SONG: "Jump, Jump, Jump."

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”

ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …

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SONG: All Praise Black Ice

SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”,, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”


Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.

(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…

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Science Art: Taf. V: Feuer-Salamander by Bruno Dürigen.


Fire salamanders.

They don’t look so hot.


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Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York

Click to embiggen

Welcome to Wellcome.

They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.

In 1935, this was where the future was made.

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Science Art: Idolo de ignota localidad, Idolo de Arica, Idolo de ignota localidad.

Click to embiggen

Three idols, from the Anales del Museo Nacional de Chile, published between 1892 and 1910.

I found them in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is usually full of biological specimens.

These three, however, are a little different… even if no one knows where two of them came from. Arica is a port city near two valleys that divide the Atacama Desert in north Chile.

He (or more likely she, even though as described in the text, “no hai tetas” and “la barba es d…

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Wormhole blueprints

4 September 2015 // 0 Comments

Not a hole that worms live in, but the kind that spaceships use to bounce around the galaxy. Science Daily explains how Spanish scientists have created a wormhole in the lab: Scientists in the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have designed and created in the laboratory the first experimental ‘wormhole’ that can connect two regions of space magnetically. This consists of a tunnel that transfers the magnetic field from one point to the other while keeping it undetectable — invisible — all the way. The researchers used metamaterials and metasurfaces to build the tunnel experimentally, so that the magnetic field from a source, such as a magnet or a an electromagnet, appears at the other end of the ‘wormhole’ as an isolated magnetic monopole. This result is strange enough in itself, as magnetic monopoles — magnets with only one pole, whether north or south — do not exist in nature. The […]

“Secretive company” unveils better way to do fusion. (It’s legit.)

27 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Science magazine has an exclusive report on a fusion group that could change everything. They’ve got a reactor that works better than any power source we’ve seen yet: A privately funded company called Tri Alpha Energy has built a machine that forms a ball of superheated gas—at about 10 million degrees Celsius—and holds it steady for 5 milliseconds without decaying away. That may seem a mere blink of an eye, but it is far longer than other efforts with the technique and shows for the first time that it is possible to hold the gas in a steady state—the researchers stopped only when their machine ran out of juice. “They’ve succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,” says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. … …[T]he main efforts in this field are […]

DIY warp drive. He’s folding space in his garage.

24 December 2014 // 0 Comments

Omaha World-Herald wants the world to know about this guy who’s building a warp drive in his garage: [David] Pares’ garage is exactly as it sounds. This is not some converted hangar or temperature-controlled shed. Pares’ laboratory, the headquarters for his Space Warp Dynamics endeavor, is attached to the mid-size Aksarben-area home where he lives with his wife and their cat. It is split in halves, each side large enough to accommodate a not-very-large car. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It is a garage. On average, Pares spends a couple of hours a day here almost every day of the week. To bend the fabric of space, he sits in front of a tray of instruments, twisting knobs and glancing every now and then into a Faraday cage, where a 3.5-pound weight hangs inside an electrically isolated case. Outside the case hangs a strange instrument made up of V-shape […]

Steampunk solutions: 19th-century tech used by Sandia fusion researchers

10 January 2014 // 0 Comments

Laboratory Equipment has more on the Helmholz coil (a bit of antique lab machinery) and how one of its strange qualities might help Sandia’s “Z machine” fusion experiment create the pollution-free power of tomorrow: A Helmholz coil produces a magnetic field when electrified. In recent experiments, two Helmholz coils, installed to provide a secondary magnetic field to Z’s huge one, unexpectedly altered and slowed the growth of the magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities, an unavoidable, game-ending plasma distortion that usually spins quickly out of control and has sunk past efforts to achieve controlled fusion. “Our experiments dramatically altered the nature of the instability,” says Sandia physicist Tom Awe. “We don’t yet understand all the implications, but it’s become a different beast, which is an exciting physics result.” … Researchers placed the Helmholz coils around a liner containing deuterium so the coils’ magnetic field lines soaked both container and fuel over a period of milliseconds. The relatively slow process, […]

Dogs poop in alignment with the Earth’s magnetic field

2 January 2014 // 0 Comments

I can’t even begin with this one. But yes, researchers at the Czech University of Agriculture have determined that dogs orient themselves to magnetic north when excreting: We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. After complete sampling, we sorted the data according to the geomagnetic conditions prevailing during the respective sampling periods. Relative declination and intensity changes of the MF during the respective dog walks were calculated from daily magnetograms. Directional preferences of dogs under different MF conditions were analyzed and tested by means of circular statistics. Results Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the north–south axis under calm MF conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF. Who needs a […]

Lasers make the power of tomorrow.

16 October 2013 // 0 Comments

BBC looks ahead to a brighter future… at least as far as our energy supply is concerned. Fusion reactors have gotten one small step closer, using lasers that zap hydrogen into heavier elements: Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion. NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world’s most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place. The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world. The next step? A self-sustaining reaction. Zap the laser, and it keeps on going….

Meet the woman who found “the God particle”.

29 July 2013 // 0 Comments introduces us to the genteel, cultured Fabiola Gianotti – accomplished pianist, paleontologist’s daughter, coffee enthusiast, trained classicist… and the kind of person who hunts the Higgs boson: Nature is her ultimate inspiration, Gianotti says, and she explains how she inherited her love of it from her father, an Italian micropaleontologist. His work meant the family was mainly based in busy cities, first Rome and later Milan, but he ensured his young daughter was taken on excursions to the great outdoors at every opportunity. “I remember very long walks in the mountains, where we stopped at every step to admire a little plant or a little butterfly,” she says. An ammonite fossil, well known for displaying nature’s Fibonacci code, sits on her coffee table, a strong reminder of those times with her father, as well as a clue to guests that this is the home not just of a scientist but of a modern Renaissance […]

Science Art: Bodendruckapparat nach Pascal by Max Kohl

10 March 2013 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This is an illustration of a model of a paradox – they hydrostatic paradox, as demonstrated by Blaise Pascal. The paradox is that the pressure at the bottom of a column of water only depends on the height of the water, not the shape or the volume. Six tons of water and six ounces of water will exert the same pressure if they’re each in a vessel that’s only a foot tall. And, if you connect any vessels together, regardless of their shape, they’ll fill with water up to the same level. The big vessel won’t force water further up the small one. Seems weird. There’s a better explanation of what’s happening here. Max Kohl’s engraving I found on Wikimedia Commons.

“Once time runs backwards, we’ll….” Now wait a minute. What?

21 February 2013 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg gets non-linear with their look at “time reversal” and how we might soon use it: Imagine a cell phone charger that recharges your phone remotely without even knowing where it is; a device that targets and destroys tumors, wherever they are in the body; or a security field that can disable electronics, even a listening device hiding in a prosthetic toe, without knowing where it is. While these applications remain only dreams, researchers at the University of Maryland have come up with a sci-fi seeming technology that one day could make them real. Using a time-reversal technique, the team has discovered how to transmit power, sound or images to a nonlinear object without knowing the object’s exact location and without affecting objects around it. Their work, “Nonlinear Time Reversal in a Wave Chaotic System,” was published in the Feb. 7 issue of the Physical Review Letters journal. … When a signal travels through the […]

Fear of crowds – it might not be so irrational.

16 July 2012 // 0 Comments

The Atlantic reveals the fluid dynamics of deadly mob disasters that shows how crowds can be so blindly powerful: “It happens like magic,” says Dirk Helbing, a professor in Zurich, Switzerland, who studies sociology and crowd modeling. “People don’t have to think about it, you don’t need to have legal regulations or policemen to organize the crowd. It just happens, like this invisible hand like what Adam Smith described.” … “At very low density, when everybody can move freely, [crowd dynamics are] like a gas,” he says. “When the density goes up, then eventually peoples’ movements are constrained, and it becomes more like a fluid. And then at very high densities, when people are squeezed in between other bodies, it’s more like a granular material.” Like sand, or rice, or small pebbles. Helbing and co-author Pratik Mukerji brought this perspective to an in-depth study of the 2010 Love Parade techno music festival in Duisburg, Germany. […]

World’s largest laser gets just a little larger (and closer to making fusion happen).

30 March 2012 // 0 Comments

Scientific American makes me jealous of the physicists at Livermore’s National Ignition Facility, who get to utter orders like, “Now, my assistants! Fire the FUSION LASER!”: On 15 March, the 192 laser beams of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, fired a record 1.875-megajoule shot into the laser’s target chamber, surpassing its 1.8-megajoule design specification. The shot, which was just a demonstration and did not incorporate a target, nonetheless represents a milepost in an effort to get past the break-even point — ignition — in coaxing fusion energy from a tiny frozen fuel pellet. “It’s a remarkable demonstration of the laser from the standpoint of its energy, its precision, its power, and its availability,” says Ed Moses, NIF director. He adds that the shot was 2.03 megajoules after passing through the final focusing lens — making the NIF the world’s first 2-megajoule ultraviolet laser. Final diagnostic and other […]

Plasma balls kill cholera, E. coli and Mad Cow.

18 November 2011 // 0 Comments

Yeah, those funky electronic gizmos that sit on your desk and look oh sparkly! and not much else? Science Daily reports that they can turn water into an antibiotic: University of California, Berkeley, scientists have shown that ionized plasmas like those in neon lights and plasma TVs not only can sterilize water, but make it antimicrobial — able to kill bacteria — for as long as a week after treatment. … Graves and his UC Berkeley colleagues published a paper in the November issue of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, reporting that water treated with plasma killed essentially all the E. coli bacteria dumped in within a few hours of treatment and still killed 99.9 percent of bacteria added after it sat for seven days. Mutant strains of E. coli have caused outbreaks of intestinal upset and even death when they have contaminated meat, cheese and vegetables. Based on other experiments, Graves and […]

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