Previously, In Science

Okay, this is another attempt by me to force my hand at updating the site regularly without relying solely on posts automatically coming in from Google+ as everyone likes variety. Well, I like variety anyway and I’m the one who really counts here.

So, a frequent (let’s not pretend it’s going to be regular because I think we all know me well enough by now to know that’s not going to happen) update about recent happenings in the world of science will begin today. Why science? Because it’s one of the categories I categorise this site’s content into, that’s why. I don’t want to create another category. Also: I like science. Also: science is cool. I could have decided to go with a frequent posting about events in the world of geography but it just wouldn’t have had the same wow factor.

Enough waffle. To the science news!

This color image from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows part of the wall of Gale Crater, the location on Mars where the rover landed on Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (Aug. 6, 2012 EDT). This is part of a larger, high-resolution color mosaic made from images obtained by Curiosity’s Mast Camera. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars, Curiosity
Big science news has come from Mars and the Curiosity rover which recently landed there safely despite extreme complexity in the manoeuvre and a track records of successful probes on Mars little better than flipping a coin. Martians have not been involved in stacking these odds against us. That would be mental. Martians couldn’t care less. They’re a very relaxed dust-based hive mind.

Curiosity (or the Mars Science Lab to give it its less-inspiring name) has had a software upgrade now and has started sending back some more-detailed photos from its surroundings – particularly Mount Sharp (named after slavery abolitionist Granville Sharp who the mountain looks a bit like in profile) – so if you are super-keen on seeing rocks and ground in better resolution than John Logie Baird ever thought possible then you’re a very happy bunny indeed.

Coneheads
I love that movie.

That’s not science news. It’s not news. And it’s not science. However…

According to World Science: “In a trend that can be iden­ti­fied go­ing back to the mid-1800s, [white, American] U.S. skulls have got­ten big­ger, taller and nar­rower as seen from the front, said Rich­ard and Lee Jantz, a husband-and-wife team of fo­ren­sic an­thro­po­l­o­gists at the Uni­vers­ity of Ten­nes­see, Knox­ville. They al­so found that faces have be­come sig­nif­i­cantly nar­rower and higher, though this shift is less pro­nounced than those af­fect­ing the whole cra­ni­um.”

The article also goes on to state that “[a] larg­er head could al­low for great­er in­tel­li­gence” and it’s there that I started laughing too much to continue. I don’t like statements like that. A larger head could equally allow for greater room for bees to hide. Has anyone checked if the decline in bee population is connected to cranial development in American heads? Have they?

Anyway, anecdotal evidence points to lesser intelligence in the American population, not greater. And, as we all know, anecdotes trump science any day of the week. After gut feelings and things a friend of someone you know told you they heard, anecdotes are pretty powerful indicators of fact.

Ooh!

Incredible Science News!
Finally, and most importantly, scientists have cured cancer, invented cold fusion reactors for the home, perfected molecular teleportation, and are on the brink of transplanting consciousness (which they’ve discovered is an interference pattern in the Higgs field) into carbon nanotubes for the purposes of interstellar transportation of humans at high sub-light velocities.

Full announcements of all that and the painful lessons learnt from dinosaur-cloning to follow next week, but as a taster for now they are allowing all of mankind into the secret of building the perfect sandcastle.

“Measuring the elastic modulus of the wet sand, we find that the optimum strength is achieved at a very low liquid volume fraction of about 1%. Knowing the modulus we can quantitatively account for the measured sandcastle heights.”

They have graphs and everything.

Author: Mark

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