Archive for April, 2012

Sounds from Apollo 11

April 30, 2012

On July 16 1969, the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned mission to land on the Moon was launched. It carried Mission Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr.

You can watch the launch here. This tells you why Neil Armstrong was first. Here is video of the first step.

And if you click here, you can listen to several original audio recordings. Cool!


Polar Bear vs Walrus Colony

April 29, 2012

In the tradition of ‘Killer Whale vs Seal‘, ‘Lion vs Buffalo vs Crocodile‘, ‘Shark vs Octopus‘, ’Leopard vs Porcupine‘, ‘Hornets vs Honey bees‘, ’Salmon vs Grizzly Bear‘ and ‘Hippopotamus vs Crocodile’. Here is ‘Polar Bear vs Walrus Colony’:

False memories generated in lab mice

April 28, 2012

In the 1940s, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield found his patients would recall seemingly random information – the smell of cookies for instance – when he stimulated different brain areas with electric shocks.

Two studies have now found evidence to support the memory storage theory that Penfield stumbled across. The research, in mice, even demonstrates that it is possible to manipulate brain cells to create false memories. Learn more here.

Crushing a 55 gallon steel drum with steam

April 27, 2012

Here’s something fun to try …

Fill a saucepan with cold water. Put 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) of water into an empty soft-drink can. Heat the can on the kitchen stove to boil the water in the can. When the water boils, a cloud of condensed vapor will escape from the opening in the can. Allow the water to boil for about 30 seconds. Then using some tongs, grasp the can and quickly invert it and dip it into the water in the pan. The can will collapse almost instantaneously.

Interestingly, the same principle works with a 55 gallon steel drum, see:

A giant among moths

April 26, 2012

A while ago I posted about the Atlas moth, the largest moth species in the world with a 25-centimetre wingspan. A common sight in south Asia, they can be found from India all the way to Papua New Guinea.

Photographer Sandesh Kadur spotted this beauty on a trip to document the biodiversity of the eastern Himalayas. Early one morning he was driving through Arunachal Pradesh in the far north-east of India, when he rounded a bend in the road and saw “a ginormous moth” sitting by a pothole.

He got out to take photos, and as he did so the moth went into a defensive posture, spreading its wings and leaning forward to make itself look as big as possible. It remained still for several minutes, so one of Kadur’s colleagues was able to step behind it; the moth’s wingspan was wider than his face. Learn more here.

Sex Determination: More Complicated Than You Thought

April 25, 2012

From something as small and complex as a chromosome to something as seemingly simple as the weather, sex determination systems vary significantly across the animal kingdom. Biologist and teacher Aaron Reedy shows us the amazing differences between species when it comes to determination of gender.

Loving TedEd !!!

How Do You Land on Mars?

April 24, 2012

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is one of the trickiest things NASA does. This 60-second video explains how it’s done, and the three landing systems NASA uses at the Red Planet.

Wild bear uses a stone to exfoliate

April 23, 2012

IT IS impossible not to scratch an itch, so it’s no wonder this brown bear reached for some help. It was seen scratching its skin with rocks – the first bear definitively known to use a tool.

In July 2011, Volker Deecke of the University of Cumbria, UK, was on holiday in Alaska’s Glacier Bay national park when he spotted a brown bear in shallow water. The animal picked up a small, barnacle-covered rock, turned it around a few times then rubbed the rock over its face for a minute. It repeated this with another rock.

The bear was moulting, and had big patches of fur hanging off its skin. Moulting bears often scratch themselves with their claws, or rub their bodies against trees. The rocks may have given that exfoliating feeling. Learn more here.

Just How Small is an Atom?

April 22, 2012

Just how small are atoms? And what’s inside them? The answers turn out to be astounding, even for those who think they know. This fast-paced animation uses metaphors (imagine a blueberry the size of a football stadium!) to give a sense of the building blocks that make our world.

T. Rex Bite Strongest Ever on Land

April 21, 2012

Once the largest known carnivore on land, Tyrannosaurus rex also had the most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal of any time period, a new study suggests.

To see how forcefully T. rex could bite, biomechanicists involved in the new study used laser scanners to digitize juvenile and adult T. rex skulls. The team then used computer models to reconstruct the dinosaur’s jaw muscles and analyze bite performance.

The models suggest that an adult T. rex was capable of a maximum bite force of 35,000 to 57,000 newtons at its back teeth. That’s more than four times higher than past estimates and several times as forceful as the bite of a modern crocodile. Learn more here.