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Category → Techno-geek Tidbits

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Two Tesla coils perform “Sweet Home Alabama.” Rock on, electrical engineering students. [Improbable Research]

Squid cells dance to “Insane in the Membrane.” Rock on, neurobiology students. [Discoblog]

And you thought Nintendo’s Power Glove was rad back in the day. Now there’s Stanford’s cooling glove. It’s better than steroids. [Stanford News]

Soft lighting and mood music in a fast-food restaurant make patrons eat 175 calories less than usual, study shows. Newscripts wonders whether it might just be easier NOT to eat the fast food in the first place and … who funds this stuff? [ScienceDaily]

Really old bugs trapped in amber. Just because they’ve been dead for 230 million years doesn’t mean they can’t still give us the creepy crawlies. [CBC News]

MRSA vs. Marmite? [Daily Mail]

Improbable Research would like to know: Which is better, the Heck Reaction or the Hell Reaction? We’re sure that you’ve got opinions, dear readers. [Improbable Research]


Hop On Pop, Jump On Oobleck

Even amateur cooks know that cornstarch is clutch when it comes to thickening Thanksgiving gravy or homemade soup. But as amateur (geeky) thrill-seekers have discovered, filling a swimming pool with cornstarch and water leads to a strange and fun phenomenon: You can run and jump across the sort-of-solid surface. Stop for a second, though, and you’ll sink like a stone.

But the abnormal behavior of this “oobleck” (yes, it’s named after the Dr. Seuss book) doesn’t stop there. Vibrate a thin sheet of it on a loudspeaker at 20 Hz and “cornstarch monsters” will bounce upward as a solid and fall back down as a liquid.

Despite being a pourable liquid, oobleck momentarily acts like a solid when an external force is applied, making it surprisingly difficult to scoop up with a spoon.

Researchers have long thought that these wacky behaviors were a result of shear thickening, or the rapid increase of viscosity that occurs when fluid layers slide past each other.  A common example of shear thickening in action is the wet-sand effect—when stepping on wet sand along a beach causes sand to dry directly underfoot.

But now a study in Nature suggests that it’s not shear force but compression that causes this counterintuitive phenomenon (DOI: 10.1038/nature11187). Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Credit: Flickr user The Sargeant of Randomness

It would take 100 million Yodas to power the world. Done the math, this guy has. [What If?]

When you work at CERN, you might be discovering the Higgs Boson or you might be dodging modern dancers who climb the library’s bookshelves. [Guardian]

Putting your best face forward: Some folks analyze pictures of academics on their homepages to see “what these pictures reveal about the way academics see themselves.” [PLoSOne via Annals of Improbable Research]

Did you know that there’s a horse fly named after Beyonce? 10 species named after celebrities. [BBC News]

In recent years gold has become all the rage in catalysis. But let’s consider the more important scientific issue: How much of the stuff can you eat? (Also, we’ve never before heard of the $666 “Douche Burger” in which lobster, caviar, truffles, and a beef patty are wrapped in six sheets of gold leaf.) [Slate]

Harvard engineers set to spray sulfate aerosols from a balloon to see whether they can reflect the sun, cool down Earth. Hmm, doesn’t this sound like a movie experiment that almost inevitably goes awry? [Guardian]



Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Credit: Flickr user snelly23

Putting water on cereal is weird. Now there’s science to prove it. [Discoblog]

Buying your own wedding ring is for weaklings. This guy forged his from a meteorite. [io9]

Roadkill, it’s no longer just good eats. It’s doing science. [Wired]

Welcome to the age of social media: Hospital in Houston live tweets a brain surgery, with video and photos. Click to see the Storify-ed version. [Memorial Hermann/Storify]

Mathematician reveals how he beat the roulette wheel in the 1970s with wearable computer. [New Scientist]

When your parrot curses a blue streak, does it know what it’s saying? [Slate]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

MIT’s latest hack—that’s prank to all you landlubbers—might be the coolest yet. Students rigged the windows of a building to play Tetris. [PCWorld]

With all the other stuff we’ve been sending into space, it’s about time someone sent a rubber chicken there. [CNET]

Enormous bunny rabbits with big, pointy teeth once roamed the Earth. Were they looking for shrubbery? [NPR]

Last year, Newscripts wrote about Forbes’ ranking of the 15 wealthiest characters of the fictional universe. But we had a bone to pick with its valuation of Smaug the dragon. Forbes now reconsiders the err of its not-nerdy-enough ways. [Forbes]

Why every crematorium needs a metal detector. [Guardian]

Seriously, what is up with kids these days? Teenagers are now drinking hand sanitizer for its alcohol content. [LA Times]

From the Portlandia files: A retirement home for chickens. [NY Times]

Moles beat archaeologists to buried British treasure. [Guardian]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Now we'd like a nano Speed Racer. Get to it, Vienna. (Car dimension is 285 microns) Credit: TU Vienna

Researchers at Vienna University of Technology break speed record for 3-D printing objects, produce racecars and Towers of London London Tower Bridges with nanoscale detail. We’ll take two of those printers. Wrap ‘em up. [TU Vienna]

CYBORG SNAILS. We really shouldn’t even have to say anything else in order for you to click on this link. But they’ve got implanted biofuel cells. [iO9] Bonus: This work was published in JACS. [JACS]

Happy belated Pi Day! This woman took it to whole new level, baking a pie with number-shaped pieces of apple. Count ‘em. It seems a good portion of the digits of pi are there. [A Periodic Table Blog]

Worried someone will piece together your shredded personal documents? Well, now you can unprint them instead. [ExtremeTech]

Violin strings made from spider silk have a unique timbre. Newscripts gang wonders how “Flight of the Bumblebee” would sound. [BBC]

The Newscripts gang has previously pointed out the opening of Booker & Dax, a bar in N.Y.C. that uses centrifuges and rotovaps to make its cocktails. But this firsthand account of the bar includes videos of drinks being lit on fire. So who wouldn’t want to read about it again? [Gizmodo]

If you’re wondering what to do with dead jellyfish, one company suggests making them into glow-in-the-dark lamps. [Daily Mail]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Credit: Flickr user Squirmelia

Scientists take another step toward making the highly desired “invisibility cloak,” by masking objects in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Hey hover-board scientists, the Newscripts gang would now like an update on YOUR progress. [BBC News]

U.K. chemists develop first magnetic soap. Newscripts gang wonder what happens if you wash with it and then go use the NMR. [PopSci]

Retired chemist (of course) figures out how to make hooch taste like high-end whiskey. [Gizmodo]

Attention Wine Spectator writers: Be prepared to add “with hints of meteorite” to your wine descriptions. [io9]

And in a final shot of alcohol-tinged news, mad scientist and cocktail whiz Dave Arnold opens his own bar. Get your cocktails fresh from the rotovap in NYC at Booker & Dax (2nd Ave. and 13th St.) [NY Post]

Who knew that tree rings could compose a musical score? Watch out John Williams, your job might be in jeopardy. [Gizmodo]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Do the Dew. Well, if you don't mind the potential mouse carcasses, that is. Credit: Flickr user -ej!

What’s more disgusting than finding a mouse in your Mountain Dew? Learning that the beverage would have likely transformed the rodent into a gelatinous mass before you ever cracked the can. [The Smoking Gun]

Paul Bracher learns the pitfalls of coming up with an acronym as you get older. [ChemBark]

Researchers make self-cleaning surface by sequestering cheese-rind fungus in coating technology. Mmmmm, Roquefort cheese-rind fungus. [Discover]

Green tea is good for you, so Chinese researchers wonder what it does to broiler chickens. Newscripts gang ponders how chickens manage to hold teacups. [J. Ag. Food Chem.]

Take some silver atoms, add a dash of salmon sperm DNA, and Voilà! A data-storage device. Of course. [Gizmodo]

Here are 20 things we didn’t know about alcohol, like don’t try to outdrink a Malaysian pen-tailed treeshrew. [Discover]

Not sure how this got in here, but “Organ Trail” game tests players’ zombie survival skills. Apparently, your “family” doesn’t have to worry about dysentery—just a hunger for brains. [Hatsproduction.com]