Making Monday “Funday” with Science (Reading)!

I’m really enjoying a lot of my recent (or not so recent) science reading; I feel like it’s been a long while since I took the time to really catch up on a lot of it. And some of it is really cute! Or neat! Or both.

First, I have heard of knuckleballs in baseball, but never knew what they were. Now, not only do I know that they’re a slower pitch with no spin put on the ball, but that they can happen in other sports! I also now know that we aren’t sure what the physics behind them is! Over on Science News, they report that it might be due to a phenomenon called drag crisis, but also that previously it had been attributed to the seams on the baseball.… Continue reading →

Science to Start Your Week!

Walking trees. In all serious, trees that can move a couple centimeters a day ON THEIR OWN. That is all.

As a beer geek, I almost exclusively think of barley in terms of what it takes to brew beer. I rarely consider that it is and has been a staple food for a number of people. That, however, is a big part of the impact of finding ways to breed drought-resistant barley. While this is kind of the opposite of what U.S. barley growers needed last year, I am confident it will matter in the long term.

A tealight candle nestled into a jar half-filled with barley, for stability.

Ever heard of zonulin? I hadn’t, until I’d read this NPR “The Salt” piece about it and gluten sensitivity. I also didn’t know that “no human being completely digests gluten” according to gastroenterologist Alessio Fasano (quote from the story).… Continue reading →

Science Links

Retraction Watch, which you will see over on the right as one of the blogs I enjoy, recently retracted their advice for going to editors of scientific literature regarding misconduct. Editors will often first suggest contacting authors, which is a problem. “Contacting authors before anyone else knows about potential issues in their work, only serves to give unethical scientists time to hide their tracks – and let’s face it, those who are actually guilty of misconduct probably don’t have any scruples about covering up the evidence of that misconduct.”

I love the phrase “a bit of a goth parrot,” and it’s fascinating to read about this relatively oddball-looking parrot also being rare in behaviors by using tools. Grinding down seashells, eh? Possibly for the calcium!… Continue reading →

Holiday Gift Guide 2015 Part II – Science and Blather!

My last post was all about some gifts you could get for the beer and/or food geeks in your life. This list is my other passion, science, and then a bunch of other things that have made my life better over the past year in some way or another. Or, like the last post, a few things I might pick up in the future (holidays make it hard to buy for oneself).

In any case, these are usually things that have made me or someone I love happy, with an occasional thing I’m just dying to buy (for me or someone else).


First and foremost, let me reiterate “the single best suggestion/idea I can give you is to go shop for your entire list at your favorite local museum, aquarium, planetarium, or zoo.” (This is a direct quote from me from last year, it’s true.) Memberships are great and, yes, some of these places will be doing discounts (the Portland, OR aquarium is, for example) and their main shops are always full of cool and unusual stuff.… Continue reading →

Your Monday Science Reading!

Sexism in science isn’t new in the slightest. I was strongly reminded of this recently at The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, where I was at the DevOps Days Silicon Valley conference. The rarity of women in highly-paid positions documented in the museum, for example. Or learning from a new friend that an image they showed, one that’s used often for printing tests, is a scan of a photo from Playboy. Every time sexism in science comes up, it’s a lot to take in. But maybe 2015 is the start of something new? Sarah Zang argues so in WIRED. “[T]aken together, so many and in succession, they suggest something bigger. A conversation about sexism in science broke open this year.” So many sexist battles fought and, for once, won.… Continue reading →