0

Harvard And MIT To Offer Free Online Cooking And Science Course

fb share tweet share

food scienceUsually whenever a pop science course shows up at a college, it’s got something to do with fictional entertainment, such as the Walking Dead course or the Science of Batman. And while those two classes are pretty awesome in and of themselves, they probably aren’t that useful in everyday life, unless you’re just really into survival and crime fighting. But the Harvard and MIT-sponsored online university edX is now offering the course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science” for any chefs looking to get a leg up, or learn some new skills.

Michael Brenner, an applied mathematician at Harvard, founded the course, and he has acquired a slew of other educators and successful restaurateurs to participate in the coursework videos. “The hope is that by combining these two different perspectives [science and cooking], you will gain a unique insight into how recipes work,” Brenner explained. “Not just the fancy recipes — but the recipes you make in your own kitchen.”

1

Marvel And Natalie Portman Partner To Encourage Girls To Enter Science Fields

fb share tweet share

PortmanWith each passing year packed with another two or three new comic-book movies, I’m sure there are some folks out there suffering serious superhero fatigue. But while you may or may not be eagerly awaiting the next adventure from the cinematic House of Ideas, here’s one reason to be thankful for all that on-screen success: Marvel is launching a new contest/mentorship program designed to encourage young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Marvel’s also bringing some star power to the plate for their Ultimate Mentor Adventure. Natalie Portman, who will appear next month in Thor: The Dark World, is partnering with Marvel to help find “the next Jane Foster.” That is of course the name of Portman’s Thor character, a scientist whose research led her straight into the path of Thor and his Asgardian cohorts in 2011’s original Thor film. Portman greets visitors to the site and explains the gist of the program (in a video which is, annoyingly, not embeddable).

Aimed at female students aged 14 and up, in grades 9 – 12, the Ultimate Mentor Adventure will allow the girls to meet successful woman working in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), “all while conducting interviews, participating in experiments and interactive events, and getting the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes where the general public is not normally invited — all while having this adventure filmed.” This seems like a great opportunity to get girls interested in STEM fields even more passionate about that path, and maybe even entice others who hadn’t considered such a career option.

0

White Space Is The Next Evolution In Wireless Technology

fb share tweet share

white spaceJust because Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere doesn’t mean we’re going to get complacent and stop developing new wireless technology. The possible next phase of Wi-Fi, “white space,” will be piloted in the UK in the next six months.

White space connectivity involves using spectral buffer zones, or gaps in the frequency band, to transmit broadband and inter-machine communications. These spectral buffer zones reside in the frequencies that broadcast digital television, and the white spaces are gaps that aren’t currently being used by broadcasters or other applications. Devices that use white space would communicate with a central database that monitors the frequencies, ensuring that the white space devices don’t interfere with any technologies that happen to be using the space. Basically, it’s a way to leverage the spectrum more than we have so far. White space availability depends on location and the number of devices that access the spectrum at any given time. Currently, using these white spaces doesn’t require a license.

0

Seven Possible Scenarios For Manned Interstellar Travel

fb share tweet share

starshipSince we learned that Voyager 1 has been in interstellar space for over a year, it’s become a bit easier to imagine that someday humans might follow. At the moment, we’re a bit more focused on getting humans to Mars and watching how that goes on reality TV, but scientists are thinking big and many of them believe that we can make major strides in interstellar travel in the next 100 years. That is, if the government gets its act together.

Of course, while some scientists believe colonizing space is an eventuality, others believe it’ll never happen, and some, including NASA’s former Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project head, Marc Millis, question the claim that we could reach the stars this century. The problem is that we don’t currently know of a way to power these trips, and even when we do figure that out, it’ll take a while to implement those technologies in interstellar spacecraft. Still, even Millis is game to try — he founded the Tau Zero Foundation to research technologies that might propel us beyond the solar system.

0

NASA May Slam An Asteroid Down On The Moon Like A Giant Domino

fb share tweet share

asteroidUsing up resources then getting rid of the evidence has become such prevalent behavior in the U.S. that we may as well change the definition of “The American Way.” Instead of doing it with the usual goods such as food and water, NASA is planning on capturing an asteroid, getting all it needs out of it, and then throwing it away like a common Earth rock. But how do you logically get rid of something that massive? You crash it into the moon, that’s how. But chances are, anyone reading this won’t be alive by the time that happens. Not the silver-est of linings.

The plan is to metaphorically grab a hold of a near-Earth asteroid and get it into a stable orbit around the moon. There, it can be used for exploratory and research purposes, remaining in place for multiple visitations during its years of use. “We think we have a lot of options,” said Steve Stich, deputy director of engineering at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We haven’t really talked about it in detail about all those kinds of things we can go do, but certainly we have enabled, by the way we have designed this mission, multiple visits to the asteroid.”

6

Government Shutdown Screws Science

fb share tweet share

House of RepsSigh… I think that about sums up most people’s feelings about the government shutdown. Oh, did you not hear me smash things against the wall, pretending to nail the heads of our elected leaders who stubbornly refuse to compromise, and at our expense? At least they’re still getting paid. Oh, and they all still have health insurance. Phew! I sure was worried about them.

I actually had a student walk in this morning asking if the shutdown meant class was canceled. Why didn’t I think of that? In my writing classes this semester, we read, analyze, and write about space. It’s pretty awesome. Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, space speeches and goals set forth by presidents — we cover them all. So when another student asked if NASA would be impacted by the shutdown, I had to sigh again, refrain from throwing anything, and say that yep — NASA’s getting screwed, along with a bunch of other science-related agencies. Great job, government!

Spoiler alert: the rest of this post will be depressing. Unless you hate science and technology.