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Tag: Science (81-90 of 94)

Site of the Day: Live stream from Pop!Tech

Poptechlogo_lFounded eight years ago as the Camden Technology Conference (after the small Maine town that is home to several of its forward-thinking organizers), Poptech has turned into an annual gathering of mass-media and technology leaders — a place to witness "powerful ideas and innovative projects that are changing the world." This year’s conference is underway (it closes today) — but it’s not to late to watch and listen to some of our generation’s brightest minds engage in lively discussions about how to make this planet a smaller and better place

Site of the Day: 78 Optical Illusions...

Opticalillusionsquare_lHey, bud, c’mere! Take a look at the squares in the box at left. Do they look like they’re uniformly spaced? Really? Are you sure? … Okay. Thanks for playing along. I know that you know that these are ordinary squares. You’re no rube — you saw that this was a site with lotsa swell optical illusions and other, you know, visual phenomena. Hey, before you go, be sure to check out some of the Flash-animated effects, like the "Reverse Spoke Illusion" and the "Stepping Feet" — you’ll thank me later, chief.

Discovery's 'Time Warp': The only acceptable use of slo-mo?

Tonight, the Discovery Channel debuts its new show Time Warp, which uses high-speed photo technology —  up to 10,000 frames per second — to show what it really looks like when a man, say, juggles chainsaws, takes a punch to the face (you’ll want to watch that below), or uses a Blendtec blender on gumballs and butane lighters.

Awesome, right? I know Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET is a busy time for your DVR you, so I’ve taken the liberty of linking to Discovery’s Time Warp schedule: Tonight’s back-to-back episodes repeat at midnight.So, is this the only acceptable use of slo-mo camerawork (outside of sports), or just one of the best? If you answer the latter, name your favorite slo-mo scenes… so we can judge you.

Are you genetically programmed to be a scaredy cat?

Thering_lA new study by German scientists suggests there’s a genetic explanation as to why horror films amuse some folks, yet fill others with nameless dread. Researchers tested 96 women on their response to crime-scene images and unexpected loud noises, and found that ones with a certain variation of something called the "COMT gene" startled more dramatically than others. 

Despite the depth of my scientific knowledge*, I’m not sure how solid the study is. I am, however, vindicated knowing it was not me who, in the middle of a crowded movie theater back in 2002, curled my knees up to my chest, pressed my fists up to my forehead, squinted my eyes, and made a pathetic "eeep" sound when Scary McLonghair crawled out of that television set in The Ring.

So tell me, PopWatchers: Do any of you have the same easily rattled genes as me? And would you be interested in a "cure" for what ails you? (My short answer can be found by clicking here.)

* Took courses called "sociobiology" and "geology" to fill college science requirement.

History's 'Jurassic Fight Club': As awesome as it sounds

Jurassicfightclub_lTell me I wasn’t the only one who tuned in for the premiere of History Channel’s Jurassic Fight Club  last night (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET). The first face-off pitted Majungatholus against Majungatholus (pictured) in a CGI battle to the death based on a scenario paleontologists deduced from fossil finds on the island of Madagascar. The first 45 minutes showed the science that determined that a female dinosaur had gone cannibal on a male. The final 15 minutes recreated their deadly encounter, after an ominous flashing of the warning "YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE A GRAPHIC DEPICTION OF A VIOLENT PREHISTORIC BATTLE. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED." Allow me to give you the fascinating play-by-play after the jump.


Radiohead's Thom Yorke vs. the machines: The battle goes on

Johnmatthias_lWho is John Matthias (pictured)? Take your pick. He’s the British avant-folkie who just put out an accomplished, unsettling album, Stories from the Watercooler. He’s also the physics Ph.D who, with collaborator Nick Ryan, created Cortical Songs — a far-out project due this month in which all the music was "written" by an artificial brain program on a computer, then played by a human orchestra. (For a more detailed explanation which may or may not clarify matters, try this academic paper by Matthias and Ryan.) But most importantly to the likes of me, John Matthias is an old pal of Thom Yorke’s who totally played violin and viola on The Bends. In fact, Yorke recently repaid that 13-year-old favor by remixing one of those Cortical Songs tracks. So what does it sound like when Radiohead’s leader works out his infamously complex relationship with modern technology… on a piece of music that literally emerged from some sort of rudimentary robot mind? Check it out at Nonclassical Music’s Myspace, or stream it below (thanks to Pitchfork for that):

I, predictably, am loving it. This remix could easily have fit in on Yorke’s electronic solo album The Eraser if only he’d seen fit to sing a little something over that dissonant backdrop. That’s a compliment — it’s fun to hear him going crazy with all those glitchy bleeps and blips again, even if it’s only for a few minutes. So I’ll definitely be enjoying this track while I wait for Radiohead to follow through on the tantalizing hints they’ve been dropping about new material in the works (already? OMG!) — and I’ll be keeping my ears open for the next twist in John Matthias’ career. How about you?

Stars in roles that make you uncomfortable

Isabellarossellini_lI had heard about Isabella Rossellini’s new role as a "insect-sex (insex?) advocate" on Sundance’s educational Green Porno series, but it wasn’t until a friend sent me a link to the website — which has posted the short films for streaming — that I really got uncomfortable. (And of course had to watch them all, you know, so I could write this post with the journalistic integrity required of a PopWatch scribe.) Anyway, do check ‘em out if you think you’d enjoy watching Rossellini dressed in a variety of insect guises doing what the birds and the (you got it!) bees do. It’s sort of SFW, in the way that the Team America marionette-sex scene is SFW. (I’d link to it, but I can’t seem to find it online… curious, that.)

Here’s my question about the Green Porno films — who’s their intended audience? They can’t be for kids, despite the cutesy outfits and soft colors. The "Snail" film (pictured) has more in common with Secretary than with Sesame Street. Especially the part where she informs us, graphically so, about where the snail’s, er, anus, is unfortunately positioned. (I’m sure there’s a Love Guru joke in here somewhere.)

So! If you’ve watched Green Porno, do you feel any differently about the former Lancome model (who, granted, has starred in some pretty out-there films)? Besides Rossellini, are there any other stars that have played roles that make you similarly uncomfortable?

Three reasons to watch... Discovery's 'When We Left Earth'

Earlier this week, I went to a screening of Discovery’s When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, a six-part HD history lesson on our space program with never-before-seen, remastered footage that premieres June 8. Amazing. The kind of amazing that makes your mouth drop open and your head turn to the person sitting next to you to make sure that they’re seeing what you’re seeing.

Here are three reasons, from episode 2’s Gemini missions, why you need to tune in… 

(1) The first American spacewalk: Gemini IV astronaut Ed White (below) steps outside the capsule and flies at 17,000 mph, 200 miles above the Earth, for 36 minutes. He "didn’t hear" the commands to come inside sooner.



Next week on 'The View': Nicolaus Copernicus!

Sherri_lI had hoped that the lively and funny Sherri Shepherd would make The View into a must-watch show again, but I never imagined she would do so by displaying her complete scientific illiteracy, as she did yesterday when she said she doesn’t believe in evolution and doesn’t know whether or not the world is flat. (In her defense, Shepherd suggested science was less important to her than figuring out how to provide food for her child. Then, I suppose, she left the studio on her horse, galloped home to her cave, wrung the neck of a chicken, roasted the bird on a spit over an open fire, and fed it to her son with her fingers.) Elisabeth Hasselbeck must be breathing a sigh of relief, since she is officially no longer the biggest airhead on the panel.

addCredit(“Steve Fenn”) 

Sharks shag to Salt 'N' Pepa, not Britney

Pepa_lSomeone please tell me the Discovery Channel was filming this: According to this piece from The Independent, researchers at 10 different German aquariums played sharks music for two hours a day, for four weeks, hoping to find a sound that stimulates their libidos. (The captives apparently aren’t knockin’ fins like they used to.) While Britney Spears fell flat at a facility in Munich, other cities got lucky: "Push It," by Salt ‘N’ Pepa (pictured) was a hit in Speyer, Joe Cocker’s "You Can Leave Your Hat On" did the trick in Timmendorf, and Justin Timberlake’s "Rock Your Body" had them courting in Konstanz.

What tracks would you recommend?

addCredit(“Salt ‘N’ Pepa: Joe Bangay/LFI”)

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