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Thomas Fuchs
Scientifically speaking...
posted:
Here's a few pieces for Scientific American magazine.
I have been doing this regular thing for some time now for a section called "Advances",
where it's always about new findings in different areas of the scientific realm and their possible applications. Pretty tough at times, as they can be very vague and abstract...They're always small and round and pretty simple and conceptual. Well, for the most part. Somtimes just silly...
All of them great fun, and hey, sometimes I even learn something! And then I quickly forget, of course.
The Boss Man on this is the inimitable Michael Mrak.
 
About a drug that targets the sweet receptors in your gut / A cell phone that presents decoy data when someone tries to pull information from it- the implications could be good or bad.

Ants apparently don't carry all their waste outside of their hives, as previously believed, but also have dedicated toilet compartments inside / Some plants adjust the thickness of their seed casings to the ground they grow on.

How blind cave fish got blind / Fungi in sloth hair could yield new drugs / One-way sound transmission.

Medical apps for smartphones / Dolphins straining their voices in much trafficked waters / Doctors discussing gun safety with patients

If you can’t remember being a baby, it’s because the creation of many new neurons in young brains wipes out old memories / The importance of large wildlife in keeping rodents (and therefore infectious diseases) in check / Make a cellphone call even when the network goes down.

Deer interpreting other deer's voices to determine their strength / A drug derivative of marijuana to treat epilepsy / The physics of hair curling.

The naming of a newly discovered snail / Pushy parents harming kids' social skills / Antibiotic resistance in manure.

A later start-time in schools improves learning / How taste receptors in your nose help fight bacteria / Staring at monitors all day can cause symptoms of dry eye disease.

Scientists creating invisible rodents for non-invasive diagnoses / Why larger, longer-lived animals aren’t more prone to cancer, even though they ought to be / Researchers have documented a prey species (samango monkeys) opportunistically using human presence (Human Shield Effect) to avoid leopards.

Graphene's behaviour in water and the environmental implications / The shrinking Y chromosome / The distraction center in the brain.

Flexible glass and its applications / Groups being better at spotting lies than individuals.

Why does scratching an itch make it itchier? / Singing in the rain: Tonal languages (like Chinese, where the same phonemes have different meanings with different pitches) exist more frequently in humid areas than dry ones.

Gut microbes helping to deliver vaccines / Parents’ unrealistically positive views of their children may promote narcissism.

The warm air a computer gives off can reveal once-private information / Russian physicists recently found that they could model the “Blitzkrieg” of World War II with a scientific law: the kinetic theory of gas atoms.

Some American deer (mule deer and white-tailed) will respond to distress vocalizations of a wide variety of mammal young / Bendable LEDs and their possible applications / Plantibodies: human antibodies produced by plants.

Scientists trying to understand the behaviour of bubbles, with the aid of a new computer model, in order to create better foam based materials / Some researchers believe that it was a stellar explosion, or supernova, that triggered the solar system’s formation from a cloud of dust and gas billions of years ago.

Human microbiota change incredibly quickly- within three or four days of a big dietary shift / Follicles harvested from scalp trimmings in facelift surgeries and cultured in growth serum being used for hair loss treatment research / Astronomers haven't really discovered much in the Kuiper belt since 2005, the year Pluto got demoted- mainly because there may not be much left to discover in these parts.

Sperm cells are just the latest mystifying place researchers have found taste receptors / Tracking indoor bacteria provides a new route to real-time climate control / The Perfect Kelvin, a turning point in the quest for an absolute temperature scale, not depending on the freezing and boiling point of water.

Meals alter how cells behave / Tadpole Galaxies.

Are neutrinos their own antimatter counterparts? / Smithsonian astrophysicists have identified a fascinating star called HVS17, which is racing out of the galaxy at nearly a million miles an hour / Even scientists who dedicate their careers to studying insects get spooked by spiders.

Fracking Linked to Tainted Drinking Water / Does Mars need protection from our microbes? / What we could learn by monitoring sleep patterns of the entire world.

A new physics paper explains why cornstarch and water mixtures do the strange things they do / A study suggests atoms can bond not only with electrons in their outer shells, but also via those in their supposedly sacrosanct inner shells.

Despite its flaws, Body Mass Index remains a useful measure / Fracking? Solar? Coal? U.S. energy secretary Ernest J. Moniz says: "All of it!"

Men who do more housework have less sex / Humans may use quantum vibration to smell.

On creating a plant-based egg substitute that can do everything (scramble, bake, etc.) that a good old chicken egg can / Smart, networked devices will deliver significant benefits to a population rarely targeted by consumer technologies: the elderly / Astronomers have found direct evidence that galaxies in the early universe supped on cold streams of gas to fuel their prodigious star formation rather than bashing into each other to acquire the gas.

The pitfalls of positive thinking or how rosy thoughts can lead to negative outcomes / Nasal cavities can provide air conditioning or heat, depending on the climate.

Dispatches from a late night party where physicists were awaiting word from CERN about the Higgs Boson / A new brain-machine spelling device could help the paralyzed communicate with their thoughts / Orbiting planets exert extremely subtle wobbles in a star’s motion by their gravitational pull.

Whether we believe, religiously, may have to do with how much we rely on intuition versus analytical thinking / New findings on Allergies / Extramarital sex ups the risk of sudden death.

Mothers producing different kinds of milk for babies of different sexes / Paradoxical materials could grow when compressed, shrink when pulled / Researchers are beginning to study form of memory called “mind-pops,” fragments of knowledge that drop suddenly and unexpectedly into consciousness.

Roaches to the Rescue! Engineers design robo pests that can search for earthquake victims / Materials that design themselves / Research into how things break could lead to new, shatterproof materials.

Wall Street Journal column, part II.
posted:
Hello everyone,
I've been on a bit of a hiatus, posting-wise, but hey, everythings a bit slower over here...and it's summer...
So here's the second edition of illustrations from a column called "Historically speaking", written by Dr. Amanda Foreman. It's bi-weekly and draws on behaviors of historical figures to illuminate similar behavior in modern contemporary society. It sometimes ends up being a rather straightforward portrait of said figure(s), but can also be purely conceptual (and all the grey areas in between).
Very fun gig!
AD on this is Keith Webb.
 
I'm actually gonna break this one up into two posts...boredom is boring...
First one's about the Philae space probe landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Grasimenko and the history of humanity seeking out new frontiers to discover and explore, both poet and scientist, and how the promise of new frontiers still holds true in the 21st century. Here's Galileo contemplating Jupiter's moons.

On the 2014 Scottish Independence campaign and how everybody in it seemed to be male. In contrast, the 19th century, especially the 1820s, was just teeming with female freedom fighters. Here's "Admiral" Laskarina Bouboulina, famous for fighting on behalf of Greek independence.

Airing of political grievances, social protests and even rioting was a common occurrence in theaters throughout history. And then the tickets became too expensive...

Here's Marie Antoinette. Apparently, she never even said the whole "let them eat cake" bit – though she may have said a few other things that eventually scored her a date with the executioner. One in a long line of misattributed quotes.

About May Day, and the many different meanings it has for many different groups of people.

Automatons. People have been fascinated with them since ancient times...the newer incarnations however, artificially-intelligenced and self-teaching and all – we might just have another thing coming...

Historically, the greatest swindles used to have a face or at least a name to vilify. By contrast, the financial scandals of today seem diffuse, transnational and as nebulous as their acronyms like Libor, ISDAfix, and HFT. Here's Charles Ponzi...

Just in time for wildfire season, an article about how fire still is, despite all of today's sophisticated technology, one of the most dangerous threats to humans. Yet it also has always been a source of inspiration and innovation. And terror. This is Nero, one of history's most notorious pyromaniacs.

Abdication fever is sweeping through the royal palaces of Europe. Recently, it was Spain’s King Juan Carlos who became the third monarch in just over a year to renounce his crown. It seems to be just like King Farouk of Egypt predicted:‘There will soon be only five kings left: the kings of England, diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs’.

About the Oscars, and the enormous financial rewards they can bring. By comparison, the awards given out by its spiritual ancestor, the ancient Greek festival of Dionysus, which is regarded to be the first festival to give out prizes for drama, were rather moderate. It's alleged first winner, Thespis in the mid-6th century BC, received a live goat.

Triumph over adversity. It always resonates with audiences. Teddy Roosevelt, in his speech ‘The Strenuous Life’, captured the true meaning of success, ‘which comes not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.' Here he is, after losing his White House run in 1912, undertaking a hazardous expedition to the Amazon basin, exploring the River of Doubt, one of the great uncharted tributaries of the Amazon River.

Moi aussi.
posted:

Wall Street Journal column
posted:
Here's a few pieces from a column called "Historically speaking", written by Dr. Amanda Foreman. It's bi-weekly, and draws on behaviors of historical figures to illuminate similar behavior in modern contemporary society. That sometimes ends up being a rather straightforward portrait of said figure(s), but can also be purely conceptual (and all the grey areas in between).
Very fun gig!
AD on this is Keith Webb.
This is Lt.Gen. "Chesty" Puller. During the Korean War, he was ordered to break out of Chosin Reservoir against a force of 80,000 PLA soldiers and open an escape route to Hungnam port. Having succeeded and lost nary a soldier in the process, Chesty refused to call the retreat a defeat, let alone a retreat. He ordered reporters to “Remember, whatever you write, this was no retreat. All that happened was we found more Chinese behind us than in front of us. So we about-faced and attacked.” With a resurgent North Korea under Kim Jong Un once again threatening to destabilize the region, this is basically about the importance of great leaders in times of conflict.

About the advent of the new royal baby, what it might be like for the brits when, after a long line of Queens, they'll again have a King on the throne (but more about the fierce struggle over the British Crown throughout history).

Our 19th century forebears were, apparently, rather intrigued with Spontaneous Human Combustion (Dickens apparently strongly believed in it...) So far, all attempts at a scientific explanation proved futile. >Spinal Tap joke goes here<.

Biological warfare has apparently been used since ancient times. The Chinese were experts at the art of producing toxic smoke. The Hittites used plague-carrying donkeys. The Ancient Greeks poisoned their enemies’ water supply. And, live scorpion bombs, anyone? Apparently, our appetite for mass destruction remains the same it was at the dawn of civilization.

On the longstanding, somewhat uneasy relationship between the inhabitants of the British Isles and personal hygiene.

About the headless man being an popular motif in stories throughout the ages and in every culture.

Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Naval Secretary, for an article about trends in and importance of facial hair throughout history.

On new Year's resolutions (Here's Ben with his list of 13 virtues he famously devised at the age of twenty- and failed to follow about as many times).

On the rather tumultuous history of divorce (or break-ups in general). Here's the most notorious breaker-upper of his time, Henry VIII.

About bad weather being the oldest excuse in history to avoid exercise. Charles Dickens, however, was a manly man and cherished brisk walks in the snow and ice.

A piece about people's fascination with soothsayers, the accuracy of their predictions- and Caesar famously ignoring his.

On extinctions through the ages, natural or man-made, and the importance of preserving what's left. One such attempt, that unfortunately failed, but laid the groundwork for the great national parks, was the protection of the Passenger Pigeon that used to roam the US in giant flocks. This is Martha, the last survivor, that died in a Cincinnati zoo in the early 1900s.

About revolutionary war poetry, especially the ‘Concord Hymn’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson. And the power it wields to inspire people in times of turmoil.

Queen Victoria. Not exactly the poster child of motherliness. Yet one of the first to freely admit to having used Chloroform in childbirth. At the time, it was still considered (mostly by clerics, of course) a woman's god given duty to suffer through the pains of giving birth. A small step in changing the traditional role of the woman as mother and unpaid cook and housekeeper.

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