Friday, August 15, 2008

Magnetic Storms: Our Secret Weapon Against the Middle East

Just kidding guys, it's only the northern lights. "As they capture and store energy from the solar wind, the Earth's magnetic field lines stretch far out into space. Magnetic reconnection releases the energy stored within these stretched magnetic field lines, flinging charged particles back toward the Earth's atmosphere," said David Sibeck, THEMIS project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pour Some Out.

In Asia, more than 70 percent of primates are classified on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. In both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90 percent of primate species are considered at risk of extinction. In Africa, 11 of the 13 kinds of red colobus monkeys assessed were listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered. Two may already be extinct: Bouvier’s red colobus (Procolobus pennantii bouvieri) has not been seen in 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) has been seen by a primatologist since 1978. These little guys aren't going to make it.

Forest destruction and hunting, often for bushmeat, are the two main sources of peril for our primate relatives. It's bad enough that we have to be THAT species, but eating our own cousins could be described as uncool. In all seriousness though, I don't think people realize what kind of important role nonhuman primates have in promoting the survival of an integral ecosystem. For starters, they'll eat about anything, which means there isn't a more efficient local seed dispersal system out there. These little tree-hugging friends are helping save the planet and we're eating them. Seriously lame.

Do something!

I has no chance.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Harry Potter cloak one step closer to reality

I know that we all here at Praise Science look up to Harry Potter as both a hero of science and of 'cool', now we're one step closer to seeing his magic invisibility cloak a matter of science-fact. Researchers at some smart school in California have developed a material using nano particles one billionth of a meter wide that bends light around an object, so that only the light from behind the object is seen. Not quite invisibility, but it would be basically the same thing to our eyes (even the great HP's cloak shows little ripples when he walks). Previous work in this area has been accomplished bending light at the microwave wavelength, but this new work bends light at the frequencies used by telecommunications companies, which are substantially closer to the visible spectrum, which makes this new breakthrough so exciting. It's just a matter of time, HP we're coming for you.

Friday, August 8, 2008

World's Tiniest Drunk. (That's what she said)

It turns out the PNAS is good for more than academic ego pumping. the journal recently published an article from The University of Beyreuth in Germany about the Pen-Tailed Tree Shrew, an animal that could best even Bulltrout in a game of flip-fern. Or fern-pong. Or fern's cup. Not to mention Never Have I Ever. These miniscule malaysians drink fermented palm wine all night long from the bertram palm...without getting visibly intoxicated. Badasses. There is some genetic link to Bulltrout however, as these shrews are distant relatives of homo sapiens sapiens. This discovery raises all sorts of scientific questions, such as: Is that why Bulltrout has so much game after drinking mead all night? and, how messed up does a tree shrew have to be to sleep with a tree shrew that's not in olfactorily perceptible estrus? Implications for translational research also exist: what if the cop that just pulled you over for a headlight violation couldn't tell you had been taking apple pie shots at the gay bar all night (John Berggren)? I guess it's up to all you science praisers out there to harness the power of the shrew. Good luck.

We Suck

Three quick things:

1) Sorry for not posting in a long time. We are lame bloggers and definitely would have to drop blogging for the quarter if it were a class we were actually paying to take. But its the Internet so we can be as lazy as we want with no real consequences.

2) Welcome Elliot aboard as a new PS writer. He is an actual scientist and will be writing about real science that he is doing!!!

3) The Olympics start today. Keep a weather eye out for the inevitable shitstorm that approacheth.

And as always, PRAISE SCIENCE!!!!