The 'show why science is awesome' thread:


Ironically lignite is the dirtiest and least efficient of all the coals.


Yep. Low energy and high carbon.


Blue lava! (well kinda)



Thanks for posting that! It reminds me of one of my favorite sci fi books:


Just like Jeb Bush.


Rotating ice disk in the Penobscot River in Maine:


Would be so wonderful if this works out.


There are species that rely on mosquitoes as their primary source of nourishment. Do you want these species to go extinct as well?


There are studies from mosquito extermination attempts (for malarria control, etc) that suggest that mosquitoes don’t have any unique niche as prey animals. I.e. that another species (presumably one less troublesome for humans) would expand to fill all extant niches as the mosquitoes died.

It’s theory, of course, which is why people are slow-rolling genetic extermination efforts (e.g. releasing sterilized males or ones who have non-reproductive offspring), but the work is being done.


Are we slow rolling sterile mosquito release? My impression is that we’re not trying out some of the more aggressive ways to get there (genetic modifications like gene drives), but we’re using the technique “in the wild”, for example:


Hagfish slime is really cool.


Indeed, it’s one of the softest materials ever measured. “Jell-O is between 10,000 and 100,000 times stiffer than hagfish slime,” says Randy Ewoldt from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who had to invent new methods for assessing the substance’s properties after conventional instruments failed to cope with its nature. “When you see it in a bucket, it almost still looks like water. Only when you stick your hand in and pick it up do you find that it’s a coherent thing.”

I wonder if there are industrial uses for something so slick. Rubbers?



Not exactly ‘science’, but this is as good spot as any:

Drones unleashed against invasive rats in the Galápagos

Tiny copters deliver poisoned bait to islands where rodents threaten native birds and plants.

On 12 January, a team using two six-rotor drone copters started spreading bait laced with rat poison around North Seymour island and a nearby islet called Mosquera. Each drone can carry up to 20 kilograms of bait for up to 15 minutes.

The project might be the first of its kind, but Campbell and others in the field expect drones to play an increasing role in culling non-native animals that threaten rare species. Especially on small, remote islands, far from helicopter companies, drones could be a much cheaper way to spread poison. Poisoning rats requires dropping bait twice, 21 days apart, Campbell says. “You have to have a helicopter for a month, sometimes shipped by boat. Your expenses very quickly add up.”




Yeah, 20 million is a drop in the bucket. There isn’t any good way to estimate the numbers of mosquitoes in an area, but there are likely hundreds of trillions of mosquitoes on the planet, and these population control methods are using an infection in the mosquitoes that makes their offspring less likely to hatch. It is a self defeating infection, as the population can’t pass on this to other mosquitoes (they just die).

Mosquito research is something that is only going to get more important, as we deal with climate change. The populations of mosquitoes in the U.S. will only increase as the average temperatures and amount of heavy rain events increases in North America.

I think the first knee jerk reaction to this is, making a species extinct isn’t a good thing. But a lot of research out there has shown that while mosquitoes do operate in a niche in the environment, it isn’t something that they are the total sum of. There are many other species that could fill that niche as well. It would be a shock to the ecosystem, but one could argue that continued human co-habitation and expansion into natural areas is a far more dangerous shock to natural ecosystems, and we aren’t doing much to scale that back. :)

Any, a Bill Gates funded research group is working on all sorts of ideas on how to control Malaria

The jury is out on what would happen if mosquitoes were to go extinct, but research is being done to answer that question.


You mean the blood-sucking carrier of pestilence niche? Yay.



A small team of Israeli scientists think they might have found the first complete cure for cancer.

“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, of a new treatment being developed by his company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator in the Weizmann Science Park. AEBi developed the SoAP platform, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets.
“Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market,” Aridor said. “Our solution will be both generic and personal.”

Put me in the skeptical but hopeful bucket. I worked with a lot of Israeli’s, and I admire their tenacity & work ethic. I really would like to pop a bottle of champagne if they can come through with this.