Monday, 27 April 2009

Artists Takeover Over Illegal Billboards

Jordan Seiler's ambitious "New York Street Advertising Takeover" became a reality this month, when over 120 illegal billboards throughout the city were white washed by dozens of volunteers.


Thursday, 23 April 2009

Flavour of the giant milkshake in the sky revealed

In another effort to foil the public's attempts to take them seriously, astronomers testing a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have found that it might taste of raspberries. With apologies to UK readers, who probably saw this stories splashed across the media two days ago.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Cosmos In A Coffee Cup

Instinctively, we always knew the key to the universe was coffee, and now physicists at Duke University have handily proved it for us. 

A professor and his graduate student have discovered a universal principle that unites the curious interplay of light and shadow on the surface of your morning coffee with the way gravity magnifies and distorts light from distant galaxies.

Science Daily reports that, "Light rays naturally reflect off a curve like the inside surface of a coffee cup in a curving, ivy leaf pattern that comes to a point in the center and is brightest along its edge. Mathematicians and physicists call that shape a "cusp curve," and they call the bright edge a "caustic," based on an alternative dictionary definition meaning 'burning bright'..."

Friday, 10 April 2009

The Rise of the Trickster

This weeks the tweets are all about tricksters.  It is interesting to see the trope re-emerging in uncertain times. Lewis Hyde's seminal book on this topic is well worth re-discovering:

"The trickster is anybody who's a bit of an outsider. They're the ones who make change. They're not thinking about making change; they're almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they're working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity. It's important to honor mischief-making, in a constructive and creative way, because that's how we effect change. And it's so important that we figure out our inner mischief maker. That's the creative part of us. And everybody's capable of it." .

There's a lovely TED talk from a self-proclaimed trickster,
Emily Levine, well worth checking out.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Gravity satellite senses unknown energies

This press release doesn't quite capture the importance of the new gravity-sensing satellite which has launched this week. 

GOCE will feel the subtle variations in Earth's tug as it sweeps around the globe.

GOCE’s highly sensitive gradiometer instrument has been switched on and is producing data. The gradiometer is specifically designed to measure Earth’s gravity field with unprecedented accuracy.

One of several satellites which launch this year focused on gravity, GOCE will help scientists construct high-resolution maps of the geoid - an idealised globe with a surface of constant gravity. Geoid information has many applications but perhaps the biggest knowledge gains will come in the study of ocean behaviour. Understanding better how gravity pulls water - and therefore heat - around the globe will improve computer models that try to forecast climate change.


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sweet dreams are made

Looking for an explanation for weird dreams? New research suggests you can blame the Earth's magnetic field, not a repressed childhood. The New Scientist reports that Darren Lipnicki, a psychologist formerly at the Center for Space Medicine in Berlin, found a correlation between the bizarreness of his dreams, recorded over eight years, and extremes in local geomagnetic activity. Between 1990 and 1997, he kept meticulous records of his nightly reveries, amassing a total 2387 written accounts during his teenage years. "I always wanted to do science with them," he says. For the study, he devised a five-point scoring system to rate the bizarreness of these dreams.

(With thanks to
Fiona Wright for the headline - her words, not ours).