Category Archives: Super Science Thursday

I’ve decided to make Thursday, Science Thursday. This is a really exciting thing, and I’m expecting the major calendar publishers to catch on by the year 2061 or so. We’ll see.

Science Thursday: Thursday, August 20

Welcome to this weeks edition of Science Thursday. This is a special edition of Science Thursday, as it is the last that will be found here, on my personal blog. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Science Thursday is growing up, and getting it’s own website. Next week, tune in to and find the same old Science Thursday in a brand new place. This week we have some downright exhilarating news, starting, with our favorite comet lander and orbiter.

On August 13, Rosetta reached perihelion coming to within 186 million km of the Sun. For reference, this is about 1/5 the optical diameter of Betelgeuse. The linked article has some photos of what the comet looked like during the event. Evidently, it is spewing 300kg of water vapor out into space every second. This was an exciting day for the comet. As the saying goes, it’s all downhill from here.

In an article posted in CBC News, we find that there is an automated lawnmower with U.S. approval. this is good news to all those children out there who are forced to mow the lawn. One day, sooner now, you will be able to just set the robot lawn mower off, and go back to watching the shitty cartoons on tv or playing your gamebox or twitting on faceplace or whatever kids do nowadays instead of mow lawns. Incidentally, this is also good news to most parents, who just want their lawns mowed, but bad news to the parents who viewed lawn mowing as a rite of passage type of thing. Maybe the new rite of passage can be fixing robomower when it breaks? Time will tell.

Oh boy, do I have a whacky conspiracy for you. Evidently, Mars is going to be as big as the moon. Except for one small thing. No. Just, no. It’s not. No. It is that time of the year again, the time of the Mars hoax. Normally, I would have just discounted this as a bunch of whackadoos who we let onto the internet as the name would lead you to believe, but this hoax is a little different. For starters, it has it’s own, relatively credible Wikipedia page. Also, it has a mostly credible (so far)NASA webpage. Evidently, an email went around back in 2003 (yes kids, there WAS email in 2003) which stated that mars would be the same size as the moon when mars was viewed with 75 power magnification. The 75 magnification bit may or may not be true, depending on which website you read. What is definitely not true is Mars looking the same size as the Moon from Earth. To put a slight spin on this, a way Mars would actually look as big as the Moon does on Earth is if we actually send people there. On the way, for an instant, Mars will appear exactly as big as the Moon does from your back porch. So let’s step to it NASA, and make this myth come true. For a select few astronauts. Briefly.

Here is some news for octopus fans. The octopus genome has been mapped. Finally! There are many novel genes that scientists found in the octopus genome that are responsible for things like octopus’ ability to change color. Which, I think, is pretty cool.

That’s it for this week’s Science Thursday. See you next week on the new website, Thanks for reading. Until next time.

Science Thursday: August 13, 2015

Welcome to this weeks edition of Science Thursday. I’ve sort of fallen into a routine of doing these every other week during the summer, due to a myriad of reasons such as me traveling and whatnot, so hopefully these will start becoming more regular again as the summer winds down. That, however, implies some sort of routine to my daily life, which at this moment, is about to become rather non-existent for a little while, so we’ll all get to see about it together. This two weeks, we have some exiting news about robots, Rosetta, and

So to start something from last week. There is a hitchhiking robot in America. Or, rather, there WAS a hitchhiking robot in America. The little robotic traveller started in Salem, Mass. and was vandalized in Philadelphia, after successfully making it’s way across the entirety of Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. This was basically a giant fuck you to the robot community from America, and something that makes me a little sad to be an American. This guy traveled across three whole countries and couldn’t even last two weeks here, because of some stupid ignorant dumb-asses in Philadelphia. In other news: the Philadelphia police are still not entirely sure that the vandal wasn’t Donald Trump…

In an update to this story, a tech group from Philadelphia has offered to help repair hitchbot, in an effort to prove to the rest of the world that America is not all full of idiotic scumbags like the republican presidential candidates want you to believe.

Something else from last week that is of note, NASA is putting the wreckage of Challenger and Columbia on display to the public for the first time ever. Prior to this, the Challenger wreckage was buried in an abandoned missile silo on the grounds of the Canaveral Air Force Station, and the Columbia wreckage was kept in office space at the Kennedy Space Center according to NBC News.

Also from last week, this is the closest upset photo of a comet ever taken. It was taken from a range of 9 meters by the lander Philae as it made it’s descent.

So, there has been a spike in the number of authors of scientific papers recently. Why exactly this is, is unclear. But there are huge projects, such as the LHC at CERN, where there are many many many people who are working research that is published. The bigger issue, as reported in the article, is a physicist crediting his pet hamster as a co-author on a physics paper (H.A.M.S. ter Tisha…cute.)

There were several other relatively interesting things in the news this week, including this piece about astronauts eating vegetables grown in space, the Perseids meteor shower, which I believe you can still see some bits of.

Also this week, an interesting discussion of your privacy in main stream operating systems (namely Windows 10), this super kick-ass humanoid robot punching through a wall, and Lawrence Lessig announcing he is raising money to run for President of the United States, just so he can resign.

That’s all for the past two weeks, hopefully you have learned something from this week’s edition of Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Science Thursday: July 30th, 2015

And we’re back! After a week of frolicking around Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2015, seeing Jim Lovell and company speak about Apollo 13, and falling in love with Long-EZs, I am back in the real world (which, I might add, is much less exciting then the make believe one full of airplanes and astronauts.) Being back in the real world, I can write more editions of Science Thursday! (Wohoo!)

This week, we start off with some news about the International Space Station. Russia has formally committed to remain a partner in station operations through 2024. This is big news after recent relations between Russia and the West have been seemingly unstable. The European and Japanese space agencies, the two other large players with their own research modules on the station, have not committed to an extended station life yet, but the ESA is expected to do so sometime next year.

The NTSB has released a report regarding the crash of Space Ship 2 last October. The report, which can be found here, blamed the accident on the designer of SS2, Scaled Composites, for not doing enough human factors work in their design. They created a vehicle where it was possible for one human error to lead to a catastrophic break up of the vehicle, which is what occurred last October. So, while the copilot did mistakenly unlock the feathering mechanism early, the report blamed the designers of the vehicle for not putting any safeguards in place. So, watch for human factors job openings at Scaled Composites in the near future.

A bit of sad news: there is one less Northern White Rhino today than there was Sunday. The 31-year-old female animal named Nabire died at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic on Monday. Her death leaves only four Northern White Rhinos in existence, three females and one male. It is possible that there could still be a new birth, but moving the four animals to Kenya in 2009 in hopes that their natural habitat would facilitate breading.

Scientists have discovered an aurora for the first time outside of our solar system. The aurora was discovered around a brown dwarf some 18 lightyears away. The brown dwarf, which is not quite a star, but much larger than a planet, has auroras, but scientists are puzzled as to what is actually causing the auroras.

Finally, The solar system has faces. Quite a few of them actually. Some of them are on Pluto, like Mikey Mouse, some of them are on Mars, like that one everyone thought the government was making up or hiding or something (conspiracy theories don’t rise very high on my radar), the man on the moon, all those sorts of things. Anyway, this article goes about describing some of these faces (but it does go a bit whacky at the end.) Still a little fun though.

That’s it for this weeks edition of Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, and remember, only 63 days until The Martian comes out! See you next time.

Science Thursday: July 16th, 2015

Welcome to this week’s edition of Science Thursday after a week off last week. There’s really only one thing that anyone has been talking about this week, and last week, and that is Pluto. So let’s start there.

The New Horizons spacecraft successfully flew by Pluto on Tuesday, without crashing into it. This subsequently lead to what is now my favorite photo of a scientist ever (look at the guy in the middle) as well as a bunch of new data about Pluto. Including this┬árelatively high resolution photo of the has-been planet. (To all my fellow 90’s kids…get over it.) The probe also got some photos of Pluto’s moon Charon revealing some interesting features. It also lead to what will some day undoubtedly be well known ancient pop-culture references, including this xkcd what-if post, and this webcomic.

While everyone was busy looking at Pluto, the good ole’ folks down at the LHC discovered a new particle. The pentaquark, which was first theorized in the 1960s, like the Higgs boson, has been found. Which is good news for the world of theoretical things waiting to be discovered. I’ve just noticed that so far this week we have TWO things that involve pictures of scientists being happy about data. Which is really all scientists ever do. What this means exactly is still a little fuzzy for me, because I’m not a particle physicist, but it’s still really cool. If you would like to indulge yourself, here are the findings as published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

So the two weeks that science has been happening has also given us quite an emotional roller coaster regarding a miniature ice age. (Kind of like a real ice age, but for those little railroad towns that people with too much time on their hands make.) First, there was going to be a mini ice-age in the 2030s. Then, there wasn’t. Ok, so it was a little more just a bump in the road, but when you’re talking about ice ages in our lifetime, you should probably be sure. (Cough cough…talkin’ to you Valentina Zharkova…cough cough) Anyways. Professor Zharkova posited that two low points in the cycles of different layers of the sun would coincide in about 15 years, and the Earth would see temperatures that were last reached in the last mini ice-age during the mid 1600s. However, while the Sun does in fact have cycles, it turns out that the little mini ice-age of the 17th century, during the Mounder Minimum was in part caused by a bunch of volcanic eruptions among other things, and lasted much longer than the upcoming low point is predicted to last. So, no mini ice ages in the next 15 years.

In other news, NASA has named the astronauts who will be crewing the Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew launches. The fantastic four comprise of Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, and Sunita Williams. The four will fly Boeing’s CST-100 capsule and SpaceX’s crewed Dragon. The commercial crew transportation program will allow the United States to be able to launch it’s own astronauts to the ISS without relying on the Russian space agency to do so. Crewed test flights could start as early as 2017.

Finally this week: worm sperm. Actually, worm sperm that’s 50 million years old. Scientists in Antarctica have discovered 50-million-year-old sperm cells, which are the oldest known sperm cells ever to be found. The cells were found in a fossilized sex cocoon made by the worms. It is believed this is how the cells survived, because little sperms are so fragile and die quickly. Last year, 17-million-year-old shrimp sperm cells were discovered in a cave in Queensland. Those 17-million-year-old cells had fossilized nuclei, which is also believed to be the case for the 50-million-year-old worm sperm.

That’s all for this weeks edition of Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, and good luck trying to get the phrase ‘worm sperm’ out of your head. It’s deceptively catchy…see you next time.

Science Thursday: July 2, 2015

Welcome to this week’s edition of Science Thursday!!! This week, well, this week we have some happy things to talk about, some disappointing things to talk about, and lasers.

First, some happy things. If you were outside the past couple of nights, and looked up, as people often do, and saw two really bright dots in the sky, you saw Venus and Jupiter. (The bigger dot was Venus, and the smaller one was Jupiter…probably). Conjunctions, which is the term for two planets appearing close to each other in the sky, actually happen quite regularly, and are documented online in several places including this Wikipedia article. This particular conjunction is special because of how close the plants are to each other in the night sky. If you saw it, then good for you. If you didn’t, don’t worry, there are going to be more soon.

Some disappointing news, which you probably already know. SpaceX had a launch failure this week. This is the first failure in the 19 missions that the Falcon 9 rocket has flown. The mission was carrying supplies to the International Space Station, and is the third ISS resupply mission to fail in the past eight months. The ISS crew is going to be alright; they carry enough supplies with them so that three mission can fail and nothing bad happens to them. The failure does come at a pretty dynamic time in SpaceX’s growth, however. While the company no doubt is going to find the issue, fix it, and move on (which is what usually happens in spaceflight), other people who might not be so used to rockets, or used to the risks that are understood by those who are used to rockets, might not understand this in the short term. Here is a thoughtful report done by Jeff Foust posted on The Space Review that tells of the different repercussions that this launch failure will have regarding several different members of the space community. Space News also reported on the launch customers who were hoping to go flying on SpaceX rockets later this year, and will probably be affected by Sunday’s mishap, and the subsequent investigation.

Rosetta has found some sinkholes on a comet!!! Specifically, on 67P/C-G, which it has been orbiting for the past several months for those of you living under an actual rock. This is kind of cool, and also kind of freaky, because sinkholes are kind of freaky, as denoted by…well any picture of a sinkhole ever. These sinkholes are as large as 200m wide and 200m deep. (That’s about 650 feet for the Americans in the crowd.) In other words, pretty freakin’ big. According to the BBC article, these sinkholes are important because they contain little “goosebumps” that are thought to be the original building blocks of the comet.

The New Horizons probe is going to fly by Pluto in July 14th, after a last minute adjustment. The mission’s controllers, based at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, directed the probe to execute a 23 second thruster burn that will ensure that it’s trajectory is just so for the flyby of the dwarf planet.

Well, there was an extra second in all of your lives this week. Yes ladies and gentlebots, Tuesday night, right after 23:59:59, instead of becoming July 1 at 00:00:00, it in fact stayed June 30 for another second, 23:59:60. Which you might not have noticed…you were probably sleeping…but your laptop probably noticed, and so did you cell phone, and so did all the serves that servers you fucking Facebook and Twitter and all of that shit, and all the servers that hold your credit card data at your credit card company, and things like that. This is evidently a subject of some contention, because leap seconds have to be added to the calendar irregularly, due to the nature of the Earth’s rotation and a whole bunch of other variables. This time though, it looks like the world is still in the same number of pieces it was in before the leap second occurred, which is a good thing.

Finally, as promised, lasers. Specifically, Mark Zuckerberg’s internet lasers. Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring the internet to places where it isn’t using lasers. Which, almost asnwers the question posed in this YouTube video.

That’s that for this weeks edition of Science Thursday. Thanks for watching. Reading. I meant reading. Read you next time.

i> UPDATE – Friday July 3, 9:30 ET
The Russians have successfully launched a resupply mission to the ISS at 00:55 Eastern time. The Progress 60 P (M-28M) mission will reach the ISS on Sunday. While astronauts and cosmonauts are a bunch of bad-ass boys and girls who are icy cool under pressure…and who (probably) are not counting their chickens, now that I think about it, the fact is someone has launched something to the ISS without any disintegrations or tumbles, which is a good thing.

UPDATE – Sunday July 5, 9:36 ET
Progress 60 (M-28M) has successfully docked with the ISS, giving the crew actual access to all of the supplies inside. This is the first time the crew has recieved supplies after two consecutive resupply mission failures. The next resupply attempt will be made by the Japanese in August.

Science Thursday: June 25th, 2015

Welcome back to Science Thursday, the day so awesome that you wish it could be a whole week. Yeah, I was reaching there. Some exciting things this week about movies, Mars, more Mars, and Rosetta! But first, goldfish.

Did you ever flush your goldfish down the toilet? Did you ever flush your kids’ goldfish down the toilet and then tell your kids it was in “a better place”? Yeah? Shame on you, you lying deceitful parent. You probably dress up like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and… Anyways, if you did this, and you live in Alberta, Canada, you might not have been lying after all. The government of Alberta has issued a warning to its citizens to stop flushing their fish after several worryingly large specimens were pulled from ponds. Evidently the species has been thriving in the eco system of Alberta, even reproducing at alarming levels, “like bunnies”. Goldfish are now considered an invasive species, and the government of Alberta is working to eradicate them. According to the article in the CBC, some of the fish that were found in the wild had grown to be as large as dinner plates. The article made no mention as to whether baby alligators could survive in sewers.

A scientific journal has urged that Interstellar be shown in science classrooms. According to the American Journal of Physics, the way that the film portrays black holes and wormholes is scientifically accurate. This is something that I absolutely support. I am not a physicist, but Interstellar is amazing not only for the science, but for several other reasons. Not the least of which is Matthew Mahogany. I mean Machgouncgegeoyny. Mahochgonahue. However you say it. Interstellar encapsulates why we as a species need to keep exploring. Kids definitely need to learn that, loud and clear.

Is Elon Musk going to be the first human being to set foot on the planet Mars? Well, er, no. At least, not according to Andy Weir, who wrote the brilliant science fiction techno thriller novel The Martian, which I don’t know if you’ve heard, is being made into a big budget film to be released in November of this year. Weir spoke with Bloomberg Business’s Ashlee Vance about the entrepreneur who concocted SpaceX and Tesla, but also more importantly, the future of spaceflight and how the United States fits into it. It’s an interesting conversation, from a dude who worked out the orbital mechanics of a Mars mission for fun in his free time for the sole purposes of writing an awesome book. Worth reading. (Also it’s not that long so you really have no excuse. Yes, you, I’m talking to you. So get reading.)

Continuing on the theme of Mars, and the future of manned spaceflight as it relates to the United States, a recent Engadget article also dives into the question of going to Mars, specifically, when will it happen and what will it look like. The writer of the article claims to have read through a dense collection of NASA’s “science heavy” documents that lay the groundwork for a Mars mission, and has come to the conclusion that NASA is making progress towards bringing Mars closer to the Moon. But not this close. The article describes in some…reiterating…SOME detail the kind of habitats that NASA is going to need to build, the kind of space suits that the astronauts will need, astro-robo-nauts, and all sorts of interesting things to a space geek like me, and probably, to you if you actually read these. It is also a good read, but it does not even mention the possibility, or even probability of a Mars mission being an international undertaking similar to the International Space Station, which according to some, like Andy Weir, is likely to happen. Still, also worth your time.

Finally a word from Universe Today, which has been our source for an good chunk of the information on the Rosetta mission over the past couple of months. The mission has been granted a nine month extension, and has been given a chance to attempt to land on the surface of 67P/C-G. That’s right, potentially two landings from one mission. The comet will reach perihelion on August 13 of this year, and the orbiter will attempt a landing after the comet moves farther from the sun but before the spacecraft runs out of fuel. The mission extension will give Rosetta more time to make observations as it orbits the comet from a distance to avoid damaging its instruments in the comets dust tail.

That’s it for Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Science Thursday: June 18th, 2015

Welcome back folks! Science Thursday again. We have exciting news about Philae, Elon Musk, and Europa, but first, we have to get started with everybody’s favorite encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Galactica! …I’m just kidding, that’s not even everybody’s favorite in the fictional work in which it was created.

Wikipedia! The site we all have actually learned something from, but are warned against by our teachers. (I think I’ve learned more real things from wikipedia than the teachers who warned me actually taught me…weird…) Wikipedia is turning on HTTPS encryption on all of its web traffic. This is good for you and me, because we both know that our wikipedia search history is a little whacky. This will hopefully prevent big brother from misinterpreting my interest in hydrazine as a plot to blow something up. Just to be clear, NSA employee reading this, I have no plot to blow anything up. So now feel free to wiki the most weirdest things in your head and not worry about prying eyes, except anybody who can see your computer screen, because they might think you’re weird. It’s ok though. I don’t think your weird. Well, I might. This is the Internet after all.

Apparently Jupiter’s great red spot is shrinking? Over the past hundred years, the massive storm on the jolly red planet has been subsiding. (Why is Jupiter jolly? Because of it’s astrological significance. Which is always 100% accurate.) The planets massive superstorm has actually disappeared before in the 1600s according to the Universe Today article, but reappeared in the early 1700s. If it does disappear again in our lifetimes, I know my elementary school classmates and I will be doubly gipped on planetary knowledge gained in primary school, what with Pluto being fired and all. “When I was a kid sonny, there were 9 goddamn planets, and the big one had a giant spot in the middle!” “Mommy, Grandpa is talking all crazy again…” Something like that.

Really exciting news. Philae is alive!!! The little lander made contact with its earthlings over the weekend after a couple of month’s hibernation on the surface of Comet 67P-C/G. According to Wired, the lander made contact with ESA controllers on June 13 with a strong signal, and again on the 14th with a weaker signal. The controllers have been working the last few days to try and figure out just what science they want to do with the lander now that the little guy is talking again. While there is reason for celebration, there are also more hurdles that have to be overcome for the team. With the comet approaching the sun, dust and gas might obscure the flight path of Rosetta, which acts as a relay antenna for the lander.

From the Elon Musk department, SpaceX is building the hyperloop. Well, when I say building, I mean prototyping. SpaceX will build a short (1 – 3 miles) test track in California, where the company is based. The train will have the potential to carry passengers at speeds over 760 miles an hour, and, well, still isn’t planned for commercial implementation. Two companies, named Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop Technologies (this begs for a press conference mistake…”The winner is Hyperloop…uhh…something with technologies….dammit I always get these two confused…”) are bidding to make the actual cars. According to Elon Musk, SpaceX’s focus is still spaceflight and eventually sending humans to Mars. (Like Mark Watney!!!)

NASA has given the go ahead for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, which scientists believe could harbor life deep within its oceans. The planet has an icy crusts, underneath which scientists believe lies liquid oceans. The mission could lift off as early as 2022, depending on funding and hardware selections.

In space events in history, this week was the anniversary of two female firsts in space flight. On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first female cosmonaut, and first female in space. On this day in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American in space, flying aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Interestingly enough, Tereshkova was not the first Russian female thing into space, as the dog Laika launched in 1957 was female. Likewise, Ride was also not the first American female mammal in space, as both monkeys Able and Baker – and possibly other American space animals – were female.

Here is an article explaining why we should build swimming pools on the Moon. That’s it for Science Thursday. Thanks for reading.

Science Thursday: June 11th, 2015

Science Thursday, June 11th edition. All-in-all, some pretty exciting science-y news this week, although the biggest bit of news is science fiction-y. Don’t worry though. After some investigation, it is certainly worthy of inclusion.

First off, some really cool news. No, I mean it. A team at MIT has created an ultra-cold molecule. The team successfully brought molecules of sodium potassium (NaK) gas to a temperature of 500 nanokelvins, which is over a million times colder than interstellar space. The linked article is on MIT’s news site, and goes into a lot more technical details for those of you so inclined. Worth clicking.

Check out this kick-ass photo. It was taken by Trevor Mahlmann and Max Fagin who are astronomers based in Southern Illinois, and managed to capture an image of the ISS passing in front of a waning gibbous Moon on June 4. This happened during the station’s “High Beta Angle” season, in which the station was continuously lit for about 5 days. Pretty cool photo.

More from Universe Today, Ceres. Those mysterious white spots from before? Well they’re back. Actually, they (probably) never left. Unless they’re little huts set up by aliens or something. Who knows? The point is: we still don’t. While the new images are of great detail, the spots are too bright to give up their secrets. We’ll see what the next round of photographs brings.

NASA says that the average daily temperature in most countries will exceed 113 F (45 C) by the year 2099. The agency has just released a new set of climate change projections aimed at helping developing counties fight climate change. The data could ultimately lead to predictions of new sea levels, and draught preparations in locations before that are going to be prone to draught before the draughts hit.

In an article full of puns that make my articles look nice and civilized (when they’re that bad, one is all it takes to be ‘full’) we find some news about the little spaceship that could (not Philae) LightSail! Actually, LightSail-A. The little technology demonstrator has unfurled its sail, after some glitches were worked out. Now, we have pictures. As the philosopher Aristotle used to say, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” At least, I think it was Aristotle…

Finally, the most important bit of news of the week: there is going to be a movie version of The Martian and it is going to be out in November. Upon hearing this news Tuesday I promptly overnighted myself a copy of the book off Amazon (it had been on my ‘to-read’ list for a little while) and after receiving it today, am currently fully encompassed in it. In fact it’s a testament to my self discipline that I put it down to write this tonight. I will say this though, having read the little bit that I have. If you’re going to read it before the movie comes out, do it now, so you can get over all the ways that they will fuck it up in your head and still be able to enjoy the movie as a movie. Here’s the trailer, which according to the youtube comments may have some spoilers? (I honestly don’t know yet)

That’s it for Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, see you next week.

Science Thursday: June 4th, 2015

Welcome to Science Thursday! We start today in Virginia.

Virginia it seems has opened up some roads to self driving cars. They join some other west coast states in opening roadways to self driving cars, and hopefully in a couple more decades, there will be more self driving cars all over the place, like that Audi in I, Robot (the movie).

NOAA has said that the pause that evidently happened in global warming, evidently didn’t actually happen. Some NOAA scientists have done some research, and while it may have seemed that the world was not ending for a little while, turns out it’s going to end just as quick as we thought it was. I think they used some other language, but, you know.

Oh no! The BBC has told us that we’re all drinking our coffee all wrong! In their latest edition of “10 things we didn’t know last week” they link to a video explaining your circadian rhythm and how drinking coffee at certain times during the day can mess with the natural energy boosts your mind gives your body, and essentially render the nectar of the Gods useless. The meat of it is this: don’t drink coffee between 8 and 9 a.m., 12 and 1 p.m., 6 and 7 p.m., or within an hour after waking up at any time of day.

Facebook has taken inspiration from Alex Garland’s last film, Ex Machina, and decided to open their own AI lab. Actually, they probably didn’t take inspiration directly from the fi…I’ll let you go see it and decide. Any who, the new lab, located in Paris (evidently there are a bunch of AI researchers there) will work on “‘ambitious long-term projects’, including natural-language processing and speech and image recognition,” according to the article in the BBC. This will be good, because in the future you can have robot friends on Facebook to bolster your social status. Wait…no…they must have some other motive…

I’m already beginning to lose track of the bidders for the 2016 U.S. presidential race, but there are a few that stick out. Among the few is a guy called Chafee, Lincoln Chafee. One of this things, which he has already begun talking about in interviews with Wolf Blitzer of CNN (the Breaking News Network), is that he wants the United States to switch over to the metric system. While this would be a radical move that you would only expect from a democrat, his reasons for wanting to switch – to be a more “internationalist” country – is something that might not be best. All that aside, the metric system would probably not be the worst thing to happen to America in the long run. We certainly wouldn’t crash any more spaceships into Mars, which would be a good thing since we will probably send people there in the next couple of decades.

All right, well, that’s that for this week. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Science Thursday: May 28th, 2015

It’s Thursday WHAAAAAAAT. Sci-ence! Sci-ence! Sci-ence! Righto. Here we go.

Ok. SO. Here is an awesome story about some mice. A study of three mice in space has found abnormalities in their skin. This experiment is part of the ongoing saga of research into the long term effects of zero-g on essentially, little furry things. (Read: people.) The skin on the mice that were kept onboard the ISS had thinner skin than their earth-bound brethren in fur. The reasons for this have are still somewhat fuzzy, but have to do with the places that hair grows in the skin. This will not likely be as large a problem for human astronauts because mice are furrier than the average human. The real kicker about this story though, is a tie. One: something called the “Mouse Drawer System” exists, and like dogs, mice also live in shortened years, the conversion being 91 days to seven mice years, or about 13 days to revolve around the tiny mouse sun.

Also from the BBC, a new species of ancient human has been found. The new species, found in Ethiopia, is estimated as somewhere between 3.3 and 3.5 million years old. It is an interesting development in our evolutionary family tree.

On the SpaceX front, the company has just been certified to launch military spacecraft. The Falcon 9 rocket will now be a competitor to the Atlas 5 system, which is powered by Russian made rocket engines. The news comes amid United Launch Alliances plans to develop a new rocket named Vulcan.

Here’s some news from a little guy we haven’t heard from in quite a while…Rosetta! And Philae! The dynamic duo have just sent back some more photos of Comet 67P/C-G. These include a cliff that is some 190 meters (630 feet) high. The images, while just recently released, were taken before Philae got a chance to make us wonder whether or not it had landed. The comet is currently approaching the sun, and is starting to heat up and develop the comet’s defining tail.

A bit of news from a website called “Fusion”, so you know it’s going to be “hip”…and whatnot. Volvo’s self parking feature has gone horribly awry. Seriously though, the car that was being used to demonstrate the feature to some journalists actually ended up running them over instead. The vehicle was apparently not equipped with something called “pedestrian detection functionality”, which, if you ask me, is totally something that should be left as an option. This basically boils down to the fact that the people who performed the test, which, I THINK are not Volvo (the reporting is unclear, remember…Fusion), were being idiots. I, for one, am ok with the idea of self driving cars (because of the number of completely stupid moron drivers that take the wheel these days), and bits of news like this are not quite so good for that cause. So please people, stop getting in the way of progress by being idiots.

Finally, science is still seen as a male profession. A study to be published this fall in the Journal of Educational Psychology asserts that while all countries generally hold this belief, the ones with fewer female scientists hold it more strongly than the ones with fewer female scientists. I do not really understand why this is the case, because science is for people who have inquisitive minds, not those of us with penises. (Like yours truly, but not YT.)

Well, there was abundance of stories this week about people being idiots, and that is just the way it is. I’m assuming that people won’t stop being idiots between now and next Thursday, but we won’t know until then. You know what happens when you assume. Sometimes, you’re right. That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember boys, think with your brains, not with any other organs.