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.
Common Green Planthopper (Siphanta hebes)
Also known as the Green or Green Mottled Planthopper, the common green planthopper is a small species of flatid planthopper native to Australia. Like other planthoppers this species is often seen on plants where it feeds on sap from their leaves. When disturbed it can jump great distances to avoid predation, earning it the common name of ‘planthopper’. Although this species is usually green, a few (very rare) light blue morphs have been observed.
The word syringe entered the English language in the early 15th century, from Late Latin syringa, which in turn came from the Ancient Greek word σύριγξ (syrinx), in the accusative forms of syringa (s), syringes (pl.) meaning a tube, hole, channel, shepherd’s pipe, related to syrizein meaning to pipe, whistle, hiss. While the first suction syringes were used as early as the Romans and were mentioned by no less an authority than Celsus, the syringe as we know it today wasn’t invented until 1844 when Irish doctor Francis Rynd used a hollow needle to make the first subcutaneous injections. A decade later in 1853, Charles Pravaz and Alexander Wood developed a medical hypodermic syringe with a needle fine enough to pierce the skin. Almost as soon as it was created, Wood’s wife became the first fatality of the modern syringe, self-administering a lethal dose of morphine. The syringe has been continually improved and remains one of the most important tools available to doctors.
The word evolved in English from its early use (15th-mid 18th centuries) to mean a tube or catheter for irrigating wounds to common use as a hypodermic needle around 1880.
Image courtesy Virginia Commonwealth University, at their excellent flickr photo archive, used with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
The Flame Test
One of the main reasons why I gained interest in studying chemistry was the colours that elements and different compounds have. I just finished my second year at university, and I still get excited when I work with different coloured compounds in the lab.
The flame test is a qualitative way to identify the presence of a certain element or certain elements, usually metal ions, in a compound. The flame test involves taking a sample of a compound and putting it in the flame of a Bunsen burner.
Each element will give off a certain colour based on its characteristic emission spectrum (this also helps to explain the science behind fireworks), which is a spectrum (band of colours as seen in the bottom photo) that depicts the frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted due to the movement of electrons.
The heat of the flame provides energy for the electrons to jump to a higher energy excited state. These higher energy levels are also energetically unstable, so the electrons will fall back down to a lower energy level, which will release energy (in the form of light), resulting in a pretty colour.
As majestic as the flame test is, there are some limitations:
- The flame test is qualitative, and therefore cannot tell you exactly how much of an element you have in your compound
- Some elements like to fit in and give off the same colour (e.g. arsenic and indium both emit a blue colour)
- Some elements are a little shy and don’t give off any colours
- Like with most things, contaminants are rude and ruin all the fun, making everything a lie
Sergei Krikalev and Aleksandr Volkov’s Cosmic Salon.
Aboard the Mir space station, c.1991.
Krikalev and Volkov were orbiting Earth when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. They launched as Soviet citizens, returned as Russian citizens. For more on this incredible story, I recommend getting this trippy and cool documentary called "Out of the Present."
The World’s Most Beautiful Wastewater Treatment Plant
by Chris Tackett
Let this wastewater treatment plant show you how to live.
This may sound crazy, but it is exactly why the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York constructed their Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), also known as the Eco Machine. We can learn some valuable lessons from this building.
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living may be the most beautiful wastewater treatment plant in the world. It is powered by solar and geothermal power, so it requires no additional power to operate. Unlike other wastewater treatment plants, the OCSL does not use chemicals to treat the water, but rather mimics the processes of the nature world, such as using a combination of microorganisms, algae, plants and gravel and sand filtration to clean sewage water and return clean drinkable water back to the aquifer.
In addition to doing all of this, the OCSL also functions as a classroom, to help educate and inspire people about the power of nature to provide solutions…
(read more: TreeHugger)
photograph by Omega Center for Sustainable Living
The Seasons of Saturn
Image Credit: R. G. French (Wellesley College) et al., NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Exclusive: Bill Nye Explains Jupiter’s Great Red Spot In Classic Bill Nye Style
NASA’s Juno spacecraft will swing by Earth today for a “gravitational slingshot” that will send it toward Jupiter at 165,000 mph. To celebrate this triumph of science, Bill Nye is hosting “Why with Nye,” an eight-part YouTube series that will explain the Juno mission and the some of the many mysteries of Jupiter. In this episode, Nye describes what we know (and what we have yet to learn) about the planet’s Great Red Spot, a massive storm that’s barely changed in more than 300 years. The best part of this video? Bill Nye in a raincoat and bowtie! In pretend rain! And lightning!
Photographs by Ralph Morse of the Apollo 11 astronauts in training, June 1969.
This is how a coin looks after 14 months on Mars
A high-power camera on the Mars Curiosity rover snapped a picture of a 1909 American penny featuring Abraham Lincoln. The coin is used as a calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) that is at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm. In just over an Earth year on the Red Planet, you can see the bright copper is muted by lots of Mars dust.
Although the image has public relations appeal, there are scientific reasons behind picking that particular calibration target. It is supposed to measure how well the camera is performing, which is important as it zooms in on interesting features on Mars.
“The image shows that, during the penny’s 14 months (so far) on Mars, it has accumulated Martian dust and clumps of dust, despite its vertical mounting position,” the Planetary Science Institute stated.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Planetary Science Institute