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Bora’s Picks (June 1st, 2012)

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


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Young Scientists Embrace Crowdfunding by Kelly Slivka:

Crowdfunding, or appealing to the online community for funds for personal projects, seems to be thriving. One of the best-known platforms is Kickstarter, which generally features projects that are creative in nature – musicians seeking to record an album, for example, or inventors pursuing an idea….

Feature: Holistic Biology – it’s science alright, but not as we know it…. by Aoife O’Shaughnessy:

Systems biology is a fast emerging and enthralling multidisciplinary field, promising to deliver a complete understanding of life and a path to new and vastly improved disease treatment. Sounds good, right…but you’ve heard lines like this before?

The smokeless stove by Emma Bryce:

Saving the lives of African children has become a clichéd cause, thrown around so casually that it makes us cringe. But in Dumbo, Brooklyn, in a warehouse studio with woodchips and bits of metal strewn catastrophically across the floor, a group of entrepreneurs is refining the Biolite stove, an invention designed to take out a major threat to child health in Africa today.

The Political Experiment by Douglas Heaven:

With Mark Henderson’s book out and several pieces on science and politics having popped up in the last couple of weeks, I’m turning a blind eye to its weaknesses and giving this unwinning RCSU Science Challenge essay a home….

Hot Nests Mean Baked Baby Leatherbacks by Rachel Nuwer:

As if sea turtles didn’t already have enough troubles. On beaches, poachers snatch up their eggs and babies for stewing; at sea, adults get snagged by fishermen’s long lines and nets. Now, climate change joins the list, threatening the survival of critically endangered leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific.

In Baltimore, the gods will not save you — but the trees will by Rachel Nuwer:

Thanks to The Wire, who can resist conjuring images of ghetto projects and rampant crime when thinking of the fine city of Baltimore? Indeed, Baltimore’s crime à la HBO is out of control. Someone should have told Detective McNulty he could have skipped five seasons’ worth of pager taps, drug raids, and binge drinking if he had only been armed with a real crime-stopping weapon: trees.

Busting Cooking Myths: Searing Meat by Noby Leong:

The other day, I wrote about how to cook The Perfect Steak. The article received fantastic feedback from readers, so thank you to everyone for commenting. I would like to address some of the comments though, namely those regarding ‘searing meat to seal in the juices’….

Bioluminescence is Badass (and Beautiful!) by Tristan Avella:

If you don’t know what bioluminescence is, or don’t understand why it is beautiful, then you should familiarise yourself with it by taking a look at this slightly scary video narrated by the man himself: Sir David Attenborough. But we’ll give you a brief rundown to start…

The Hidden Truth Behind Food Trade by Gena Ng:

When food passes its expiration date, do you toss it into the bin? I do. Last week, I threw out half a bag of bread, three quarters of a box of tomatoes, and a packet of sliced chicken breast that was four days past its use-by date. That’s a lot of food gone to waste. In fact, according to a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, 1.3 billion tons of food in the world are lost each year. If the majority of water we consume comes from food, how much water are we wasting when we throw out our food?…

Alien hunter redirects her search to Earth-based funding by Nadia Drake:

Imagine if E.T. phoned Earth and heard, “We’re sorry, no one is here to take your call right now. Please try again later.” Or if, after traveling for thousands of years, radio signals carrying the imprint of an alien technological civilization fell on dormant Earthly ears…

Razor clam meet RoboClam by Rose Eveleth:

Razor clams might have one of the cooler common names around. Right there with the magnificent frigate and the GoldenPalace.com monkey (yes, that’s a real animal, the discoverers put the name up for auction to make money for conservation and the online casino bought it). But the coolest thing about razor clams isn’t their name, it’s how fast they can dig. The long, tube shaped clams can bury themselves at a rate of 1 centimeter per second and go as deep at 70 centimeters into the sand. Which might not seem that fast, but remember, these are clams. They don’t have hands…

Measuring when Spring has Sprung by Kate Prengaman:

It was a gorgeous spring in Wisconsin. Our mild winter burnt off in a week of 80 degree days in March, and everything began to green up early. Tiny leaves burst from branches, the grass turned so green that it practically glowed, and tiny flowers of all shapes and sizes popped up…

My MRI experience by Jordan Gaines:

Today I participated in a brain imaging study! I laid in an MRI machine for 45 minutes and looked at pictures of chocolate while smelling chocolate odors. Tough life, right? (Hershey really is the sweetest place on Earth…even in the labs!)…

Creamer, Please. by Paige Brown:

What is more entertaining that watching milk fall into coffee? The milk always forms such beautiful spiraling formations within the cup of coffee… and there are some real physics behind the mixing going on right there in your morning joe!…



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