Science Friday: 5 Fun Science Experiments for Kids with Grover from Sesame Street


Science Friday: Some clouds filled with ice lollipops | Toddlers understand more than you might think about scientific inquiry

By JoAnna Wendel

A cloud full of lollipops may sound like the most delicious carnival treat ever… except this cloud’s lollipops are made of ice. Scientists spotted the lollipop-shaped ice crystals during a research flight in southwest England. The researchers describe their findings in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The researchers, from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, flew through a large cloud system in 2009 to better understand how ice forms at relatively mild temperatures (warmer than minus 30 degrees Celsius). Pure water freezes at around minus 38 degrees Celsius, so scientists want to understand the formation of ice in clouds warmer than this temperature. That information would help them understand processes like precipitation formation, cloud lifetime, and cloud reflectivity.


High Chair Philosophers

Toddlers understand more than you might think about scientific inquiry

Watch young children digging in the dirt at the playground or watering plants at a community garden. What do you think they’re doing? In addition to having fun and getting messy, they’re also starting to grasp fundamental concepts about science and the natural world. Their hands-on experiences are laying the groundwork for deeper learning about environmental science and plant biology, critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and trial and error.

But these experiences aren’t just about creating foundations for future learning. In fact, as the new report STEM Starts Early reveals, it turns out that young children—those between birth and eight years old—are already capable of tackling some pretty impressive questions in the domains of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This doesn’t just mean that they can parrot the words “deoxyribonucleic acid” with a little practice; more profoundly, young children are in a near-continuousprocess of conducting evidence-based, systematic experiments to help them understand how their mysterious environments work.


Science Friday: Low-mass stars always born with a sibling: Many, like our sun, split up | Why do those with autism avoid eye contact?

Date:June 14, 2017

Source:University of California – Berkeley

Summary:Though astronomers have long known that many if not most stars are binaries, the question has always been, Were they born that way, or did one star capture another?

Astronomers teamed up to systematically study very young stars inside their nest eggs, called dense cores, in the Perseus molecular cloud and concluded that all sunlike stars are born as wide binaries. Most subsequently split up, while the rest become tight binaries.

Why do those with autism avoid eye contact?

Imaging studies reveal overactivation of subcortical brain structures in response to direct gaze

June 15, 2017
Massachusetts General Hospital
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder often find it difficult to look others in the eyes as they find eye contact uncomfortable or stressful. Now a study has shed light on the brain mechanisms involved in this behavior.

Science Friday: New Technique Provides Earthquake Risk for Major Cities Worldwide | Lost ecosystem found buried in mud of southern California coastal waters

By Larry O’Hanlon

Scientists have developed snapshots of the likelihood of major earthquakes occurring in megacities around the world using a new statistical approach for estimating earthquake risk. The work will be presented today, May 22 at the joint meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union and the American Geophysical Union in Chiba, Japan.

The new technique, called seismic nowcasting, estimates the progress of a defined seismically-active geographic region through its repetitive cycle of major earthquakes. Applied to cities, the method assigns an Earthquake Potential Score, or EPS. The EPS provides a snapshot of the current risk of a major earthquake occurring in a region, and gives scientists, city planners and others a thermometer to see where a city is in a major earthquake cycle.

Using the new technique, scientists determined that the EPS for Lima is about 70 percent; Manila, Taipei and Tokyo have an EPS of about 90 percent; Los Angeles and San Francisco have an EPS of about 50 percent, and Ankara has an EPS of about 30 percent. This means Los Angeles is about half-way through its cycle for 6.5-magnitude or greater earthquakes, while Tokyo is about 90 percent of the way through its cycle.


Lost ecosystem found buried in mud of southern California coastal waters

June 9, 2017
University of Chicago
Paleontologists investigating the sea bed off California have discovered a lost ecosystem that for thousands of years had nurtured communities of scallops and shelled marine organisms called brachiopods. They had died off by the early 20th century, replaced by the mud-dwellling burrowing clams that inhabit this seabed today.

Science Friday: World’s Most Powerful X-Ray Laser Creates Molecular ‘Black Hole’ | Stanford Study – The cognitive differences between men and women

By Tia Ghose, Senior Writer | May 31, 2017 01:00pm ET

The world’s most powerful X-ray laser has created a molecular “black hole.”

The black hole is not a tiny version of the supermassive celestial object that devours everything within its event horizon. Rather, when X-ray energy is aimed at a molecule, it strips away so many of the electrons that it creates a void that then sucks in all the electrons from nearbyatoms — in black-hole fashion.

“It basically sucked all the electrons away from the surrounding environment,” said study co-author Sebastien Boutet, a physicist at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. “It’s an analogy to how a black hole gravitationally pulls everything in.” [Brightest X-Ray Laser ‘Blows Up’ Water Droplets in Stunning Video]

The molecular black-hole effect occurs thanks to the most intense X-ray beam of its kind — equivalent to focusing all the sun’s light onto a spot the size of a thumbnail.


The cognitive differences between men and women

When Nirao Shah decided in 1998 to study sex-based differences in the brain using up-to-the-minute molecular tools, he didn’t have a ton of competition. But he did have a good reason.

“I wanted to find and explore neural circuits that regulate specific behaviors,” says Shah, then a newly minted Caltech PhD who was beginning a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia. So, he zeroed in on sex-associated behavioral differences in mating, parenting and aggression.

“These behaviors are essential for survival and propagation,” says Shah, MD, PhD, now a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurobiology. “They’re innate rather than learned — at least in animals — so the circuitry involved ought to be developmentally hard-wired into the brain. These circuits should differ depending on which sex you’re looking at.”

His plan was to learn what he could about the activity of genes tied to behaviors that differ between the sexes, then use that knowledge to help identify the neuronal circuits — clusters of nerve cells in close communication with one another — underlying those behaviors.


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.