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A place of mostly science, art, writing and occasionally Chewbacca, all lovingly archived by Dave Ng. For recent highlights just scroll down, but also note the handy tag system (for finding that piece of media for your next science talk) just below. Enjoy!

FIND ME SOMETHING AWESOME ABOUT

anatomy, astronomy, biochemistry, biodiversity, biology, botany, cell biology, chemistry, chewbacca, climate change, data, dinosaurs, energy, entomology, environment, evolution, food, fossil fuels, genetics, geography, geology, graphs, laboratory, marine life, math, medicine, microbiology, molecular biology, neuroscience, ornithology, paleontology, physics, planetary science, quantum physics, science careers, science history, science literacy, scientific method, scientist, solar system, space, strange paper, sustainability, technology, zoology

“Science is awesome, that is all”.

Einstein to Curie: “don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.” #awesome

In which we see correspondence between Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, essentially telling her that she’s awesome and that she should “ignore the trolls” (or in this case, the “reptiles” – no offence to my herpetologist friends).

einsteintomariecurie

From The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (Princeton).

Now hiring: “Women in Science” Game Content Designer. Looking for applicants! Please share within your #UBC networks.

Msl

JOB INFORMATION

Employee: AMBL, Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC (link)

Contract/Term Duration: ~12 weeks (January to March)

Hours Per Week: ~9

Job Title: Women in Science Game Content Designer

Job Sector: Education, Training and Teaching

Job Location: University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus.

Job Description: These positions will require hires to research and design content towards the production of a playable card game that explicitly embeds a variety of important learning objectives around the subject of women in science and engineering.

We have funds to hire a team of 2 senior undergraduate or graduate students who will work part time with the lab (wage at approximately $15.91/hour over a one semester timeline), and using existing resources and game mechanics from another science card game project (http://phylogame.org).

Specifically, this team will be given the following objectives: (1) to research, evaluate and design the content presented on the cards; (2) to determine whether modification of existing game mechanics is required; (3) to produce a playable and playtested beta card game; and (4) to create a number of prototype lesson plans that can be used with the resource in light of existing provincially determined IRP requirements.

Job qualifications: Upper undergraduate or graduate students with knowledge or background around science culture and gender issues are preferred. Being a game enthusiast is also a plus, though not required in this case.

Website: http://popperfont.net/2014/11/27/the-women-in-science-and-engineering-card-game-grant-for-your-reading-pleasure/

Please send cover letter and resume to David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca by January 6th, 2015.

A Few Words From the Scientist Who Invented Wonder Women’s Invisible Jet.

By DAVID NG

invisiblejet

First of all, I totally get it. You’re watching Super Friends or reading some Justice League of America comic book, and what do you see? Wonder Woman floating in mid air, in what is apparently an “invisible jet.” And for some reason, the fact that you know that it’s an invisible jet (because someone has gone to the trouble of outlining the jet with white phantom lines), is supposedly meant to make this OK.

Except that it doesn’t. You know this and I know this, and well, everybody knows this. Because the truth is: Wonder Woman looks kind of stupid floating in mid air. I mean, seriously, what is the point of having an invisible jet if the pilot—and a pilot wearing bright sparkly superhero colors—is so… well… visible?

So I get all the hate, I totally do.

But listen: I invented that invisible jet! That invisible jet is my research. It’s my baby.

And the reality is that the invisible jet was never meant to hide the pilot. It was just meant to be invisible on its own. If you don’t believe me, then by all means, look it up—my doctoral dissertation and my research publications are quite clear about this.

Wonder Woman totally got this. Actually, she was pretty amazing about it. She was like, “whoa… invisible jet… that’s pretty cool.” And then I was all like, “Yeah, but you know that it’s only the jet that goes invisible right? You know that you won’t be invisible when you sit inside it, right?” And she was like, “Yeah, I get it, but that’s OK, because well… invisible-freaking-jet!

She basically said that it was totally fine to spend a whole bunch of her money on it because (a), it was a good way to support interesting science, and (b), well… it was just awesome.

Unfortunately, her Super Friends buddies were all idiots about it. They were all like, “Diana… you know we can still see you?” And Superman was prone to flying in a seated position and making steering motions and going, “look at me,.. who am I?” Meanwhile, Batman was all like “my utility belt is way cooler.”

But she knew what was going on. She knew that the reality was this: that the jet is a goddamn SCIENTIFIC MARVEL! Something that should be admired—because ingenuity, years of hard work, and significant research funds was all involved to develop that piece of technology.

Now, do I want to continue my research so that things entering the jet also become invisible? Sure—because that would also be pretty awesome. And maybe, one day, I will work on that research goal, and if I do, Wonder Woman is totally going to get first dibs on that piece of hardware.

Because listen, folks: this is how science works, one small step at a time. It’s not fast (like a speeding bullet), or able to make progress (in single bounds). It’s not about gimmicky quick fixes (like the kind you pack in a utility belt), and it takes serious investment (we’re not all caped billionaires with money for caves and batmobiles). This discovery stuff is slow and incremental, and that my friends, is the honest to goodness Lasso of Truth.

(Originally published at McSweeney’s)

Vortexes: still awesome, and now DIY in your pool. By @thephysicsgirl

This is remarkable for so many different reasons. Definitely worth watching. Definitely worth doing (going to see if I can mimic it in my lab with a large water basin).

By Physics Girl.

This short video on space and the possible future: in a word, perfection.

Like the link says: Watch this in the dark, full screen (definitely full screen), in HD, and with head phones. Truly gorgeous…

By Erik Wernquist, via io9.

The Women in Science and Engineering Card Game Grant: For your reading pleasure.


This amazing image by Ben Marriot

So, a couple of weeks ago, I tweeted the fact that my lab managed to secure some funding from WWEST to start working on a Phylo card game deck that revolves around Women in Science and Engineering issues. I’m just about to place an ad in UBC’s career site, in the hopes of attracting a stellar student team that will take on the initial stages of this project.

In any event, in the interest of being open, I’ve copy pasted the grant below so you can check it out. I’ve also been chatting with a few colleagues who I think would make great advisors on this project, but the entire endeavour is ultimately going to thrive on as much constructive feedback as possible. In this regard, leave a comment below if you think you might be interested in beta testing the deck when we have our first edit playable version.

cheers
dave

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Title:
THE WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING TRADING CARD GAME: A K-12 TEACHER RESOURCE THAT EXPLORES AND PROMOTES THE INTERSECTION OF STEM AND FEMINISM
.
Organization name:
Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (the science education facility within the Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC)

URL:
http://bioteach.ubc.ca | http://phylogame.org

Project dates:
January to April 2015

Affiliation:
University of British Columbia (Post Secondary Institution)

A SUMMARY OF YOUR ORGANIZATION
AMBL (Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory) is a fully equipped research space dedicated to the development, delivery and research of projects that provide experiences in the realms of science literacy, science communication, and science education. Situated within the Michael Smith Laboratories, AMBL hosts a diverse range of programs ranging from authentic research field trip programs, provision of publication outlets for creative science writing, as well as projects that engage in the interdisciplinary intersections between science and other cultures (please see http://bioteach.ubc.ca for full details).

A SUMMARY OF THE PHYLO TRADING CARD GAME PROJECT:
Currently, one of the lab’s more unconventional projects revolves around aggregating expert and non-expert activity around the creation of a trading card culture that focuses on science generally and biodiversity specifically. Called the Phylo Project (see http://phylogame.org), this endeavour has culminated in an open access process of card, deck, and game creation that has provided an invaluable resource for the education community at large. As well, the project has been in fortunate to include the support and collaboration from a variety of notable partners that span the academic (UBC), museum (London’s Natural History Museum, American Museum of Natural History NY, Beaty Biodiversity Museum), digital curators (Encylopedia of Life), scientific organizations (GSA – Genetics Society of America), publishing (O’Reilly), non-profit sector (The Beagle Trust), and education (various school classrooms) communities. Currently, two primary game mechanics have been devised and thoroughly play tested, whereby a variety of standalone and interchangeable decks are available in both free “print your own” online and purchasable print formats.

A SUMMARY OF YOUR PROJECT
Leveraging the already available expertise and resources developed via the Phylo Project (and in particular, the work done on the soon to be released GSA deck which focuses on the “process of science”), AMBL proposes the use of grant funding towards the production of a playable card game that is explicitly designed to embed a variety of important learning objectives around the subject of women in science and engineering. The funding will essentially be used to hire a team of 3 senior undergraduate or graduate students who will work part time with the lab (wage at approximately $15/hour over a one semester timeline), and using existing resources and Phylo game mechanics. Specifically, this team will be given the following objectives: (1) to research, evaluate and design the content presented on the cards; (2) to determine whether modification of existing game mechanics is required; (3) to produce a playable and playtested beta card game; and (4) to create a number of prototype lesson plans that can be used with the resource in light of existing provincially determined IRP requirements.

AMBL in turn will provide additional in kind funding to commission professional artists and graphic designers to ensure that the aesthetics of the card game is pleasing to both the educational community and the gamer community at large. The final product, like all Phylo related materials, may be branded accordingly (for instance, it could be called the WWEST deck), and will be made available for both free online access and via revenue neutral purchasing modes of distribution. Beta decks are envisioned to be available by April of 2015, whereas final decks (with commissioned art) should be ready by early 2016 latest. Furthermore, the lab is currently slated to use a variety of different Phylo card games to introduce “hackathon” principles in lesson plan design. This programming would be offered as recurring teacher professional development workshops, with the full expectation that this “Women in Science and Enginnering” deck will be utilized. This would provide a means for continued presence, promotion, and also creates circumstances where iteration and assessment of the card game can effectively occur.

Note that we are fully aware and sensitive to the nuances involved in broaching this complex topic. In fact, a crucial part of the project will evaluate what elements of the STEM/feminism culture do we tackle first, since some things are easier to do (i.e. highlight awesome female scientists/engineers), whereas some will take more nuance (i.e. highlight some of the challenging issues found within the women in science culture). Because the Phylo system is expandable, it is feasible to work on one facet first, as a stepping stone to tackle others. Overall, however, we will be cognizant of the card game working well somewhere in the curricula of the average North American K-12 system, but also want to make sure that we do not leave out elements of the game that provide the player some insight of the cultural challenges in STEM related gender roles.

THE NEED FOR YOUR PROJECT
This project is novel because it represents one of the few attempts at introducing game-based learning techniques to promote the objectives of the Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering Program (see objectives listed at http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Professors-Professeurs/CFS-PCP/CWSE-CFSG_eng.asp). Game-based learning is a relatively new and exciting form of pedagogy that many teachers are curious about, but are currently unlikely to adopt because of their unfamiliarity with available resources, as well as their lack of confidence in logistics and implementation. This proposal aims to produce a tangible freely available game that is ready for easy use, upon which the AMBL lab is committed to provide a mechanism for continued and teacher directed lesson plan development. This will hopefully enable teachers to address a variety of different learning outcomes including those around identification of “role models in technological occupations, including those that are sensitive to culture, gender, and physical ability.” (Grade 9 Social Studies IRP, British Columbia).

THE IMPACT OF YOUR PROJECT
Impact for the project can be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

1. The project will result in the production of a high quality trading card game that addresses issues in STEM and gender equality. More importantly, this is a tangible resource that will exist in perpetuity. This includes making the game available as a freely available online resource. Furthermore, the Phylo project has previously worked out a system for revenue neutral distribution of purchasable decks. This set up enables the existence of high quality versions of the game, which does not require any additional administrative support. As a result, this project provides the opportunity to create a legacy product, which in turn could act as a conduit to other similar projects.

2. The three university students hired will be given the opportunity to deeply examine the intersection of STEM and feminism: This we believe will be a transformative experience, as it will obviously involve proactive reaching out to a variety of individuals with different perspectives and contexts. The AMBL lab is well place make use of its own significant network, but this will also naturally include the community that WWEST envelops.

3. Given the widely disseminated and often heated narrative of this topic, the card game itself is likely to elicit great interest culminating in potentially achieving a wide reach. In particular, due to its open access nature (free versions available online), we envision great uptake from various internet communities, more so due to the overarching crowdsourced nature of the Phylo project. As well, given AMBL’s commitment to directly involve teacher professional development programming with the project, the card game will also have a guaranteed audience within the educational community. At present, it is hard to predict final outreach numbers, but we do believe that this project has the potential to generate great interest from the education, scientific, and media communities.

4. This project represents a concerted mechanism to embed more gender and diversity related STEM issues in AMBL programming. This, we feel, will create a greater expertise base within AMBL, so that more similarly themed programs can be developed in the future.

5. Although formal research assessment is not currently within the scope of this funding request, several of AMBL’s previous collaborators have already expressed some interest in exploring a research query around the effectiveness of game-based approaches in delineating and addressing gender related STEM issues. David Ng is currently being proactive in exploring possible avenues of research in this regard.

SUSTAINABILITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL READINESS
Guided under the direction of Dr. David Ng, AMBL is a fully operational academic science literacy lab, that is situated within UBC’s highly lauded Michael Smith Laboratories. AMBL has full autonomy over its research lab space, and is managed via internal operating funds, as well as additional sources of revenue obtained from professional scientific workshops and a variety of successful education-based grants.

This card project should enjoy good sustainability because of the already established longevity and viral outreach of the Phylo project, as well as the lab’s long term interest in investigating game-based learning outcomes. This includes a proactive stance to incorporate use of these cards into our upcoming “hackathon” based teacher professional development programs (slated to start in the spring of next year). This will provide a more directed platform to introduce the game to the educational community, as well as provide a continuing mechanism for formal lesson plan development.

If it comes to using forced “re-education” tactics on the anti-evolution folks, this here is your brainwashing graphic.

nicolas_fong_GO

By Nicolas Fong Go, via Fresh Photons

Pretty sure this is the “peer reviewed” article with the most swear words ever.

Specifically:

“The International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, a predatory open-access journal, has accepted for publication the marvelously titled paper “Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List.” According to Scholarly Open Access, researchers David Mazières and Eddie Kohler first prepared the manuscript in 2005, to protest spam conference invitations.”

Here’s a link to the actual paper (and back up link).

And this here, has to be the best figure EVER:

bestfigureever

Via (including text) io9.com

Nigel Stanford creates a mesmorising collaboration of science and music. #wow

CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music – Nigel Stanford from Nigel Stanford on Vimeo.

More on Nigel here. Via Colossal (Thanks Ben!)

I can’t even… So beautiful… So makes me wish I could go to space…

Wow (click on the image for a larger image).

PIA18432

This is:

a near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. While Cassini has captured, separately, views of the polar seas and the sun glinting off of them in the past, this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o’clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan’s largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea.

For a better look, please go to this link.

From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab

Who will die in Game of Thrones? The statistical (seriously) analysis…

Note: if you’re unfamiliar with the series, there are many spoilers in the journal article.

ABSTRACT: Predictions are made for the number of chapters told from the point of view of each character in the next two novels in George R. R. Martin’s \emph{A Song of Ice and Fire} series by fitting a random effects model to a matrix of point-of-view chapters in the earlier novels using Bayesian methods. {{SPOILER WARNING: readers who have not read all five existing novels in the series should not read further, as major plot points will be spoiled.}}

1409.5830v1Front

By Richard Vale. From Arxiv.org. Pdf here.

Climate Change and Aquaman: This makes total sense…

aquamanmrlovenstein

By Mr. Lovenstein.

New Yorker cartoon artist + Nature Journal = Awesome.

Click to enlarge.

thepains1

thepains2

By Roz Chast in Nature. Via Fresh Photons.

The illustrations for “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” are gorgeous!

professorastrocat10

imageGen

professorastrocat3

imageGen (1)

professorastrocat9

Art by Ben Newman. From Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space (amazon), via Brain Pickings

Insects crafted from recycled paper.

paper-31

paper-41

paper-21

paper-61

By Soon (for IGEPA Benelux), via Colossal

On coding love with html

html01 2

webpage

By Akihiro Mizuuchi, via Spoon & Tamago

Underwater biodiversity done in stunning paper craft. The word you’re looking for is “wow.”

HariandDeeptiADropInTheOcean

HariandDeeptiTheWorldBeneath

harianddeepti20000 2

By Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker (link), via Colossal.

This mathematically gorgeous calendar is a wonder to look at.

11042864423_7ef778958b_o 11042388293_1ef78c96f3_h 11042300446_c109b9cdc4_h 11042343304_3083069cb3_h

By J.P. King, and available for sale here (although currently sold out).

Origami crease patterns: more beautiful than you would expect.

muledeer

mule_deer_cp

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silverfish

silverfish_cp

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nighthunter

night_hunter_cp

 

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katydid_cp

katydid

 

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hermit_crab_2_cp

hermitcrab

By Robert J. Lang. He also has a wide range of amazing origami books – available here.

AVES: the deck of cards for the bird lover.

cards-2

cards-1

By Karina Eibatova, and LUX cards. Via Colossal.

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