Saturday, October 12, 2013

This Saturday in Other People's Science

I'm going to curse here. 

I don't want to because, as you all know, I am all about clean living and upright language. 

But I have no choice. 

So if you're of a delicate sensibility, or an extremely young person, pay very close attention.

You see, I can't do this post justice without using the "F-bmb" because, well, it's in the name of the thing I'm writing about.

As regular readers surely know by now, I often try to write about science on Saturdays, mostly because I find it interesting, certainly not because lots of readers are clamoring for it; at least not so far as the blog stats indicate.

Anyway, during the week I collect stories I find interesting and try, sometimes more successfully than others, to link them together into some kind of narrative.

Most of the stories come from newspapers and other things I find on the Interweb.

But for the few science fans out there among my readers, I am pleased to announce that putting these Saturday posts just got a lot easier thanks to my goofball teenage son.

On Facebook, he "likes" a page named (here comes the curse) "I fucking love science."

It's a great site and, frankly, I sit in awe of their industriousness.

Much like what I've been doing, the folks who run this site, whoever they are, just like the wonders science unveils, but they do a much better job of finding interesting scientific tid-bits than I do.

They are even careful, as I have tried to be, to include links to their original source articles.

All of which is to say I plan to crib shamelessly from them.

Best of all, they have their own show on YouTube.


Here is the latest:

I like the British accent, but I'm not sure what's going on with the giant bow she's wearing, but hey, it's science! Who cares?

Here are a few other sciency morsels the I fucking love science crew posted, which I now offer up for you to chew on.

Lucy? Is That You?

High pressures within the gas giant planets may be sufficient to turn carbon into diamond, according to planetary scientists. They hypothesise that lightning in the upper atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter zaps molecules of methane, freeing the carbon atoms. These atoms then adhere to each other and form larger particles of soot, which are exposed to greater and greater pressures and temperatures as they fall through the layers of gaseous and liquid hydrogen. The soot is compressed into graphite and then solid diamonds, until the temperature reaches around 8,000°C, when the diamond melts, and potentially forms diamond raindrops.
Here is the link to the original article.

Tales from Topographic Oceans

(Yes, I confess I have been listening to a lot of Yes on You Tube lately, reliving my youth as it were...)
Astronomers have announced the first discovery of a rocky and watery body beyond our solar system. The rubble appears to be the remains of a destroyed planetary system around the white dwarf GD 61, 170 light years away. The debris may give insights into how planets get their oceans, as scientists theorize that the oceans on Earth arrived via comet and asteroid impacts.
Here is a link to the original article.

And no, it's not all space stuff.

Yes, But Why Can't We Cure the Common Cold Itself?

In terms of deaths from infectious disease, tuberculosis is second only to HIV/AIDS.
The vaccine has taken more than 10 years to develop and is meant to act as a booster for BCG, the TB vaccine that is currently available.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria, and symptoms include fever, fatigue, chills, and finger clubbing.
It can affect the pulmonary system by causing a chronic sputum-producing cough and it may even cause massive internal bleeding by eroding the pulmonary artery.
Here is the link to the original article.

And although I am excited about the content provided by these fellow science geeks, I don't want you to think I've lost my touch.

Here's one a found by my very own self from my most commonly cited site, The New York Times.

It turns out that although they may be squishy, problematic and occasionally sting the crap out of you,
jellyfish have at least one admirable characteristic.

They're really efficient swimmers, maybe the most efficient on the planet.

Here is the link to the original article, which has a pretty cool video that, due to the Times being all protective about content they produce, I cannot embed here but only recommend to you.

Here are the key elements as explained clearly reporter James Gorman:
Brad J. Gemmell at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole in Massachusetts, and several other scientists, analyzed the movement of the jellies as part of a project funded by the Navy to look at what Dr. Gemmell called “nontraditional propulsion.”
The scientists used a new way of calculating energy called “cost of transport” that took
Moon jellyfish have so much energy for reproduction because they use to little on movement
account of what was happening throughout the two-phase swimming motion of the jellyfish. In the first phase, the jelly contracts its open bell and pushes water behind it, propelling itself forward. Then, the bell returns to its original shape and fills with water again.
Earlier studies had shown that the jelly got a second thrust during the rest and refill phase, but they had not calculated the jelly’s energy expenditure during that time. It turned out that the jelly was not actually doing any work in that phase. Instead the elastic tissue in the bell acted like a rubber band, re-forming the bell. That action produced water movement under the jelly, called a vortex, that pushed it forward.
We've all seen these washed up on the beach.
he study found that the secondary push was responsible for about 30 percent of the distance traveled by the jellyfish. And it worked even with anesthetized jellies that were pushed through the water. The recovery phase and its kick were purely mechanical. “That’s what makes them so energy-efficient,” Dr. Gemmell said.
The finding offers some ideas about propulsion that could be useful to the Navy. This kind of low-energy, high efficiency thrust would not power any kind of fast-moving, quick-turning ocean craft, but it might be useful for monitoring devices that need to maintain a position or move at a slower pace.
It also could be one reason, Dr. Gemmell said, why the jelly has so much energy to spend on reproduction, producing those problematic population explosions.
Well that's it for today.

I hope you enjoyed it and that you share my joy at having easy access to even more cool science info.

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