Nerds and Words: Week 17

By Kyle Hill | April 27, 2014 12:52 pm

Digging through the web this week, I 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

Chernobyl’s Bugs: Illustrating and tracking the curious effects of radioactive exposure

Forget Icarus, Fly As Close To The Sun As You Want!

180 years ago, a “sponging EVE” laid the groundwork for changing these clever dolphin’s diets

What happens if you chill water in a full, indestructible container? “Ice VI“!

The Real-Life Pokémon That Can Regenerate Missing Limbs

How we know that the Earth is literally older than dirt

Foam rollers are actually good for a workout

Why you get clumsier in space and get a stuffy nose and loss of taste and a spherical heart and…

“Oh, evolution. You were doing so well with the lynx—and then you made it sound like this

Finally! Watch the Virus Hunters short series, based on David Quammen’s amazing book

 If we ever build photon torpedoes, we’ll have also solved the energy crisis

Genomics to stop the sickness spread by tsetse flies

Nature continues to amaze: The vine that can mimic several trees simultaneously

Spring blooms come quicker in a warming world. There are no benefits for plants from CO2 when it gets too dry/hot

Vaccines have saved 732,000 infants in the US alone from the terrible diseases they can prevent

 You should read this post on spider vision just to see inside a spider head while it looks around

Disney animated a real sleep disorder before we even knew what it was, by accident

Speed reading app makes you read faster, comprehend less

To communicate AGW risk, maybe we should give people the actual numbers we are talking about 

Using beeswax to glue the smallest 3D glasses to a mantis to learn about vision

“You won’t be able to mix nicotine in your bathtub and sell it anymore

Otters: “Disease-ridden, murderous, necrophilic aqua-weasels whose treachery knows few bounds.”

The shape of the structure that makes mantis shrimp clubs so strong

 Why did a dunking Jordan seem to float? Physics!

Can you distinguish data visualization from abstract expressionist painting? No. I can’t.

Learned a lot from this very cool “Spiders in Space” free teaching resource from NASA (read: the term “spidernauts”)

Fast, tiny, easily controlled robots scurry about on flexible surfaces, thanks to magnets

We just found an entirely “new” shape: The hemihelix

What 2,000-year old moss looks like

Step 1: Make insect-like exoskeletons. Step 2: Market diet plan. Step 3: Profit? Insects get fat, but don’t bulge

The man who opened science’s ears to the concerts of our forests, streams, and animals

We don’t feel actual muscle fatigue, but instead its chemical signature. We injected thumbs to find this out.

 Sloths evolved a kind of internal tape to keep organs from pressing on their lungs. Nature is so cool

“Clinical vampirism” isn’t a thing, but the cases this parody was based on are horrific enough

Swordfish don’t uses their swords to pierce, they fence and bludgeon other fish with them

There does seem to be wisdom in crowds, even with other animals. But more crowd is not better

Woodpeckers don’t get concussions, albatrosses don’t get divorces.

Study complicated animal intelligence with a massive, simple study

Being in a car crash is WAY more likely than getting any kind of spider bite

When you steal Einstein’s brain against family wishes, store it under a beer cooler, and find out it’s not so special

 If cats are intelligent, they don’t give a shit about our attempts to test for it

Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule” isn’t very nuanced or appreciative of the literature


Extreme Nerdery

In Lucas’ earliest drafts of the Star Wars script, “lightsabers” were “LAZERSWORDS” F*** YEAH

 Designer Ashley Hennefer made a working Fallout Pip-Boy 3000 for astronauts!

Show the kids: A game where you can control natural selection and see evolution happen!

The internet is a grand calculator for weird stuff. Here are 10 examples

Fact-check: Blue Oyster Cult was off by about 100,000 people a day in “Don’t Fear the Reaper”

Want to explore basic video game design (and see the accompanying code)? Start here

If William Shakespeare Had Written Star Wars

This dude snaps the Super Mario theme

Someone soak a dodgeball in gasoline and through it at 93 mph. These students think it will HADOUKEN

 The weird things that happen when a raindrop goes supersonic and hits a windshield

It only took him three years of playing Super Mario 64 to beat the whole thing in under 2 hours


Sciencey GIFs and Images

Totally agree with the formula for unified creepiness

 Oh. That’s just my sugar glider pocket

Crushing a baseball with 100,000 pounds

Pretty insect creates even prettier example of surface tension

Science GIF Hall of Fame inductee #003: A Slinky shows you how information travels

Mercury, besides being the coolest thing to fill a balloon with, also enjoys dubstep

Watch how a cheetah’s tail unlocks its amazing agility

Mitosis in pig kidney epithelial cells

 I would like to receive a boop from science.

Hockey is WAY ahead of other sports in terms of awesome opening graphics tech

A golden orb spider and its web aboard the International Space Station. It’s a bit messy.

Wasp Nest Merges With Human Face To Become Nightmare Fuel

Your reminder that your dog uses its tongue as a water scoop

 Lioness gored by buffalo gets some field medicine [Incredible GRAPHIC photos]

A tiny pumping heart of a tadpole, moving blood cells around to big eyes and a wiggling tail

The adorable children undergoing this psychological testing aren’t quite in the “Concrete Operational” stage yet

“I got a microscope for my birthday…I found a tiny alien in a birdbath.”

 Birds look a bit more like dinosaurs now, don’t they?

“A flying fish landed on my boat last night. I took this quick pic then put it back in the water.”


Pop Culture Happenings

What ever happened to trying to understand the zombie apocalypse, Rick?

Fly Fishing Fly or Cosmo-Approved Sex Position?

When a driverless car crashes into someone, who will be at fault? Google, probably

 That Time Cleveland Released 1.5 Million Balloons and Chaos Ensued

Engineering whales at New York’s American Museum of Natural History

A 1983 court ruled that the NYT bestseller list is editorial content, not strictly factual.

Try some randomness tonight: Netflix Roulette

Insect spends 2.5 hours trying to climb under piece of popcorn, has existential crisis

The Dumb Way We Board Airplanes Remains Impervious to Good Data

 My comment policy is similar to John Wayne’s. If you act like a child, you get the river

Game review: I did not enjoy this drowning simulator/advertisement

6,000 years ago, when the Earth was supposedly born, all these people were doing human stuff

Since 1947, less than 25% of people stowing away on airplanes have survived the journey

 “Don’t worry, I’m no longer contagious.” Stop it. You have no idea. Stay home.

The GMO Mass Suicides Are a Myth

Artist Courtney Mattison beautifully depicts the destruction of our coral reefs

What’s “Quantum Resonance Spectroscopy”? We don’t know. How did this get published?

WTF, Evolution?! now has a book picked the perfect cover

Even the Last Supper is getting bigger meals over time.


MORE ABOUT: astronomy, GIFs, physics, science

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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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