This tumblr's for all the great men and women of science for whom we owe our current understanding of the natural world; their achievements, their failures, and even their quirks, we celebrate them all.
For Science. For Inquiry. For Humanity.
Perfection. I may have to produce something like this next Halloween. Courtesy of Tysonism (FB).
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault - Seeds Safe & Secure
The safety of seeds is crucial for future food security and many types of seed banks exist within the world, however none exist like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Essentially a vast secure store of “duplicates” of all the important seed samples from the world’s crop collections its mission is to act as a safety net against any accidental loss. This includes anything from funding cuts, to global warming, to a global catastrophe in case of any of these the vault currently holds 6.5 million seeds with 1 million individual varieties.
Svalbard itself is located within a mountain in an Island in the arctic. Seeds are stored in minus 18 degrees celsius which are placed in sealed packages, inside sealed black boxes inside vault. The low temperature and the limited access to oxygen ensures low metabolic activity and cause a delay in the aging of the seeds. However seeds eventually do die but vault has an initiative in place to take stored samples and plant them to harvest new seeds from them. Ensuring the original variety can be perpetuated, and last almost forever. If seed varieties are lost anywhere in the world they can be re-established from the collection at Svalbard.
Here is your first installment of nasa fun crew photos for you! My favourite is the top one, personally. And the last one.
The Science of Mummies
Mummies are well-preserved bodies that have been frozen (sometimes literally) in time. By studying these remnants of the past, we learn about ancient cultures — and bizarre death rituals from history. But how do you get answers out of a mummy? That’s a science unto itself.
Though the mummies of Egypt are by far the most well known, they are certainly not the only ones that exist. In fact, archaeologists and others have discovered mummies throughout the world, including in countries such as Chile, Greenland, Italy, Iran and China.
We are so complex, yet so tiny.
Hidden in plain sight in the Parnell Building at the University of Queensland, Australia, sits the world’s oldest continually running experiment*. Inside a plain glass display case, sits an innocuous bell jar, which in turn houses an equally nondescript funnel filled with a black liquid. The liquid (which may not be an apt moniker depending on your definition) is tar pitch, or bitumen, and that’s where the mundane properties stop. At room temperature, pitch looks solid. In fact, it can be shattered with a hammer. But it actually flows at a rate of approximately one drop every 10 years.
The experiment was set up by UQ physics professor Thomas Parnell in 1927 as a way to demonstrate and measure the material’s extreme viscosity. Since the start of the experiment, it has since dripped 8 times. The 9th drop is slated to fall any day now."The Pitch Drop has the Guinness World Record for the longest running lab experiment. In its 86 years, no one has seen a drop fall, but the 9th drop is set to go at any time. If you’re logged in to the Ninth Watch when the Pitch Drop falls, your name will make the official record and make history." [x]
Also peculiar (or frustrating) is that nobody has yet to see a drop fall. It’s true, while a version of the experiment set up at Trinity College in 1944 was recently filmed in the midst of a drip, if you’re happy watching such a momentous event through a webcam instead of in person… well, you’ve come to the right place.
UQ has set up a new website called The Ninth Watch, which invites the world to sign up and watch the famous experiment, in the hopes of catching it drop. If you happen to be logged in when the new drop falls, your name will be entered into the history books along with everyone else who is way too into amorphous solids. There are a little over 6000 registered so far, with anywhere from 150 to 300 viewing at any given time.
If you’re not into watching pitch flow, there are opportunities for surreptitious people watching via the reflection in the display case glass. At the time of writing this post, a young woman was eating what appeared to be chicken while listening to her iPod.
It’s all about the particles in the tattoo ink’s pigment says Dr. Anne Laumann, MBChB, a professor of dermatology at Northwestern University.
Tattoo application uses a mechanized needle to puncture the skin and inject ink into the dermis or second layer of skin just below the epidermis. Since the process involves damaging the skin, the body responds with white blood cells which attempt to absorb the foreign particles and dispose of them in the blood stream.
“The reason pigment stays there is because the pigment particles are too big to be eaten by the white cells, so they just sit there,” Laumann says.
Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years. According to a 2010 Pew Research Report, approximately 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.
The problem with tattoos is exactly what makes them so appealing—their permanency. “If you have the name of your boyfriend on there and then you marry somebody else, that’s a problem,” Laumann says.
Tattoos also tend to become problematic with age. Ink can become blurred if injected too deeply into the skin, causing the pigment to migrate beyond the intended area. Fading and distortion due to changes in body shape are also common problems with tattoos. Permanent makeup—or tattoos that resemble eyeliner or other makeup—is a prime example of how these problems can lead to dissatisfaction years after the ink is applied because skin sags and changes shape with age.
“The problem with that is as you get older the shape of the fold of the skin changes,” Laumann says. “So not only does it bleed a bit because the pigment moves gradually over time and so those will tend to become sort of smoky edges, but also the whole line might become a little distorted over the years.”
When a tattoo is no longer desirable, whether it’s faded or causing a bad case of buyer’s regret, you can burn it or cut it out—but the safest and most effective method is a laser treatment.