Amusing News Aliquots
Nov28

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Jeff Huber. Some key facts about this year's pardoned turkeys. Decide for yourself as to whether or not they really deserved to be pardoned. [White House] The White House’s “We the Geeks” series takes on Thanksgiving cooking (video). [The White House] More breakdown of the science of cooked turkeys: "As the turkey is cooked ... the bonds within the molecules begin to break down, which causes proteins to unravel and the dense muscle meat to become more tender." Mmmm... you had us at unraveling proteins. [RedOrbit] Turns out that eating a bunch of food on Thanksgiving, and not just eating turkey, makes you sleepy. Weird, huh? [NBC News] New Orleans institute has some ideas on how to incorporate insects into traditional Thanksgiving recipes. If only they had told you before you started cooking this year's meal!  [TreeHugger] And now for non-Thanksgiving-themed news: Know what will make you think twice about drinking tons of Coke? The fact that Coke can also be used to remove rust from bolts, blood stains from clothes, dye from hair, and paint from metal furniture.  [ThoughtPursuits] One reason why your kindergartner is winning the argument to stay home from school: Turns out toddlers are smarter than 5-year-olds. [NPR] … And likely smarter than nine-year-olds, given that one just got suspended for snorting Smarties. [Time]  ...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Oct10

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. Who says romance is dead? Man gives wife a giant mushroom as an anniversary gift. [NY Daily News] The fact that the U.S. now has a National Pet Obesity Awareness Day (Oct. 9) is really not helping our fat American image. [NBCNews] Are you an Internet-savvy hypochondriac looking for a new ailment to worry about? Well, look no further. "Cyberchondria" is here. [Telegraph] Rest in Peace, Ruth Benerito. And thanks for helping to save us from hours of ironing. [New York Times] Males of several species will do a lot for sex. Some marsupials will die for it. [National Geographic] Why use MRI for medicine when you could use it to make a better pork pie instead? [Annals of Improbable Research] Chincoteague, Va., fire department is forced to cancel this weekend's wild pony roundup as a result of the government shutdown. Disappointed firefighters may resort to playing with My Little Ponies instead. [WHSV-TV3] They tell us cheating leads to guilt. Turns out, it also leads to upbeat feelings, self-satisfaction, and even thrill. [New York Times] Like "Breaking Bad" but wish it had more opera music? You're in luck! [Classic FM]    ...

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‘Breaking Bad’ Aliquots
Sep25

‘Breaking Bad’ Aliquots

Today's post was written by C&EN Senior Editor Jyllian Kemsley, who, when she isn't watching the TV show "Breaking Bad," enjoys surfing the Web for "Breaking Bad" links and then writing about them. The end is almost here, and the Internet is gearing up. With the series finale of "Breaking Bad" set to air this Sunday on AMC, media outlets have unleashed a barrage of retrospectives and stories about the hit TV show. What's more, a surprising number of these tributes actually focus on the science behind the show. Take, for instance, the above video in which Boing Boing counts down the top 11 "Breaking Bad" chemistry moments. Or, simply pick up this week’s issue of C&EN, in which I have a story about Donna Nelson, a University of Oklahoma chemistry professor who has spent the last several years volunteering as a science adviser to the television show. I connected Nelson with show producer Vince Gilligan after I first wrote about the show in 2008—something Nelson has graciously acknowledged in many interviews—and I enjoyed chatting with her as the series nears its end. To help all of us get through the last few days before the finale, here are a few of my favorite “Breaking Bad” offerings from across the Web. If, like some of my colleagues, you didn’t get the memo early enough and are only on season two, tread carefully—I won’t promise no spoilers! Wired interviewed some other “Breaking Bad” staff who help get the science right, researchers Gordon Smith and Jenn Carroll: “One day, Gordon and the writers asked me to figure out a way to knock out a surveillance camera, or—at the very least—to make a passerby invisible to the camera. As you might imagine, there aren’t many legal or convenient ways to go about this.” The Washington Post went over what “Breaking Bad” gets right, and wrong, about the meth business: “Could a genius innovator like Walt really become this successful? Are charismatic businessmen like Gus Fring running front businesses to hide their meth trade? Are super labs real?” "Today" talked “Breaking Bad” science and Walter White psychology with the show’s co-executive producer Peter Gould: “We went online and found this way of making a battery using pennies,” Gould said. “We actually built one in the writers' room. It created a mild amount of current, and was sort of our proof of concept. Every once in a while, there would be a science experiment right there in the writers' room. It turned out to be kind of a big mess.” At Slate, physician Haider Javed Warraich called “Breaking Bad” “TV’s best medical drama, ever":...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Sep13

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber. One giant leap for mankind, one giant--er leap for frogkind. [NBCNews] Food firm attempts to make artificial eggs. Chickens everywhere squawk, “You try laying an egg, buddy.” [Daily Mail] Discarded food is responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than any country, except the U.S. and China. So you better eat that food that just fell out of your mouth in disbelief. [Mother Nature Network] Step 1: Get spider silk. Step 2: Make carbon nanotubes. Step 3: Smash them together to create ultrastrong electronics. [Txchnologist] Study finds that the likelihood of hangovers decreases with age. Finally! The excuse you needed to take your grandmother out clubbing. [Mother Nature Network] Sleep-deprived college students tired of chugging pumpkin spice lattes; one slightly more awake student invents bottle of caffeine to spray on the skin. [NPR] Cool science story alert: It’s got camouflage, squid, and graphene. [Telegraph] Aluminum bubble wrap, titanium foam, and graphene aerogels. Gizmodo rounds up this year’s must-have materials. [Gizmodo] According to new research, bullying is more likely to occur at schools that have anti-bullying programs. Sounds like there are some principals out there that deserve a wedgie....

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Amusing News Aliquots
Aug30

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Jeff Huber. Tourists can take their picture in front of a poster of the famous Hong Kong skyline if it's too smoggy to see the real one. Next step? Set up posters in your living room and get great travel photos without leaving the house. [NPR] Study finds that savers are more attractive than spenders. No wonder Uncle Sam hasn't looked good in years. [StarTribune] Scientists create a mini "human brains" in the lab. They are "incapable of thought" (says who?), but at least they might be good ammo in our impending war on zombies [BBC]. Wild turkey pees on a cop car. Perhaps it had had too much Wild Turkey? [WTSP] Study shows babies learn to recognize words in the womb. Expanded prohibitive list for pregnancy: alcohol, sushi, rap concerts, R-rated movies, expletives after stubbed toes ... [ScienceNOW] Alligators have been spotted in a Minnesota lake, offering a nice distraction from the Vikings' preseason performance. [KARE 11] After euthanizing an octopus, detaching its arms, and inflicting pain, scientists get two results: evidence that octopuses' legs may have a mind of their own and an EU ban on experiments that cause unnecessary pain or distress to octopuses. [io9] Hornets enter 10K race and immediately set the competition ... abuzz. Wait! Where are you going? Come back!...

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