Great Minds: Mary Anning, “The Greatest Fossilist in the World”

Learn about Mary Anning, one of England’s most important contributors to the field of paleontology (and check out our entire playlist of Great Minds episodes!). 

Birds aren’t phosphorescent

Hey, that Gouldian Finch photo has been circulating the web for some time now and I regretfully must inform you that, to date, no birds have been confirmed to possess phosphorescent tissues or feathers of any kind. While reports of such phenomena are not uncommon (oilbirds, many heron species, finches, parrots, cockatoos, and many others), in most cases, this glowing is simply a reflection of light, feathers drenched in water containing bioluminescent plankton, or simply a tall tale. To read more about the history of this phenomenon check out my post here.

(submitted by )

Whoops, thanks for the heads up! We’ll amend our reblog to reflect this.

What would happen if you microwaved a person?

They would get warm…and then hot…and then very hot…and then they would die. But if you only zapped them for a few seconds…it would just feel like a pleasant warming sensation. Unlike heating through infrared radiation (which is how the sun or a fire would heat you) microwave radiation would heat you from the inside, areas where you have more water stored like muscles and fat would warm fastest. My grandfather served in the Korean War and he once told me that they’d actually stand in front of microwave antennas to warm themselves on wet, cold nights. He lived to be 92 years old so…I guess it’s not /always/ dangerous. 

-Hank

humanoidhistory:

Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke take a drive during geology training at the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico, September 1971.

humanoidhistory:

Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke take a drive during geology training at the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico, September 1971.

malformalady:

The Gouldian finch are small, brightly colored birds with green backs, yellow bellies, and purple breasts  with a light blue uppertail and a cream undertail. Sometimes called lady gouldians, their facial color can vary, but black is the most common. Gouldian finch chicks are equipped with blue phosphorescent light-reflecting beads along their mouths, making it easy for the parents to feed them in the darkness of the nest cavity.
Photo credit: Greg Grall/National Aquarium

Birds, you guys. BIRDS!

malformalady:

The Gouldian finch are small, brightly colored birds with green backs, yellow bellies, and purple breasts  with a light blue uppertail and a cream undertail. Sometimes called lady gouldians, their facial color can vary, but black is the most common. Gouldian finch chicks are equipped with blue phosphorescent light-reflecting beads along their mouths, making it easy for the parents to feed them in the darkness of the nest cavity.

Photo credit: Greg Grall/National Aquarium

Birds, you guys. BIRDS!

humanoidhistory:

The unmanned Mercury-Atlas 4 blasts off from Cape Canaveral on September 13, 1961. (NASA)

Blue Whales and The Smartphone Morality Experiment

Hank shares news about the biggest animal in the history of ever — blue whales — and explains the lessons learned in a new study of human morality, using smartphones.

sciencenetlinks:

Introducing a new app from Science NetLinks, Classify It! Does your budding biologist know the differences between a dolphin and a shark? How about the similarities between poison ivy and a firefly? Test their knowledge with Classify It!, a new app that teaches kids about the different ways organisms can be sorted and grouped. Find it today on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Get your learn on!

sciencenetlinks:

Introducing a new app from Science NetLinks, Classify It! Does your budding biologist know the differences between a dolphin and a shark? How about the similarities between poison ivy and a firefly? Test their knowledge with Classify It!, a new app that teaches kids about the different ways organisms can be sorted and grouped. Find it today on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Get your learn on!

Have any of you ever had the privilege of seeing an aurora? If you’re on one of the more northy bits of the globe, tonight might be your night!

edwardspoonhands:

Randall Munroe is a bit of a genius and hopefully he doesn’t see this because I’d be embarrassed to have him hear me say it. 

He’s one of the greatest science explainers of my generation…possibly the greatest. He does it not by explaining science and math and calculus and biology for the sake of understanding it, but by seeking answers. 

And look, that’s why we created biology and calculus and chemistry anyhow. So by searching for answers to really WEIRD questions. Questoins like “Can I build a jetpack out of machine guns” (surprisingly yes, but don’t) and “How much space would all of Google take up if it was on punch cards” (it would bury New England to the height of several kilometers.) And “What would happen if the Earth just stopped spinning but the atmosphere kept moving” (everyone would die, some people less slowly than others.)

To find these answers, Randall does intense amounts of research and also lots and lots of math.

In his “What If?” column he uses this marvelous toolbox that we’ve developed over the last 100,000 years of being a species in such exciting ways that you don’t even know how smart you’re getting as you read it. 

Now he’s turned “What if?” into a book and it is SO MUCH FUN. It’s hilarious and fascinating and shows the kind of obsession with the universe that I find infectious. I’ve been devouring it since I got my copy.

I’ve flown out to San Francisco to interview Randall on the Vlogbrothers channel (Colbert just did an interview with him last week so I guess I’m in good company.) His understanding of the world is extremely deep so he’s able to share only the bits that are either hilarious or fascinating. I’m nervous to spend a bunch of time with him, but very excited to bring his work (I hope) to more people and ideally help sell some copies of his book (which I’m sure is doing just fine without me.)

The Hangout starts in about two hours and I’m gonna go hang out in the chat for it right now