Adventures in Science

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Video

9-year-old Goes to Bat Against Life’s Toughest Questions Hits Home Run

“You never know for sure if there is anything in the search… It’s an endless quest without knowing what your quest is.” –not even Carl Sagan

This boy has some great answers to tough questions. He understands that it is okay not to have all of the answers yet and to continue searching. He does a great job of avoiding filling in gaps in his knowledge with guesses or made-up stuff.

He struggles a bit during the question about events in life being predestined but we get to see him counter with questions about the question and finally admit he might be wrong. Brilliant!

Image

Tardigrades in Spaaaaaaaace

Astrofrog

Lily the astrofrog says, “I love water bears. They are the first known animal to survive the vacuum of space in low Earth orbit.”

That great video is by Hank Green and SciShow. Check out their whole YouTube channel. It rocks!

Tardigrades, also known as waterbears or moss piglets and even bug bears, are fascinating little creatures. If you have ever looked at soil under a microscope you might have seen some of these little guys. Under ideal lighting they almost look cute–like micro manatees with eight legs.

Shown: ideal lighting conditions

(source)

Under a regular microscope they look like this:

A well-fed water bear.

(source)

Tardigrades have evolved to be able to survive in extreme conditions including vacuum, high radiation, and temperatures from near absolute zero up to 151 degrees centigrade. They can also survive almost decade without water. They are truly amazing little creatures.

This is an excellent video introduction to tardigrades that explains what makes them so awesome.

Tardigrades might make a great science fair project. They are easy to find outside and are reported to love to live in moss. Get some moss wet and start scanning some of the water drops on your microscope slide. Notice what happens when the water bears dry out. What happens if you then add water? After doing some more research, test some of the claims made about the extreme survivability of tardigrades. Design an experiment that tests water bears under extreme conditions.

Bad Astronomer is BADA55 or…

…How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Near Earth Objects

On November 8, 2011, you probably heard or read the news that an asteroid, 2005 YU55, flew between the Earth and the Moon. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a little animation of images of the asteroid from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These pictures were taken when the object was getting close to the Earth on November 7, 2011. 2005 YU55 is about the size of an aircraft carrier.

Asteroids and other near Earth objects or NEOs are a concern because when they hit the Earth they do a lot of damage. Sometimes they cause catastrophic damage. For example, a giant asteroid is theorized to have hit the Earth causing so much devastation that it caused many of the life forms on Earth at the time, including the dinosaurs, to become extinct as a result. 2005 YU55 is just one of thousands of known near earth objects or NEOs that NASA’s Near Earth Object Program and other groups are watching closely.

Did I just scare you? Sorry.

But never fear, young Earthlings, for Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer is here!

Drawing by Josh Armstrong. Color & design by Tom McKay Price

Dr. Phil Plait is an astronomer and author of Death from the Skies!: These Are The Ways The World Will End. In this book he pretty much lists many of the ways that the universe in which we live can kill us and the odds of these events happening. Fortunately, the odds of these things happening in our lifetime are fairly low. (phew) Unfortunately, there is still a chance. So it’s a good idea for us to find things like near Earth objects that might some day hit the Earth and figure out a way to prevent them from turning our planet into a lifeless, molten ball of fiery lava. (whimper)

Phil Plait comes to the rescue by outlining a plan for preventing asteroid impacts in his awesome Ted Talk here.

Thanks, Bad Astronomer! You’ve saved the day!

Phil Plait writes the Bad Astronomy blog here. Almost every day, he points out new wonders of astronomy including gorgeous images of the universe and planetary aspects of the Earth.

By the way, ted.com is a site that is full of great, cutting-edge ideas in science and many other topics from the most brilliant people in a variety of fields. I encourage everyone to browse TED and enjoy the videos for their progressive and inspiring messages.

Double dare gross out

We promised you adventures in science. This is a good one if you can make it through the first few minutes, because it is the most disgusting but fascinating science show we have ever seen. If you don’t wimp out, you’ll get to see something amazing and rare—the inside of a dead sperm whale.

Before watching “Sperm Whale” _Inside Nature’s Giants_ make sure you have an empty stomach and are sitting down.

Ready?

Mwah-ha-ha-ha. Let the torture begin.

SPOILERS BELOW!

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That is Professor Joy Reidenberg slipping around in that whale’s guts and cutting its eyeball apart for us to see. She is a comparative anatomist which is someone who studies and compares the structure or parts of different animals. In the video, she uses her knowledge of comparative anatomy to safely dissect and study this poor whale adding to our knowledge of whales. She is amazing.

“Sperm Whale” _Inside Nature’s Giants_ is another great BBC science program. It has also been broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. Look for it and the rest of the programs from the _Inside Nature’s Giants_ series featuring elephant, python, and giant squid.

A breach and wave of the flipper to Ed Yong who recommended the show @edyong209 on Twitter.