Science Friday: 3065 watts = the power of The Force | Famous tree-climbing lions of Uganda roaming farther as prey animals decrease

Vader Rogue One.gif

In Which We Literally Calculate the Power of the Force

If you’ve seen the movie, you know about the awesome scene at the end where the Sith Lord opens a can of whoop ass on some Rebel troopers. Vader uses the Force to pin a rebel against the ceiling and hold him there for just a while before slicing him with his light saber. That seems excessive, but I guess Vader wanted to make the rebel wait awhile before killing him because the Dark Side makes you cranky.

To calculate the power needed to lift this poor fellow, I can estimate how high Vader lifts him and at what speed. If I guess that the rebel is 1.75 meters tall (the average height of a man here on Earth, so I’ll assume the same holds true on whatever planet the rebel calls home) then I can get an approximate scale for the scene. With that, I can use video analysis to plot the vertical position of the rebel as a function of time:

The math is at the link

Famous tree-climbing lions of Uganda roaming farther as prey animals decrease

Lions in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park have fewer prey and smaller pride sizes as a result

May 12, 2017
Wildlife Conservation Society
Scientists in Uganda studying the behaviors of the country’s famous tree-climbing lions have found that the home ranges of lion prides in the study areas have increased over time as they search farther for diminishing numbers of prey animals.

Science Friday: Decades of data on world’s oceans reveal a troubling oxygen decline | Scientists find giant wave rolling through the Perseus galaxy cluster

Decades of data on world’s oceans reveal a troubling oxygen decline

May 4, 2017
Georgia Institute of Technology
The amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water — an important measure of ocean health — has been declining for more than 20 years, reveals a new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe.

Scientists find giant wave rolling through the Perseus galaxy cluster

May 2, 2017
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations and computer simulations, an international team of scientists has discovered a 200,000-light-year wave of hot gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster.

Desperate Families Driven to Black Market Insulin

Fourth grader Gabriella Corley is trapped. She has type-1 diabetes and is allergic to the kind of insulin her insurer makes affordable — and her family can’t pay for the kind she needs every day to stay alive.

Glancing at the cheerleader from Elkins, West Virginia, at a recent football game, held up on her teammates’ shoulders, her grin as wide as her two fists in the air, you might not think anything was wrong.

Then you might notice the insulin pump about the size of a pager tucked into her black compression shorts, clear tubes going under her shirt. It infuses insulin directly into her body through a tube connected to a site on her abdomen.

“She’s a beautiful, intelligent, amazing little 10-year-old girl who stands up in the face of adversity every single day without blinking an eye and does it with a smile,” said her mother, 32-year-old Andrea Corley.

Soaring insulin prices and inflexible insurance policies have forced this working-class mom to take desperate measures outside the system to keep her child alive.

Gabriella is allergic to the kind of insulin her insurer covers at a $25 out-of-pocket cost. She can only take Apidra, but her insurance only covers 25 percent of the price, leaving the family to pay hundreds of dollars a month they can’t afford.

So her mom has turned to the black market, trading for the medication with other families with diabetes she meets online, a tactic that regulators and health experts warn is a health risk. And she cut a back-end deal with a sympathetic drug rep: If she bought one vial he would give her 10 vials from his sample kit, nearly a one year’s supply. Gabriella’s grandmother covered the cost.


Science Friday: Shoe-string Theory – Science shows why shoelaces come untied | Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

Date:  April 12, 2017

Source:University of California – Berkeley

Summary: A new study shows why your shoelaces may keep coming untied. A better understanding of knot mechanics is needed for sharper insight into how knotted structures fail under a variety of forces.


Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

Metal-organic framework sucks up water from air with humidity as low as 20 percent

April 13, 2017
University of California – Berkeley
While it’s easy to condense water from humid air, machines that harvest water from drier air require energy. Researchers have created the first water harvester that uses only ambient sunlight. The key component is an extremely porous material called a metal-organic framework that absorbs 20 percent of its weight in water from low-humidity air. Sunlight heats the MOF, releasing the water vapor, which condenses to produce liters of water per day.

Science Friday: Green Comet to Make Flyby on April 1st | Australia had a Virtual Jurassic Park in the Cretaceous

By Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist | March 29, 2017 06:00pm ET

An unusually favorable opportunity to view a famous periodic comet in small telescopes comes during the next couple of weeks, when  passes closer to Earth than at any return since its discovery in 1858.

The comet’s perihelion point, which is that part of its orbit taking it closest to the sun, lies just outside Earth’s orbit. This year, the perihelion passage occurs April 12, when the comet will be 97.1 million miles (156.3 million kilometers) from the sun. But because the orbit of the comet nearly parallels the orbit of Earth at this point, there will be a six-day period — from March 29 through April 3 — when Tuttle-Giacobini- Kresák will be very near to its closest point to Earth.

The comet will, in fact, be closest to Earth on April Fools’ Day (April 1); just about 13.2 million miles (21.2 million km) away.


An unprecedented 21 different types of dinosaur tracks have been identified on a 25-kilometre stretch of the Dampier Peninsula coastline dubbed “Australia’s Jurassic Park”.

A team of palaeontologists from The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences and James Cook University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences braved sharks, crocodiles, massive tides and the threat of development to unveil the most diverse assemblage of dinosaur tracks in the world in 127 to 140 million-year-old rocks in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Lead author Dr Steve Salisbury said the diversity of the tracks around Walmadany (James Price Point) was globally unparalleled and made the area the “Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti”.

“It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia’s dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period,” Dr Salisbury said.