Rants & Ramblings

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

science

nov
22
2010

Walking in a Straight Line

Robert Krulwich had an interesting story on today’s Morning Edition: When blindfolded or lacking a fixed point of reference, humans seem unable to walk in a straight line. Instead, they seem wired to walk in circles. And scientists don’t know …

nov
21
2010

U.S. Naval Observatory Tour

Last Monday, Rob and I headed down to the U.S. Naval Observatory for a tour of the facility. (Headed up might be more accurate, as we met in Georgetown for dinner and then walked two miles up Wisconsin Avenue and …

oct
05
2010

Brooklyn Space Program

A family’s science experiment: Attach a video camera to a weather balloon and send it up into space. (Via Pacing the Panic Room)

apr
03
2007

greening

Rob and I watched An Inconvenient Truth tonight. I have some qualms with how the film is structured — too much focus on Al Gore, and some of the animations and appeals to emotion ring hollow — but for the …

aug
24
2006

nein

It’s like everything I learned in grade school was wrong. Pluto is no longer one of the nine planets of the solar system. The International Astronomical Union in Prague ruled today that the much-maligned Pluto no longer qualifies as a …

may
27
2006

which came first?

It was the egg, not the chicken. CNN reported yesterday that a team in Britain had solved the riddle. Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal’s life. Therefore the …

jan
11
2006

kawaii science

The New York Times ran an interesting story last week about the science of “cuteness” — that ineffable quality that makes people “awww” and coo and generally melt in the presence of it. (“The Cute Factor” - 01/03/06) Cute cues …

jul
20
2005

the moon is made of…

To commemorate the anniversary of first manned moon landing — Apollo 11, on June 20, 1969 — Google has made a small “moon” version of its Google Maps application: Google Moon. The landing spots of six Apollo missions are plotted …

dec
31
2004

anatomy of a hangover

HowStuffWorks.com offers a medical explanation of what’s going on in the human body when it’s suffering from a hangover. It doesn’t sound pleasant. When alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to …

dec
29
2004

seen: remedy of last resort

Seen in the “Today’s Headlines and Columnists” e-mail digest from washingtonpost.com: New Drug Is Approved To Treat Chronic Pain Synthetic Snail Venom Is Considered a Last Resort (The Washington Post) Ewww. I have to wonder who would have thought up …

nov
11
2004

seen: risk of death

Headline in today’s Washington Post: High Doses Of Vitamin E Found to Raise Risk of Dying Don’t we all have about a 100% chance of dying sometime anyway? Related song: “You’ll Have Time” (iTMS), by William Shatner, from the album …

aug
31
2004

the green stuff

An interesting tidbit from Wired today… Go Out and Play Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which affects about 3 to 5 percent of U.S. children, may be alleviated with a simple treatment: outdoor activity in green areas such as parks, farms and …

aug
22
2004

save room for dessert

Again, health advice that I can firmly get behind. Well … sort of. The news headline gave me false hope that this was going to be something cooler. The folks behind the food pyramid are considering advising people who eat …

aug
16
2004

doing the unstuck

It’s fairly common to see folks shuttering, boarding or taping up their windows before a major hurricane. Covering windows is important to keep debris from flying into a building — as well as block out wind that can peel off …

aug
11
2004

weather update

Rob, who has a strong interest in meteorology, regularly follows the weather reports from the National Weather Service and sometimes points out the funny comments and conversations between NWS weatherpeople in their notes. One of our favorite meteorologists is the …

jun
29
2004

do the time-warp

Leeches are apparently making a comeback in the world of medical science. The Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved the marketing of leeches for medicinal purposes. (“FDA Clears Medicinal Leeches for Marketing” - 06/28/04) Leeches can help heal skin grafts …

may
04
2004

shower buddies

A new study on shower curtain soap gunge has found that the gunge often is hiding millions of potentially harmful bacteria. (San Diego Union-Tribune: “Shower study finds what’s been lurking behind the curtain” - 05/02/04) The researchers scrutinized key pieces …

mar
07
2004

a toss-up

Heads or tails? Pick the one on top, because the odds aren’t 50-50. Researchers in California have found that “a coin is more likely to land on the same face it started out on.” (Science News: “Toss Out the Toss-Up: …

nov
19
2003

airspeed velocity

Bridgekeeper: “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” King Arthur: “What do you mean, an African or European swallow?” - From Monty Python and the Holy Grail Someone with far more free time and interest than I actually …