"With greater power comes the need for greater responsibility."

June 13, 2010

I hope this clichéd company isn’t serious about The Spyder III.  In case you’re not up on your science tech, Wicked Lasers has invented the most dangerous portable laser known to man.  For $200, you can permanently blind and scar your friends by having your own real life lightsaber battles.  Now those annoying high school kids with laser pointers can point at the drive-in screen and simultaneously light it on fire.

I think advertising this as a real-life lightsaber may be a bit irresponsible.

I am all for advancements in technology.  However, I feel like this dangerous weapon can be acquired a little too easily.  If you don’t believe how dangerous this bad-boy can be, check out the warning from the company that produces this sucker here.  It’s pretty crazy.

However, you can order your very own combustion-blinding machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Jeez, I hope the kids in my neighborhood don’t find out about this.


More on parenting

January 10, 2010

Dr. Myers knows how to party.

The more I read PZ Myers’s blog Pharyngula, the more and more I like and respect the man. If you’re not familiar, Myers is an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris, so his blog is heavily influenced by science (he really likes Cephalopods). However, as a strong proponent of evolution, there’s a very heavy atheist and religious tone to his posts as well. He’s very well-spoken and logical and typically, I find, a solid read.

When I popped in today, I stumbled upon this article about parenting that made me cringe.


Holy shit.

You can check out the full article here. Make sure to stop in and check in on the 3rd most visited blog in Minnesota!

Scientists are whores for attention. Just like… regular whores for attention.

December 5, 2009

Everybody wants to be noticed. Even the dorky scientist in his black rimmed glasses, sitting in the back of the room in his white lab coat, playing with his hamsters and mice he’s going to experiment on, but also happen to be his only friends. It’s a tortured life and his unkempt, frazzled hair is as white as his lab coat and mirrors the true inner turmoil he feels each and every day as he drives his Toyota Prius to work for The Man.

Have I built a stereotypical enough scientist for you? I hope so, because I was just practicing my descriptive writing. But that first sentence does hold true, even with some of the most intelligent people you meet (i.e. – scientists of all persuasions). People choose to act out in different ways to get noticed. Don’t believe me? Go to a bar in a college town on a weekend (if it’s a big enough town, on a weeknight). You think those girls dressing with their cootchies half hanging out don’t want to be noticed?

Unlike in the field of life, however, in the field of science you don’t have to dress like a total skank to get noticed. Although I imagine doing so would draw some stares. No, in science, where the field is so competitive and all of these intelligent people are competing to get their research published in the same prestigious locations, attention is gotten the way that nerdy scientists enjoy getting attention: by showing off their really big numbers.

What does that mean, exactly? If Scientist A gets his information published about the breeding habits of wallabies in urban settings in Really Prestigious Magazine, but Scientist B has been studying the breeding habits of wallabies in urban settings his whole life and wants nothing more than to get his information published in Really Prestigious Magazine too, Scientist B may try and ‘spice up’ his research a bit to make the wallabies’ breeding seem more exciting.

“What? Don’t scientists have ethics?” you ask. But of course. However, a study of this hyper-competitive field, published in The Economist, found that “…on a study of 49 papers in leading journals that had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists. They were, in other words, well-regarded research. But he found that, within only a few years, almost a third of the papers had been refuted by other studies.” Yikes.

If you have a subscription to The Economist, you can check out the article titled Publish and Be Wrong (a little fear mongering, eh?) and then probably go have sex with your supermodel wife/girlfriend, because if you have a subscription to The Economist, you’re probably really rich. If you’re like me and don’t have a subscription, you can check out the full article here.

Now I’m going to go take pictures of the global warming happening outside of my apartment and see if I can get Congress to notice so they’ll do something about it.

“No way. That’s great… WE LANDED ON THE MOON!”

November 14, 2009

I’m not sure how this hasn’t garnered more attention from, well, everyone, but on October 9th, 2009, NASA sent a 79 million dollar satellite, (The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS. Scientists and their terrible acronyms at work again) hurtling towards our moon’s south pole to intentionally smash it into the surface there, in what was calculated to be the most expensive crash since ‘Waterworld’.

The purpose of this mission? Aside from the fact that it’s really cool to say you’re going to intentionally make something worth 79 million dollars crash into the moon, NASA’s goal was to create a huge plume of moon dust that they could analyze with their fancy, expensive equipment. So after impact scientists were able to collect about four minutes worth of useful information about the moon, with the hope of collecting enough favorable information that they could one day create a lunar outpost. That’s right, some day we’ll be sending new adventurers to survive in the harsh lunar environment. Then, once we’ve taken over the moon, NASA hopes to establish the new Galactic Empire and rule every place that our hyperdrives can take us.

So for all of that money we spent, what did we learn about the moon? There is water on the moon. Enough water that scientists are very pleased about how much they’ve discovered. If the nerds are excited, so am I!

If you have some time you may want to check out how your tax dollars are being spent in our quest for galactic supremacy right here at NASA’s official website. Or, instead, you could watch this much more entertaining video about outer space below.

I now ask you, who doesn’t want to take over the moon after that?

To boldly go where no man has gone before.

October 19, 2009

I suppose you could say I’m a bit of a nerd. “But Andy, you’re so cool and attractive. Why in God’s name would you qualify yourself as a nerd?” you may ask.

Maybe it’s the webinars on molecular paleontology and resurrection that I sign up for just for kicks.  Or maybe it’s that on some Friday nights I like to sit on my couch and find a riveting documentary that I feel qualifies me.

Whatever the cast, don’t judge me.  You’re not my mother.

One particular area of interest for me has always been space. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how people couldn’t be interested by space and its seemingly infinite depth. It may be my complete lack of understanding of the math/physics or my almost as equally limited grasp of astronomy, but when I think of space and everything that it could potentially hold in store, it literally almost makes my head explode. Every time.

Left: The Milky Way as science understands it. Right: The Milky Way as I understand it.

CNN has a fantastic article that I stumbled upon today about the depths of the universe as we know it. It seems that civilization’s understanding of the worlds around us grows each and every day. Check out the article here, or don’t. Even though I recommend reading the article, if you’re a little leery of the big science men and their big science words, I can try giving you my best explanation as to what’s currently happening around our solar system.

It turns out that some world-renowned astronomers in Europe have discovered 32 planets outside of our solar system, referred to as ‘exoplanets.’ “Why is this a big deal?” you ask. Because using their sophisticated High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, (That sounds a bit cliche, wouldn’t you say? And where is the ‘v’ in their acronym? For as smart as those scientists are, you would think they could come up with an acronym that includes all of the letters in their fancy computer) these scientists have collected data that is “…also predicting even more … Earth-type planets.” I know, I know. There are quite a few ellipsis in that sentence. That’s why you should read the article and fill them in!

A scientist using the HARPS computer to help discover life outside of our solar system.


So, if you’re not excited about the possibility of life outside of our solar system, then you might be the kind of person who wouldn’t like to sit around on a Friday night and watch NOVA documentaries.*

*Editor’s Note: That’s not necessarily a bad thing.