Saturday, January 24 from noon to 4pm (in YOUR timezone) is time set aside to sit down and read for the National Read-a-thon Day as sponsored by the National Book Foundation whose mission is to expand the audience for literature in America.
At Read Science! Jeff and I want to encourage you to take some time to read a book of your choice that day in a show of support for literacy. You don’t have to read science, as any reading is great for the mind. However, if you want to read some science, you can certainly look to us to help you make some great choices. Connect with us on Facebook if you want to start a discussion about books!
Does the world of engineering excite you? Are you able to create an inspiring 1-2 minute video about one of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges? If so, consider entering the Engineering For You 2 Video Contest for a chance to win $25,000!
I’ve been chomping at the bit for months to see The Imitation Game. It arrived in larger cities well before it appeared here in central Illinois, even being postponed further because the theaters bumped it to show The Interview. Theaters disappoint me with their skewed priorities!
You may have heard the buzz around this movie about British mathematician Alan Turing as played superbly by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film “The Imitation Game”. As a piece of filmmaking, this movie is absolutely spectacular. The elements of the movie– the filming, directing, editing, acting, clothing, the music– all worked together to create a seamless film that engages you from start to finish. I highly recommend going to watch it! Sure, it has mathematicians and computers and no gratuitous sex or violence, but it won’t leave you bored, I promise. It is certain to win some of the awards at upcoming ceremonies.
My super short synopsis: a group of mathematicians are recruited to break a code that the Germans were producing in World War II using their Enigma machine. The code would change daily which made figuring it out each day an impossible chore. Alan Turing wanted to build a machine that would be able to break the code faster, which he and his team ultimately did, resulting in the war shortening by about two years. The movie isn’t perfect, as I doubt very many historically base ones are. One of my favorite places to check up on movies is History vs. Hollywood, which does a level-headed analysis of comparing movies with the historical facts. They have analyzed the facts in The Imitation Game, so I won’t spend time nitpicking the movie in that regards here. There are also numerous articles about the perceived shortcomings of the film on the internet if that interests you, too.
Since I watch movies through my science worldview filter, let’s take a look at my very subjective sense of the film. I made a handy flask rating system for a quick tl;dr.
6 years ago Books, Engineering, psivid, Science, STEM • Tags: Academy Awards, Alan Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch, Enigma, Film, flasks, Golden Globes, Kiera Knightly, mathematician, mathematics, movie, Oscars, The Imitation Game, The Innovators, Turing Machine, Walter Isaacson
The latest in the series, Deep Look, takes a close up peek at the fur of sea otters and why it is so good at keeping them warm in cold water.
“Sea otters aren’t just cute — they’re a vivid example of life on the edge. Unlike whales and other ocean mammals, sea otters have no blubber. Yet their body temperatures are twice as warm as the water they swim in. The secret to their survival? A fur coat like none other.”
I wrote about this new series a few months back at Scientific American.
I have attended a few NASA events, including the last shuttle launch and the launch of MAVEN. I visited Johnson Space Center in May 2013, tweeting images and thoughts from my visit. The image above was seen by Jennifer Welsh at Business Insider and included in a post, with my permission.
“Joanne Manaster, a biologist at the University of Illinois-Urbana, tweeted this image of the mission control room that runs the International Space Station.
In the picture, you can see a video link into the station, the video feed from an outer camera on the station, and the station’s route, which you can also find online. Look at all those screens — four each!
You can see the Flight Director, who monitors the technical aspects of the space station’s flight in real time; the CAPCOM, who is the capsule communicator that talks directly to the astronauts on the space station; and the MOD, the mission operations dictorate, who plans, directs, manages, and implements overall mission operations.“
I also saw a retired Soyuz capsule, a mock up of the International Space Station used to train astronauts and some mock-ups of the new Orion capsule that will be our next vehicle to take humans back and forth to space, and with any luck, they will also go to Mars.
If you ever have an opportunity to go to a NASA Social, I highly recommend giving it a chance. It will help you look at our space program with a more informed eye, and every space news story will come alive in your mind.
6 years ago Social Media, Space, Travel, Uncategorized • Tags: Business Insider, Control Room, Houston, International Space Station, ISS, Joanne Manaster, Johnson Space Center, NASA, NASA Social, Orion
…is greater than the science known by liberal artists.”
This is a direct quote from Neil Degrasse Tyson in a talk given at the World Science Festival in 2010. (Video upload by Kristopher Hite) That quote starts at 4:39, but the entire video is worth watching.
Joe Hanson, who authors the It’s OK to be Smart blog, shared an article from The Washington Post titled, We’re way too obsessed with pushing science and math on our kids. The author claims that our insistence that we focus on STEM topics means we will forego other fields of study, particularly the liberal arts. Liberal arts and science are not mutually exclusive, in fact, many colleges and universities have Liberal Arts and Science designated schools.
6 years ago Engineering, Science, Science Literacy, STEM, Video • Tags: common core, Huffpost Live, Liberal Arts, literacy, literature, music, Neil Degrasse Tyson, reading, science, science literacy, STEAM, STEM, video, World Science Festival
My son, Andy, is home from graduate school, where he is studying atmospheric sciences, specifically researching climate change issues. These are two of the books I see he brought to read (checked out from the library, no less): Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science by Carl Sagan, and one that has me intrigued– Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo. Over the years, he has played bass in several bands, including some that might be characterized as Emo, and others as some sort of “death metal”, so a book looking at the phenomenon in teens about those musical influences doesn’t surprise me.
He is a big Carl Sagan fan, and I suppose I am to blame/thank. One night when he was 19 years old, he came to my room and said his friends had suggested he read some books by Carl Sagan and then asked if I had any. All I had to do was to reach over to my night stand and hand him Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
So inspired by that book was he that he recently acquired a tattoo with some very apt imagery:
It’s an impressive piece of art on his arm there, even though I’m not a tattoo wearer myself. I mean, if you have to have a tattoo that reflects who you are at your core, then I’m really pleased that this is who my son has become.
What you see here is a screenshot from a short embedded tutorial that demonstrates the depths to which the different wavelengths of light penetrate the skin. It is a part of L’Oreal’s Skin Science page, a very extensive resource that will help you learn much about your skin and the science L’Oreal does for R&D of their products.
To view this tutorial, you will need to go to this page and click on the image. A pop-up will appear that will slowly demonstrate wavelength penetrating the skin. Helpful information to keep your skin safe and young looking for years to come.
6 years ago Beauty, Beauty-others, Engineering, Science, STEM • Tags: Infrared, L'Oreal, skin, spectrum, Sun, sun's rays, UV, UVA, UVB, video, visible, wavelength, Women in STEM, xeroderma pigmentosum
If you have the time, watch Alan Alda (of MASH fame) talk about his role on Scientific American Frontiers, a science TV show that ran from 1993-2007. (BTW, the audiobook version of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned is entertaining!)
In a way, we have Alan to thank for the inception of my website/blog ‘Joanne Loves Science’ and my foray into social media.
My “Dream Job”
Several years ago, as I was standing in front of a section of my “Cell Culture and Concepts of Tissue Engineering” lab class at the University of Illinois, I introduced a video segment from Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda. In this program, Mr. Alda traveled to numerous laboratories across the world to inquire about their research, bringing the audience along with him. He figured if the scientists could make their research understandable to him, then the general public would understand it, too!
To my surprise, the sentence “He’s doing my dream job!” tumbled out of my mouth.
Wait a minute!
6 years ago Science, Social Media, STEM, Video • Tags: Alan Alda, Blood Cell Bakery, Cats in Sinks, cell biology, gummy bears, Joanne Loves Science, Joanne Manaster, Maia Weinstock, science, Scientific American Frontiers, social media, TV, video