Education

Best Science Books 2015: Science Friday

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. And here we are in 2015! As in previous…

Imagine a simple hike in a grassy part of South America.  You hear a rattle and feel a quick stab of pain as fangs sink into your leg.  Toxins in the snake venom travel through your blood vessels and penetrate your skin.  If the snake is a South American rattlesnake, Crotalus terrific duressis, one of those toxins will…

Parrot Pharmacists

Researchers from the University of York and the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom observed greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) using pebbles and date pits to extract a fine calcium powder from seashells that they would then lick off the shell. Their observations were published in Biology Letters. The birds were in essence creating their…

“Lethal milk”

Zinc deficiency is sometimes diagnosed in infants who are exclusively breast-fed. It can occur because of a dysfunctional zinc transporter in the mother, which prevents zinc from being secreted into the breast milk through a special zinc transporter in the epithelial cells of the mammary gland (Chowanadisai et al., 2006). It could also be inherited.…

Training pigeons to detect cancer

You are probably thinking, whose bird-brained idea was that? Well, as it turns out, a new study published in PLOS ONE shows that pigeons can be trained to accurately differentiate cancerous versus healthy tissue biopsies. This is because the process of diagnosing cancer involves visual screening of MRIs an biopsies and pigeons use similar visual processing…

A new study published in PLOS ONE that examined bitter taste receptors in cats may provide evidence as to why felines are such finicky eaters. Unlike my cat that seems to take after Garfield in his dietary choices, most cats are purely carnivorous. Cats are reportedly unable to taste sweets thus plant-based starches are not…

When finding a female scientists’ data turns into an archeological treasure hunt. A few months ago, I decided it would be interesting to celebrate various scientific contributions by making images of chemical / molecular structures in the Molecule World iPad app and posting them on Twitter  (@MoleculeWorld).  Whenever I can, I like to highlight scientific contributions from women…

TEDxAlbany Talk This Thursday, 12/3

I’ve been a little bad about self-promoting here of late, but I should definitely plug this: I’m speaking at the TEDxAlbany event this Thursday, December 3rd; I’m scheduled first, at 9:40 am. The title is “The Exotic Physics of an Ordinary Morning“: You might think that the bizarre predictions of quantum mechanics and relativity– particles…

Best Science Books 2015: Amazon.com

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. And here we are in 2015! As in previous…

Science and Coding Books For Kids

I mention a couple of kids books in my overviews on Fossil and Evolution Books and Books about Climate Change. Here are a few excellent science and computer programming (aka coding) books for kids. Geology book for kids The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1 is a good stab at making…