I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Posts in science:

Everything Is In The Tiniest Things

Think about what you are, for a minute. Think about what it means to be aware of the fact that you are everything that you are–while fully knowing that you are only a cloud of particles that are attracted to one another by electromagnetic bonds. You’re a boundless part of everything; every thing is part of one boundless, unknowable, breathtakingly beautiful Everything.

Ladies Love Multitaskers

Phys.org reports on a study which suggests that female grey frogs are more attracted to male frogs who exhibit an ability to multitask within their mating calls:

The study […] suggests that females prefer males who can do two or more hard-to-do things at the same time because these are especially good quality males, Ward says. The hypothesis, which explores how multiple signals produced by males influence female behavior, is a new area of interest in animal behavior research.

I suppose this means that when I am writing code while watching TV, I am being Quite Sexy. This conclusion is irrefutable.

Not My Favorite Variety of Swedish Fish

In The Telegraph today is this harrowing report of a (formerly) South American testicle-munching fish found in Sweden recently:

In areas where pacus proliferate, fishermen have reportedly bled to death after losing their testicles to the fish’s crushing jaws.

The article goes on to ask men to keep their swim trunks on. I predict a run on metal shorts throughout all of Scandinavia.

Cognition and Willpower

Kathy Sierra on the limited pool of mental resources shared by deep thought and willpower:

Spend hours at work on a tricky design problem? You’re more likely to stop at Burger King on the drive home. Hold back from saying what you really think during one of those long-ass, painful meetings? You’ll struggle with the code you write later that day.

This concept will serve to support a common claim of mine: I had to eat all of that Taco Bell, because I was thinking really hard earlier.

Kidding aside, it’s a pretty illuminating idea. Sierra’s essay illuminates the practical implications for those in creative professions, and is well worth a read.

Scientists Implant Fake Memories in Rats

The New York Times :

[S]cientists at the Riken-M.I.T. Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have created a false memory in a mouse, providing detailed clues to how such memories may form in human brains.

Steve Ramirez, Xu Liu and other scientists, led by Susumu Tonegawa, reported Thursday in the journal Science that they caused mice to remember being shocked in one location, when in reality the electric shock was delivered in a completely different location.

It sounds like the first chapter of a dystopian novel. Why torture a fake confession out of a scapegoat when you can make him think he’s confessing truthfully?

Here’s hoping this research instead furthers the cause of all humankind. Yeah, right.

Death Propagates Throughout An Organism Like A Wave

The researchers quoted in this story on Discovery.com say that they can actually watch the progress of death as it spreads through the body of a dying worm. In addition, they suggest that the spreading chemical reaction they’ve witnessed might respond to chemical intervention in deaths not stemming directly from old age. They are, in a very real way, claiming that there might be a cure for death.

Giant Bubble of Methane Poised to Belch Forth From Arctic Ice

New Scientist:

Billions of tonnes of the greenhouse gas methane are trapped just below the surface of the East Siberian Arctic shelf. Melting means the area is poised to deliver a giant gaseous belch at any moment—one that could bring global warming forward 35 years and cost the equivalent of almost a year’s global GDP.

It sounds more like a fart to me—the biggest, most expensive fart of all time. I make fart jokes because it hurts if I don’t.

Something Destroyed Mars’ Atmosphere 4 Billion Years Ago

The Telegraph:

A “catastrophic” event destroyed the atmosphere of Mars four billion years ago, according to scientists.

An analysis of data returned by the Curiosity rover, which landed on the planet a year ago, suggests there was a major upheaval which could have been caused by volcanic eruptions or a massive collision which stripped away the atmosphere.

And we thought Earth was special.

Elon Musk Proposes 4,000-MPH Trains

Damon Lavrinc of Wired relates the improbable:

Elon Musk wants to revolutionize transportation. Again. The serial entrepreneur envisions a future where mag-lev trains in enormous pneumatic tubes whisk us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes. Need to be in Beijing tomorrow? No problem. It’s a two-hour ride away.

It’s a great idea. Unfortunately, there’s pretty much zero chance that anyone will ever have any motivation whatsoever to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on it. I’m afraid that it might be a long, long time before our species progresses in any way which is not immediately, massively profitable to the few people holding the Capitalist purse-strings.

SETI Discovers New Satellite of Neptune

CBC News:

A tiny, previously unknown moon circling Neptune has been spotted by astronomers using the Hubble telescope.

The moon, which is currently known as S/2004 N1, was found on July 1 by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., NASA announced Monday.

Imagine spotting a grain of salt on the top of your neighbor’s picnic table, with your naked eye.