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Archive for the ‘Science Made Fun’ Category

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Carl Zimmer over at Discover Magazine elucidates about the science behind the illusion:

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As you’ll notice, the circles seem to rotate in response to where you look at the illusion. So [Stephen] Macknik and his colleagues tracked the movement of people’s eyes as they gazed at two of these wheels on a computer screen . . . [they] found a tight correlation between the onset of the illusion and a kind of involuntary movement our eyes make, known as microsaccades. Even when we’re staring at a still object, our eyes keep darting around…the pattern of colors and contrasts in the Rotating Snakes Illusion causes our eyes to send rapidly changing signals to the brain even during microsaccades. The motion neurons switch on, and the snakes start to slither.

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I always knew that The Force made order out of the universe:

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[From my friend Cheeky, who found it on GeekX5]

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I don’t know about you, but I can watch this kind of stuff all day…

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What are on those moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn? Are they just frozen rocks, or do they have some surprises in store for us if we every make it there?

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Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

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“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

— John F. Kennedy

May 25, 1961

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The other day, the girl mentions in passing that there is a company in England selling land on Mars, and did I want to buy some.

“They’re selling it really cheap, like, for $29 an acre,” my little real estate developer she continued. “That’s really cheap, right?”

Yes, I told her, but added that unfortunately, our space exploration program has stalled and I doubted that man would get to Mars in my lifetime.

She countered that since we got to the moon in less than 10 years, we could be on Mars about the time she was a junior in college. I told her if she promised to study math and science, I mean really study it, I might buy an acre or two on Mars. And maybe some for her and her brother, too.

So yesterday, when she got home from school, she called to tell me that next year, when she goes to middle school, she’s already been accepted into advanced 6th-grade math and science.

Anyone interested in buying some plots on Mars with me? We could be neighbors…

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A hardy welcome home to the Discovery Space Shuttle Orbiter. After 27 years of service, it looks like it was worth the billions spent on the system, seeing as Discovery alone completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in orbit and rolled up 148,221,675 miles (that’s 148 million) on the odometer.

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Discovery (OV-103), the third of NASA's fleet of reusable, winged spaceships, lands after the final shuttle mission.

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OK, so I can’t understand how some people insist that the only life—intelligent or otherwise—is on Earth. The odds are much better that somewhere in the Milky Way that there are planets that can support life. I find it hard to believe that of the 400 billion stars in our galaxy, we are the only lucky ones to wind up on the lone planet that can.

In fact, NASA recently announced it has found dozens of possible candidate planets that could support life. And those are just the ones we can see in a tiny sliver of space through the Kepler telescope.

What are we afraid of? Why can’t some get their heads around the possibility that we may not be alone out there? We are explorers, aren’t we?
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My brain is not wired for math. I’m a word guy, and nothing anyone has tried—including the intimidating Mr. Sullenberger—could pound anything more than simple arithmetic into his dense melon of mine.

I regret this unavoidable fact every time I think about science, as I would have loved to have grown up and become a physicist or chemist or anything, really, that works in the scientific world. I envy those who are.

How cool, I think, it would have been to work for NASA, to be involved in the exploration of space:
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