Weekly Webcrawl: What science was doing while I was being cold
Phew! It’s been a busy week in the sclogosphere (that’s my new term for the science blog world). Here are some highlights:
- The NIH moved to retire the majority of chimps from research programs, going from 450 animals to 50. Also this week: an Expeditions post from Maureen McCarthy, who studies the behavioral ecology and genetics of chimps living in fragmented forest habitats in Uganda.
- Northeastern chemistry professor Sanjeev Mukerjee discusses the problems with Boeing’s 787 lithium ion batteries in a New York Times article and his collaborator, research professor KM Abraham, explains the science behind the battery failures in Wired: they are extremely lightweight to help maximize the fuel efficiency of the overall aircraft, but this is also precisely what’s been causing them to catch fire.
- Memory! All alone in the moonlight…. Turns out it’s hard to give old brains new memories not because they’re bad at remembering but because they’re already so stuffed. After all, memories are expensive, at least in terms of energy. When they’re starved for energy, flies stop making long term memories all together, says Ed Yong. Also on the radar: Hunger is a memory trick and distractions disrupt our short term memory, causing us to make more mistakes with what we’re doing at the moment.
- On Tuesday, Deep Space Industries announced it’s going to start mining asteroids using equipment 3D-printed in space. The dung beetle, insect astronomer, will see it all happening from afar, even if it doesn’t have a robot camera to get beautiful up-close pictures of it.
- Males commit science fraud more often than females. The end.
- We each have a smell-fingerprint, so to speak. Unlike the convoluted mess of wrinkles on the pad of your pointer, we’re very good at distinguishing our unique smell from those around us.
- Father-son mathema-sculputure team is trying to determine what 3D objects are possible using only the folds and creases of origami. In California, students folded up 50,000 business cards in an effort to understand fractals.
- They did it! They got all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets onto a tiny fragment of DNA. They also found a 4-stranded DNA molecule in living cells. Cool.
- Some take away’s from Virginia Hughes’ story on dog genetics: 1. I can stop spending so much money on dog food. 2. Dogs differ from wolves in both belly and brain.
- A great post from Robert Krulwhich about Geoffrey West’s theory that an organisms’ lifespan is determined by its size. Don’t miss the heated debate in the comments and Krulwhich’s response. Also, the most beautiful gifs you’ve ever seen!
- There’s beauty in math and chemistry both. So why are we so chemophobic?
- Christy Gelling writes about some curious birds in New Zealand that are too smart for their own good: it’s giving them lead poisoning.
- Adorable dolphin with “peculiar spinal shape” taken under the fins of sperm whales: feel good story of the week.