Injecting gold nanorods into a male’s testicles and heating them with a near-infrared laser could work as a reversible male contraceptive, new research suggests. The study in mice found that the method killed sperm cells when it heated testes to between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, but after a few months sperm production began to return to normal. Other researchers are looking at using these gold nanoparticles to heat up and kill tumor cells.
Read more: http://bit.ly/18mn3Md via Chemical & Engineering News
30 Years Ago Today, Sally Ride Blasts Into Space & History
From a systems-engineering standpoint, it is easy to identify the point where Sally K. Ride began to leave the rest of the world behind. A flow chart of her life would show the crucial decision coming one day in 1977, when — as a 25-year-old astrophysicist winding up her doctoral work at Stanford University — she spotted an announcement in the campus newspaper about openings in the astronaut program, a career she had never even contemplated for herself. In what once would have been called an epiphany — but she herself would probably describe as a go/no-go decision node — she was up and out of the room before she had finished reading the notice, one of more than 1,000 women and nearly 7,000 men to apply for what would ultimately be the 35 slots in the astronaut class of 1978. Not everyone’s life resolves itself so neatly into yes- or-no decisions, taken in an instant and never looked back upon or regretted, but, if Sally Ride’s life proves anything, it is that the very smart are different from you and me.
Newsweek June 13, 1983
Norway lemming, Lemmus lemmus
Lemmings in popular culture have been given the role of the blind follower due to the widespread myth that when migrating, the little rodents will follow one another so completely that they will follow other lemmings off a cliff in a mass suicide. Incredibly, this story was started by Disney with the film “Wild Wilderness” in 1958.
Lemming populations fluctuate dramatically in a cycles of four years, with populations exploding before dropping close to extinction. The population drops occur naturally (whether they are in response to weather fluctuations, food availability, or some other factor, scientists aren’t certain), but that wasn’t dramatic enough for the film or at all easy to portray, so the filmmakers herded lemmings over a small cliff into a river to create the fake suicide march. When populations get too dense and food is scarce, lemmings do migrate in large numbers, not en massed but in spread-out groups.(x)
Lemmings live in tundra biomes and feed on grass, sedge, shoots and other plant matter. They are most closely related to voles and muskrats. There are over 20 extant species; the Norway lemming and the Brown lemming are the two species with the most dramatic population explosions. Unlike other rodents, lemmings are conspicuously colored and will behave aggressively towards predators and even humans.(x)
The Norway lemming is found in the Fenno-Scandinavia region and is the only vertebrate native to the region. It is active both day and night, alternating naps with periods of activity. They spend the winter in nests under the snow. They migrate in the spring and autumn as changing weather makes certain areas uninhabitable. They will breed year-round when conditions are good.
It’s Plane To See …
Yes! All the planets are, more or less, on the same plane. This means that their orbits all follow the same flat, circular path. This is illustrated by the following animation:
The planets are not perfectly lined up on the same orbit, though. If we define Earth’s orbit to be “the perfectly perfect ecliptic”, then the other planets orbit within a few degrees of that. Why?
When the solar system formed, there was a massive rotating cloud of debris and dust spinning around the young star we now orbit. We call it the Protoplanetary Disk, which would make a great name for a spaceship. When something spins while being tethered in place by gravity, its mass wants to fly outward into a pizza-like shape, like frosting flying from errantly-aimed eggbeaters. The Earth even bulges a bit around the equator because of this “force”. This means that before the planets ever became planets, their planetary “stuff” was already on the same plane. Naturally, they thought this was just fine, and as they matured into the orbs we know and love, they stayed there.
This can be easily observed in the night sky. When multiple planets are visible, you can draw the line of the ecliptic through them! It’s also why we seem to have so many nights when planets are “near” each other in the sky, but never quite on top of each other (called “conjunction”, check it out in this video)
By now, many of you are fidgeting uncomfortably, barely able to contain the following comment: “Bah! You are wrong, science man! Pluto doesn’t orbit on the ecliptic! It’s wonky as hell!”
Well, the question was “Are all the planets in the solar system on the same plane?” And the answer to that is most definitely yes. You’re just going to have to get over the fact that Pluto is not a planet anymore. Its tilted orbit is one of the main reasons why.
The first step to healing is acceptance. The second step is realizing that this wacky ball of ice is so off-kilter that it’s lucky it didn’t fly right off into interstellar space:
(images via Wikipedia)
Yes yes yes Joe this is beautiful
Robot Runs Like a Cat
Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, EPFL’s four-legged “cheetah-cub robot” has the same advantages as its model: it is small, light and fast. Still in its experimental stage, the robot will serve as a platform for research in locomotion and biomechanics.
Even though it doesn’t have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat. Developed by EPFL’s Biorobotics Laboratory (Biorob), the “cheetah-cub robot,” a small-size quadruped prototype robot, is described in an article appearing today in the International Journal of Robotics Research. The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable. Robots developed from this concept could eventually be used in search and rescue missions or for exploration.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/videos/2013/06/robot-runs-cat
For my final project in AP Chemistry, we had to combine chemistry and any other topic. I chose a cappella singing and songwriting as my other topic(s), because I do a lot of a cappella. A few years ago, one of the a cappella groups at my school, Ace’s Angels, performed a song titled “NaCl” by Kate McGarrigle. The song describes, in the form of a love story, the chemical bonding of sodium and chloride ions to form table salt. However, like most descriptions of this process from non-chemists, the song is not scientifically accurate; it’s meant to be cute and fun, not educational.
For my project, I researched the actual chemistry behind ionic, metallic, covalent, and hydrogen bonding. Then, I rewrote the lyrics of “NaCl” to describe these different types of bonding. Next, after modifying the arrangement slightly to fit my new lyrics, I learned and recorded the background parts to the arrangement of “NaCl” that was performed by Ace’s Angels. Then, I recorded the solo line with the new lyrics. Finally, I created this video to go along with the song.
—The original song was “NaCl” by Kate McGarrigle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4N3rV…)
—The a cappella arrangement was originally created by Joshua Hunnex.
—As performed by Ace’s Angels (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oJ_Cj…)
—The a cappella arrangement was adapted for this project by Steven Hoffman.
—The video was created by Steven Hoffman.
Created by one of the owners of this blog!
Torricelli’s trumpet encloses a finite volume but has an infinite area. It is formed by taking the graph of y=1/x, with the domain x≥1 (thus avoiding the asymptote at x = 0) and rotating it in three dimensions around the x-axis. It is also called Gabriel’s Horn; the name refers to Archangel Gabriel as he blows the horn to announce Judgement Day, thereby associating the infinite with the divine.
WHAT IF other planetary bodies orbited our world at the same distance as the moon?
whoa Jupiter kinda in my personal bubble thanks
Jupiter would actually be terrifying.
Is that Earth orbiting Earth
Twenty-six new black hole candidates have been discovered in the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy. According to the astronomers involved, these could be just the tip of the iceberg. Details of the find will be published in the 20 June issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
Photograph: Dimitar Todorov/Alamy