Experience the Big Bang in Augmented Reality

· · Cool Stuff Found

An app created by CERN scientists lets you experience the Big Bang in AR. Narrated by Tilda Swinton, you’ll go back in time 13.8 billion years and discover how space, time and the visible universe came to be. See the universe form in the palm of your hand. Witness the formation of the very first stars, our solar system, and the planet we call home. Immerse yourself in the primordial mystery of the early universe in space and watch events unfold around you, in your own physical environment. Learn about the microscopic building blocks that make up everything – and everyone – we know, and find out if we really are made of stars. See the universe form as you stretch out your hand in front of your camera. Create the very first particles and atoms. Make a star explode, create a supernova and explore the nebula. See our solar system come together and hold the Earth in the palm of your hand.Find out how we are made from stars, take a #starselfie and share it with your friends. App Store: Free

Experience the Big Bang in Augmented Reality

Use iNaturalist to Identify Flora and Fauna

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I’ve used iNaturalist for a couple years and think it’s a great tool. Two features that help the app stand out from competitors are 1: The machine learning it uses. Once you take a picture, it can automatically suggest what species you’re looking at. 2: With every photo you upload and tag with location and other metadata, you’re contributing to real science. iNaturalist shares data with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

The app is a joint initiative between The California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society and works sort of like a Shazam for Nature in that it lets you snap a shot of something you come across and instantly get an answer for what that planet, animal, or bug might be.

Scientists Say AirPods May be Linked to Cancer

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Over 250 are signing a petition calling on the United Nations and World Health Organization to create stronger guidelines over devices like AirPods and possible links to cancer.

Some experts believe that AirPods may be especially dangerous since the devices sit deep inside the ear canal where they emit radiation to fragile parts of the ear. The scientists also noted other possible health hazards, including an increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, and neurological disorders.

Further reading: PSA: Wi-Fi Doesn’t Cause Cancer, Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science.

TMO Background Mode Encore #6 Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford on Background Mode

Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her sixth appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a B.S. in conservation biology and a Ph.D. avian neurophysiology from the University of California. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show.

In this episode, we chat about the science of rising sea levels, neural networks and vocoder technology trained to recognize brain patterns related to listening to human speech, how learning two human languages in childhood positively affects the brain, rebooting the human immune system, whether intelligence is sexy, and the colonization of Mars and whether it will be commercially exploited or preserved by all nations like the Earth’s Antarctic. Dr. Kiki is always a delight to listen to and learn from.

Book Sale: Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians for $1.99

· · Cool Stuff Found

Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians is a narrative account of Charles Darwin’s four year voyage on the Beagle to South America, Australia and the Pacific in the 1830s that combines the adventure and excitement of Alan Moorehead’s famous (and now out of print) account with an expert assessment of the scientific discoveries of that journey. The author is Charles Darwin’s great-grandson. No biography of Darwin has yet done justice to what the scientific research actually was that occupied Darwin during the voyage. Keynes shows exactly how Darwin’s geological researches and his observations on natural history sowed the seeds of his revolutionary theory of evolution, and led to the writing of his great works on The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. Apple Books: US$1.99

Book Sale: Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians for $1.99

Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science

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Recently I wrote a PSA on Wi-Fi and cancer, and a lot of people disagree with me by sending me links to studies and other news that also disagree. That’s fine, but at the same time a lot more effort goes into scientific research than cherry picking Google results. I don’t claim to know better than these studies, but a scientific study needs to be taken into context of the field as a whole. John Oliver had a good segment on studies and how they can be misunderstood. Compound Interest has a rough guide to spotting bad science and red flags to watch out for. I’ve made use of this guide for some time, and I think it’s helpful.

This graphic looks at the different factors that can contribute towards ‘bad’ science – it was inspired by the research I carried out for the recent aluminium chlorohydrate graphic, where many articles linked the compound to causing breast cancer, referencing scientific research which drew questionable conclusions from their results.

10 Influential Science Photos That Changed Us

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Earthrise - via NASA

In a terrific photo collection, Big Think presents “10 science photos that made history and changed minds.” The power of these photos expanded our consciousness, created new conversations, and changed our way of thinking. I particularly like the “Pale Blue Dot” photo, made famous by Dr. Carl Sagan with one of the most poignant commentaries ever made about our planet and its inhabitants. Check out all the photos. (Earthrise photo credit: NASA.)

TMO Background Mode Interview with TMO Contributor Andrew Orr

· · Background Mode Podcast

Andrew Orr on Background Mode

Andrew is a Contributing Editor at The Mac Observer assigned to the morning news desk. He is also a science and nature lover, with a special interest in botany, as well as an amateur nature photographer.

I asked Andrew about growing up in Michigan and his early interest in writing. He also started using computers when he was young and recalled how had to eradicate a virus from an Windows XP PC at age 13. Later he studied computer security at Bay de Noc Community College, and he attributes his technical writing success to the combination of his writing skill, interest in science, and experience with computers. Andrew told me how he was discovered by The Mac Observer and the tools he uses to collect and report the news each morning.

This Smart Insect Farm Acts as a Composter

· · Cool Stuff Found

Hive Explorer is a smart insect composter that empowers you to recycle your food waste into fertilizer and proteins with the superpower of mealworms. All while learning how you can help create a healthy planet. Bringing nature indoors in a safe, regulated way allows grown-ups and kids to start growing precious products on food waste and start exploring the fascinating life of the Hive inhabitants (mealworms) easily. The Hive holds open source technology that controls the climate and micro-ecosystem for the insects. All lifestages of the mealworm are grown in the Hive. It is a continuous loop system of efficient food and fertilizer production. Almost everything edible in your house can be converted by the Hive Explorer! Potato or carrot peels, apple cores, bread crumbs, you name it! Mealworms are ferocious eaters and you can see the process happening right before your eyes! Because they eat it right away, it won’t start smelling like your typical biowaste. This smart insect composter is available on Kickstarter at a pledge of US$136 or more.

This Smart Insect Farm Acts as a Composter

TMO Background Mode Interview with Climate Scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe on Background Mode

Dr. Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is the director of the Climate Science Center. She is also the CEO of the consulting firm ATMOS Research and Consulting. She received her undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and a masters and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We started from basics in this chat and defined how science works via observation. Then we delved into the process of climate change research, successful computer models, the significant findings of climate science and whether some changes are exponential rather than linear. Finally, Dr. Hayhoe filled us in on some great resources for further reading.

TMO Background Mode Encore #5 Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford on Background Mode

Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her fifth appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D. from the University of California. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. In this episode, we chat about some some recent topics discussed on TWIS that fascinated me. 1) Yale roboticists have developed skins with embedded actuators that can turn just about anything into robots. 2) A 127 million year old fossil was discovered in China that fills in another gap in the story of how dinosaurs became birds. 3) The new NASA exoplanet search mission, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is operational. We talk about its mission and how it compares to the Kepler spacecraft. This is just a sample; we covered much more cool science stuff.

How to Break Spaghetti in Half Like a Physicist

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In 2005, scientists confirmed that dry spaghetti noodles never break cleanly in half. Instead they tend to split into three or more pieces. If you’ve ever cooked spaghetti you’re probably familiar with having little bits explode all over the kitchen. But it turns out that there is a way to break spaghetti cleanly in half. Famous physicist Richard Feynman once spent a night with a friend snapping pasta to figure out what was happening. He never solved it, but it inspired French researchers to try, which earned them a 2006 igNobel prize. The secret? Twist the noodles hard like you’re wringing out a washcloth. To understand why, they used a high speed camera that recorded the shattering pasta at a million frames per second. The twist prevented the two bent strands flexing back quite as forcefully as an untwisted strand, and the untwisting motion released some of the stored energy in the spaghetti, further reducing the likelihood of a second fracture.

These Artificial Gills Could One Day Help Divers

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Jun Kamei, graduate of the Royal College of Art, designed artificial gills using 3D printing. They consist of a gill and a respiratory mask, and it lets people breathe underwater. Mr. Kamei has built a working prototype, and it successfully extracts oxygen from water, and releases carbon dioxide back out. Right now it doesn’t product enough oxygen for a human though. His idea was that artificial gills would be essential in the future when the ocean rises due to climate change.

By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the megacities situated in the coastal areas.

New LSST Telescope Will Search for Asteroids on Collision Courses

· · Cool Stuff Found

An international team of hundreds of scientists is finishing construction of the LSST telescope, or Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. It will search for asteroids that are on a collision course with Earth. Despite our best technology it’s difficult to detect asteroids, let alone asteroids that are speeding toward our planet. The reason is that asteroids are dark; they don’t give off visible light and are hard to detect in the blackness of space.

With significant funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, LSST will search for PHAs during its 10-year mission by observing the same area of sky at hourly intervals searching for objects that have changed position. Anything that moves in just one hour has to be so close that it is within our solar system.

New LSST Telescope Will Search for Asteroids on Collision Courses

This AR T-Shirt for Kids Gives You X-Ray Vision...Sort Of

· · Cool Stuff Found

An AR t-shirt called Virtuali-Tee works with an iPhone app to give you x-ray vision. When you look at the shirt with the app, it shows the inside of the human body in 3D, and gives you facts and explanations of your organs. It seems like a great way to get your kids interested in science, and it’s fun for adults too. You can isolate and virtually dissect organs, and get a 360 degree VR experience with the lungs, bloodstream, and small intestine. You can use AirPlay and mirror it to an Apple TV. The app requires iOS version 8.3 and later. You can get the shirt on Amazon for US$29.95, available in child and adult sizes. App Store: Virtuali-Tee by Curiscope

This AR T-Shirt for Kids Gives You X-Ray Vision…Sort Of

The Search for Dark Matter at -2,000 Meters

· · Cool Stuff Found

Dark Matter is believed to account for 80% of the mass of the universe. Whatever it is, it interacts gravitationally with normal matter, but is otherwise very hard to detect.  At this underground laboratory, SNOLAB, in Canada, 2,000 meters below sea level (6,800 ft), scientists are searching for neutrinos as well evidence of Dark Matter in our part of the galaxy. Two kilometers of solid rock above protects the lab from all but what they search for. Welcome to their office.