Controlling the Weather

Come closer and put your tinfoil hat on. I’m going to tell you something crazy. The government is controlling the weather. That’s right, they are. They spray carbon dioxide in clouds to increase the formation of rain. To like, increase the water supply in a region or something equally sinister! And we’re not entirely sure if it works, actually. Well, ehm, but let me tell you, it’s a conspiracy! If you can’t tell, the previous paragraph was sarcastic. Claims that governments are somehow creating hurricanes and using the weather as a weapon are unfounded. The one method used to ‘manipulate’ …

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Pie Cubed Podcast 08/05/2013 – Paleolithic diets and sleep

[audio http://piecubed.jellycast.com/files/audio/Pie%20Cubed%20Podcast%2008%3A05%3A2013.m4a] This week on the Pie Cubed podcast we talk about the scientific merits (or lack of) of the paleo diet, antioxidants increasing risk of cancer, how doubt is used to undermine scientific findings, 3d printed guns and freedom, how sleep patterns change as you get older and much more. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe to podcast feed

Bell Rock Lighthouse – A stone tower in stormy seas

The oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse, the Bell Rock Lighthouse is a triumph of engineering and persistence. There is a reef, off the coast of Scotland, called Bell Rock. Legend has it that an Abbot, in the 14th century, managed to install a giant bell on the reef, warning seafarers of the danger. However, a dutch pirate stole the valuable brass bell just one year after it was installed and ironically perished when his ship hit the then-unmarked rock some time later.

The Past is in Front of You – How we perceive time and space #2

Why is waiting half a day for the bus not a big deal to the Aymara? Because to them, the future is not in front, the past is. Read part 1 here. If I asked you to think of the future, where does the future lie? If I asked you to point ‘towards’ the future, where would you point? You will probably point forwards. To us, the past is behind us and the future is ahead. But it’s not true of all people. Time is quite a difficult concept to express and all languages resort to metaphors to describe it. In …

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The beard-second, the barn and 4 other humourous units of measurement

Hey there Stumblers! Click here for more awesome lists or here for more amazing science facts. Can you use a man to measure a bridge? What’s your bacon with the US President? What’s a beard-second? Can you hit the broadside of a barn with a particle accelerator? How much power is in a donkey? Units are a fundamental component of science. Without units, you have no measurements and without measurements you have no experiments. We are all familiar with the basic units of science, the metre, the Kelvin, the kilogram, etc. However, there are others, sometime less useful units, that …

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The Carboniferous Period – Coal and Giant Insects

Trees evolved the ability to grow bark at the beginning of the carboniferous period (360 million years ago) but fungi took 50 million years to evolve the ability to digest it. As a result, most of the coal we have today was formed in this period.

Conan the Bacterium – The world’s most resistant organism?

Deinococcus radiodurans is nicknamed “Conan the Bacterium” because, like Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian hero, it can withstand and survive more than you would expect it to. It was first discovered in 1956 by Arthur W. Anderson at the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. He was trying to sterilise meat by irradiating it with gamma radiation. He thought that if he could kill all the bacteria present, the meat would not spoil. However, our tiny little friend Conan survived and the meat eventually spoiled.

When coal mines ignite – The city on top of a fire and the door to hell

Centralia, PA When you first reach Centralia, Pennsylvania, it looks like a standard semi-abandoned town. Maybe one that had its major route of through traffic diverted, and slowly died. Then you notice the strange cracks in the roads and the smoke billowing from the ground. Because in fact, Centralia is not your typical abandoned town, it’s an abandoned town on top af a huge fire.

Kangaroos have three vaginas! and more weird Australian animals facts

How weird are platypuses? Why does Saudi Arabia import camels from Australia? Why do kangaroos have pouches? How scary are bulldog ants? Platypus When European naturalists first encountered the platypus, they thought it was an elaborate hoax. It had the bill of a duck, the feet of an otter and the tail of a beaver. But it was even weirder than that. The platypus is one of the few mammals (together with the rest of the monotremes, which include 4 species of echidnas) that don’t give birth. They lay eggs instead. That’s right, eggs. You can imagine the explorers’ confusion. …

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