Archive for May 2008

Cyborg Monkeys and How the Brain Controls the Body

May 29th, 2008 | By | Category: Lit Round-up

Thanks to our continuing success in Iraq, you might have noticed distinctly fewer limbs in today‚Äôs America. Hence this recent work published in the journal Nature is quite encouraging: Here we describe a system that permits embodied prosthetic control; we show how monkeys (Macaca mulatta) use their motor cortical activity to control a mechanized arm […]



Nuclear Power: The Physics

May 23rd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

As I’ve quipped before, everything in the Universe secretly desires to be Iron. Why? Meet the nucleus: Protons and neutrons in an uneasy alliance. Neutrons, conveniently enough, are neutral in electrical charge. No problem rubbing two of them together. Protons, however, are positively charged. Remember, like charged objects don’t like sitting next to one another, […]



Nuclear Power

May 22nd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

Nuclear power, long reviled as a dangerous source of energy, is on the verge of a comeback. That’s because a growing body of scientists, politicians and environmental activists see atomic energy as part of the solution for global warming and our ever-growing dependence on foreign oil, much of it from nations that, if not downright […]



A Defense of Inches and Fluid Ounces

May 15th, 2008 | By | Category: Units

I know that as a scientist, I am expected to loathe all imperial measurements–inches, cups, quarts, gallons and Fahrenheit. Whining about the United States’ failure to embrace the metric system? Default behavior for dim bulbs seeking to seem sophisticated. You know what? I don’t like metric measurements for many daily tasks. Why? Factors! The metric […]



Platypus Genome!

May 14th, 2008 | By | Category: Evolution

(Salim Virji) Who doesn’t love the platypus? This is a creature bizarre enough to make marsupials feel better about themselves. The platypus, lactates (mammal!) and lays eggs (reptile!), grows fur (mammal!) and venom (reptile!). This might be the single most interesting creature, from an evolutionary point of view, on the planet. About 315 million years […]



Top Five Nuclear Weapons of All Time.

May 2nd, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Nukes

My week is ending poorly. Rather than go into a lengthy whine about crappily designed and maintained websites, the evil of both the SAX and DOM XML parsers in Python and “what, you can only do one miracle at a time” management, I’d rather present you with an appropriately glum bit of my knowledge. Thus, […]