Education News

DIY Anthropology: International Obscura Day this Saturday. Go Wild.

Calling all curious minds—scientists, anthropologists, relentless tourists: Saturday, April 9th, is International Obscura Day, the day to "explore hidden treasures in your hometown," or so says Atlas Obscura, a website dedicated to public curiosities and esoterica. If you're the kind of person who appreciates public oddities every day of the year, tomorrow is icing on the cake. Celebrate Obscura Day in one of hundreds of locales—from Los Angeles to Sydney, from Berlin to Manila.

News: Do Real Science. No Degree Required.

What's the next best thing to being an official scientist? Being a non-official one. A new website called Science for Citizens helps you find the science experiment of your dreams, hook up with the scientists involved, and actually take part in the experiment itself. Here are some examples of what you can do:

News: Thirsty Plants Text for Water

Can't remember when to water the plants? Wish they could just tell you when they need watering—just call you on the phone or something? Or maybe text you, "Help I'm desiccating!" Telecommunications researcher Kate Harman has come up with the device of an absent-minded plant owner's dreams—Botanicalls. It hooks up to your plant and sends you a short text message when the plant is too dry. Each kit costs $99 and includes metal sensors connected to a microcontroller. Insert the sensors into the ...

News: Creepy Facial Reconstruction of Iceman Mummy

It's tough to figure out what a mummy would have looked like when he was alive; soft tissue of a human body decays, even in ice. But, Dutch brothers Adrie and Alfons Kennis took the challenge. Using techniques that belong to both science and art, they managed to reconstruct the face and body of Otzi the Iceman, a mummy who was found in the Italian Alps in 1991.

News: Bullet-Proof Silk Sheets

Enjoy rolling around at night in the sleek luster of silk? Also afraid of a mobster finding out you're rolling around with his cousin's wife? Solution: bullet-proof silk sheets. All you need is the strongest biomaterial ever found--Darwin's bark spider silk. So, grab a loom and start weaving.

News: Early Humans Use Each Others' Skulls As Drinking Cups

How far would you go to be resourceful? Early Britons used each others' skulls as drinking cups and bowls. Recently, researcher Silvia Bello found human skulls with the top cut off laying in Gough's Cave, England. Skillful cut marks make it look like fellow humans scraped off the dead skin to clean the bone, and chips around the rim of the skull cup make it look like the edges were evened out for a better drinking experience. Researchers have found other skull cups in France and Germany, but ...

DIY of The Decade: Pixar's UP House Comes to Life

Truly spectacular and one the most breathtaking DIY endeavors to grace the front page of WonderHowTo, a recreation of Pixar's UP house was launched to an altitude of 10,000 feet in a private airfield near Los Angeles this past week. The project was executed by a team of engineers, scientists and veteran balloon pilots—(meaning, please, Do Not Try This at Home).

News: Fluorescent Puppies You Can Turn On and Off

Always wanted a fluorescent dog but didn’t want to commit? Well, here’s your solution. Researchers at Seoul National University developed fluorescent puppies that only glow when you want them to. Just inject the special pups with doxycycline and they’ll glow like a black light poster for a few weeks. Then, they return to dull, furry normal.

News: Are You Typical? The Planet's Most Archetypal Face Composited

Does this man look vaguely familiar? A neighbor or former co-worker, perhaps? You might think you recognize him, but this individual is actually the face of 7 billion. Composited with endless photos taken from the world's massive population, he represents an analytically deduced median: a 28-year-old Han Chinese man. The Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing has drawn data for the past ten years to come up with this archetypal image, as well as the following stats:

News: Building a Bonafide Solar Death Ray Sounds Too Easy

Eric Jacqmain is one smart cookie. Borrowing from the same principles of Archimedes’ mythological death ray, the Indiana teenager used an ordinary fiberglass satellite dish and about 5,800 3/8" mirror tiles to create a solar weapon with the intensity of 5000x normal daylight. The powerful weapon can "melt steel, vaporize aluminum, boil concrete, turn dirt into lava, and obliterate any organic material in an instant."

News: Bored? Get High Now (Using Your Computer)

For some of you out there, today may be a looooong Friday. But have no fear, if you've yet to furtively accomplish shaving off a few extra minutes from the office clock, there is an alternative for getting through the day: computer pharmaceuticals. Relax, moms, we're not talking illicit drugs. Computer pharmaceuticals (AKA: optical and audio illusions) are completely natural, harmless highs that promise to alter your perception and consciousness- without the risk of drugs or alcohol.

News: Zooming Into Sand

Incredible. There's a type of sand (found only on the small Okinawan island of Iriomote) in which each grain resembles a tiny star. And I never would have known, if it hadn't been for blogger Jason Kottke's pal Mouser. Mouser collects sand from all around the world, and then documents each sample with a macro lens:

News: What Happens When Water Hits a Scalding Hot Pan at 3000 Frames-Per-Second?

The Leidenfrost Effect: “a phenomenon in which a liquid, in near contact with a mass significantly hotter than the liquid’s boiling point, produces an insulating vapor layer which keeps that liquid from boiling rapidly”. It looks pretty spectacular captured at 3000 frames-per-second (almost as spectacular as when the same principle is applied to the human hand). Previously, Hand Fully Submerged in Liquid Nitrogen (OUCH... right?)

News: Robotic Ghost Knifefish Is Born

Researchers at Northwestern University have hatched a robotic replica of the ghost knifefish, an amazing sea creature with a ribbon-like fin, capable of acrobatic agility in the water. The fish is distinctive in its ability to move forward, backward and vertically, but scientists didn't understand its vertical movement until the creation of its robot replica, GhostBot (shown below). They now know its vertical propulsion is caused by two waves moving in opposite directions, crashing into each ...

News: The Magical Mathematics of Doodling

For someone who loves math as much as Vi Hart (a self-proclaimed "mathematical musician"), she doesn't pay an awful lot of attention to her math teacher. But that's ok. Cuz somehow her wonderfully whimsical doodling transforms into mini lessons on graph theory, mobius strips, binaries, fractals and more.

News: Say Goodbye To 2010 With 150+ "Best Of" Lists

Staying in tonight? Here's something that could occupy you for days. Fimoculous has posted the mother of all "Best of 2010" lists: a collection of over 150 lists from across the web in 37 different categories. Sit back, crack out the champagne, and take in all the amazing things that happened in the past year.