In Hawking Hawking, I explore how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity’s greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn’t rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes. [more inside]
I've just graduated with my PhD! In my department, PhD defenses are traditionally open to the public: anyone who wants to can attend. Because of COVID, mine was held via Zoom this year, and I was able to record it and transcribe/caption it so that anyone who would like can watch. [more inside]
Science Twitter has some great holiday hashtags - #25DaysOfFishmas, #AdventCalendaR, #25DaysOfCrustmas, #AdventOfHominins - but they're all pretty Christmas-y. I decided to combine some science education and a little bit of religious diversity to celebrate the #8PrimatesOfChanukah - every day, a new primate species with some resonance for Chanukah! [more inside]
This blog shares one interesting thing, every day. Recent topics have included Samoan independence, fake professors, and Renaissance fart jokes. Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Inference is an online publication that claims to be an "independent quarterly review of the sciences." However, they have a long-standing habit of publishing junk science (e.g. articles attacking evolution and global warming) alongside articles covering genuine scientific subjects, with no differentiation between the two. I found this disturbing, so I did some digging, and discovered that Inference is secretly (and solely) funded by Peter Thiel, who has given them at least $1.7 million since 2014. [more inside]
I wrote a book! It’s a popular science book (no equations), and it’s called What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics. It’s about the 90-year-long struggle to decipher what quantum physics says about the true nature of the world around us. It’s my first book, and I’m still in shock that it’s done (and I'm really nervous about promoting it here). But apparently people like it: the New York Times called What is Real? “a thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science.” [more inside]
Just finished building a content recommendation engine for MeFi using natural language processing and non-negative matrix factorization techniques! It produces a list of post recommendations based on a user history of posts, comments and favorites. It can also make recommendations based on a piece of text, so for example, you could paste a particular post and it will return a list of other posts that have some similar characteristics. I hope you enjoy playing around with it! Please let me know what you think. Here's more info in case you're interested (: https://github.com/tomasbielskis/metafilterpostrecommender
I made a downloadable workbook/guide for science PhD students and postdocs who are interested in a future career in science communication. Why? Because this didn't exist yet, and until now everyone just had to figure it all out on their own. [more inside]
This is a short and (I hope) fun video made with my kids' plush toys to advertise an on-going EU-supported (H2020) scientific project about livestock feeding and genetics called Feed-a-Gene. [more inside]
The citizen science project that was previously posted here has now become an officially launched Zooniverse project! Last February, the Steelpan Vibrations project was in pre-beta testing, but over the summer a student worked really hard to streamline the process for volunteers. Our project is attempting to better understand the complex vibrations of a Caribbean steelpan which give the instrument such a unique sound. In addition to the improved classification process we now have a regularly updated blog, an education page, and a quick video tutorial to show how you can help us out. We know there are many science and music fans here on metafilter - we would love to have you come and help us do some science with us!
In which I have a very, very thorough walk through the relevant literature about gender and the workplace, and.... uh, cite over a hundred peer reviewed works in doing so while I refute effectively ever point I can find in Mr. Damore's 'memo.' I'm currently working on getting the footnotes linked within the piece and getting a functional table of contents rolling, but this is up and linkable for anyone as of right this second. All effort has been made to find non-paywalled PDFs of all links cited in the document. [more inside]
Connor's cell phone comes to life and accidentally breaks up his relationship with his girlfriend. It must then do everything a 'smart' phone can to get them back together. [more inside]
I've been writing stories on demand for kids on a mechanical typewriter for years, and I've been using the stories as a way to teach STEM concepts. Lately I've begun filming and animating my interactions and the stories. This episode features a jetpack (with real flames!), the ISS, three little piggies, and a big bad wolf, to teach kids about orbit.
I have used a TV holography system equipped with a high-speed camera to capture the motion of waves on a Caribbean steelpan (also called a steel drum) at over 10,000 frames per second. The movies that come out of the measurements are really interesting to watch, because they show the build up of energy in the different notes of the steelpan. What we need is help in classifying the images, because this is something that cannot easily be done algorithmically right now. We would love to have people who are interested in science, music, or especially the science of music come help us out!
We think the past is immutable and the future is yet to be written. But is that an illusion? Einstein's special relativity suggests that it is, as I explain in this short animated video produced in collaboration with BBC Earth.
Also featuring: space invaders! 🚀🚀🚀
First in a new series. [more inside]
Also featuring: space invaders! 🚀🚀🚀
First in a new series. [more inside]
Run (or walk) from the Sun to Neptune in 10k! My company created this smartphone-driven educational virtual race for the British Science Association on our new Racelink platform. It comes with kilometer-by-kilometer narration by Dallas Campbell, who does fun science and space things on TV in the UK, and it's 100% free to enter - all you need is an iPhone or Android.
I've been making some videos about science and books. They're not reviews of science books, but more discussions of things related to how science and scientists are presented in books. For example, in what I retroactively called "season 1" I looked at parody science books. I'm now in "season 2", where there'll be a new episode every two weeks until the end of the year. The first one of the season involved a bookshop tour to discuss different types of non-fiction books, and the next one (November 3) will be about how the representation of scientists in fiction has changed over the years. Specifically: how and why is Frankenstein different from The Martian's Mark Watney?
At the beginning of the year I decided to write one short story, every weekday, until December 31st (260 stories). To help motivate me, I'm releasing twelve Collections of these stories on Amazon. I've been at this since January, and so far I'm 135 stories in. This is Collection one, if you like it, it would be awesome if you could leave a review. Also, if you're interested in following the project in real-time, you can see all the stories here.
Tea with the Black Dragon Author R.A.Macavoy asked me to work with her on a book... (I KNOW, right?!?!) We've now finished. [more inside]
I've been marking up a map of the world with locations relevant to a particular chemical element (so far just sulfur, arsenic, and iron). Each mark includes a brief description with links to additional information.
Folklore from the inhabitants of the 7th continent
It's the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of General Relativity! The BBC recorded a conversation with me about Einstein's ideas, and they turned that recording into a short animated video. If you want to know more about general relativity, then (in my extremely biased opinion), this is a simple and fast explanation of the basic idea. (Also, I do not own the shirt that my animated avatar is wearing, but I wish I did.) [more inside]
I'm trying to develop a site to advance astronomy research and education. Layperson volunteers help to classify the very complicated X-ray flickering of black hole system GRS 1915+105. [more inside]
A Podcast about the misadventures and victories of a life in the sciences. As told and lived by Graduate Students. We mimic the format of This American Life (more or less) to chronicle the crazy stories and hijinks of current and former graduate students via interviews. This month's episode (there are four out so far) asks "What Would You Do For Your Data". [more inside]
An intensely researched blog mostly about weird and esoteric characteristics of living things. Also lakes and video games.
Our group at the University of North Carolina has just published a paper (open access) on an exciting new female meiotic drive system that we call R2d2. There is also a nice accompanying perspective article (also open access) from researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute in Seattle. Read on for a short description of meiotic drive and the findings of the paper. [more inside]
IGNITE aims to highlight women and girls working in STEM in various ways - as developers, artists, activists, community organisers, educators, and much more. We're also collecting #BeTheSpark stories on how you got interested in STEM, so if you have a story to share please contribute!
Did you study hard in science class? Neither did comics Aric and Levi. Regret Labs is their attempt to make up for lost time. In each episode they attempt to explain a scientific concept and then invite a guest expert to join them and tell them how very wrong they are. [more inside]
"In the near future social networking has moved out of the virtual world and into the physical. A confronting portrait of a world we may soon know too well. Welcome to the evolution." Winner of the Jury Prize Best Sci-Fi Short Maelstrom IFF 2011 - Winner Best Screenplay Dark Carnival Indiana IFF 2011 - Official Selection 14 International Festivals including Fantasia Montreal, Bermuda IFF, London Lift Off 2012, Chashama New York, - Eng - 19mins - Director: Richard Williamson- Online Release May 6th 2014. Hope you like it.
Hi everybody - we just launched Decarboni.se - a site that is collecting and organizing the world's solutions to climate change. We have over 17,000 resources online already and we're growing quickly. Thanks for your support Metafilter.
GMO SF is an independent, volunteer-run project built for encouraging rational dialogue amongst the global community on issues surrounding genetic-modification in society. Our bottom-up community discourse aims to advance scientific reasoning and skepticism while challenging misinformation and public manipulation. [more inside]
A few years ago, I helped build a prototype of an original idea for a web game, and today it's out of beta and open to all! "What is it?" you ask. It's one of the very few games in which you are yourself and not playing a character. It is an experience you can have over the course of a month or so, a few minutes at a time. It increases your understanding of exobiology. It's exploring a new planet, one picture at a time. [more inside]
This is my blog covering the Conservative Dinosaur Readiness Movement. It is a satirical blog about a right wing survivalist group that is paranoid that dinosaurs are going to return somehow and conquer earth. While it is satire, I also try to incorporate good science when I can, I interview legit people in the paleontology field such as Kirk Johnson and Peter Larson. [more inside]
What are the 100 objects that future historians will pick to define our 21st century? A javelin thrown by an enhanced Paralympian, far further than any normal human? Virtual reality interrogation equipment used by police forces? The world's most expensive glass of water, mined from the moons of Mars? Or desire modification drugs that fuel a brand new religion? [more inside]
I wrote this before I knew of the Hunger Games. If you like dystopian science fiction and medieval combat, you should give it a try.
To celebrate Ada Lovelace day on Oct 15th, which celebrates women in science and technology, I've expanded my selection of science themed t-shirts featuring women and collected them all (new and old) on one handy page. Since I know many of them aren't household names I've added a brief overview of each woman's best known accomplishments when you mouse over each design. Hope you like 'em!
The goal of GMO Skepti-Forum is to promote reasoned discussion of genetically modified organisms and anything that might help people discuss issues of GMOs and their roles in society. The forum is set up to answer questions, provide information, evaluate sources, and practice skepticism. Discussion should focus on facts, credible sources, and scientific literature. For a productive discussion, each person should adopt the principle of charity and help create an open atmosphere encouraging a mutual exchange of ideas. The forums are a collective puzzle solving activity rather than an arena of gladiators vying to defeat opponents. Some puzzle pieces might not fit so well, but flipping the table isn’t going to help anyone see the bigger picture. [more inside]
I'm digitizing the covers of a significant portion of my children's book collection and posting them to my Flickr account. Among the items in that collection is a book shaped card game called Dr. Quack which is sort of like Mad Libs. I've parsed out the story and the accompanying cards into a twitter feed just for snicks and giggles. The rest of the books are typically either science books, textbooks, or early examples of cross media licensing based on comic strips, radio shows, TV shows, or movies. [more inside]
I'm one of 18 artists participating in the Aldo & Leonardo project. I'm currently in residence at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument - the desert biome portion of the Aldo & Leonardo Project. The project puts artists and scientists together in wilderness settings. All of the artists and some of the scientists are blogging about our experiences and what we're learning. Most of the blogs at this point are wilderness focused - our major artwork will come when we return to our studios and that will be on the blog as well. [more inside]
I have been working with video journalist Brady Haran on a series of hand made animations for science videos. Other videos include:Numbers Confuse Americans, Maths Jokes Explained and Lagrange Points. I'm currently auctioning the drawings used to make the dimensions video here.
Since early this year, I've been writing periodically about the science and engineering details behind current and upcoming NASA missions; most recently, I've posted a 27-page comic about a trip I made to the Kennedy Space Center to watch a satellite launch. There's an enormous amount of exciting work being done right now, and I'm doing my best to give a small cross-section of it a little more attention. [more inside]
I am spending the next 11 months in the rainforest in Cote d'Ivoire studying monkey behavior! I'll be telling (hopefully) exciting stories of monkey chasing, fecal sample collecting, snake spotting, and the challenges of integrating myself into a village on the Liberian-Ivorian border at The Great Blue Erin.
A 5 minute scifi film. Two cops jump back in time to investigate a cold case. [more inside]
I've spent the last few years trekking around the tropics and doing ant research. Here are the insect photographs I've built up in this time, with relevant taxonomic/natural history information, and some .gifs for good measure. Expect sparse updates as I find and document more neat ant things. [more inside]
Hello and welcome to Links to the Damn Paper, an open discussion community showcasing the best in freely-available biology research. If you’ve ever tried to have a discussion about science on the Web and been stymied and frustrated by inaccessible articles, misrepresentation of research in science journalism, or a community that seems uninterested in digging into the actual research behind a topic, then welcome: you are our people. If you’ve ever wished for a place to talk about the Science of Life where you could be sure that the actual articles were available, where compelling research was presented in a way that allowed it to speak for itself, and where you could discuss science with actual scientists and with other people who are passionate about science for its own sake, then you have found your haven. [more inside]
Phages as bactericidal agents have been employed for 90 years as a means of treating bacterial infections in humans as well as other species, a process known as phage therapy. In this review we explore both the early historical and more modern use of phages to treat human infections. We discuss in particular the little-reviewed French early work, along with the Polish, US, Georgian and Russian historical experiences. We also cover other, more modern examples of phage therapy of humans as differentiated in terms of disease. In addition, we provide discussions of phage safety, other aspects of phage therapy pharmacology, and the idea of phage use as probiotics.
Google+ isn't a ghost town anymore: populate your circles with Science! I co-curate Science on Google+: A Public Database, which among other things is a database of more than 600 different scientists, science teachers, and science writers active on Google+. We also host hangouts and provide a forum for asking science questions and finding collaborators among scientists on Google+. We also work closely with (and contribute to) two other science pages - STEM Women on Google+ and Science Sunday.
After five years, the NIH-funded ENCODE Project has unveiled its detailed study of the biochemical context of the human genome. Nature has a special web portal linking together 24 publications in Nature, a special issue of Genome Research, and Genome Biology (all open access). There's also an iPad app to help you navigate through the papers and results. You can look at an enormous poster of results, but it contains only a tiny fraction of the 15 TB of data from the project's >1,600 experiments. Perhaps aerial dance is a better way of portraying what we have learned about genome biology. [more inside]
A lot of people think Larry Summers was forced to resign from Harvard for saying women can't do math. That is BS. When the Teresa Sullivan was abruptly fired from the presidency of the University of Virginia earlier this summer, the explanations offered up by the media were no less ridiculous: it was because Sullivan lacked "strategic dynamism" which was possibly code for "she's too fat to run a school Newsweek had named hottest college for fitness, or maybe the Board was still sore over that Lady Gaga class. But when students and professors returned from summer sabbaticals to protest the ouster on a campus more generally associated with Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs and killer lacrosse players, I knew something bigger and more existential was at stake. Specifically, I wondered if the ouster had anything to do with climate science and the state attorney general Kevin Cuccinelli's two year jihad against former UVA climate scientist Michael Mann of "hockey stick" fame. Well, it sure looks like the Board had a bigger beef with climate science than Lady Gaga studies! But now that I've amassed a pretty damning amount of evidence suggesting my instincts were correct, I can only assume the traditional media is persisting with its ridiculous 'Mean Girls' narrative of the clash because it has been intimidated by the over-the-top tantrums and libel lawsuit promises of the coup's conspirators. But while the papers speculate that Sullivan was the victim of "plus sized bullying" from the Board's svelte Rector Helen Dragas, the evidence suggests that UVA has mostly been bullied by its former extension campus—and hotbed of climate science denial—George Mason University. I have no personal stake in UVA's reputation—I rejected it at 17 on grounds it was "too fratty" and was immediately hoisted on my own petard by my first choice University of Pennsylvania—but I do believe it would be a profound loss to my home state if Thomas Jefferson's University went the way of its highly corporatized cousins, so I've been reporting on the saga pro bono at my personal site Das Krapital, dedicated loosely to the mission of unmasking (and mocking) corporate propaganda wherever I can still muster the outrage to do so.
Science crowdfunding on the web is exploding with sites like Microryza, Petridish, and Cancer Research UK (which regularly brings in tens of thousands of pounds for projects). Now #SciFund, the largest science crowdfunding derby on the web is back, baby, for round 2. #SciFund is unique in that its purpose isn't just to crowdfund research, but to change academic culture and create better ties between scientists and the world around them. Indeed, after round 1, we did a number of fancy-pants analyses showing how scientists doing outreach work were going to be better able to use crowdfunding. Or just get the gestalt message from this post on Dr. Zen trying to become the Amanda Palmer of Science. But the real fun and joy of #SciFund is to see the videos these passionate scientists have made about their work... [more inside]
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