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Old 05-21-2012, 10:43 PM  
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Science is Cool....

This is a repository for all cool scientific discussion and fascination. Scientific facts, theories, and overall cool scientific stuff that you'd like to share with others. Stuff that makes you smile and wonder at the amazing shit going on around us, that most people don't notice.

Post pictures, vidoes, stories, or links. Ask questions. Share science.

This is in support of the Penny 4 NASA project. If you enjoy anything you learned from this thread, consider making a donation and signing the petition.

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Old 11-13-2012, 06:42 PM   #316
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Sad... Based on THIS report, state science standards really suck. There's a state by state breakdown at the link in the last sentence. See the links at the bottom to help change this.

Missouri: http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/pub...s-Missouri.pdf

Kansas: http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/pub...rds-Kansas.pdf

U.S. State Science Standards Are “Mediocre to Awful”



A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute paints a grim picture of state science standards across the United States. But it also reveals some intriguing details about exactly what’s going wrong with the way many American students are learning science.

Standards are the foundation upon which educators build curricula, write textbooks and train teachers– they often take the form of a list of facts and skills that students must master at each grade level. Each state is free to formulate its own standards, and numerous studies have found that high standards are a first step on the road to high student achievement. “A majority of the states’ standards remain mediocre to awful,” write the authors of the report. Only one state, California, plus the District of Columbia, earned straight A’s. Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia each scored an A-, and a band of states in and around the northwest, including Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Nebraska, scored F’s. (For any New Yorkers reading this, our standards earned a respectable B+, plus the honor of having “some of the most elegant writing of any science standards document”).

What exactly is going wrong? The study’s lead authors identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.

Let’s take these one by one. For evolution, the report points out that eight anti-evolution bills were introduced in six state legislatures last year. This year, two similar bills were pre-filed in New Hampshire and one in Indiana. ”And these tactics are far more subtle than they once were,” write the authors. “Missouri, for example, has asterisked all ‘controversial’ evolution content in the standards and relegated it to a voluntary curriculum that will not be assessed … Tennessee includes evolution only in an elective high school course (not the basic high school biology course).” Maryland, according to the report, includes evolution content but “explicitly excludes” crucial points about evolution from its state-wide tests.

States cited for vague standards include Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. One example: New Jersey fourth graders are asked to “Demonstrate understanding of the interrelationships among fundamental concepts in the physical, life and Earth systems sciences.” Meanwhile, in A-scoring California, the standards explain to teachers and curriculum writers much more specifically that “Electricity and magnetism are related effects that have many useful applications in everyday life.” The standards go on to list half a dozen specific skills and facts that students must master in order to understand that overarching concept, such as “Students know electrical energy can be converted to heat, light, and motion.”

The report also notes that standards for introducing scientific inquiry into classrooms are, in many states, vague to the point of uselessness. In Idaho, students are “merely asked to ‘make observations’ or to ‘use cooperation and interaction skills.’ ”

Finally, the report noted that few states make the link between math and science clear. In its own words: “Mathematics is integral to science. Yet .. many [states] seem to go to great lengths to avoid mathematical formulae and equations altogether.”

A December report by Change the Equation, a group of CEOs working to support President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, also found that states set radically different expectations for students in science. The report looked not at the standards themselves but at how each state scores its assessment tests and how it defines “proficiency” in the subject.

Lastly, a bit of good news. At least 26 states have signed on to an effort to write new, common “Next Generation Science Standards” that will be more rigorous and specific than what many states currently have on the books. To read more about that effort, visit http://www.nextgenscience.org/ or http://www.achieve.org/ or read the document upon which the standards will be based here.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:51 PM   #317
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I'm a phd-track grad student who went to high school in missouri... I can say without a doubt that I got little from h.s. science classes... Most of what I got was due to self-motivation.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:54 PM   #318
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:57 PM   #319
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Fulgurites.....

This is what happens when sand gets struck by lightning!

Fulgurites are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightning strikes (at 3,270 °F), which instantaneously melts silica on a conductive surface and fuses grains together over a period of around one second.



The following pictures are of a man-made fulgurite that was created when a high voltage power line fell during a windstorm, and then continued to arc to the ground for a couple of hours. When a high voltage power line initially contacts the ground, it begins arcing. The intense heat of the arc and the high current flowing into the ground cause sand, rocks, and minerals in the soil near the line to fuse into a glassy, lava-like substance. A couple of video clips showing downed power lines arcing to the ground can be seen here and here(Note the power hum. Wow...). In the latter video clip, the molten region of soil near the downed line can clearly be seen glowing for quite some time even after power was turned off. For a variety of technical reasons, downed power lines may remain energized for quite some time before the power company detects the problem and kills power to the circuit. Even worse, automatic "re-closers" may temporarily cut off power for a few seconds, and then reapply it with no warning. This sequence may repeat several times before the re-closer locks out and must be manually reset. During the brief dead times, people nearby may think that the line is safely dead, and may get injured or killed when power is suddenly reapplied.

Since molten minerals are excellent electrical conductors, the current-conducting area around the line continues to expand and glow as electrical power continues to flow into the ground fault. Once power is finally removed, the molten materials solidify into a bubbly, glassy "rock", leaving a man-made "fulgurite" behind. Unlike natural fulgurites, those created by a downed power lines tend to be considerably thicker and more massive. Linemen sometimes call these curious artifacts "clinkers" because of the ringing sound they make when struck. As with natural fulgurites, clinkers are often hollow with polished, glassy interior walls. However, because they're thicker, they tend to be considerably heavier and massive than the thin, fragile lightning-created fulgurites which are created within a fraction of a second.





These pictures are of a clinker that was formed in Northern California in 1994 when a 7,200 volt power line fell onto a pile of clam shells next to a canal in Hickman, California. Although this 28 inch long specimen weighs about 80 pounds, it is actually only a small piece of the 15 foot long clinker that was created. Shell fragments can be seen embedded in the exterior of the glassy walls.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:04 PM   #320
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:05 PM   #321
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I would gladly pay 2 dollars more per year in taxes if it went to the space program
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:12 PM   #322
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Surely one of them......

New Australian Telescope Set to Find 700,000 Galaxies
ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2012)



Australia's newest radio telescope is predicted to find an unprecedented 700,000 new galaxies, say scientists planning for CSIRO's next-generation Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

In a paper to be published Sunday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Australian researchers have combined computer simulations with ASKAP's specifications to predict the new telescope's extraordinary capabilities.

"ASKAP is a highly capable telescope. Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away and be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world until the SKA Is built," said Dr Alan Duffy from The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

"Our simulation is similar to testing a Formula 1 car in a wind tunnel before using it on the track."

ASKAP will start scanning southern skies in 2013 as a forerunner to the massive Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be shared between Australia-New Zealand and Southern Africa.

Dr Duffy said two ASKAP surveys, WALLABY and DINGO, would examine galaxies to study hydrogen gas -- the fuel that forms stars -- and how those galaxies had changed in the last 4 billion years, allowing us to better understand how our own galaxy, the Milky Way, grew.

"We predict that WALLABY will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and DINGO 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space."
Dr Duffy said the new ASKAP galaxy surveys would also allow astronomers to probe the nature of one of astronomy's greatest mysteries -- Dark Energy.

Combining a large simulation of the Universe with new theories of galaxy formation − including the effects of supermassive black holes − had led scientists to accurately predict where as-yet undiscovered galaxies should be located, Dr Duffy said.

"We calculated how much of the model Universe ASKAP could observe using details of the telescope's capabilities," said co-author Dr Baerbel Koribalski, who has recently been appointed as an Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader at the CSIRO.

Co-author Associate Professor Darren Croton from Swinburne University of Technology also said the predictions would be used to help scientists refine how to handle the large quantity of data ASKAP will produce and test theories of galaxy formation.

"If we don't see this many galaxies, then the Universe is strangely different to our simulations," Associate Professor Croton said.

ASKAP will become part of the world's largest telescope -- the SKA.
ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia providing research excellence in the field of radio astronomy.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:57 PM   #323
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Thought this was really cool..

The beautiful nano details of our world

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Old 11-13-2012, 08:03 PM   #324
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I would gladly pay 2 dollars more per year in taxes if it went to the space program
Please consider... http://www.penny4nasa.org/
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:06 PM   #325
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You are on a roll. Good work!
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:22 PM   #326
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I'm a phd-track grad student who went to high school in missouri... I can say without a doubt that I got little from h.s. science classes... Most of what I got was due to self-motivation.
It's all about the teachers. I had a good chemistry/physics teacher and learned a ****load. It isn't a standards problem. Nothing happens if you don't meet the standards. Getting rid of shit teachers is what isn't happening. The standards, in theory are a good idea, but the system is so broken, fixing the standards will do nothing.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:28 PM   #327
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Please consider... http://www.penny4nasa.org/
Thank you for that sir
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:08 PM   #328
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FoxO Gene and Immortality. It's coming...

Solving the Mystery of Aging: Longevity Gene Makes Hydra Immortal and Humans Grow Older

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2012) — Why do we get older? When do we die and why? Is there a life without aging? For centuries, science has been fascinated by these questions. Now researchers from Kiel (Germany) have examined why the polyp Hydra is immortal -- and unexpectedly discovered a link to aging in humans.

The study carried out by Kiel University together with the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Hydra -- mysteriously immortal

The tiny freshwater polyp Hydra does not show any signs of aging and is potentially immortal. There is a rather simple biological explanation for this: these animals exclusively reproduce by budding rather than by mating. A prerequisite for such vegetative-only reproduction is that each polyp contains stem cells capable of continuous proliferation. Without these stem cells, the animals could not reproduce any more. Due to its immortality, Hydra has been the subject of many studies regarding aging processes for several years.

Aging in humans

When people get older, more and more of their stem cells lose the ability to proliferate and thus to form new cells. aging tissue cannot regenerate any more, which is why for example muscles decline. Elderly people tend to feel weaker because their heart muscles are affected by this aging process as well. If it were possible to influence these aging processes, humans could feel physically better for much longer. Studying animal tissue such as those of Hydra -- an animal full of active stem cells during all its life -- may deliver valuable insight into stem cell aging as such.

Human longevity gene discovered in Hydra

"Surprisingly, our search for the gene that causes Hydra to be immortal led us to the so-called FoxO gene," says Anna-Marei Böhm, PhD student and first author of the study. The FoxO gene exists in all animals and humans and has been known for years. However, until now it was not known why human stem cells become fewer and inactive with increasing age, which biochemical mechanisms are involved and if FoxO played a role in aging. In order to find the gene, the research group isolated Hydra's stem cells and then screened all of their genes.

Immortality mechanism of Hydra revealed

The Kiel research team examined FoxO in several genetically modified polyps: Hydra with normal FoxO, with inactive FoxO and with enhanced FoxO. The scientists were able to show that animals without FoxO possess significantly fewer stem cells. Interestingly, the immune system in animals with inactive FoxO also changes drastically. "Drastic changes of the immune system similar to those observed in Hydra are also known from elderly humans," explains Philip Rosenstiel of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at UKSH, whose research group contributed to the study.

FoxO makes human life longer, too

"Our research group demonstrated for the first time that there is a direct link between the FoxO gene and aging," says Thomas Bosch from the Zoological Institute of Kiel University, who led the Hydra study. Bosch continues: "FoxO has been found to be particularly active in centenarians -- people older than one hundred years -- which is why we believe that FoxO plays a key role in aging -- not only in Hydra but also in humans." However, the hypothesis cannot be verified on humans, as this would require a genetic manipulation of humans. Bosch stresses however that the current results are still a big step forward in explaining how humans age. Therefore the next step must be to study how the longevity gene FoxO works in Hydra, and how environmental factors influence FoxO activity.

Without stem cells we all die

Scientifically, the study has two major conclusions: On the one hand it confirms that the FoxO gene plays a decisive role in the maintenance of stem cells. It thus determines the life span of animals -- from cnidarians to humans. On the other hand, the study shows that aging and longevity of organisms really depend on two factors: the maintenance of stem cells and the maintenance of a functioning immune system.

This work was funded by the German Research Foundation DFG.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:24 AM   #329
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Zombie Ants... Awesome..



Zombie Ants Controlled by Fungus

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as cordyceps, is a type of fungus that infects insects and takes over their nervous systems. The method with which they take control of nervous systems is still a mystery to science. However, the repercussions of such an infection are all too clear.

Carpenter Ants, for example, live in the canopy of the tropical rainforest. They frequently forage for food on the forest floor. Unfortunately, this is where the cordyceps fungus proliferates. A new study shows that the fungus prefers to grow on “the undersides of leaves sprouting from the northwest side of plants that grow on the forest floor” This places it in an ideal position to grow and release its spores to infect ants. Here's how the fungus gets there in the first place.

When an ant is infected by cordyceps, it undergoes a series of behavioural changes. The fungus forces the ant to climb down from the canopy to the low leaves where the cordyceps prefers to grow. Just before dying, the ant will use its mandibles to bite down on the leaf to secure itself.

After the zombie ant dies, the fungus digests the insides of the ant to get nutrition for growth. It’s interesting to note that the cordyceps avoids digesting the muscles controlling the ant’s mandibles. These muscles are the ones that keep the ant attached to the surface. The outer husk of the ant is also left unharmed. The cordyceps uses this as a physical armor to protect against microbes and other fungi.

The fruiting body of the cordyceps will then erupt from the ants head, slowly growing longer until it matures, after which it will release the spores, which seek new hosts. Any ant in the vicinity of this event risks infection.

A single ant infection is a threat to the whole colony. As such, ant colonies go out of their way to avoid an epidemic. Worker ants will often carry an infected ant far away from where the colony forages to prevent the spread of the fungus. The fact that Carpenter Ants live in the canopy of the rainforest may be a strategy to escape the infection.

Cordyceps does not exclusively target Carpenter Ants. There are many different types of Cordyceps fungi that can infect many different insects, including moths, grasshoppers and many more.





Hey.... what happened little buddy? Whatcha got on your mind?
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:52 AM   #330
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I happened to be watching the 10:00 news on NBC out of Wichita. I normally try not to watch that crap, but there was a news report that said 1 in 5 teachers don't even record grades for Science.

WHAT. THE. ****.
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