This week is geek-fest. Solar-powered planes, Monkey butts, sperm cryopreservation, transparent brains and more.
In awesome this week, blogger Aatish Bhatia looks at solar-powered planes. (As a rule, try to read Aatish’s every blog post.)
Have you heard of the Solar Impulse? It’s a Swiss aircraft that’s powered entirely by solar energy. The ambitious goal of this project is to fly around the world using only solar power. On May 1, they’ll begin a trip from San Francisco to New York City, with multiple stops along the way. They’ve already pulled off a 26 hour flight, as well as an inter-continental journey from Spain to Morocco, powered only by sunshine. (They use battery packs to store the spare energy and power the plane at night.)
Dan Gareau at Rockefeller’s The Incubator explains optics, light and photons with monkey butts. Also makes for the perfect title, really.
If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered why some monkeys have bright blue skin. Even if you don’t pay careful attention to monkey butts, you may still have wondered what makes some people’s eyes blue. To answer these questions, it is important to first understand how light interacts with living stuff, which we call biological tissue [...]
Arielle Duhaime-Ross has a really good piece at Quartz about sperm cryopreservation or relative lack thereof. As it turns out, sperm cryopreservation makes much sense both in terms of practicality and economics.
“Women, consider freezing your eggs,” blared a recent headline on CNN’s website. In the piece, Yale anthropology professor Maria C. Inhorn advises women that freezing their eggs before they turn 30 will enable them to eventually “rewind the biological clock,” giving them more room to choose when they have children, instead of feeling forced to give birth before the inevitable fertility decline. Those are all valid arguments, but if you agree with Inhorn, then you shouldn’t limit yourself to solely advocating for egg cryopreservation (freezing)—you should be telling men to freeze their sperm, too.
Transparent brains! Awesome, am I right or am I right? They also allow scientists to visualise our neural networks in 3D explains Helen Shen in Nature.
A chemical treatment that turns whole organs transparent offers a big boost to the field of ‘connectomics’ — the push to map the brain’s fiendishly complicated wiring. Scientists could use the technique to view large networks of neurons with unprecedented ease and accuracy. The technology also opens up new research avenues for old brains that were saved from patients and healthy donors.
Kyle Hill on the snake which turns your blood into jello. Comes with a video and everything.
The Russell’s Viper is one of the deadliest snakes in all of Asia because it can give your blood the consistency of ketchup [...] just a drop of Russel’s viper venom (RVV) can turn a whole cup of blood into Jello. If you get bit, you won’t exactly have this paste running through your veins, but the process can definitely kill you.
Markus Hammonds’s echoes my own thoughts in the first paragraph of his piece for Australian Science about a schoolchild who discovered a new jellyfish species. You won’t be surprised that the jellyfish has been found in Australia.
The thing I love the most about scientific discovery is that anyone can do it. Literally anyone could, tomorrow, turn over a stone or look at a seemingly empty spot in the night sky and find something which no human being has ever seen before. Or, perhaps more importantly, something which no one has full appreciated before.
A few more:
#Sci4hels: The Killer (Female) Science Journalists of the Future by Erin Podolak.
The Oldest, Loneliest Supernova by Mark Zastrow for Sky & Telescope.
Use of GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers by Richa Malhotra for SciDev.net.
ScienceOnlineTeen! by Samantha Jakuboski on her Scitable blog.
Can fossil mammals help us with our conservation efforts? by Jon Tennant.
Creation: Q&A with Adam Rutherford by Pete Etchells.
What Artists and Scientists have in Common by Paige Brown.