Amusing News Aliquots
Jun13

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings of this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Jeff Huber. This week, the world’s oldest cat, Poppy, passed away at the age of 24. Family and friends of the feline say that Poppy will miss doing her favorite pastime: not dying. [ABC News] Researchers report last month that sleep deprivation is often the result of “bedtime procrastination.” The research team said that they had hoped to release their findings sooner but they totally got sucked into watching more episodes of “Orange is the New Black.” [Newser] World Cup of Soccer/Futbol started yesterday, but what about the World Cup of Everything Else? Leave it to the statisticians. [WSJ] And for American sports fans who think soccer is too slow of a game, try watching it in microgravity. “World Cup?” astronauts ask. “Try Outta-This-World-Cup.” [Time] A couple in Western Pennsylvania has started a company that allows customers to rent chickens. Because sometimes you want a chicken to poop all over the yard, but you only want the chicken to do it for a day or so. [Trib Total Media] For dwarf spiders, the Middle Ages aren’t over. Researchers have revealed more about how male dwarf spiders put chastity belts on female spiders after mating. [National Geographic] Travelers are avoiding a Ramada Inn in Prince George, British Columbia, because it has become overrun with bees. Owners of the hotel say they can’t wait for the bees to leave so that they can go back to doing what they do best: making up excuses for why no one is staying at their hotel. [Prince George Free Press] Rats, like humans, feel regret when it comes to making poor food choices. It’s like, “Doh, should’ve had a V8,” except the opposite. [Washington Post]          ...

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Amusing News Aliquots
May16

Amusing News Aliquots

A cat named Tara will throw out the first pitch at a class-A baseball game next week in California. Tara says she can’t wait to approach the center of the infield and stand atop its giant litter box. [The Independent] Maine marriages improve as margarine consumption decreases, and other reminders that correlation does not mean causation. [Spurious Correlations] This week Dorothy Hodgkin received what is arguably the 21st century’s highest honor: a Google Doodle. [Washington Post] This little piggie went to market. This little piggie stayed home. And this little piggie was ordered by a judge to leave town. [Crushplate] Chipotle puts reading material on cups and bags to add a literary experience to your lunch. And to distract yourself from the fact that you are eating a burrito alone and are not in possession of a tablet, a book, or an imagination. [Gizmodo] What’s the difference between club soda and seltzer? Thanks to this article, now we know. [Slate] The diameter of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking rapidly–by as much as 580 miles a year–and it’s down to its smallest size ever recorded. Someone should warn the Man in the Moon! [Time] In desperate need to find a wife, mathematician creates a formula for choosing which lady to propose to. This is, of course, assuming the ladies would all say “yes” to the math geek. [NPR] YouTube users sometimes display questionable judgment. So too do some people who get tattoos. What happens when those two worlds collide? You get a video of an entomologist using a swarm of 1,000 bedbugs to give himself a tattoo....

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Flame Challenge’s Competitive Field Narrows
Apr30

Flame Challenge’s Competitive Field Narrows

Yesterday, the Flame Challenge announced via Twitter their finalists for this year’s contest to answer the question “What is color?” And science enthusiasts everywhere are tickled pink. The Flame Challenge is an annual competition sponsored by Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. As the center’s name suggests, the purpose of the Flame Challenge is to improve science literacy by asking scientists to explain seemingly simple phenomena in a way that an 11-year-old can understand. The competition’s inaugural year in 2012 sought to answer the question “What is a flame?” Last year’s competition focused on “What is time?” Entries seeking to explain this year’s question of “What is color?” (a topic C&EN recently explored) have been whittled down to three written and three video explanations. To crown an ultimate champion in each of these categories, a collection of preselected children’s science classes will vote on which entries they like best, with the final winners announced on June 1. Until then, be sure to check out the video finalists, which are all posted below. And also check out the Flame Challenge website today at noon EST to watch Alan Alda discuss this year’s final entries with students from 10 different classes from around the...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Apr25

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. If you’re going to catch an 800-lb shark and hope to keep it quiet, best to have a full tank of gas. [Grind TV] The powdered alcohol saga continues to confuse the Newscripts gang. [Time] It took thousands of years of chopping to design this physics-exploiting, high-tech wood ax. How many more before we don’t have to manually chop wood? [Geek] Detroit’s airport has just added an indoor dog bathroom to one of its terminals, because if there’s one thing that takes away from the stress of having to catch a connecting flight, it’s the smell of dog urine. [Gizmodo] The dress code at this giant panda research center in China was not exactly what we expected. [Guardian] Yeah, yeah, correlation doesn’t equal causation. But chocolate consumption clearly doesn’t hurt your chances of winning a Nobel Prize. [Business Insider] This week, a Boston couple gave birth to the second-biggest baby ever born at Massachusetts General Hospital: 14 lb, 8 oz. The prodigious size of the infant’s feet means that the child is already a huge Sox fan. [Boston Globe] There are vegetable gardens. There are flower gardens. And then there are boozy cocktail gardens. [WTOP] Bird couples are all over the map in terms of divorce rates. Flamingos? An laughable 99%. But albatrosses? 0%. Danggg, ‘trosses. [NPR] The owner of an pet duck is being sued for $275,000 after a neighbor sustained injuries during a violent encounter with the animal. Representatives for the duck’s owner say the level of compensation demanded is unfounded and that they hope to negotiate down to a smaller bill....

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Amusing News Aliquots
Apr03

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. Stray baby elephant wanders into living room, gets a snack. The Newscripts gang would like a baby elephant, please. [io9] Scientists at England’s University of Leicester have run the numbers and determined that Noah’s ark could have held 70,000 animals. Stay tuned to future studies from the group, including “How badly did David beat Goliath?”, “Is a Jonah-rich diet good for whales?”, and “Can burning bushes actually talk?” [The Telegraph] Scientists have determined that, aside from humans, only two animals can actually dance: parrots and Asian elephants. Then again, their strict definition of “dance” may exclude a lot of humans. [NPR] How did engineers of the Ming dynasty move 100-ton stones to the Forbidden City 500 years ago? Ice paths, of course. [Seriously, Science?] NASA is working on a surgical robotic device that would allow astronauts to operate on themselves in space. And we thought space ice cream was cool. [io9] Check out this behind-the-scenes look at artists putting together an exhibit on pterosaurs. Says one scientific artist of his work: “It’s great at cocktail parties: a billionaire hedge-fund manager and a 5-year-old both want to talk to you with equal interest.” [New York Times] President William Henry Harrison—whose death a mere month after he took office is commonly blamed on pneumonia developed after his numbingly long inaugural address—may actually have died thanks to a marsh of human excrement near the White House. So much for the perks of the presidency. [New York Times] A dog from Texas has turned up in Cincinnati, four days after running away from home. The dog said he decided to make the trek to Cincinnati after a breeze rolled in from the north and he wondered, “What’s that smell?” [Cincinnati.com] More olfactory news: Recycled vegetable oil can be used to pave dusty country roads, leaving behind a faint french fry smell. The discovery means there’s never been a better time than now to eat someone’s dust. [CBC]  ...

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