Weekend is coming. It is too hot outside (for many of you), so you may want to spend it indoors, reading. How about these cool recent pieces (or at least "recently discovered by me") by various sci-wri students:
Paige Brown, on Student Voices: Of Biomimicry and Learning From Ants:
Biomimicry, a term originating from the word roots bios (life), and mimesis (to imitate), describes the imitation of systems and processes in nature that inspire solutions to human problems. Biomimicry describes not so much the use of naturally occurring systems to solve our problems, for example the use of bacteria to clean waste-water in water-treatment technologies, but rather the design of solutions and new technologies as inspired by nature, also known as bio-inspired design. Such bio-inspired design takes the form of robots that can climb walls as inspired by Gecko feet, stain-resistant fabrics and water/ice-free aircraft parts1 as inspired by waxy ‘nano’-bump-covered lotus leaves, and insect-inspired robots that can work together similar to an insect ‘swarm’, with seemingly ‘intelligent’ results (see a video here).
Rose Eveleth, at Scienceline: Sounds like space: Listen to recordings collected by NASA's spacecraft:
This week we’re listening to sounds in space. Before you all go berserk, I know there’s no sound in space. I saw Alien, or at least the previews: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” But NASA’s got tons of recordings of space sounds, and in this podcast we listen to some of them, tell you how they’re recorded, and why they’re really cool.
Vidhya Natarajan, at JYI: Interview with Mr. Clifford Ball: a Clinical Cardiac Perfusionist:
On the 19th of June 2010, one of our career researchers, Vidhya Natarajan, spoke to Mr. Clifford Ball, a perfusionist and the Program Director of the Cardiovascular Perfusionist Program at the Cleveland Clinic, Florida. They spoke about the profession and his journey towards becoming a perfusionist. The following is a written transcript of the interview:
Allison MacLachlan, at Scope: Borderline:
One morning in March, I tossed my shoes to the side and walked clear into the frothy Atlantic. I strode straight off the coast of Florida and submerged myself in the sea. First toes, then knees, then navel, and a moment of lightness: I was floating, unanchored, just shy of the patch of sand that is licked like clockwork by waves. Rocked back and forth by the tide’s purposeful arms, I hovered in that rough stripe of space that forms the border between earth and ocean.
George Wigmore, at Refractive Index: The science behind stammering:
Stammering is a funny old thing. While now it would be generously grouped under the ‘disability’ umbrella, for a long time many saw it as a sign of stupidity, and a funny trait that got a cheap laugh. But since the King’s Speech came out in January things have seemingly got better (despite that stupid Comic Relief sketch, which undid all its good work). So I went to find out more about stammering, and what can be done to help those who lives are fundamentally affected by it.
AnnaRose Adams, at Sea Grant Oregon: Sitting on the sidelines:
My post today will jump around a bit between all the different things I was up to, which is fitting to describe the events of this week.
Nadia Drake, at A Tale of Ten Slugs: Martini-drinking robot minions:
Awhile ago, I wrote about the robots (Stormtroompas) working behind the scenes at the San Jose Mercury News. It would be great, I thought at the time, to capture these things on video.
So I did.
Lena Groeger, at Scienceline: Is backwards the new barefoot? A cautionary tale about running:
This past weekend, a motley mix of Brits and citizens from all over the world toed the line at the year’s “most unusual sporting event.” The London Backward Run is just the latest manifestation of a growing trend in oddball locomotion: backwards running. Proponents of reverse running – cleverly dubbed gninnur – claim that the retro-activity increases flexibility and coordination, burns more calories than regular running, reduces back pain, and even improves peripheral vision.
Jennifer Appleton, at Elements: Camouflage in the eyes of the beholder:
An animal’s ability to blend into its environment and avoid detection, otherwise known as crypsis, can be a valuable, anti-predator, defence mechanism. The best-known form of crypsis is camouflage, a technique found in a huge numbers of animals. Predators use it to sneak up on lunch, and prey attempt to blend into the background to avoid the hungry hunters.
Alexander Raines, at Reese Health News: To save patients, doctors are freezing them: Therapeutic hypothermia is used to treat the effects of cardiac arrest:
You know to ice a sprained ankle and to run a burned finger under cold water. Now, doctors are using cold water to help people after their hearts have stopped.
Lizzie Crouch and Ben Good, at Inside Knowledge (PLoS Student Blog): Money Makes The Lab Go Round:
The Blast research group at Imperial College, London, is unique, from the people who carry out the research to the experiments themselves. And so when we looked into the financial support for the Blast lab’s research, it didn’t take long to uncover its unconventional nature.
Marius Alexander Wenzel, at Au blog: Reader Response: What’s Wrong with Whorf?:
In issue 1 of the AU science magazine, a very interesting article on how languages influence how the speaker’s thoughts are created and expressed described a range of intriguing psychological experiments to underpin the old ideas of Sapir and Whorf. Whilst the principal conclusions of these experiments are correct, we must be careful about giving too much credit to Sapir’s and Whorf’s original ideas.
Eric Sawyer, at Bio 2.0: Sanger Sequencing:
I think it's amusing when scientific lingo finds its way into popular speech, because it is often distorted in interesting ways. When political commentators talk about a "litmus test" they're not referring to acids and bases. DNA and the broader concept of genetics have exploded into a cultural phenomena of their own. In most circles you can speak of "genes" without being mistaken for "jeans"; everyone has their stance on the so-called nature versus nurture debate; and now personal genomics companies have sprung up that analyze your genome for disease predictors, ancestral heritage, etc. I have already devoted an entire post to DNA itself. Now I am proud to announce a mini-series of posts devoted to reading and writing DNA, the molecule we all think we understand.
Samantha J., at Green Science: The Dangers of Pesticides:
One of my favorite foods in the world has to be a freshly picked apple. Whether I am eating a juicy, red Gala apple, or a green, tart Granny Smith apple, my taste buds explode with the goodness of each bite. Not only are apples delicious, but they are packed with the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. As I always say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," and I believe that is why I have not gotten sick since the 5th grade. Yet, one thing I noticed since I was young was that all the apples and other fruits, vegetables, eggs, and even meat that my family buys is organic. So what exactly is the big deal with pesticides? Why are they harmful for both people and the environment?