Tonight at 8pm on PBS, NOVA scienceNow will look at a competition to build an "elevator to space." Participants will compete to see whose prototype can go the highest, and the winner takes home a $150,000 prize. The episode will also focus on scientific research surrounding the carbon nanotube, a stronger-than-steel material that just might be used to create the cable for a real "space elevator" in the future. It would be awesome if such a thing were constructed in my lifetime, though with my luck I'd be stuck on this lengthy elevator ride with some guy who just polished off a beef and bean burrito.
Other segments from the episode will include research into "longevity genes" and how they may hold the secret to living longer; using satellites to uncover Mayan ruins; and studies in "Quorum Sensing," the way bacteria communicates.
The second show, Cool Stuff: How It Works, is a four-part series that takes a look at how the wonders of the modern world work - fireproof suits, robotic bomb detonators, etc. No word on whether or not they'll be able to explain TiVo, the electoral college or how a penalty kick shootout is fair, but they're smart guys. I'm sure they'll get around to it.
Wired Magazine's new series for PBS, Wired Science, debuts this evening at 8pm. Alternatively, you can watch the entire pilot episode by clicking here. Just don't confuse the show with the '80s flick Weird Science. As far as I know, Oingo Boingo didn't compose any music for this new series. David Byrne of the Talking Heads, however, did compose the theme music, which is much cooler (no offense to Danny Elfman).
The $2.4 million exhibit was created by CBS, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the National Science Foundation. Rice University is also creating a website to accompany the traveling exhibit.
"The CSI Experience" premieres May 25th at the Chi's Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Over the holidays while I was back in Iowa visiting family, my mother and I stayed up late one night engaging in one of those perpetual conversations about "God vs. Science." Like anyone else, I have my own feelings about how the universe operates, so when I was sent this link to a new boardgame from Growing Pains hunk turned evangelical Kirk Cameron and minister Ray Comfort called Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution, you can bet my brain lit up with about a dozen opinions.
(S02E06) This episode dealt with the line between faith and reason, which may be why I wasn't as drawn to it as other episodes. I thought it was a good episode, but the way in which the citizens of Moralton use fractured reasoning to explain their religious beliefs has been a major component of the show since it began. This episode merely brought that idea to the forefront, and while it was still funny, there wasn't much to surprise a fan like myself. I laughed several times, but was ultimately left with a feeling of "oh yeah, I knew they were gonna say that." That being said, this wouldn't be a bad episode to introduce someone to the show, as I think it's a great overview of the show and what it's trying to say.
The three pilots are all science-related:
Mrs. Garrison: Pound my monkey hole, Richard!
I figured Matt and Trey would at least lean toward the side of evolution in this episode, and they did, but it was really about how we tend to oversimplify things. Mr. Garrison reluctantly teaches evolution, telling the kids they're basically all "retarded fish squirrels," the product of a millenia's worth of inter-species butt sex. Later, author and atheist Richard Dawkins automatically turns Garrison into an atheist by telling him that a flying spaghetti monster is as likely to exist as God because you can't disprove either.
The web is starting to buzz about the similarities between these two clips (both having to do with doughnuts and science). One is from The Show With Ze Frank, a popular web show, and the other is from The Colbert Report. The Ze Frank clip was put up on Tuesday afternoon. The Colbert Report aired later that night.
Hmmmm...a rip-off, or just a weird coincidence?
[via Boing Boing]
Anyone who works in the field of comedy, whether it be writing, acting, or whatever, will tell you that humor always works better when the gag is specific rather than generalized. This is abundantly clear after watching just a few episodes of The Simpsons, but what sets The Simpsons even further apart from other comedies is how far its writers are willing to go to make even the most esoteric jokes as precises as possible, even if that means only a handful of people watching will get it. I've heard for the longest time that math and science jokes on the show are usually based on fact, rather than just a jumble of numbers and scientific jargon thrown together. This article in Science News looks at some of the mathematical moments in The Simpsons, not only episodes such as the 1995 Halloween episode where Homer enters the third dimension and equations and formulas zip by in the background, but also episodes such as Girls Just Want To Have Sums that focused on gender bias in the field of mathematics. It's a fascinating read, even if trying to understand all the theories and formulas presented in the article did cause my brain to try and eat its way out of my skull.
Special thanks to Guillermo for the tip!
I've been a fan of MythBusters for a while now, and I can't help but admit that there's just something about Kari. Most likely it's the fact that here we have a cool, hip chick who loves downing beers with the guys and pierces things without getting overly pin-cushion on us, while at the same time loves science and getting down and geeky. Being not so bad on the eyes doesn't hurt either.
Tom Snyder Productions, the company best known for its use of the Squigglevision animation technique which resulted in such cult faves as Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and Home Movies, also tried its hand at Saturday morning children's entertainment with Science Court, a show which dipped from the same well of humor as his other productions but with more of a kiddy slant. You know, dry and witty science humor for little kids.
Actually, it was probably the "dry and witty" part that pretty much guaranteed the show wouldn't last more than a year, since it was clearly aimed at little kids who weren't necessarily interested in the kind of cerebral humor the show would occasionally delve into. Those of us who knew Snyder's other productions, though, could at least enjoy hearing many of the same voice talents, including H. Jon Benjamin. Still, the show, which would pit lawyers against one another in a trial over scientific principles (thus, the "learning" part) managed to stick out from whatever else was on ABC Saturday morning in 1997. Unfortunately, it was one of many Saturday morning gems, like Freakazoid and The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, that never quite gained the audience it deserved.
Ned: We want you to teach alternative theories to Darwinian evolution.
Skinner: You mean Lamarckian evolution?
Last night The Simpsons took on creationism versus evolution, pitting Lisa against the rest of the town. This isn't the first time the show has tackled the issue of science and religion, most notably in the "Lisa the Skeptic" episode in which the supposed skeleton of a dead angel is found. Last night's episode had some good moments, but it did feel like they were treading upon somewhat familiar ground and not saying anything especially new.
This week, the MythBusters tackle one very weird myth, the myth of the exploding pants, and a few myths that seem very applicable today: the great gas conspiracy.
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