David Attenborough and More on Youtube!!

17 01 2010

The man himself! Sir David Attenborough.

The unparalleled naturalist David Attenborough has participated in a huge number of fantastic nature documentaries over the year, and it turns out a fair number of these are available on youtube! Having stumbled on these yesterday and spent several hours enjoying them, I felt compelled to share them with you, the public hungry for knowledge!

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Emergent Phenomena and You

2 01 2010

The matter of the Chimpanzee and the matter of the stone are not so different...

Today I want to discuss something more philosophical than usual. This post contains personal thoughts that are not scientific and upon which there is not a consensus opinion. But I find the topic very, very interesting and I felt like sharing. So here we go.

The topic is Emergent Phenomena.

Let us start with a neuron.

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Fantastic Images of Deep Sea Life

24 11 2009

A flashlight fish, one of the many denizens of the deep.

Top DTC reporter Sam alerted me this morning to a press release by the Census of Marine Life with some new photos of deep sea critters. Go to their site and have a look! The organization has lots of photos of amazing creatures, and video too!

There’s some seriously cool stuff down there.

-Neil





Water on the Moon Confirmed

13 11 2009
Full_Moon_Luc_Viatour

You can spot the water, can't you?

And another layer of the cosmic onion is peeled back! Scientists from NASA’s LCROSS project have confirmed their previously hesitant assertion that water exists on our moon in the permanent shade of its impact craters. I’m going to defer to the public relations folks at NASA on this one and just send you to their press release, which contains nice charts and pictures to help bring the issue into focus.

So go ahead, and click this link!

I’m hardly qualified to speak on the full implications of the discovery of water on the moon, but I suppose I could outline at least one provocative point. The existence of water on the moon makes human settlement there far more simple. With accessible frozen water (and ample sunlight for hydrolysis), we have a source of oxygen (for breathing) and hydrogen (for fuel). We also of course have the water itself that can be melted and used for drinking or for any of the other myriad purposes water can fulfill. The moon is of course still relatively inhospitable, and I would not expect resorts to start springing up there any time soon, but the presence of frozen water does make the prospect of limited colonization or the establishment of permanent bases a bit more likely.

Until next time, Earthlings!

-Neil
P.S. The lovely photo of the moon was taken by Luc Viatour.





The Times They Are A-Changing

27 09 2009
Beautiful fall colors! But where do they come from, and why are they coating the ground?

Beautiful fall colors! But where do they come from, and why are they coating the ground?

Hello! I haven’t done one of these long posts in a little while, so I thought I would remedy that. If you’re one of those people who seem to be suddenly coming to visit this site in great numbers, welcome! I’m glad to have you. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

I wanted to discuss the changes going on all around for those of us living in temperate deciduous forests like the kind in the northeastern United States. Every year, billions and billions of trees shed their leaves to prepare for winter. The precursor to this amputation is the emergence of beautiful and vivid fall leaf color.  But what accounts for this color, and why do trees shed their leaves in the first place? In this exciting two-part series, we’ll answer both questions! First, why do some trees lose their leaves in the fall?
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KABOOM! Lightning is Spectacular!

28 08 2009
Here's a time lapse photo of a lightning storm over boston, taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Here's a time lapse photo of a lightning storm over boston, taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Hello there! I’m sorry for the long delay in new content. I’m in the beginning stages of constructing a Van de Graaff generator. Don’t worry – there will be video, and it will be awesome.

Anyway, I wanted to start a new series of posts. The subject of this series is “amazing stuff right here on Earth.” I think when we have something we are commonly exposed to, we often forget the really remarkable characteristics that it may have. This is the case with water, a ubiquitous but really wonderful chemical, and this is why I wrote that series on water. And so I want to do the same thing with the planet Earth! People get all worked up about the volcanic activity of Io or the great storms of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn. But our own Earth is home to a huge variety of astounding and even mysterious phenomena! To prove this point, I’m going to start off this series with everyone’s favorite electrostatic discharge, lightning! Everyone has experienced lightning, but how many of us really know what it is, and how it forms? Judging by this site’s traffic, that number might just increase by 1-2 dozen! Let’s get to it!

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Hot Content Injection

27 08 2009
A sphere of water floats in the International Space Station.

A sphere of water floats in the International Space Station.

Ahh! So many days without an update! I apologize profusely. I am working on a post about lightning (far more complicated than I imagined!) and am also in the preliminary stages of building a Van de Graaff generator, which is going to be totally sweet. I just haven’t gotten anything into postable form yet. But, let me at least share a couple awesome youtube videos with you! These are from a series of experiments that International Space Station Science Officer Don Pettit did called Saturday Morning Science.

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