I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week (and in the past couple decades) trying to understand politics. While I recognize the various strategies in play, on a basic level I don’t understand what the hell is wrong with our government, and why our politicians seem to be devoid of, or intentionally quashing, their ability to be reasonable. I also don’t understand how voters can be so dangerously ignorant. The most recent troubling example is the CNBC poll that reveals the staggering number of people who don’t know what ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act are, and who don’t realize that they’re the same law. Regardless of one’s political leanings, for me it all boils down to one question: why can’t politics and reason coexist?
Well, not quite, but putting two kinds of bacteria in a cage is one of the perks of a new use for 3D printing. There seems to be nothing 3D printers can’t do, including replacing petri dishes as the best venue for growing bacteria and reproducing environments in which microbes grow.
University of Texas scientists published a study detailing their use of 3D printing to build tiny habitats, or cages, to study bacteria. They start by putting bacteria in a gelatinous solution, which feeds them and promotes reproduction. The bacteria become fixed when the solution cools, at which point the scientists can figure out which bacteria they want to study and what shape they want the cage to be. They then project a 2D cage onto the gelatinous liquid and use that design for the 3D layering. High-precision lasers and hair-thin layers of protein form the 3D structure that completely contains the bacteria when it’s finished. After that, the scientists can decide which bacteria exist in each cage, as well as how much of those bacteria. This allows them to construct environments similar to those in humans and to observe signals from one community of microbes to another.
With 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.
Sigh… 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.
Oh, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Are you ever wrong? And are you ever not smashingly dressed? I mean, this sun vest…
Neil deGrasse Tyson is really working his upcoming gig as host of Cosmos Space Time Odyssey, a resurrection of Carl Sagan’s famous series Cosmos, a series due to air in 2014 and produced by Seth MacFarlane and, um, Fox.
In celebration of YouTube’s “Geek Week” (don’t they know that every week is geek week on the internet?), Neil dGT, otherwise known as “your own personal astrophysicist,” offers 10 reasons to love science. He all but dares viewers not to love these scientific snippets.
The whole “minimalist poster” meme has been going on for some time now, challenging artists to strip an idea down to its barest essence, represented in sparse visual form. Most often we’ve seen them for popular movies, shows, games, and the like, but some clever bloke decided to apply the idea to a more educational subject. As a result, we get brilliance like this: