Archive for the 'amazing science' Category

16
Oct
13

DNA Computers–Think Origami, or Brain Folds

Scientists have struggled for over thirty years to market a DNA computer to the masses. It can play tic-tac-toe and solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (best way for a national sales guy to visit twenty-thirty cities–quite relevant to everyday people). Now the experts are considering using DNA computer apps to fight disease. But, for us middle Americans, we are far from benefiting from the power, affordability and tiny size of DNA computers.

Here’s a clever idea I stumbled across on MIT’s blog. We all know that the reason the brain can do so much is it relies on the folds that cover its surface. Technically, they’re not ‘folds’; they’re Gyri or Gyrus (singular) and the ‘valleys’ between the Gyri are called Sulci or Sulcus. Anyway, Mother Nature added these to give that umph to our brains in power, storage capacity and speed that no computer comes close to matching. Why not add them to DNA computers? Here’s a discussion:

DNA Origami for Faster, Smaller Computer Chips

Using DNA structures, researchers may be able to construct tinier, cheaper chips

Artificial, self-assembling DNA structures may help make smaller and cheaper microchips, according to research presented in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Tinier microchips would allow faster computers and other electronics.

Researchers from IBM and the California Institute of Technology used a technique known as DNA origami, where a long strand of DNA is folded into a shape with many shorter strands dubbed staples, creating a three-dimensional shape. In the paper, the researchers demonstrated using DNA origami-shapes as a scaffold for carbon nanotubes–a trick that could eventually be used to create nanoscale microchips.

The DNA structures are tiny enough to have features measuring six nanometers–the current industry standard for microchips is 45 nanometers. The process could replace the expensive tools manufacturers currently use to make tiny chips, although IBM suggests that it could take up to 10 years to test and refine the process for manufacturing.


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09
Oct
13

Why Are People Right-handed?

Twining ivy

Twining ivy

Plants are left or right-handed. Look at them. They grow toward one direction, not

necessarily due to the sun. You’re probably most familiar with plants that have tendrils, or twine their way up a post  or fence. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that they form consistent right- or left-handed helices as they climb.

Non-human primates are balanced as far as handedness goes–some left, some right–as were Australopithecines. But when our genus Homo arrived, we became more likely right-handed.

Why? Take a guess before you read the article below. Defense? Hunting? Some requirement of balance with our upright position? Maybe a relationship between the right hand and left brain?

Read on.

The Origins of Handedness – Origins

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22
May
13

Metamaterials and an invisibility cloak

Sounds like a Klingon cloaking device if you’re a Star Trek buff. What used to be the staple of science fiction is now almost reality thanks to ‘metamaterials’ and their ability to guide  electromagnetic waves around an object and emerge on the other side as if they had passed through nothing but air. the result: They eliminate all reflection and shadows, thus rendering an object invisible. Early this year, Duke University made one that measures 20 inches by four inches and is less than an inch thick. Its 10,000 pieces are made of the same fiberglass material used in circuit boards. It uses algorithms to determine the shape and placement of each piece in the cloak.

I’ve been researching metamaterials for a book I’m writing. I like including weird science in my plots. I’d show you a picture of something shrouded in an invisibility cloak, but, well, if you’re a James Bond fan, remember his invisible car? Like that.

Here’s an amazing article from the BBC, gives you a sense of what it would be. This British art student painted her car to match the surroundings, invisiblesimulating invisibility. Kinda. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s amazing.

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17
Apr
13

Numbers in Nature–the Movie

I’m not the only one crazy about numbers. These people made whole movies about them. This first is inspired by numbers, geometry and nature, created by Cristóbal Vila.:

This second one is about the Fibonacci Sequence (see this on codes and Fibonacci Number and this visual on Fibonacci Number):

This third one addresses the Golden Ratio (i.e., the Fibonacci sequence):

Enjoy!



Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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10
Oct
12

The History of the World in a 2-minute Video

Don’t believe it’s possible? Check this out…

history of the world

Bill Bryson would be jealous.

11
May
12

Lucy: A Biography–Part XVIII

Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.

Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?

Here’s a summary:

Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.

Every week, I’ll post part of this story.

A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.

Continue reading ‘Lucy: A Biography–Part XVIII’

04
Mar
12

Singularities Anyone?




What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

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Documents

Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography


Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.21 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind (Science Masters Series) July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.97 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
  • In the Shadow of Man July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.32 book published: 1971 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/23 shelves: early-man, science review: I read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background on the great apes so I could show them acting appr […]
    Jane Goodall
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