Friday, November 19, 2010


Today, I flipped through a copy of the Micrographia, written by Robert Hooke and published in London in 1665. In this book, Hooke introduces the word "cell" to refer to the small bodies that make up living organisms. And, he explains the advantages of experimentation and "mechanistic philosophy." Additionally, the book contains some amazing engravings, including images of a fly, a louse, a flea, mold, and some crystals. Amazing stuff.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Janet Iwasa and Molecular Visualization

My friend Janet Iwasa was just mentioned in a New York Times article about molecular visualization. Stunning stuff!

Pop Culture Curator at the National Air and Space Museum

The Washington Post has reported that the National Air and Space Museum employs a pop culture curator, who managers a vast collection of space-related objects -- including pins, buttons, games, and toys -- that show how space exploration has affected the public consciousness. Well done, Air and Space Museum!

Read the article here.

Image courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Earth Observatory

While perusing Refdesk (one of my favorite websites), I happened across Earth Observatory, and especially loved its image of the day site. Browsers can look at satellite images of all sorts of geographical features, and can even sort the offerings by categories like "heat," "atmosphere," and "life." Well done, NASA.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kassel Museum

Here are some amazing photos of historic astrolabes, clocks, globes, and telescopes, all from the museum in Kassel, Germany.

The Amazing Solar System

The Boston Globe's website has one of the best photography sections I have found on the internet. In September, the site featured photos taken by both NASA and ESA spacecraft. Enjoy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Ig Nobel Awards

Huzzah for the 2010 Ig Nobel Awards! I am happy to report that this year's Economics Prize "was awarded jointly to the executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Magnetar for 'creating and promoting new ways to invest money – ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.'" Well deserved.

Allosaurus for Sale

Next week, Sotheby's will hold its first natural-history auction, in Paris. Stop by if you want to pick up a 33-foot-long Allosaurus skeleton for your living room.

Babylonian Language Spoken

Did anyone else read the story about scholars at Cambridge University who have "recorded audio of Babylonian epics, poems, and even a magic spell to the Internet?" You can hear the language spoken here.

The Galileo Project

Whoah: I just came across The Galileo Project, a website based at Rice University with all sorts of information about the father of modern science. After reading this site, you'll want to find the closest cathedral and watch the to-and-fro swaying of the lamps as well.

Science Toys!

I am fascinated by the science toy industry, and was happy to see that Wired just wrote a piece about ThinkGeek, one of my favorite websites.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rubik's Cube Solutions Uncovered

Researchers using computers provided by Google have discovered that every starting position of the Rubik's Cube can be solved in twenty moves or fewer. This number is also called "God's Number." Cool.

Read the story here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Richard Feynman

While browsing on YouTube a few nights ago, I happened upon some clips of Richard Feynman appearing on a British television show in 1983. The show was called "Fun to Imagine," and in it, Feynman talks about the magic of everyday phenomena, like how rubber bands heat up when they stretch. He also discusses why trains stay on tracks (the reason is fascinating), and explains fire in an unusual and gripping way. I love hearing Richard Feynman talk because he explains science concepts using very down-to-earth, ordinary language. Whenever possible, he eschews abstract words in favor of concrete ones. I would have loved to have seen him walk around the Exploratorium. I heard he had visited, and liked it, but I still would have liked to have heard him talk about the exhibits with Frank Oppenheimer.

Watch clips from Fun to Imagine here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Beaver Dam Visible from Space!

I read a story today about a beaver dam, found in Canada, that is 2,800 feet long. A Canadian ecologist stumbled upon it in Alberta's Wood Buffalo National Park, and claims that it is now the largest beaver dam in the world. Some people believe that the dam was started in the 1970's, and it has been steadily built up by generations of beavers. I have now begun wondering how many other structures in the world have been created by animals working across generations. I immediately think of all coral reefs, possibly some termite mounds, and the Great Pyramid in Egypt (as well as all human cities). Does anyone else have any ideas?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Giant Worms!

I just read a news story about Idaho's giant Palouse earthworm. Researchers at the University of Idaho have captured two live specimens: the adult is almost a foot long, and the juvenile is around seven inches long. Furthermore, they appear to be translucent, so their internal organs are clearly visible. Wow!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcano in Iceland

A friend at work sent around the following link of the volcano that is currently erupting in Iceland. This is truly amazing footage.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Autistic Artists See the World

I was particularly interested in the following story, because I know Jesse Park, the first artist in the slide-show.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Language of the Ancient Scots

Last week, I read about a new discovery involving the Picts, an ancient tribe of people who lived in what is now Scotland between 300 and 843 A.D. Apparently, researchers have determined that the engravings on stones -- the Pictish stones -- may be the written language of the Picts, an "Iron-Age society." Cool.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Acme Klein Bottle

Klein bottles are kind of like the three-dimensional equivalents of Moebius strips. Actually, they are three-dimensional representations of four-dimensional objects, which do not have an inside or an outside. Rather, those objects have one continuous surface. And now, a company exists that creates Klein bottles made out of glass! Also, buy a Klein bottle wool hat. Fantastic.

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider -- a huge machine in Switzerland and France that smashes subatomic particles together -- has begun operating. According to an article in the, protons "were whipped to more than 99 percent of the speed of light and to record-high energy levels of 3.5 trillion electron volts apiece raced around a 17-mile underground magnetic track outside Geneva a little after 1 p.m. local time. They crashed together inside apartment-building-size detectors designed to capture every evanescent flash and fragment from microscopic fireballs thought to hold insights into the beginning of the universe."

(The photograph is from the CERN website.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Poincare Conjecture

Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman has won the Millennium Prize for solving the Poincare Conjecture, but he is not yet sure whether he will accept the $1 million prize. The prize is awarded by the Clay Mathematics Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Poincare Conjecture is the first problem on a list of seven that the Institute thought were noteworthy. This guy already, in 2004, skipped the ceremony in Spain when he was supposed to receive the Fields Medal, one of the highest awards in theoretical mathematics. Fascinating...

(The photograph shows Perelman giving the Simons lectures at MIT, and was taken by Tom Mrowka.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life Underground

A recent story from Robert Boyd, at the McClatchy news service, reports that scientists now believe that "nearly half the living material on our planet is hidden in or beneath the ocean or in rocks, soil, tree roots, mines, oil wells, lakes and aquifers on the continents." Wow. Apparently, at the December 2009 gathering of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Katrina Edwards -- a microbiologist at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles -- claimed that "The organisms that live in this environment may collectively have a mass equivalent to that of all of Earth's surface dwellers and may provide keys to solving major environmental, agricultural and industrial problems." And, marine geologists are preparing to drill in six locations under the world's oceans to install "observatories" that will be linked to on-land research stations. Fantastic!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dinosaurs in Color

Last week, I read a story about evidence of pigment being found in some dinosaur fossils. Chris Sloan, at National Geographic, reported that a team led by Fucheng Zhang (of China's Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology), had found fossilized melanosomes in the "feathers and filament-like 'protofeathers' of fossil birds and dinosaurs from northeastern China." You can read more here:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Puffin

A few days ago, I read about a flying machine, developed by NASA engineers, that is made for one person. It is called the "Puffin," and is powered by electricity. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lego Orrery!

I just learned that some people associated with NASA's Kepler mission have created a Lego orrery! An orrery is a device that shows the relative sizes and distances of planets in a solar system. The Lego orrery will demonstrate the transit method, the method NASA scientists will use to try to find planets outside of our solar system. (Finding extrasolar planets is Kepler's mission.) The satellite includes a telescope that will detect faint waverings of light emitted by stars, waverings that will indicate that a planet has passed in front of the star, briefly blocking its radiation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Full disclosure: I work at the Exploratorium. But, I can't help mentioning the Exploratorium's website about the nature of science, and the role that evidence plays.

Thales and Early Greek Science

I just found a fantastic website associated with the University of Virginia. It focuses on the origins of science in ancient Greece. I highly recommend perusing it.

El Dorado Discovered?

According to an article in the Guardian, remnants of a previously unknown civilization have been found in the Amazon rainforest. Interesting...