science-blog

Support women in STEM

Because they’ve advanced the success and growth of those fields for just as long as men, even when they weren’t afforded the opportunity, the recognition, or the grants. Onward:

Rosalind Franklin (July 25, 1920—April 16, 1958)

Originally posted by bhagatkapil

Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and, get this, X-ray crystallographer. As far as titles go, you can’t do much better than crystallographer. Her work in understanding the molecular structure of DNA laid the foundation for the discovery of the double helix. She also made significant contributions to understanding the structures of RNAs. And viruses. And coal. And graphite. Her work was not fully appreciated until after she passed away. Two teams of all-male scientists who used her work to discover great things later went on to win Nobel Prizes.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler (February 8, 1831—March 9, 1895)

Originally posted by pylonss

Rebecca Lee Crumpler spent most of her professional life being the first at things. She was the very first Black woman to become a physician in the United States. The first (and only) Black woman to graduate from New England Female Medical College. She authored Book of Medical Discourses, one of the very first medical books written by a Black person. Every obstacle she powered through was done in an effort to provide care for other people. Hero. 

Mary Anning (May 21, 1799—March 9, 1847)

Originally posted by rejectedprincesses

Mary Anning discovered the first full Ichthyosaur skeleton at 11,  the very first Plesiosaur at 22, and then opened up her own fossil store front a few years later. We repeat: She opened up her own fossil store. We could go on and on, but Rejected Princesses (@rejectedprincesses​) already did it best in this biographical comic. While you’re over there, check out their whole archive and the dozens and dozens of women’s life stories within.

Follow these too:

  • She Thought It: Crossing Bodies in Sciences and Arts (@shethoughtit​​) is a database dedicated to shedding light on women making strides in both science and the arts. A whole bunch of great things.
  • Lady Scientists of Tumblr (@scientific-women​​) promises everything you could ever want from a feminist science round-up blog: intersectionality and equal representation of all scientists who identify as female. Hell yeah.
  • Math Brain (@ihaveamathbrain​​) backs the novel idea that women are indeed capable of understanding math. Shocking. With the perfect amount of sarcasm, they tackle the idea some bozos have that women just don’t have the mind for mathematics.

Writing Science Fiction: Tips for Beginners

We’ve seen a lot of science fiction stories over the past year or so. It’s not like they sci-fi ever went out of style, but it seems to be gaining popularity recently.

For some, writing science fiction might seem like a daunting genre to break into. Do you need to know complex mathematical equations? Do you need to know exactly how space travel works? Did you need to major in astrophysics?

Sure, those things don’t hurt, but they’re absolutely not necessary. You can write a great sci-fi novel without years of research. And you can tell a really interesting story, even if you’re not a science pro.

Here are a few tips to get started:

Consider ‘What-if’ Scenarios

This isn’t just a great rule for sci-fi novels, but I think the best ones use this approach. Start off with a simple what-if scenario. For example: what if we lived on a world made of ice? What if in this particular world only consisted of women? Obviously, you’ll need to expand on those scenarios and spend time really developing what those caveats would mean, but you get the idea.

Start with a small what-if scenario and brainstorm!

Figure Out Your Rules

I don’t think writing great sci-fi depends on being 100% scientifically accurate ALL THE TIME, but I do think you need to stick to your own rules. Whatever is a hard rule for your own universe, it’s important to keep it that way. Does your world have ships that can travel quickly from planet to planet? Sure, that’s great! Figure out your own rules for space travel and develop your world. How do the inhabitants on one planet act/grow/eat/interact compared to the inhabitants of another? Spend time developing these ideas!

No Info Dumps!

Sometimes when people write science fiction, they tend to explain their universe all in one big info-dump. Don’t. This is boring and it does nothing to serve your story. Slowly reveal information. Every plot point in your story should serve a purpose. Develop your characters through the action and show off your worlds through them. Get creative.

Keep it Vague

If you’re unsure about the science of something, write to your strengths. Don’t understand how space travel works? Maybe your MC is put to sleep during a long trip. This is just one example, but try to figure out a way to make it work for you. Maybe avoid space travel altogether if it doesn’t serve your story.

Listen, this isn’t a substitute for research, but I also don’t want you to avoid writing science fiction if you just don’t get a lot of the concepts involved. If you’ve got a great idea for a story, work it out to fit your style. Science fiction is a great platform for unique and compelling character studies, so don’t get scared off! You don’t have to write hard science fiction in order to write a good novel.

-Kris Noel

Cephalopod eyes are fascinating. Just like us vertebrates they have camera-type eyes, a hollow liquid-filled chamber with an opening, the iris, and a lens through which light enters and is projected onto the photosensitive surface, the retina. Despite their similarities, vertebrate and cephalopod camera-type eyes have different origins and evolved independently. There are some striking differences that highlight this:

Unlike us, the photoreceptor cells of cephalopods point outwards towards the source of the light rather than inwards. This not only means the we have “inverted” retinas, it also means that cephalopods don’t have a blind spot because the nerve fibers that transmit the visual impulses from the retina to the brain collect and exit the eye behind the retina rather than in front of it. The developmental origins of the eye tissues are also different. For instance, in vertebrates the complex layers of the retina develop from nerve tissue, while the lens develops from skin tissue. In cephalopods both tissues develop from progenitor skin cells.

Cephalopods have excellent vision, and use complex visual cues to communicate with each other, camouflage themselves, and send signals to their environment. To do this they use highly adaptible pigment-filled cells in their skin called chromatophores. The capricorn night octopus (Callistoctopus alpheus) in the photo looks blue, but if it would open all its chromatophores it would turn deep red with bright white polka dots.

Photo credit: David Liittschwager, National Geographic.

How to get kids to love science

Maybe your kids already love science. If so, great! If not, these creative strategies can help. Ready to spark a love of science in the students near you? Here are five ways to get started. Encourage students to pick one action from the list below and try it out.

Animation by Karrot Animation

1. Upgrade the science fair project. Before you create that foaming tabletop volcano, check out these curiosity-powered experiments from Make, the Exploratorium, and mad scientist Grant Thompson. Which one will you try next? Science fair optional.

2. Join the citizen science brigade. ”Citizen scientists” are volunteers who help to collect and analyze research data in fields ranging from archaeology to zoology. Explore citizen science project options here, here, and here.

3. Invent a solution to a real-world problem. In Kenya, student Richard Turere invented a solar-powered way to prevent lion attacks. In Malawi, a young William Kamkwamba harnessed the wind to power his family’s home. In Hong Kong, students in Cesar Harada‘s class work together to address environmental threats to the ocean. Now it’s your turn. What problem do you care about enough to solve — and how will you do it? To filter options quickly, try the Google Science Fair’s Make Better Generator.

Animation by Augenblick Studios

4. Research quirky, open-ended questions. Science is the story of humans asking ”why?” “how?” and “what if?” about what they observe. What questions will you ask of the world? To get inspired, check out these questions no one knows the answer to (yet).

5. Explore science fiction. Futurists believe that science fiction can predict the future — or at least provide us with a way to imagine and prototype the future. Do you agree? Before you decide, read one of the short sci-fi excerpts shared here, or watch a video from the Superhero Science series.

Animation by Jeremiah Dickey / TED-Ed

Article from the TED-Ed Blog

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Doing some work on my research with @scienceonsaturdaze this Sunday afternoon. The large metal machine is called an autoclave, and it uses steam sanitization to get rid of any bacteria. Today I’m using it to kill any bacteria that might be hiding in our media, because we’re hoping to use the plates and slants that I’m making for isolating our bacteria. The plates are from when we foot printed a friendly dog that was visiting the biology department.

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Cassini gets up close & personal with icy Mimas

The first two images show off the giant Herschel crater, a distinguishing feature of this moon. The second gives a better view of the mountain peak within the crater. The shadows cast by the crater and mountain peak give a glimpse into just how massive this crater truly is. The last image is one of the clearest images of Mimas to date.

Warframe but like in high school

Atlas: Senior. Workout buddies with Rhino. Has a rock collection. Surprisingly good at cooking.

Ash: Senior. Bros with Excalibur. Closet weeb. Thinks Banshee is attractive.

Banshee: Junior. Loves listening to dubstep. Headphones never come off…NEVER. Very quiet and shy.

Chroma: Senior. Has a large pet lizard that he feeds live chickens named “Draco”. Plays Dragonborn in Dungeons & Dragons. Has multiple dragon posters.

Excalibur: Senior. Plays Quarterback on the football team. Has high grades. Also closet weeb. Has a crush on Mag.

Ember: Junior. Has a thing for Valkyr. Throws lit firecrackers at people. Smokes weed.

Equinox: Freshmen. Creepy twins. Finish each other’s sentences. One wears black, the other wears white. ALWAYS together.

Frost: Junior. Has a thing for Ember. Is always wearing a hoodie because he’s cold…all the time.

Hydroid: Sophomore. Likes pirates of the Caribbean. Wears a pirate hat everywhere. Perverted. Tells terrible pirate related puns.

Inaros: Sophomore. Has a beetle collection. Timid. When threatened throws pocket sand. Nekros’ younger brother.

Ivara: Freshman. Loves Archery. Reads comics. Green Arrow and Hawkeye are favorite heroes. Pro Hanzo in Overwatch. Always falls asleep in class.

Limbo: Junior. Wears a Tux everywhere. Thinks he’s good with the ladies. Not very good with the ladies. Terrible at Math.

Loki: Sophomore. Ash’s younger brother. Plays pranks with Mirage. Has a criminal record for Vandalism and Public indecency. Also smokes weed.

Lotus: Principal. Knows everything about the students. Chooses to do nothing about it. Inexplicably always drinking coffee. Plays phone games during work hours.

Mag: Freshman. Trusted by Lotus to keep everyone in check. Never acts out. Straight A’s. Makes Nyx jealous because her boobs are bigger. Loves Astrology and Physics. Has science blog. Smallest in school

Mirage: Senior. Teases Loki with “Perverted acts”. Loves playing pranks. Blew up Principal’s bathroom and didn’t get caught. Rarely shows up for class. Likes to dress Mag up in outfits.

Mesa: Junior. Plays Overwatch with Ivara, mains McCree. Loves to tell you what time it is (you know damn well what I mean) Has a bunch of old Cowboy movies. Remembers every scene of Walker Texas Ranger.

Nyx: Senior. Small boobs, big brain. Everyone listens to her, Sorta the disciplinarian.

Nekros: Senior. Always wears all black. Never smiles. Childhood friendswith Saryn. Unaware that almost every girl and Limbo (excluding Nyx, Saryn, Ember, and Mirage) is afraid of him.

Nezha: Sophomore. Only Transgender in school, loves to tell everyone about it. Burned down the gym one time and didn’t get caught. Wrote his name in fire in the school courtyard.

Nidus: Junior. Owns every zombie movie ever. Likes to wear zombie makeup to school. Jumpscares Mag all of the time.

Nova: Freshman. Best at astrophysics…beats Mag actually. Has a weird thing for blowing shit up. Respected by Ember. Tutors Rhino and Valkyr.

Oberon: Junior. President of Nature club. Loves butterflies. Extremely dense but has an A in biology.

Octavia: Junior. Banshee and her are the female equivalent of bros for life. Made Banshee’s Spotify playlist. Makes her own mixtapes. Plays said mixtapes on morning announcements. Lotus would do something about it if she didn’t really like the music.

Rhino: Senior. Jacked! Pretty dumb. Great football player.

Saryn: Senior. Owns a Katana for God knows why. Pretty chill. Student Council president. Smokes weed and drinks. Developed feelings for Nekros. Created the dogmatic teaching of “Biggest boobs makes the rules”. Also not very liked by Nyx.

Stalker: Sophomore. Emo. Probably planning school shooting. Hates everyone but Nekros. Has a really creepy crush on Mirage.

Titania: Freshman. VP of nature club Huge crush on Oberon but will never say it. Even dressed up as a butterfly to get him to notice her only to be outshined by his butterfly costume.

Teshin: Gym teacher. Doesn’t give a fuck.

Trinity: Junior. Goody two shoes. Helps out the school nurse. Wants to be a doctor. Asked Volt to play Doctor. Volt thought she wanted to like practice medicine which they did…sorta.

Vauban: Senior. Engineer. In robotics. A’s in physics. Heard of sports at most. Always in charge of fixing everyone’s….everything. Lotus even bribed him to fix the computersin the lab rather than paying for an actual professional. Worked out in the end.

Volt: Junior. On track team. Listens to Sonic the hedgehog soundtrack while jogging. Crush on Saryn. Avoids Trinity actively.

Valkyr: Sophomore. Good at gym but not much else. Anger issues. Pummeled Hydroid to a pulp for looking at her butt too long. Rhino’s younger cousin.

Zephyr: Junior. Owns a pet hawk that creeps out everyone considering it follows her every command. Does parkour and hanglides.

Wukong: Freshman. Practices gymnastics. Practices martial arts with the Bo staff just to say he can. Showed up to practice drunk one time. Has a pet monkey named Pyjak that he puts sunglasses on and takes selfies with.

Clem & Darvo: College kids that hang out near the school. The suppliers of all of the contraband that goes around the school.

Amaryn (New Loka Lady): Vice Principal. Lotus’ advisory and all-around babysitter.

Cressa Tal (Steel Meridian Lady): English Teacher. Claims she hates men yet has a new boyfriend every few weeks. Every class is like a sad romance novel.

Arbiters of Hexis: Mean teachers I forgot to cover.

Ergo Glast (Perrin Sequence guy): Math Teacher. So boring he sometimes puts himself to sleep while he’s at the board teaching.

Red Veil dude: History Teacher. During class he makes random Conspiracy theories. Everyone thinks he’s crazy.

(Waiting for the Priestframe to get here)

Scanning the skies for galaxies, Canadian astronomer Paul Hickson and colleagues identified some 100 compact groups of galaxies, now appropriately called Hickson Compact Groups (HCGs). This sharp Hubble image shows one such galaxy group, HCG 90, in startling detail. Three galaxies, two visible here, are revealed to be strongly interacting: a dusty spiral galaxy stretched and distorted in the image center, and two large elliptical galaxies. The close encounter will trigger furious star formation. On a cosmic timescale, the gravitational tug of war will eventually result in the merger of the trio into a large single galaxy. The merger process is now understood to be a normal part of the evolution of galaxies, including our own Milky Way.

Image Credit: NASA; ESA, Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing: Oliver Czernetz

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Tuesday, May 9th 2017

photosynthesisˌ

fəʊtə(ʊ)ˈsɪnθɪsɪs/ noun

the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesise nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a by-product.

At 09:00 this morning I began my most difficult exam so far in my school career and by 11:20 I felt liberated and free - I will never have to study history again! The rest of my morning was spent in a lazy walk through my city’s most stunning park and towards the hustle and bustle of the west end. Here, an old friend and I feasted on all the local deli had to offer and wandered home through the same beautiful parks that we had passed through earlier.

It was on this walk home that I took individual notice of the greenery around me. There was more species of tree than I cared to count, along with daisies and buttercups and dandelions and so much more. I couldn’t help but look at them and think how unfathomable it was that plants had existed for an exceptionally long time before the first animal came into existence, eons before the first humans or even the first vertebrates. It’s hard to conceptualise the perfection of the system that lies at their core, a system that has outlasted entire species, entire eras of history, millennia upon millennia of existence.

The system I am referring to is the one thing that is certain to be shared across all green plant species, the reason they are able to survive: photosynthesis. As shown in the definition above, photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to isolate nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. But what does that mean? Today whilst wandering, and holding a vibrant green leaf in my hand, my mind wandered back to my biology classroom earlier this year when we has covered it.

To put it simply, photosynthesis is a process. A process is when something is inputed, something happens to it, and something different comes out the other side. In photosynthesis, that looks something like this:

carbon dioxide + water —> glucose + oxygen

So we know that plants take in carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground, and they use that to make sugar and oxygen. But how do they do this, and why?

Referring back again to my trusty Higher Biology knowledge, I was able to answer these questions also. To turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen, the carbon dioxide and water go through two key processes: the light dependent phase and the calvin cycle. 

The light dependent phase occurs in a part of the plants cells called the chloroplast, shown in the diagram of a plant cell below:

Chloroplasts are organelles, which are basically small, membrane bound segments of cells that are used for a specific function. In the case of chloroplast, it is a small, membrane bound segments of a cell used in photosynthesis. The chloroplast is made up of a few key components; the membrane, thylakoids and stroma, as demonstrated in the diagram below:

So, how does this relate to the light dependent phase of photosynthesis?

Well, when light hits the leaf, most of it is absorbed. There are 4 molecules that absorb the energy from the light called photosynthetic pigments. These are chlorophyll A, chlorophyll B, xanthophyll and carotene. Each of these molecules absorbs a slightly different colour (wavelength) of light, meaning that the more of these that a plant has, the larger the range of energy it can absorb. This relates to the chloroplasts above as these molecules can be found in the thylakoids of the chloroplast.

So, once this light is absorbed, the energy gained causes an electron to become excited and full of energy. The electron is then passed through an electron transport chain, which is a series of carriers, pores and pumps in the membrane of the thylakoids that the electron will pass through. In this transport chain, the electron provides it’s energy to produce ATP, which is the molecule cells use for energy. A process called photolysis then occurs, splitting the water molecule that is to be used in the light dependent phase to produce oxygen. When this occurs, the hydrogen atoms from the original water molecule become hydrogen ions. During the process, a molecule called NAPH is produced. This molecule is used to transport hydrogen ions from one area of the cell to another.

The Calvin Cycle, also known as the ‘dark’ or light-independent phase of photosynthesis, occurs in the stroma of the chloroplast. It is in this stage that the carbon dioxide is used. RuBisCo is the main enzyme used in this part of photosynthesis. An enzyme is a protein which catalyses biochemical reactions within a cell. In the Calvin Cycle, RuBisCo takes the carbon dioxide and the hydrogen ions that are left over from the light dependent phase to produce 3-carbon sugars called 3-phosphoglycerate in a process called the Calvin-Benson Cycle. Carbon fixation then occurs to produce an intermediate molecule before the main product of the Calvin Cycle is synthesised. This molecule is called glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate, or G3P.

As the Calvin Cycle is inherently a cycle, the end product (G3P) must sometimes be recycled back into the process to allow more G3P to be produced in the future. For every 6 molecules of G3P produced, 5 must go back into the cycle and 1 is released into the cell.

So now we have the final product of photosynthesis: G3P. But what is this molecule used for?

Well! From our original process equation (word equation) we know that:

carbon dioxide + water —> glucose + oxygen

In the light dependent phase, oxygen is released and water is used. In the light-independent phase, carbon dioxide is used and G3P is released. Where is the glucose? 

This is what G3P becomes. G3P has many potential molecules that it can form, but the primary molecule it forms after the calvin cycle is glucose. Glucose is then used in the process of respiration to produce energy for the cell. This, ultimately, is the key goal of photosynthesis: the produce energy for the organism to thrive and grow.

As I looked at the trees around me I found myself wondering how such a complex system was required to make everyone around me - from the leaves on the highest branches of the tree to trodden down grass. It fascinated me that this system - which on the surface seems so unnecessarily complex and wasteful - has birthed a form of life that has outlasted the life of every single animal alive. Plants were around millions of years before humans were even a scarce possibility, and they will continue on when we are barely a speck of dirt in the ground. And it was photosynthesis that allowed this to happen.

anonymous asked:

Is this a science blog, or a politics blog?

Science has always been political. This blog will cover pure science and science that is more political.

You cannot separate the two. When politics directly affects science, you can’t ignore it just because politics makes people uncomfortable.