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Tag Archives: Science

Larry the Robot Vomits So Researchers Can Study What Happens When Sick Humans Do

Everyone, meet Larry, the robot that vomits so researchers can study what happens when real humans do. It sounds like a funny and improbably story, but it’s true, and it has everything to do with noroviruses. In a nutshell, noroviruses are responsible for inducing fits of nausea, abdominal pain, and forceful (and sometimes projectile) vomiting.

Scientists from a British lab needed to come up with a way to study how other people got infected with the virus after standing in proximity to a vomiting norovirus sufferer. Their solution was Larry, which can spew projectile vomit up to ten feet. It sounds pretty gross, but hey, it’s all in the name of science!

VIA [ Dvice ]

Mind Blown: New Species Of Spider Builds A Decoy Of Itself

If you were a spider, with a tiny brain, would you know what you look like? In “damn this is scary” news, a scientist has discovered a potential new species of spider in Peru that creates a decoy of itself, places it on its web, and even wiggles its legs around to make it look alive. Best of all: it’s got eight legs, as spiders should. It’s an anatomically reproduction of itself, one which is made from dead insects, debris and leaves. Discovered by biologist and science educator Phil Torres in the Peruvian amazon, it is thought that the spider could belong to the genus of spiders called Cyclosa. These have been observed in the past building similar decoys, but none that are anatomically correct and certainly none that shake the web to mimic movement. It’s believed they make them to confuse and perhaps scare away their prey. Certainly in this new case, the decoy was much larger than the spider that built it, perhaps with the goal of making prey think that the spider that lives there is larger than it really is.

Torres, fascinated by the find, contacted “arachnologist Linda Rayor of Cornell University who confirmed the find was unusual.” Final confirmation of whether this is a completely new species, or just new previously-unreported behavior from Cyclosa, will require close anatomical observation. Since Torres didn’t have the required permits to take a sample, this will have to wait until January, when he plans to return.

[ Wired ] VIA [ Geekosystem ]

Educational Video: Guy Makes Translucent Rocket So You Can See What Goes On Inside

Being geeks doesn’t mean we only care about gadgets. Yeah, we’re called OhGizmo!, but if you haven’t noticed, we’re adjusting our editorial focus to encompass more than consumer electronics; geek culture and esoteric products are also fair game. So is science! And so are awesome videos like the one above. It’s a really interesting video made by one Ben Krasnow featuring a home-made acrylic hybrid “rocket” that lets you see what goes on inside as the gases burn. In the 5 minutes the video takes, you’ll discover that the device doesn’t actually contain any fuel: the structure of the rocket is itself the propellant.

It’s cool to watch. At least we thought so.

VIA [ Geekosystem ]

Pharmaceutical Researchers Use Levitation To Develop Better Drugs

Watch the video.

OMGWTF!! Amirite?

But maybe you’re wondering what’s going on. Well, it seems researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago are looking into ways of developing more efficient drugs. Specifically, they want to make more precisely calibrated drugs that would still deliver their therapeutic benefits while requiring less of the drug being taken. As part of this process, they have to evaporate the solvent that contains the active molecules while avoiding these taking up a crystalline form, as this yields a less efficient product. But if they mix the ingredients in a regular vessel (like a beaker), crystals are much more likely to form during the evaporation process (think of snowflake crystals forming only around dust particles). So they turned to “to an acoustic levitator, a piece of equipment originally developed for NASA to simulate microgravity conditions.”

Two small speakers to generate sound waves at frequencies slightly above the audible range – roughly 22 kilohertz. When the top and bottom speakers are precisely aligned, they create two sets of sound waves that perfectly interfere with each other, setting up a phenomenon known as a standing wave.

At certain points along a standing wave, known as nodes, there is no net transfer of energy at all. Because the acoustic pressure from the sound waves is sufficient to cancel the effect of gravity, light objects are able to levitate when placed at the nodes.

Crystals form when touching a surface? No problem: let’s get rid of the surface! Clearly you can only do this to small amounts at a time, so it’s more of an analytical tool than one intended to be used in mass production.

[ Full Article With Details ] VIA [ GeeksAreSexy ]

Awesome Map Shows Visualization Of 56 Years’ Worth Of Tornadoes Across The USA

By David Ponce

The fun thing about data is that it can be displayed in a ton of different ways, and sometimes the results are very pretty. Seen above (click it to enlarge) is a map of the United States showing every tornado on record since 1950 going up to 2006. One John Nelson pulled all the relevant data from the website (representing almost 60 years of NOAA information), and color-coded F0 storms a dark purple, while neon blue was used to represent the most powerful category — F5 storms. The result is the above and if anything, it makes us wonder why anyone in their right mind would live in the Eastern part of the country.

[ John Nelson ] VIA [ Geekosystem ] AND [ Full Size Resolution Here ]

This Is How Last Weekend’s Eclipse Looked From Space

By David Ponce

The top photo was taken with NASA’s Terra satellite with its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. No points for guessing in which part of that shadow was the eclipse most complete. The second photo is taken from the International Space Station by noted shutterbug Don Pettit. This shadow is a little bit harder to discern, but it does give you a better idea of the scale of it against the globe.

Last weekend’s eclipse was the annular kind, which leaves about 6% of the sun exposed as a fiery ring around the moon. If you just look around the inter tubes a little bit, you’ll be sure to find pictures of that. But we just thought it was interesting that while most pictures involved cameras pointed up, these two above involves cameras pointed down.

VIA [ Geekosystem ]

A New Coating Could Change The Ketchup Bottle Forever

By David Ponce

Getting Ketchup out of a bottle that isn’t the plastic squeezable type is an exercise in patience. Countless ads for the product have pointed this out, and have almost romanticized the process to the point where it’s almost become part of its charm. But hey, there are those of us who just like to eat without having to hit the bottom of anything made of glass. So MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith and his crew have developed a super non-stick coating they call LiquiGlide which makes anything coated with it, well, super non-stick. Ketchup, as you can see in the video below, simply slides right off the bottle’s inside and on to a plate. It’s easy enough to apply to bottles, as you just have to spray them once while they’re being made. If adopted by manufacturers, the chemical could save billions in wasted food by ensuring everything comes out of the bottle and doesn’t just get thrown out. Each chemical component that makes up LiquiGlide is individually already approved by the FDA, so it shouldn’t take too long for the product itself to receive the seal of approval. What happens at that point remains to be see, but do hit the jump to see another video of this in action.

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Man Build Gun That Shoots Lightning Rays

By David Ponce

Nikola Tesla was a genius. Any geek worth his salt knows this. He was also certifiably insane, which is probably why he was denied credit for much of his inventions. But most of you have probably heard of the Tesla Coil, that device TV shows are very fond of for its ability to produce some fantastic electric discharges. Well, a man by the name of Rob Flickenger has put the device to good use and made a gun out of it. That’s right, Rob’s device is a gun that shoots lighting rays; he calls it The Tesla Gun. There’s no thunder of course, because it’s not actual lightning, but man, that thing shoots some mean electric arcs and can be pointed at stuff. When it doesn’t find ground, it just kind of shoots stuff all over. The gun housing is made from melted down aluminum cans, which was poured into a mold made from a Nerf gun.

The final working Tesla Gun is a portable spark gap Tesla coil that is powered by an 18V drill battery. The electrical system is composed of the aforementioned drill battery along with a flyback transformer that steps the 18V to around 20,000V. A bank of capacitors stores the charge that is then used to strobe the coil itself. The primary and secondary coils are made of ABS plastic wrapped with copper wire, and are used to direct the charge outward through an aluminum toroid (the “barrel” of the gun).

We gotta say, Rob channels the mad scientist look quite well. And he’s done a good job of detailing a step by step of how he made this. So head on over to the links below and watch science in the making.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ ]

Magnifi Case Lets You Use Your iPhone With Almost Any Optical Instrument

By David Ponce

We’re not going to launch into a sales pitch about the iPhone’s camera. It’s nice, ok, but whatever. It’s nice enough to carry around in your pocket and happens to have a smartphone attached to it. So it stands to reason that you’re going to start looking for ways to use it in more situations than it was originally intended for. The Magnifi case lets you position your phone right over the eyepiece of almost any optical instrument, and lock it in place for easy photographing/recording. It has a detachable eyepiece adapter that locks onto the rest of the case through a “bayonet mount”, meaning a twist-to-lock mechanism that not only secures it in place, but makes it simple to upgrade later to different types of adapters should you need to. It’s not a full case in the sense that you won’t be toting your phone around in it; it’s more of a slide-in affair, with a safety latch to prevent the iPhone from sliding out.

Magnifi was designed to work with eyepieces that are 1in – 1.5in in diameter (25mm – 38mm). If your eyepiece has large eye seals, they must be removable. In order to align you phone’s camera with the eyepiece, Magnifi must be able to slide down over the eyepiece at least 1in (25mm) without obstruction.

Currently a fully funded project on Kickstarter, Magnifi is $60 with an eventual retail price of $80.

[ Project Page ] VIA [ Wired ]