Tags: science!

in motion


Two bits of historical-ish webcomickery for you today.  The first is by the brilliant Kate Beaton, who specializes in precisely this sort of thing, and whom you should be reading because seriously, all the time with the funny:

"Dude Watchin' with the Brontës"  (click to read full-sized)

Secondly: artist Sydney Padua imagines a team-up of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace: they fight crime!  My favorite bit is the origin story, linked below.  Even more of a treat is the assortment of Babbage and Lovelace links and factual trivia scattered around her site, with observations like "As a rule, Babbage looks way happier in photographs than he does in portraits, I guess because there's a gadget in the room."  It's funny cos it's probably true.  (Click to read the full comic)

in motion

nano nano

Burning off more stored-up links: here's a happy, catchy little song about nanotech, with puppets. It won a contest, as discussed in this article titled -- rather grandly -- "Ridiculous Nanotech Video Lifts Spirits in a World of Hurt". Who knew the Baltimore Science News Examiner was such a bastion of emo? Still, though, couldn't we all stand to have our spirits lifted by nanopuppetry? For truly, the world, it is of hurt, and sometimes it takes a song to open our eyes to "a wonderful surprise/ That ordinary is extraordinary/ When you make it nano size!" Let the healing begin.

in motion

virtual star trek

Not the movie, the slide show.  While astronauts attempt spacewalking repairs on the Hubble Telescope, it seems like a good time to look at some new pictures from the great beyond.  By the way, did you know people are tweeting from space now?  It's the mix of perfectly commonplace, unexceptional tech with WTF this is fantasy jet-pack stuff that makes me feel like the future has somehow happened to us without our noticing.

Check out a slide show of images from last month:

My favorite are #10 -- "Weird Mars" -- and #21, "Flying Saucer".  Isn't it funny how we still use pulp 1950's terms to convey a sense of amazement about outer space?  I wonder if we as a culture will ever feel so sincerely optimistic and excited about the possibilities of space exploration again, without a looming crisis, like the Cold War or the threat of extinction, to drive that kind of urgency, or at least to make the whole project seem cost-efficient.  I hear they're going to release a new edition of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles soon; how will those stories play to modern readers?  They were already old-fashioned when I read them as a kid, but in such a lovely way, and back then it was easier to imagine we might find actual Martians living on the red planet. 

Though the real Mars can stir the imagination still.

martian twilight

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why pär is my techie guru

Because Pär gives the only directions that speak straight to my brain.  Never mind any talk of feed rollers and drum units and fuser covers and electrodes, which is the sort of jargon the troubleshooting websites throw at you.  Here's how to approach a mechanical problem:

Mail from Karen to Pär, subject: Re: printer

Crap, it seems to be broken now.  I'm guessing there's a crumpled paper stuck somewhere inside, but I can find no sign of it...

Mail from Pär to Karen, subject Re: Printer
If you open the front, it looks like there's no access to the inside, but there is. Grab a hold of the thing that looks like it's made to grab hold of, then rip out a sizeable chunk of printer gut. The crumpled-up paper will almost certainly be in there.

Worked like a charm.

in motion

it's poetry in motion

Amazon has reversed its policy for the new Kindle's text-to-speech function, leaving it as an opt-in decision by publishers and authors. On general principle, I'm pleased that the policy leaves more control in the hands of the people who make the books (see observations on that from Small Beer Press). But at this point in time, as Scalzi points out, it is hard to take computer-generated readings seriously as a competitive threat to income-generating versions of a book, such as human readings, or, you know, text.

Maybe the joke will be on me when Skynet takes over, but this here is why I'm not worried:

(courtesy of Dictionaraoke)

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you, the mad scientist of tomorrow

I've had this Xylocopa page bookmarked for ages, dreaming of being the awesome friend who sends the perfect gift to everyone's kids.  But finally I must concede that I can't afford to toss these things around like candy.  So instead I'll spread the word far and wide, in the hopes that some of you with disposable income will hop right on that and buy sets of blocks for all the weird creative little toddlers you know.  

Because really, these are quite wonderful.

A Young Mad Scientist's First Alphabet Blocks

A complete list of the images represented by the letters is as follows:

A - Appendages
B - Bioengineering
C - Caffeine
D - Dirigible
E - Experiment
F - Freeze ray
G - Goggles
H - Henchmen
I - Invention
J - Jargon
K - Potassium
L - Laser
M - Maniacal
N - Nanotechnology
O - Organs
P - Peasants (with Pitchforks)
Q - Quantum physics
R - Robot
S - Self-experimentation
T - Tentacles
U - Underground Lair
V - Virus
W - Wrench
X - X-Ray
Y - You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow
Z - Zombies

in motion

it's a small, small world

The Nikon Small World prize honors microscope photography.  New Scientist has a gallery of the latest winning work.   Images of tiny, crazy beauty that our eyes can't even see.

Marine diatoms, Pleurosigma (200x), by Michael Stringer
"Diatoms are plankton with glass-like silica shells and play a major role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."

Photomicrograph of a chick embryo (6x) by Tomas Pais de Azevedo

Snowflake (35x) by Laurence Acland