Archive for the ‘Science’ category

Smithsonian X 3D Explorer

November 14th, 2013

The Smithsonian is scanning in some of their items from their exhibits and making them 3D models. That’s great because now there will be digital copies that will act as a back-up in case something were to happen to the originals.

But it gets better.

Not only can you browse the 3D models by visiting their website, on some models you can download the 3D model. Let’s say that you have a 3D printer and would like to make a copy of a dinosaur skeleton – now you can! I wonder if anyone will put Lincoln’s face in a video game mod now…

The Book of Blood by H.P. Newquist

September 12th, 2013

For the record, I am glad that I am not a doctor. When you are in the operating room, you do not want your medical professional squealing in fright at the insides of the human body. The Book of Blood is not a gross-out book, at least not intentionally.

But it’s blood! They’re talking about blood! [this is where I faint]

Until the past century, large gaps of time passed between breakthroughs in the study of blood. Part of that is because humans need blood and are usually pretty opinionated about parting with it. The Book of Blood traces the history of the study of blood, from Herophilus and Ibn al-Nafis to Karl Landsteiner and the oligosaccharide polymer. I had heard of Herophilus before but not the other two and that’s what I appreciate about the book. It branches into parts of scientific history that I was not familiar with. I also knew that there were different types of blood, but I didn’t realize what the differences between A and B and positive and negative were (it’s about the presence or absence of certain polymers).

The science is there. The history is there. It makes for a great nonfiction read.

Even a simple sentence like:

“In times when the body is sick or injured and is losing blood, the spleen can squeeze some of its stored-up reserves back into the body so that the proper amount is still flowing through the arteries and veins.”

grips the reader’s attention.

Squeeze? [this is where I scream and faint again]

Billboard Grabs Water from the Air

August 9th, 2013

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru set up a billboard in Lima that pulls water out of the 90% humidity air, filters it, and then sends it to cannisters where people can fill up buckets like they would at a well. In a city like Lima – where there’s 9 million people and not a lot of rainfall – it may very well be a life-saving technology.

The Art of Sound Waves

June 11th, 2013

Summer is all about catching waves, right? Check out these two videos about some crazy art that can be made with sound waves.

The first works because the video camera recording the water is recording at 24 frames per second. When the sound frequency slows down, it looks like the water is going backwards from the camera’s perspective.

The second video is a woman singing and how salt on a plate moves based on the frequency of the note/how the sound waves hit the salt. Keep watching until :40.

Yeah, cymatics!

Imagine a future where you print your food.

May 21st, 2013

So, you know how printer cartridges hold ink? What if the printer cartridge held proteins, sugars, and carbohydrates and then could layer them into food that is semi-recognizable? Anjan Contractor is working on that and has been awarded $125,000 from NASA to develop the food printer for space travel. Anjan has bigger plans than space travel, though. He wants to cure world hunger.

If the foodstuff was in powder form, it could last up to 30 years. That’s a long time and could help with portioning out the right amount to avoid waste. It’s a pretty ambitious and world-changing achievement to pursue. If it could be made cheaply, even better.

The next question would be taste…

How much does a video weigh?

April 29th, 2013

Check out Michael Stevens’s TED talk on hooking audience members through curiosity. It’s a great framework for instructional design. The video also has links to other educational video channels.

Ebb and Flow will crash into the moon today

December 17th, 2012

NASA’s GRAIL probes will crash into a mountain on the surface of the moon today around 3:28pm Arizona time. NASA will start its coverage a little bit before that to add commentary to what is going on. You’ll be able to view the coverage on NASA’s streaming channel.

Thankfully they’re not so big that a situation like Life As We Knew It would occur.

Resources for 7th grade Science’s Paleontology Research

December 3rd, 2012

Imagine being Elmer Riggs in 1900 and uncovering a skeleton that would eventually be the first documented find of a brachiosaurus. He had to figure out how the bones all fit together and how the dinosaur moved using his knowledge of anatomy. (It’s not like he could just walk outside and observe a living brachiosaur in action.) He claimed that the brachiosaur was a land creature, but the scientists of the day argued that it was aquatic. His claim wasn’t validated until the 1970’s, a decade after he died (Side note: growing up I had some older books that weren’t updated and I can still remember pictures of brachiosaurs needing to stay in water just to move.)

You’ll be finding information about paleontology – and, specifically, dinosaurs – to get ready for your fossil dig later this week.

The first site that you will be using is Enchanted Learning. The link takes you to the table of contents where you can find links to the other Enchanted Learning pages.

The 93 Dinosaur Information Pages will be where you read about your assigned dinosaurs.

When you’re done, check out the Smithsonian’s dig site. It has a collection of minigames that simulate an actual fossil find.

MIT + K12

October 26th, 2012

Remember the awesome videos that the Khan Academy produced for teaching math/science/technology?

MIT is joining in and creating a database of videos to teach math and science concepts with its MIT + K12 site. What I like about the site is that it has clearly marked areas where educators and MIT students can create lessons and tag them with concept names and target grade levels.

Here’s a fun one with the Doppler Effect:

Mars One

July 27th, 2012

Mars One is a Dutch organization set to pioneer Mars. I’ve been excitedly following the next NASA Mars mission, Curiosity. It’s an unmanned probe that will land on August 5 and search for signs of life (whether ancient or current) on the Martian surface.

Mars One, on the other hand, is promising to establish a manned colony by 2023. That number seems so far off and yet it’s only 11 years away. Here’s their game plan. One key facet to note: they don’t plan on coming back to Earth. They’re setting out like the Pilgrims and know that they must have a successful colony or they will die. That’s pretty gutsy but that has sometimes been the risk with historical milestones.

They have companies supplying different components for the mission and you can find them by clicking here. I really hope it works. They say that they’re only using proven technology; there’s nothing new here, it’s just all working together. That’s like the Pilgrims, too. Their boats were not new technology. Where the new technology came in, though, was learning how to plant crops in a completely different ecosystem. Hopefully Mars One finds some friendly Martians to help them out.