophilia, and what we can learn from animal architects

Wow! The prettiest aurora video I’ve seen was shot from an airplane window

Nice footage of the insect that dresses like a flower to lure tasty pollinators to spiky DOOM

A Russian philosopher gives a to-do list for space exploration, in the 1920s (#14 might take awhile…)

For me, the easiest way to understand tidal forces on a planet was to look at the vectors. Mathematical!

Eating cooked meals and listening to uncles spout off about politics is what really makes us human

A new hypothesis about the brain that could explain an evolutionary jump to complex human consciousness

Huh. Many animals actually do have a soft white underbelly for legitimate evolutionary reasons

In the brain, home does actually *feel* like home: Emotional Renovations

How locusts learn to be part of the swarm

New Clues and Some Wild Guesses About Those Strange Spider Towers in the Amazon

“Chances are you’ve never wondered how hard it is to remove the testes of a hippopotamus…it’s almost impossible

Those “You Are Here” galaxy photos are a lie. Here’s why

Watch the intricacies of fluid flow in a supersonic rocket engine

Positive psychology is mainly for rich white people

Polyethylene oxide shines brilliantly under UV light, and you can pour it uphill!

How, by Neptune, are we to number the suckers on octopus arms?

Lovely NASA video showing the different wavelengths the Sun bathes us in

The effects of the small moon Prometheus loom large on two of Saturn’s rings

 

Year’s End and the Holidays

“Wait…what if we jingled…all the way?”

NASA took some amazing images from space this year. Here are a few of WIRED’s favorites

The Top Ten Strangest Animal Moments of 2013

A post after my own heart: The year in awesome science GIFs

My favorite quote of the year has to be this one: Wil Wheaton explains to a newborn why being a nerd is awesome

Of all the life forms I’ve met in my travels, I hope you are the most…jolly

Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 “Kunstformen der Natur” as Christmas cards!

If we know anything about flying in fog, it’s that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very useless nose

If your window freezes just right this holiday, you can feel like an action hero

Holiday conversation: “Hey, mistletoe is actually really weird

One of my favorite holiday pieces: Why Are Reindeer Eyes Golden In Summer But Blue In Winter?

 

Extreme Nerdery

LOL My Thesis

Damn infinite scrolling webpages

The first level of Super Mario 64 re-created in LEGO

Odd but fascinating: What tones do you get from simple harmonic motion?

The 90s kid in me always gets distracted by great Pokemon art

With some material and carpentry skills, you can introduce your cat to the joys of video game plumbing!

Artist Cliff Chiang makes Star Wars propaganda. “He [Vader] can’t do it alone!”

Whatever gifts you got for your PC, I guarantee you it won’t make it look like *this*

Waste some time on this: Robot/Monster or Prescription Drug?

This card game looks so fun. It’s like Cards Against Humanity, but with nerd battles

Someone made an incredibly intricate 3D printer in Minecraft and it is really cool (If a bit laggy)

Hyper-realistic Pokemon convince me that Nintendo needs better graphics damnit

MacGuyver (1988) clearly showed that hand puppets make effective psychological distractors

 

Sciencey GIFs and Images

Who knows what makes these awesome clouds?

Incredible GIF of a wonderfully ornate spider glowing under UV light

What do you think happens when you crack an egg 60ft underwater? Go ahead, guess

January 29, 2010: Hubble picks up a comet-like asteroid that I’m pretty sure is actually a cloaked Klingon Warbird

PHYSICS!

Oh, Reddit: “My speedo is broken, but the tachometer works fine. Lets fix it with vector graphics

Luke Jerram makes incredible glass sculptures of HIV, swine flu, MRSA, and more. (Cool video of those virus sculptures being created by blowing glass.)

Nice: Visualizing a magnetic field the brute force way

One of my favorite macro shots is of the bloody ink coating a pen tip

A long-exposure on an airport shows our photon-laden journeys into the sky

GIF of that amazing caiman predation by a sneaky jaguar

Sometimes life is like a chameleon’s tongue, and you’re a mantis

 

Pop Culture Happenings

Violence isn’t just hack n’ slash, it can mean something: Exploring Meaningful Violence

Instead of a disgusting and ineffective shark cull Australia, try tweeting the positions of sharks!

How privacy died over 100 years ago, and the demise continues: The Men Who Open Your Mail

Bones McCoy swindled people out of millions by impersonating a gov. official and selling a bogus tricorder

The man responsible for 1/5th of the world’s gun supply has died

Using a physical Encyclopedia Britannica for something useful: A beautifully carved mountain landscape

Yes, of course my home state pours cheese on the roads to deal with ice

 

Recommended Longreads

Unraveling the story behind the stereotype of video games being for boys: No Girls Allowed

“For robotic spacecraft, the greatest hazard in the solar system turns out to be the NASA budget.”

On skepticism, Big Viral, and the hoaxes we gladly consume: The Year We Broke the Internet

The Reclusive Genius Behind the Grand Theft Auto Franchise

The rise and possible return of the great saber-toothed cats

On tracking great whites: “There’s no frickin’ pattern at all

How nuclear bombs put a timestamp on our biology, and solved a neurological mystery

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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