The 'show why science is awesome' thread:


I think you got it right sharaleo with the halbach thing, looking at the shape of the Thomas magnet (vs the other train) they do look ‘manufactured’ more so than the typical convex metal magnet you usually see in these types of toy.

Or Thomas is possessed and you may need to quietly get rid of him (replacing him with a normal version)! ;)


It appears this is more or less the case:

Patent here:


It’s so awesome that you managed to find that!


Where does information go when it falls into a black hole?

Steven Hawking says it may be encoded into a 2D hologram onto the event horizon, and never actually enter the black hole at all… Or it might get ejected into a parallel universe through a WHITE HOLE.


Sucking Carbon from the Air to Build Stuff

A new method for taking carbon dioxide directly from the air and converting it to oxygen and nanoscale fibers made of carbon could lead to an inexpensive way to make a valuable building material—and may even serve as a weapon against climate change.


There was some good chat about that in the Climate thread:

Looks promising, hopefully it scales commercially!


A bit more on this

Contacted via telephone Tuesday evening, Strominger said he felt confident that the information loss paradox was not irreconcilable. But he didn’t think everything was settled just yet.

He had heard Hawking say there would be a paper by the end of September. It had been the first he’d learned of it, he laughed, though he said the group did have a draft.

Whatever the team publishes, Strominger added, it’s unlikely to be the final word.

“There’s still much more work to be done to show that when something falls into a black hole that it leaves a record of exactly what it was. That is the part we still need to work out,” he said. "Stephen is very optimistic that it’s all going to work perfectly. But physics is a hard mistress. You have to get all the calculations to work perfectly and everything has to line up.

“Stephen is a smart guy,” Strominger continued. “Maybe he’s seeing all the way to the end. I’m certainly not.”


A really useful robot:


The Pluto System As Seen By New Horizons Spacecraft:


‘New human-like species discovered in S Africa’:


A new method for taking carbon dioxide directly from the air and converting it to oxygen and nanoscale fibers made of carbon could lead to an inexpensive way to make a valuable building material—and may even serve as a weapon against climate change.

Isn’t this what trees do??? :)


Not really science being awesome, but more like whales being dicks.

A massive humpback whale nearly flattened a pair of kayakers on California’s Central Coast when it launched out of the sea and landed on their boat.

Nearby whale watchers looked on in fright as the creature flipped the couple into the water Saturday near Monterey Bay’s Moss Landing Harbor. A video filmed by a Sanctuary Cruises passenger and shared by the company on Facebook shows the whale’s “full 180 degree breach.”

You know, in my day, whales knew their place.


The Ig Nobels this year include a guy who invented a device that can unboil an egg, which sounds silly but in fact already has practical benefits:

One application already found allows improved delivery of a common cancer treatment drug, carboplatin, which is used against ovarian and lung cancers.

The device has allowed drug potency to be boosted as much as four-and-a-half times, Professor Raston said.

That’s pretty cool. Well done, Prof. Raston!


Unboiling an egg! That truly is awesome.


‘Robot swarms: scientists work to harness the power of the insect world’:


To follow up on this, here is the PBS documentary on the new (& absolutely incredible!) homo naledi.

I’ve been on a bit of a human prehistory kick for the past month, too. I was brainwashed with creationism growing up, so most of our evolutionary history used to register as fictional in my mind. Somehow that makes our human ancestry even cooler than dinosaurs to me. (My partner tells me I’m crazy to rank this above dinosaurs, and I tell her that, yeah, I used to be.) For whatever reason, I never went back much further than about 10,000 years ago to the beginnings of domestication, until last month that is. And now I can’t stop. I’ve been devouring as much human prehistory as I can get my hands on. And then this was announced, right in the middle of it!

I’m just overjoyed to be part of a species that can look back on its own history in such staggering detail, at a time when we know so much.


Cool. yeah the whole (and real!) human story is pretty damn awesome, and much, much older and more complex than we often gave it credit for. ‘We’ didn’t start with agriculture alone, and ‘we’ are all ‘africans’ and thus one. Peace :)


If you want a book that talks about the development of human society, and the concurrent development of plant and animal domestication, I’d recommend reading Guns, Germs, and Steel. It is a book that explores why different human societies developed the way they did (from population, technological, etc) and a big part of that is exploring the how and why of the transition from hunter gatherers to farming based cultures.


That is actually the exact book I read some 5-6 years ago that filled me in up to 10,000 years ago (in detail). There’s technically a brief bit about prehistoric land movements & even briefer bits of evolutionary history at the beginning, but since I started reading it again last week, I can say that it probably mislead me at the time to think that we didn’t know all that much about our prehistory. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know a staggering amount, with shocking detail.

Jared Diamond’s previous book, The Third Chimpanzee, would be more in line with the PBS documentary, though outdated by now. I just haven’t been able to find a copy. (I like physical copies for books with that many charts.)


‘What the Ancients Knew: India’

50min ‘ancient science’ documentary: