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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 05 Apr , 2019 12:40 am 
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They know their names. They just don't want to let you know they know their names! :LMAO:

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Thu 09 May , 2019 1:37 pm 

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:) Like when I tell our cat that it's time to go inside from her walk. Most of the time, she'll turn and start heading in. But sometimes she immediately crouches down, stares at me defiantly, and refuses to budge.


This is a great description of medical research, the problems with observational studies, and how research is described in the news media.
https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/442764-are-eggs-are-good-or-bad-for-you
Quote:
Nearly everyone I ask is sick and tired of how often we nutrition experts seem to change our minds about whether eggs are good or bad for you. In the past several weeks, alone, two powerful studies have been published in major medical journals. Of course they contradict each other. One tells us that eggs will prevent heart attacks and the other that they will kill you with a heart attack.

But a third study, also published in the past few weeks with enormous media attention, may once and for all answer the question of whether eggs are healthy or harmful. In it, they looked at people who skipped breakfast in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and found that those who did had a higher risk of heart attacks.

And since, according to the American Egg Board, more eggs are eaten at breakfast than any other meal, one might surmise that this proves that eating eggs reduces heart attacks.

The study, in fact, proves no such thing. But this is how far awry our conclusions can be when we try to attribute cause based on observation. ...

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Thu 09 May , 2019 4:04 pm 
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The first question I ask about the nutrition studies is, who funded it.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Thu 09 May , 2019 9:27 pm 
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tl;dr - science is hard.


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 10 May , 2019 12:48 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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Frelga wrote:
The first question I ask about the nutrition studies is, who funded it.

I'll take that into consideration but only as one factor. What's more important to me are the methods in the study and the honesty of the write-up in the discussion (do they admit when something might have other explanations, for instance, and that other people have come to other conclusions and might be right). Of course, that stuff never makes it to the news media. And that's not surprising since most science reporters are probably not scientists and, even if they have a scientific background, they can't be experts in all fields.



yovargas wrote:
tl;dr - science is hard.

Not really the point. The article points out the problems with studies in people, especially observational studies, and why you should take news articles about health studies with a grain of salt. A lot of people don't seem to know that.


Science comes in many forms and doing a good study isn't difficult in some fields as long as you're diligent. Let's say you want to know whether a rabies vaccine lasts for 3 years in dogs. You can vaccinate some of the dogs, keep them for 3 years and expose them all to rabies. If the vaccinated ones don't get sick and the unvaccinated ones do, you've answered your question. There might still be some issues, like whether a vaccine will last as well in the real world in animals that aren't always in the best health, but otherwise your research is solid.

But if you want to find out how long a vaccine lasts in people, it's a hell of a lot more complicated - you end up relying on things that are crude measures of immunity, like antibodies, and, if you're lucky, "natural experiments" where vaccinated people are later exposed. But there are lots of variables and it's harder to draw solid conclusions.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Tue 01 Oct , 2019 4:48 pm 

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This is not a "cool" science article, but it's food for thought. Especially since groups like Extinction Rebellion and the Fridays for Future kids (Greta Thunberg et al) are pushing politicians to "Do More" about climate change immediately. As I said elsewhere, it's complicated. Even if you ignore economic/societal factors.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2201697-destruction-of-nature-is-as-big-a-threat-to-humanity-as-climate-change/
Quote:
We are destroying nature at an unprecedented rate, threatening the survival of a million species – and our own future, too. But it’s not too late to save them and us, says a major new report.

...The report, released today, is mostly grim reading. We humans have already significantly altered three-quarters of all land and two-thirds of the oceans. More than a third of land and three-quarters of freshwater resources are devoted to crops or livestock...

The problem isn’t just our focus on economic growth regardless of the impact on the natural world. Current plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero to limit climate change rely heavily on bioenergy, which requires a lot of land. This will accelerate species loss as well as threatening food and water security, says the report. In fact, the bioenergy push is already causing harm. For instance, rainforests are being cut down in Indonesia and Malaysia to grow palm oil to make biodiesel for cars in Europe.

Transforming our civilisation to make it more sustainable will require more connected thinking, the report says. “There’s a very fragmented approach,” says Watson. “We’ve got to think about all these things in a much more holistic way.”

For instance, there are ways of tackling climate change that will help biodiversity too, such as persuading people to eat less meat and planting more trees. But the devil is in the detail – artificial plantations would benefit wildlife far less than restoring natural forests...



There was a similar suggestion/speculation in a recent study in Science that suggested bird populations are decreasing: shorebirds may be losing habitat from development (houses, etc.) but some species may be dwindling because we're turning more grasslands into ethanol/biofuels, and monoculture doesn't support bird populations very well. IMO, this is also something that proponents of wind energy don't acknowledge - giant windmill farms that were once empty space are likely to discourage birds nesting and feeding in the area. I don't have an answer - wind certainly seems better than mining and burning coal - but I also don't like renewable energy people drowning out people who bring up valid concerns, including the finite lifespan of windmills (what will happen to them once they're obsolete?).

And there may be some other hidden costs that need to be figured out, before we rush into things:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197
Quote:
Climate change: Electrical industry's 'dirty secret' boosts warming
Quote:
It's the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, and emissions have risen rapidly in recent years, the BBC has learned. Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents. But leaks of the little-known gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the road.

Levels are rising as an unintended consequence of the green energy boom...

It is widely used across the industry, from large power stations to wind turbines to electrical sub-stations in towns and cities. It prevents electrical accidents and fires. However, the significant downside to using the gas is that it has the highest global warming potential of any known substance. It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2). ...

It also persists in the atmosphere for a long time, warming the Earth for at least 1,000 years...
Quote:
So why are we using more of this powerful warming gas?

The way we make electricity around the world is changing rapidly. Where once large coal-fired power stations brought energy to millions, the drive to combat climate change means they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas. This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accident...
Quote:
The question of alternatives to SF6 has been contentious over recent years.

For high-voltage applications, experts say there are very few solutions that have been rigorously tested. "There is no real alternative that is proven," said Prof Manu Haddad from the school of engineering at Cardiff University. "There are some that are being proposed now but to prove their operation over a long period of time is a risk that many companies don't want to take."

However, for medium voltage operations there are several tried-and-tested materials. ...

Sitting in the North Sea some 43km from the Suffolk coast, Scottish Power Renewables has installed one of world's biggest wind farms where the turbines will be free of SF6 gas...

But even for companies that are trying to limit the use of SF6, there are still limitations. At the heart of East Anglia One sits a giant offshore substation to which all 102 turbines will connect. It still uses significant quantities of the highly warming gas...



Speaking of that bird study, btw, one interesting thing was that raptor populations are doing rather well. So are waterfowl. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet but I'm wondering if they mentioned things like the effect of West Nile virus on American birds (we lost a lot of birds when it was introduced and I'm not sure how many species have recovered yet as immunity develops) or mycoplasmal conjunctivitis affecting house finches (the finches don't die, but they have trouble feeding and escaping predators).

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The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 18 Oct , 2019 5:49 pm 
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The 'blob,' an organism with no brain but 720 sexes, debuts at Paris zoo

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The blob also has almost 720 sexes, can move without legs or wings and heals itself in two minutes if cut in half.


Quote:
"It surprises us, because it has no brain but is able to learn (...) and if you merge two blobs, the one that has learned will transmit its knowledge to the other," David said.


The linked article has more info and pictures.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 18 Oct , 2019 7:46 pm 
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You say cool, I say terrifying.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct , 2019 6:29 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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It's just a slime mold. They're weird and interesting but not quite the carnival sideshow the news media are promoting. You might even have one in the backyard if it's moist and damp. ;)
https://www.sciencealert.com/paris-zoo-s-new-blob-exhibit-is-no-monster-but-something-we-can-all-learn-from
Quote:
Here's The Truth Behind 'The Blob' - Paris Zoo's Latest Display That's Gone Viral
Quote:
Like an old time carnival show, the Paris Zoological Park's latest attraction promises a shocking mystery.

Dubbed 'the blob', the zoo is hoping to draw in the crowds by featuring a goo-like brainless creature with no mouth and hundreds of sexes, which displays an ability to survive – even thrive – when dissected.

While it is indeed weird, don't get too excited. 'The blob' isn't something out of science fiction. It's actually slime mould - or more specifically, an organism known as Physarum polycephalum...

Here's the 101: the 900-odd species of slime mould, of which P. polycephalum is just one, are a taxonomic headache. They're currently boxed into the Protista kingdom, because where else are you going to put something that isn't a fungus, plant, bacteria, or animal?

When life is good, they tend to live solitary lives as single cells like amoeba.

On occasion they squish together, forming a wide, branching structure called a plasmodium that can cover several square metres as they search cities to conquer. Well, bacteria to digest at least....


The 720 "sexes" was part of what made me suspicious, so I looked up what it really is. :) That's true in a manner of speaking, but not an X and Y chromosome type of thing.
Quote:
If you thought your experience on Tinder was hard, dating for slime moulds is a nightmare. Cells can only mix-and-match their genetic material if each has a compatible set of genes called matA, mat B, and mat C, each with up to 16 variations.


If you search for slime mold pictures online, you might have actually seen one outside this exhibit.

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That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct , 2019 6:47 pm 
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"It's just a slime mold," is what they say in the movie right before it bursts out of confinement. [emoji14]

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct , 2019 7:31 pm 

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If it was the US, maybe. In Paris, some enterprising chef will just find a way to serve it as lunch, before it gets a chance to grow and take over the world. ;)



Which reminds me - totally off topic - has anyone noticed the inappropriately laughing people who run from the movie theater in The Blob?

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct , 2019 10:39 pm 
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Ah, that's why alien invasion movies are never set in Paris.

Didn't see The Blob, but that sounds hilarious.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct , 2019 11:59 pm 
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Is it a serious movie or a comedy?

And, do you recommend it?

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct , 2019 1:23 pm 

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The Blob is a classic! As far as I know, it was made as a serious horror movie, though I doubt any adult would be scared by it these days. The movie theater scene seems to be the only major goof - apparently someone didn't tell the extras that they weren't supposed to look like they're having fun. :)

I don't know if I'd recommend it or not. Depends on your tastes. If you like older movies, you might like it. It's not Texas Chainsaw Massacre-type horror, more like giant ant invasion movies or Attack of the 50-foot-Woman, and fairly campy to modern eyes.

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That no river is a river which does not flow.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov , 2019 8:08 am 
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Totally campy and thoroughly recommended. :)

Sent from my SM-G965U1 using Tapatalk

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec , 2019 8:30 pm 

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https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/12/astronauts-flames-nasa/602893/
Quote:
To study combustion on the ISS, and before that, the Space Shuttles, astronauts have set fire to a variety of materials and observed how this distinctly earthly phenomenon unfolds in microgravity. And they love doing it....

The results are pretty bonkers. In space, a flame is shaped like a sphere instead of a teardrop, and it doesn’t flicker. It just hovers, a small, ghostly orb, until it goes out. Such orbs are called “flame balls,” a term that is both extremely accurate and delightfully deranged. “It’s kind of mesmerizing to see this burning without gravity present,” Ferkul said....

Ronney first observed the strange phenomenon in the 1980s. The researcher dropped a can of burning hydrogen down a shaft designed to simulate the weightlessness of microgravity and filmed what happened. When he saw the footage, “I thought I had done something wrong,” he said. “It was ridiculous. No one had ever seen anything like it.”

The flames cracked into tiny floating balls. Computer analyses had predicted flames would be small and only last a few minutes. Ignited, the weightless flames produced a tiny fraction of the thermal power of a birthday candle. But they turned out to be two to three times bigger than predicted, and burned for longer, only dying out when the system automatically extinguished them. One of the most destructive forces on the planet appeared delicate, suspended in weightlessness....




FYI, there's apparently a newer "The Blob" remake. Pretty much standard gory horror movie, from the sound of it, not like the campy original. I don't plan to see it.

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The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec , 2019 9:01 pm 
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In space, a flame is shaped like a sphere instead of a teardrop,

So, in other words... a star?

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Tue 10 Dec , 2019 12:37 am 
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In space, most things are shaped as a sphere. Approximately.

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 13 Dec , 2019 9:45 pm 
A green apple painted red
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Naturally, 2019 Closes with Thousands of 10-Inch Pulsing “Penis Fish” Stranded on a California Beach

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 Post subject: Re: Cool science stuff
PostPosted: Fri 10 Jan , 2020 2:39 pm 

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What's even stranger to me are the capelin in Newfoundland. They beach themselves deliberately (and people harvest them by just scooping them up off the beach). You have to wonder how a fish evolved to spawn on a sandy beach.



More technology than science (and not really "cool" IMO) but interesting and worth knowing about.
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/01/future-politics-bots-drowning-out-humans/604489/
Quote:
Text-generation software is already good enough to fool most people most of the time. It’s writing news stories, particularly in sports and finance. It’s talking with customers on merchant websites. It’s writing convincing op-eds on topics in the news (though there are limitations). And it’s being used to bulk up “pink-slime journalism”—websites meant to appear like legitimate local news outlets but that publish propaganda instead.

There’s a record of algorithmic content pretending to be from individuals, as well. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission had an online public-commenting period for its plans to repeal net neutrality. A staggering 22 million comments were received. Many of them—maybe half—were fake, using stolen identities. These comments were also crude; 1.3 million were generated from the same template, with some words altered to make them appear unique. They didn’t stand up to even cursory scrutiny.

These efforts will only get more sophisticated. In a recent experiment, the Harvard senior Max Weiss used a text-generation program to create 1,000 comments in response to a government call on a Medicaid issue. These comments were all unique, and sounded like real people advocating for a specific policy position. They fooled the Medicaid.gov administrators, who accepted them as genuine concerns from actual human beings. This being research, Weiss subsequently identified the comments and asked for them to be removed, so that no actual policy debate would be unfairly biased. The next group to try this won’t be so honorable....

Over the years, algorithmic bots have evolved to have personas. They have fake names, fake bios, and fake photos—sometimes generated by AI. Instead of endlessly spewing propaganda, they post only occasionally. Researchers can detect that these are bots and not people based on their patterns of posting, but the bot technology is getting better all the time, outpacing tracking attempts. ...

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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