Nerds and Words: Week 11

By Kyle Hill | March 16, 2014 10:21 am

I have dug through the Internet this week and uncovered all this geeky goodness. You can find the thousands of links from previous weeks here.

I have marked my favorite links with a. Enjoy.

Science to Read, Watch

Take a breath, thank a sponge? Following the chain of events back to the origin of oxygenated animals

When you screw with your sense of self, it’s harder to form memories

Do lobsters feel pain when we cook them, alive, like monsters? Maybe. Scientists disagree

“The science of cognitive training has not kept up with the hype” (i.e., they don’t work).

15 minutes of “pit stop science” with a great white is something I’ll always want to do

The “new car smell” became a status marker after WWI, but the chemicals have toxic roots

On the physics of flying snakes and our unhappiness with them on our planes

How repetition lets music work its magic, work its magic, magic

If you’re an unfortunate wasp, you might have junk in your trunk. It’s not fat. It’s a hellish parasite.

Hard Science updates a classic science demo with DUBSTEP. Put this in your classroom

The enemy of my enemy is a spider-eating ant

Spiders building in the city get spun over (read: screwed over) twice

Sorting through a new study that claims light exposure may help memory

Putting the cancer cases around Fukushima into (important) epidemiological perspective

Really hope that when astronomers see this gas cloud pass by the galactic core, it dies spectacularly like this

An animation that is like an open house for a small slice of the universe

This terror bird was the hangover for the small mammals having their “yay no more dinosaurs” party

How do you find a planet without a star (and maybe with native laser-sharks)?

Figuring out when whales evolved the ability to sing through their noses to see

Looking for the right genetic factors for obesity in the wrong place

The fascinating (and controversial) physics of curling

Naming a new tyrannosaur after the polar bear

Elephants are so much smarter than most of us think. Just check out how they hear human voices

What is the resolution of the human eye? It’s a tricky question that doesn’t have a great answer

Eating a certain plant makes rabbit’s pee blue

Practicing 10,000 hours doesn’t necessarily make perfect, says new study

How cracking something can make it stronger (even your teeth!)

To study asteroid impacts, sometimes we film metal balls hitting sand in slo-mo. It’s so, so beautiful


Extreme Nerdery

This scifi short–Project Skyborn–is better than anything on the Syfy channel right now. Go ahead and check

My proudest moment as a writer: We Finally Have A Name For Scooby Doo’s Speech Disorder

Scooby’s real name is “Scoobert”. Cookie Monster’s name is Sid, you know, before he got addicted.

Only 1, maybe 2 situations in life where you will need this, so here it is: Riker and Picard being awesome for 10 hours

Why do you try to make something magical scientific?” I could not agree more with this author’s answers

We think we want intelligent AI in our video games but, “Most players still take the bait like tween girls on Edward Cullen

Dad-of-the-year contender spends 6 months animating himself and his son into Dragon Ball Z

What if “radar enforced” really meant stopping a car with pure, terrible radiation? A lot of car-plasma


Garfield Minus Garfield is a comic that shows one man’s descent into absolute madness


Sciencey GIFs and Images

Have you ever really looked at an animal who has a relatively long neck swallow something? It’s awesome/bizarre

I prefer anatomical drawings where our lungs are filled with flowers and our muscles writhe with snakes

The Smithsonian captured this incredible footage of a bird’s flight dexterity and I can’t stop watching

Holy crap, this parrot is actually a woman posing in bodypaint

Astronomy is paradoxically one of the few places where lay people can overestimate large numbers

And that is how Pi is related to the circumference of a circle!

I have never seen a pelican spider before. Jeez are they bizarre

Angler catches albino marlin before its defect got it killed by something else

One of my favorite all-time GIFs has to be of the “Prince Rupert’s Drop” by Smarter Every Day

Extremely effective graphic shows the scale of the search for flight MH370

The Wellcome Image award winner is amazing, and a kidney stone is an alien world (#2)

How do you test the impact force on an F-4 Phantom? Get a rocket sled and watch the fireworks

Always an amazing story: A leopard seal “feeds” a photographer

Jasper Nance took this incredible photo of some (unidentified) pupa

The best visualization of a sonic boom you will ever see, thanks to VHS and a very low-flying jet

When an ice cap on Mars looks like a cerebral cortex

Nature’s NSA

When you release a spacesuit into space, it looks like a terrifying, real-life ‘Gravity’

Hard to look at violin playing the same way after watching this

Alexander Semenov is the undisputed king of underwater photography. These worms prove it

More things (read: fluid dynamics) happen to airplane wings than you get to see

I know we want to commercialize spider silk and all, but I feel bad for this spider

One way to visualize ALL the RGB colors without repeating. A new color in each pixel


Pop Culture Happenings

The top five YouTube gamers have more subscribers than Peru has people. They make millions

Pre-ordering the hell out of xkcd’s upcoming “What If” book

What is Vi Hart doing? We don’t know but we keep watching

Are You Better Than The Average American At Science? (It isn’t hard to be)

What’s the best animal analog for these awesome “strandbeest” toys? A robo-crab?

60 GIFs of the part in infomercials where the people can’t do anything right

Homeopathy judged useless and unethical

Does the new Cosmos really get how science is communicated today? Maybe not

Pharmacist prescribes “anti-monster spray”, wins internet

“After you die, a piece of you may end up in an aeroplane, a wind turbine, or even another person.”

Snail-eating worm threatens escargot supply

Hmm. Cosmos may have picked the wrong “hero” for independent, critical thought

The president did Between Two Ferns and it’s pretty funny



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But Not Simpler

It has been said that you should try to make a problem as simple as possible, but not simpler. Here, that problem is finding the real science behind pop culture.But Not Simpler is a place where you can ask the questions you thought were too nerdy for real answers. The physics of video games? Sure! The chemistry of dragon breath? Why not? When you can find the realities behind your favorite fiction, and seriously nerd-out in the process, everyone wins. Simple.

About Kyle Hill

Kyle Hill is a science writer and communicator who specializes in finding the secret science in your favorite fandom. His work has appeared in Wired, The Boston Globe, Scientific American, Popular Science, Slate, and more. He is a TV correspondent for Al Jazeera America's science and technology show TechKnow and a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine.Find his stream of nerdery on Twitter: @Sci_PhileEmail him at sciencebasedlife [at] gmail [dot] com.


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