Stories tagged awesome

Do you like hot weather? Do you like playing with graphs? Combine those two interests in at this interactive website that charts the fluxuation in global temperature over your own personal lifetime.

It's Pi Day - again!

by Anonymous on Mar. 14th, 2013

The symbol for pi (3.14...): and a blueberry pi at that.
The symbol for pi (3.14...): and a blueberry pi at that.Courtesy Mark Ryan
This is a repost from last year because it's once again March 14 (3/14), and that means it's once again Pi Day! That's the day set aside to recognize "the ratio of any Euclidean circle's circumference to its diameter", or in mathematical terms, it's an irrational number that begins with:

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609... and on and on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda. (It wasn't intentional but I like how the number has gone off the page toward infinity.)

Pi Day was created by a physicist named Larry Shaw (aka The Prince of Pi) back in 1988. The symbol for pi is that thing pictured above. (Yes, it's a blueberry pi - my favorite).

Official? Pi Day webpage
More pi info
The Pi Song (Thanks Pam Hamann!)

Aug
15
2012

Before you turn me into bacon, I might give you the flu: Pigs will be under extra scrutiny at the Minnesota State Fair this year as a new strain of "swine flu" has been detected around the country.
Before you turn me into bacon, I might give you the flu: Pigs will be under extra scrutiny at the Minnesota State Fair this year as a new strain of "swine flu" has been detected around the country.Courtesy titanium22
The Minnesota State Fair starts next week and as you prepare to go, you just might want to assess your flu risk in the swine barn.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have just announced the results of a study they conducted at the 2009 fair, testing pigs for the H1N1 flu virus that was spreading widely across the nation at that time.

Their findings showed that 19 percent of the pigs they tested at the fair that year had the virus. Some appeared to be perfectly healthy, exhibiting no flu symptoms. Two pig exhibitors from that year's fair from the same family came down with the flu from pigs they were showing, researchers added.

Adding some urgency to the announcement of the study is a new nationwide outbreak of a different strain of swine flu this year: H3N2v. More than 150 people across the country have come down with symptoms of this new flu.

So does this mean you should stay away from the pig barn? Not entirely, fair officials say. Veterinarians will be conducting extensive testing of all pigs coming to the fair this year. And the fair has issued this guidelines to help people decide how much time, if any, they should spend with the pigs.

• Avoid eating in the barns
• Use hand-washing stations after visiting
• Skip the barn if you feel ill

People who are at high risk for flu should also consider avoiding the swine exhibit entirely – including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people 65 and older and those with chronic conditions.

You may now resume eating your pork chop on a stick, but first share with Science Buzz readers your thoughts about visiting the pig barn at this year's fair.

May
09
2012

World's smallest giraffe: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image depicting a baby giraffe
World's smallest giraffe: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image depicting a baby giraffeCourtesy Image courtesy of the Materials Research Society Science as Art Competition and Shaahin Amini and Reza Abbaschian, University of California Riverside
Materials science is the study of the relationship between the structure of materials at the atomic or molecular scales and their properties at the macroscale. Materials scientists do a lot of monkeying around at super small scales, and the Materials Research Society (the organization that brings together materials scientists from academia, industry, and government) has given them a creative outlet. At each of their annual meetings, MRS includes a Science as Art competition, where any registered meeting attendee can enter an image they have created. The images are pretty amazing in their own right, but when you think about the methods, medium, and scale used to create them, it's truly mind-boggling! Here are some of the best entries from past meetings, and some video versions of selected works as well.

The Iceman bleedeth

by Anonymous on May. 03rd, 2012

Otzi the Iceman
Otzi the IcemanCourtesy South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology via Wikipedia
Otzi, the five-thousand year-old corpse found frozen in a glacier in the Alps in 1991 has given up more secrets. Using a nano-sized probe, scientists at The Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy have successfully extracted from the 5300 year-old "Iceman" the oldest samples of human blood known. The find surpasses that of Egyptian mummies by 2000 or so years, the previous record holder. What's more, the researchers have determined that Otzi died fairly quickly after taking an arrow in the back. Fibrin, a blood clotting protein that appears in fresh wounds then disappears as healing progresses, was present in the samples. This means the healing process stopped soon after Otzi was shot.

SOURCES
Nat Geo story
New Scientist article

Feb
12
2009

Charles Darwin: The great naturalist was born 200 hundred years ago.
Charles Darwin: The great naturalist was born 200 hundred years ago.Courtesy Public Domain
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, one of science’s most revered figures. Special events marking the occasion are planned throughout the world especially in England where he was born on this date (February 12th) in 1809. This year’s also the 150th anniversary of the publication of the famed naturalist’s most important work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a book that revolutionized the science of biology, and one that - despite enormous amounts of evidence in its favor - remains controversial to this day. Born in the town of Shrewsbury, Charles Robert Darwin took after his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and from an early age showed a keen interest in the natural world, particularly geology, botany, and biology. While in college, a professor arranged for Charles to join the surveying expedition of the HMS Beagle to South America. It was during the five-year voyage that Darwin formulated his brilliant theory of evolution through natural selection. He returned to England in 1836 never to venture abroad again, and spent the next two decades writing out his ideas. On the Origin of Species was published on November 24, 1859, and sold out immediately. Five more editions were published during Darwin’s lifetime. He died April 19, 1882.

MORE ABOUT DARWIN
Darwin Online
Darwin Day site
Darwin Bicentennial at London’s Natural History Museum
About Darwin
Voyage of the Beagle (eBook)
Galapagos Islands in peril

May
04
2008

A turtle whispers its secrets to the orangutan: Unfortunately, all the turtle's secrets are about shoplifting and dirty magazines. Orangutans already know about that stuff.
A turtle whispers its secrets to the orangutan: Unfortunately, all the turtle's secrets are about shoplifting and dirty magazines. Orangutans already know about that stuff.Courtesy steven2005
Just kidding, I can swim. Not very well, but I swim all right. As far as spearfishing goes, though, I couldn’t do that. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I could never kill a fish with a stick. Unless it was lying on the ground, or something—then I bet I could really bash the heck out of a fish. I’d really whack its little head in.

Orangutans in a conservation refuge on Kaja Island in Borneo, however, have proven to be adept at both swimming and killing fish with sticks. Neither activity was thought to be possible for the great apes, but naturalists on the island have recently observed them swimming across a river to get at their favorite fruits, and using tree branches to stun fish in the water before eating them. Other orangutans were seen attempting to spear fish with branches, supposedly after seeing fishermen using rods. This is thought to be the first documented occasion of orangutans using tools for hunting.

It was also noted that some of the apes quickly came up with an even more efficient way of collecting fish: stealing them from human fishermen when their lines were unattended. Those damn dirty apes!

Oct
20
2007

Big Feet: They come in all shapes and sizes.  (Photo courtesy of Rakka on flickr.com)
Big Feet: They come in all shapes and sizes. (Photo courtesy of Rakka on flickr.com)
This spring I read “The Beast of Bray Road,” a book detailing Wisconsin’s history of werewolf encounters (which have become particularly dense recently).

Ever since, I have been more than a little jealous towards the Wisconsinites. This is a new and uncomfortable feeling for me. Why should they get werewolves and dogmen while, just next door, we have to make due with albino squirrels and Paul Bunyan? They shouldn’t. And we won’t.

Last week, the Duluth News Tribune printed a story on Minnesota’s homegrown Bigfoot. A few local Bigfoot enthusiasts/trackers are interviewed in the article (which is also here, in case you don’t feel like registering at the other site). They offer the following information:

-There are 300, 400, or maybe 500 Bigfoot living in Minnesota.
-Bigfoot are very fast.
-In their haste, they sometimes leave footprints (which are big), and are sometimes seen (there have been 20 documented sightings in the last 2 years).
-They communicate by leaving “piles of branches and stick figures,” and by “knocking on trees.” I do the same.
-Bigfoot have cone-shaped heads, and backwards-facing palms

The article also links Minnesota Bigfoot to Native American tradition, referring to a being called “bugwayjinini,” meaning “wild man.” The bugwayjinini was thought to be a benevolent creature, meant to guide and care for humans. Also, its sightings were often interpreted as a warning of a coming disaster or sickness. So, you know, keep that in mind. If you ever spot one.