Amusing News Aliquots
Mar28

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. Ever wonder how scientists deciphered the mysteries of reproduction? Did you know frogs in tiny taffeta pants were involved? [Buzz Hoot Roar] Study finds that couples who yawn together, stay together. It’s just the sort of motivation you needed to sit through another family slide show. [Mother Nature Network] A dwarf planet has been named after Joe Biden. It marks the first time that the vice president has ever been characterized as having a small presence. [TPM] “Cuddle Care” dolls let kids play doctor … but is being recalled for sending kids to the real doctor. [NPR]  Golfers started the fire. Yes, they did light it. And 200 firefighters tried to fight it. [iO9] Analytical chemist finds half of an ancient sea turtle bone in a stream in New Jersey. Turns out the other half has been sitting in a museum for nearly 200 years. [LA Times] University of Pennsylvania scientist claims that sufficient sleep can diminish the likelihood of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. “But if we start sleeping more, that will cut into precious time that we could spend eating!” said everyone in America. [The Week] In related news: The city that’s cracking down on sugary soft drinks now has a 24-hour ATM … for cupcakes. [Kitchenette] Water–you know it as a solid, liquid, or gas. Now meet the water blob. [Fast Co.] Danish zoo slammed for feeding unneeded giraffe to lions. Their response? Kill the lions. [Washington Post]...

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Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, lovingly compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. Sriracha science. That’s hot! [ACS Reactions/YouTube] A North Korea zoo welcomes a pack of Yorkshire terriers to its list of attractions. The zoo says to stay tuned for even more exciting additions, including an ant, a pineapple wearing sunglasses, and mold growing on a block of cheese. [Sky] Scientists don’t need celebrities like Kimye and Brangelina to hook up in order to  to smash a couple of names together. Behold, the newly created particle “Dropleton,” a quantum droplet. [NBCNews] Tired of making real molecules? Want to finally write that great novel? Well, use the elements in this Periodic Table of Storytelling to create “simple story molecules.” [Design Through Storytelling] Finally, a genetic reason certain kids (and adults) poo-poo meals with cilantro, brussel sprouts, and kale. Now where’s the gene for not wanting to do the dishes? [iO9] Female cat in France is being called a hero after saving 11 people from a burning building. The cat may have thwarted a house fire, but she has only stoked the fire in Pepé Le Pew’s heart for French felines even more. [Mother Nature Network] Turns out the chickens laying the organic eggs are eating pricey imported food. They should probably just start laying golden eggs with those kinds of hoity-toity demands. [NPR] More cat-fire news! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered 500-year-old German manuscripts illustrating how to use a “rocket-cat” to set an enemy’s castle ablaze. Pentagon officials call it the purrrrr-fect way to launch a drone strike in the 16th century. [Philly.com] They say, “one of the few pieces of art that can expand your mind and give you type 2 diabetes at the same time.” We say, “Sweet!”...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Jan30

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. Dallas aquarium creates peanut butter and jellyfish by feeding jellyfish a steady diet of peanut butter. Rhesus monkeys eagerly await a diet of peanut butter cups. [NBC] Governor of Colorado renames state’s tallest mountains in honor of all 53 players on the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl roster. The gesture provides the NFL with yet another opportunity to not discipline players for getting high before a game. [Denver Post]  Because we need more online distractions, now you can build with Legos on your computer. [Chrome] It turns out there are snakes in the air. “Yeah,” say nonplussed travelers. “They’re called price-gouging airline executives.” [Discovery] The latest in army technology? Chewing gum for better dental health. Take note, Violet Beauregarde. [Army Times/USA Today] Snowy owl gets lost in Washington, D.C., hit by bus, rushed to zoo for care. Witch at Hogwarts still awaiting her mail. [NPR]  Research shows that sit-down restaurants often serve meals with higher fat and calorie content than fast-food restaurants. So stop complaining the next time your boyfriend takes you to Taco Bell instead of a four-star restaurant, ladies. [Yahoo] In allergy study, 88% of kids allergic to peanuts could tolerate eating the equivalent of five peanuts after treatment regimen. So, what about the 12%? [Popular Science] Flatulent German cows start fire. Cows blame a long night of drinking heifer weizen....

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Amusing News Aliquots
Jan09

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Bethany Halford. Dear Scientists, a 7-year-old Australian girl named Sophie would like a dragon. Can we get on this, please? [Jezebel] Prius owner turns his car into a generator during a power outage, now doubly smug. [UPI] Not to be outdone, developers create portable battery that can charge a smartphone and jump start a car. [Popular Science] Dolphins ingest pufferfish toxin and get so totally high, dude. [io9] It was only a matter of time: Chemists publish an analysis of the chemistry in “Breaking Bad.” [Annals of Improbable Research] Lion Whisperer brings along a GoPro camera so everyone can see what it looks like to hug a lion … from the safety and comfort of our own homes. [Huffington Post] Beach worms could one day mend a broken heart. No, not your loneliness–like, seal up an actual tear in your heart muscles. [NPR] Attention chemists skilled at assembling words or creating pictures: Only a few weeks left to get your entry ready for Chemistry World’s Science Communication Competition. [Chemistry...

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In Print: Mushroom Wrapping And Sound Zapping
Dec13

In Print: Mushroom Wrapping And Sound Zapping

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in this week’s issue of C&EN. Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, has gotten a deservedly bad rap for clogging up Earth’s arteries. But an idea thought up by Eben Bayer when he was a mechanical engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could give plastic packing peanuts a run for their money. As Senior Editor Alex Scott writes in this week’s Newscripts, Bayer devised a plan to use mycelium—tiny branching threads made by fungi—to hold together a natural, moldable packaging material. His firm, Ecovative Design, has a 40,000-sq-ft mycelium-growing facility that creates Styrofoam-shaped molds (that is, hollowed-out cavities, not fungi) for packaging delicate items. Bayer insists that this mycelium packaging goes “head-to-head with plastic foam on cost, performance, appearance, and feel,” but Alex says he’d be interested in comparing the impacts of the two products on the marine environment and greenhouse gas emissions. And the Newscripts gang would be interested in comparing the reactions of kids when they open holiday presents wrapped in fungi. “It does have an organic and irregular appearance,” Alex admits. “But I think once consumers learn about the environmental benefits of Ecovative’s material they would opt for it every time.” Alex, for one, says he’d be pleased to get such an environmentally friendly wrapped package and would either put it in his compost bin or, if it was easy to crumble, use it as mulch on his flower beds. Such a green guy. And if you read his original story carefully, you’ll notice Alex is also a punny guy. One pun that he self-edited out of print? That Bayer must have been a “fun guy” to have thought the idea up. Good one, Alex. The next item in Alex’s column is also about how to make the world greener, this time using sound to amp up electrical output. London-based research teams have designed a photovoltaic cell with zinc oxide nanorods that up the device’s electrical output by 40% when exposed to sound vibrations. The vibrations increase efficiency by decreasing recombination—the process of electrons converting to heat or light within the solar cells. Roadside noise (at about 75 decibels) significantly improved performance of the ZnO-nanorod solar cells, and the high frequencies of pop and rock music beat out classical music in increasing output. Alex would be up for trying these cells out as well, but he says: “My roof is already jammed with photovoltaics and a solar water panel”—of course it is, Alex—“but I’d have to find space outside my 15-year-old son’s room as he is a drummer. And without a...

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