Science

10:15am

Wed May 1, 2013
The Two-Way

Don't Miss The Premiere Of The World's Smallest Movie

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 9:53 am

A still from A Boy and His Atom.
IBM
  • Bob Mondello's Review

If only there was an Oscar for "Smallest Movie," a group of IBM nanophysicists would be a shoo-in with their new one-minute stop-motion video starring 130 atoms.

A Boy and His Atom, which debuts Wednesday, has already been certified by the Guinness folks as the "world's smallest movie."

While it isn't exactly the most complicated story line — the nearly monochrome video features a boy, appropriately named Adam, who dances and plays with a toy atom — what's really amazing is how they did it.

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8:38am

Wed May 1, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Who's Afraid Of The Quantum Ghost?

iStockphoto.com

When Isaac Newton published his theory of universal gravitation in 1686, he knew he'd have to confront a few critics. Like a ghost stretching its arms across empty space, Newton's theory described the gravitational attraction between two masses, say, the Sun and the Earth, as a mysterious force that acted instantaneously between them.

How could the Sun influence the Earth, and the Earth the Sun, without direct contact?

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4:24pm

Tue April 30, 2013
Shots - Health News

How Doctors Would Know If Syrians Were Hit With Nerve Gas

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 12:02 pm

Doctors at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, treat a boy injured in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack on March 19. Syria's government and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents outside of Aleppo.
George Ourfalian Reuters/Landov

President Obama affirmed Tuesday that there's evidence Syrians have been attacked with chemical weapons — in particular, nerve gas.

But that's not the same as proof positive.

"We don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them," Obama said. "We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened."

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12:46pm

Tue April 30, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Is Time Real?

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 5:27 pm

iStockphoto.com

We physicists are all romantics. Don't laugh; it's true. In our youth we all fall deeply in love. We fall in love with a beautiful idea: beyond this world of constant change lies another world that is perfect and timeless.

This eternal domain is made not of matter or energy. It's made from perfect, timeless mathematical laws. Finding those exquisite eternal laws — or better yet, a single timeless formula for everything — is the Holy Grail we dedicate our lives to.

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11:45am

Tue April 30, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

The Boomerang Rocket Ship: Shoot It Up, Back It Comes

YouTube

What in heaven's name is happening here?

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3:04am

Tue April 30, 2013
Environment

He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

Poacher-turned-conservationist Karamoy Maramis, who works at Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park in Sulawesi, holds a maleo, a bird that exists in nature only on the Indonesian island.
Rebecca Davis NPR

Ask most folks who came up with the theory of evolution, and they'll tell you it was Charles Darwin.

In fact, Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist, was a co-discoverer of the theory — though Darwin has gotten most of the credit. Wallace died 100 years ago this year.

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7:17pm

Mon April 29, 2013
The Two-Way

Saturn Shows Off A Massive Spinning Vortex: 'The Rose'

A mammoth spinning vortex is seen on Saturn, in this "false-color" photograph released by NASA Monday. The image was captured by the Cassini spacecraft. A related image, presenting what a human eye would see, is farther down this page.
NASA

NASA is calling it "The Rose." By any other name, it's a mammoth storm on Saturn's north pole. Its eye spans an estimated 1,250 miles — 20 times the size of an average hurricane's eye on Earth. Winds in the Saturn storm's eye wall are believed to be four times as fast.

The stunning image of the spinning vortex was given "false colors" to emphasize low clouds (in red) versus high clouds (in green). NASA estimates that the clouds at the outer edge are moving at up to 330 miles per hour.

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4:40pm

Mon April 29, 2013
The Two-Way

Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees

Beekeepers demonstrate at the EU headquarters in Brussels Monday, as lawmakers vote on whether to ban pesticides blamed for killing bees.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.

"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion ($28.8 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected," said EU Health and Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg.

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4:32pm

Mon April 29, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Elegance Trumps Ethics In A Scientific Scandal

iStockphoto.com

In a compelling New York Times piece published last Friday, writer Yudhijit Bhattacharjee discusses the rise and fall of Diederik Stapel, a Dutch social psychologist who committed fraud in 55, or more, of his scientific papers.

While I have very little sympathy for Stapel, I was surprised to recognize the impulse behind his fabrication. Here's how the article explained it:

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4:26pm

Mon April 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

Big Sibling's Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 12:02 pm

iStockphoto.com

Patricia East is a developmental psychologist who began her career working at an OB-GYN clinic in California. Thursday mornings at the clinic were reserved for pregnant teens, and when East arrived the waiting room would be packed with them, chair after chair of pregnant adolescents.

It was in this waiting room, East explains, that she discovered her life's work — an accidental discovery that emerged from the small talk that staff at the clinic had with their young clients as they walked them back for checkups.

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