Last weekend was the first of many long weekends for me, and I’m fairly confident I consumed more coffee than anything else for the past few days. In an attempt to justify my caffeine addiction, I came across The Atlantic’s summary of a recent coffee-related study at Harvard. The article clearly explains what the study is, and multiple potential flaws – definitely a wonderful example of effective science communication.
Have you ever struggled with drawing the perfect ponytail? Ever wonder why there’s an equation for so many random “shapes” (read: all those weird graphs you learn in math), but not for something as common as a ponytail? Ever wonder when a Sim’s hair will finally look like hair? Scientists have been trying to figure out the equation for the ponytail curve since Leonardo da Vinci pondered the question! (That’s 500 years of curiosity over the shape of a ponytail!)
Scientists have finally come up with a formula! And what’s more, it takes into account things like gravity, average waviness of hair, length, swelling of a bundle of hair due to pressure, and so forth. With the help of the Rapunzel number, they have found a solution to this intriguing question!
This will help with our understanding of fibrous materials (wool, fur, etc.), but will also help graphic designers that work for computers. At last, all those computer games that struggle to make hair look like hair, may finally be able to do it!
Sorry – completely forgot to post yesterday, though I’m kind of glad I did. If I’d written something yesterday, it would have been quick, and probably sciencey.
But today, after multiple exams, I’m done thinking about nitty-gritty science. I’d much rather recommend an excellent read in the New York Times. (Access can be tricky since there’s a monthly cap on article views, but you should be able to access it through Google if nothing else works.) It’s about scientists in government, and while it’s certainly not a new topic, it is increasingly pertinent given the competitive decline of the United States, particularly in STEM fields. It explores the historical perception of scientists as elitist and out of touch, and compares the role of scientists in the US to other governments. It suggests a variety of reasons for the scarcity of scientists in US politics, one of my favorites being that the rational scientific solutions to problems frequently upset religious and cultural beliefs. While this is certainly believable (conflict surrounding DADT, decriminalization of various substances, and abortion come to mind), the extent of the opposition never fails to amaze me.
Did you like playing with magnets? Revisit your childhood! Check out this site and find loads of science games! Learn some science as you play!
A new study came out in December about the effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain. Typically, we refer to magic mushrooms, LSD, and other hallucinogens as mind-expanding drugs. Users claim to have surreal experiences of exploration and self-discovery, beyond how they usually feel. However, when regular users were given a small dose of a psychoactive substance, Psilocybin, and brain activity was measured with a functional MRI, users brains were found to have less activity while tripping than when injected with a placebo. Interesting stuff.
Previous studies have indicated that other psychoactive drugs, specifically LSD, can create lasting personality changes in users after just one use. Some individuals in the study noticed a permanent increase in “openness” after their experience. LSD has previously been studied in controversial experiments for therapeutic uses.
According to recent studies, you might be able to catch a bad mood on Facebook.
How many bugs does the average person accidentally eat in their lifetime? What’s the risk of being struck by a meteorite? What animal is nearly undetectable by infrared cameras?
Don’t know? Check out this site!