Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

science

jul
29
2012

Spanx on Steroids: How Speedo Created the New Record-Breaking Swimsuit | Smithsonian

Jim Morrison writes, “Ultimately, Speedo decided to rebuild not only the suit, but create a ‘racing system’ that it claims combines the suit and the goggles and cap working in synergy to reduce drag and improve performance.”

jul
08
2012

Loops

Recently, the Madagascar 3 remix video “59 Minutes of ‘Afro Circus’” led to a friend invoking “Kristen Schaal is a horse for 10 minutes!,” which in turn reminded me of last year’s “Loops” episode of Radiolab: The episode starts by …

apr
19
2012

Penguins Rocket Away from Danger Aboard Supercavitating Bubble Jets | Gizmodo

Andrew Tarantola writes, “Turns out, not being eaten by a leopard seal is excellent motivation. It’s what spurred penguins to develop an ingenious method of cutting down their drag—by wrapping themselves in a shawl of bubbles.”

mar
15
2012

The Science of Cherry Blossoms, Illustrated

I love this video of the Washington Post’s Patterson Clark speed-sketching the phases of cherry blossom blooming. (If you can’t see the video above, it’s available on washingtonpost.com.)

mar
08
2012

Penguin Cam

Streaming video by Ustream The live Penguin Cam at SeaWorld San Diego is my favorite thing ever this week. These awkward little (and not-so-little) guys are so fun to watch. (Note: I usually watch the feed with the sound off. …

dec
09
2011

What Countries Are Doing To Tackle Climate Change | NPR

Many top emitters have set their own goals, but it’s not always clear how they can meet them.” Worked with Andrew Prince on this chart, which accompanies our coverage of the U.N. climate summit in South Africa. Nothing particularly challenging technically about how this one’s set up — just HTML / CSS — but I was happy with how it came out.

nov
23
2011

'Brinicle' ice finger of death filmed in Antarctic | BBC News

Ella Davies reports, “A bizarre underwater ‘icicle of death’ is captured on camera for the first time by BBC filmmakers.” Fantastic time-lapse video. (Via @supergraphic)

nov
17
2011

A Time-Lapse View of Earth from Space

Absolutely stunning.

aug
24
2011

The Story of Dick Cheney's Heart | WSJ.com

The former vice president opens up about his coronary artery disease, and explains how the march of American medicine saved his life.”

aug
22
2011

Rick Perry's Scientific Campaign Method | The Caucus | NYTimes.com

A conversation with the author Sasha Issenberg about how the Texas governor’s campaigns have been shaped by rigorous social science testing.” Really interesting.

aug
15
2011

Grizzlies Return, With Strings Attached | NYTimes.com

Jim Robbins reports, “Along the Rocky Mountain Front, the grizzly bear population has been thriving, and expanding its range to human habitats.”

aug
11
2011

The Many Failures and Few Successes of Zany Iceberg Towing Schemes | The Atlantic

I had no idea this was a thing. Alexis Madrigal writes, “Every few years for the past couple centuries, even before the large-scale cultivation of marijuana, this idea occurs to someone: What if we towed an iceberg from the poles, where there are no people, to some dry, populous place and then melted it into freshwater?

jul
08
2011

The Space Shuttle Through The Decades

I really love this video from the NPR Science desk with footage from shuttle missions past ad present, told as a shuttle launch / mission / landing. Watch it in full-screen mode.

jul
07
2011

End-of-Life Warning at $618,616 Makes Me Wonder Was It Worth It | Bloomberg

Amanda Bennett recounts her husband’s battle with cancer, and her reconstruction of the costs involved with his treatment. This story had me in tears on the train into work yesterday.

jun
20
2011

Shuttle Launch

At 45 minutes, this is admittedly a bit long. But the photography from these shuttle launches is pretty amazing. Definitely watch this in fullscreen. Things start getting good around the 4-minute mark. My favorite part comes around the 31-minute mark.

may
22
2011

A City Prepares for a Warm Long-Term Forecast | NYTimes.com

Leslie Kaufman writes, “City planners in Chicago are choosing different types of trees and pavement materials after climate scientists have advised them to prepare for a wetter, steamier future.”

may
16
2011

A Nuclear Powered World

I produced an interactive map to go with today’s NPR Morning Edition story about nuclear power: In the aftermath of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, many countries are reevaluating their nuclear programs. Below, a look at …

may
11
2011

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? | NYTimes.com

James Vlahos writes, “A growing body of research suggests that watching your diet and exercising a few times a week is not enough to offset sedentary time.”

dec
28
2010

Fun with Fractals

Recreational mathematician” Vi Hart has a fantastic series of videos explaining mathematical / geometric concepts via notebook doodles. She talks a mile a minute, but with such enthusiasm that it’s a lot of fun to watch her work. The video …

dec
13
2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science | The Atlantic

David H. Freedman writes, “Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors — to a striking extent — still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.”