Posted 2 hours ago


I got four extra credit points for this.

I have more teacher friends than student friends at this point in my life. Not a one of them would have failed to give this extra credit. Bless you, child, for giving your math teacher a reason to laugh today.

Posted 1 day ago
Posted 2 days ago

I’ve never been female. But I have been black my whole life. I can perhaps offer some insight from that perspective. There are many similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity that we find in the black community, as well as the community of women in a white male dominate society…

When I look at — throughout my life — I’ve known that I wanted to do astrophysics since I was 9 years old…I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expressions of these ambitions. All I can say is, the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist was hands down the path of most resistance through the forces of society.

Anytime I expressed this interest, teachers would say, ‘Oh, don’t you wanna be an athlete?’ I want to become someone that was outside of the paradigm of expectations of the people in power. Fortunately, my depth of interest of the universe was so deep and so fuel enriched that everyone of these curve balls that I was thrown, and fences built in front of me, and hills that I had to climb, I just reach for more fuel, and I just kept going.

Now, here I am, one of the most visible scientists in the land, and I wanna look behind me and say, ‘Where are the others who might have been this,’ and they’re not there! …I happened to survive and others did not simply because of forces of society that prevented it at every turn. At every turn.

…My life experience tells me that when you don’t find blacks, when you don’t find women in the sciences, I know that these forces are real, and I had to survive them in order to get where I am today.

So before we start talking about genetic differences, you gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity, then we can have that conversation.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson in response to a question posed by Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Security and Harvard University President

"What’s up with chicks and science?"

Are there genetic differences between men and women, explain why more men are in science.

(via magnius159)

Posted 3 days ago


Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

At my job I am sometimes called to do demos of an atomic force microscope (AFM), which can give you exquisitely detailed topographic images.

The sample I like to do for demos for the general public is the scales of butterfly wings. (All images below are my own)

This is a light microscope image of the wing I usually look at when I run demos. You can see it looks about halfway between the second and third image, with shiny bright green scales interspersed with black scales. (The lighter area has been damaged; I got these wings from an entymologist that literally pulled two from a sandwich baggie containing dozens of wings so they were not in perfect shape.)

green wing damage

A little less beautifully-lit but it’s the same general idea. Each one of these scales is (very roughly) about 100 x 200 microns, within the same general size range as the diameter of a human hair. If you’re really observant you may notice that there seem to be little bright dots in the shiny ones. (This is also pretty apparent in the first image on the original post.) Cue the AFM.

green scale

This is a 20x20 micron image, so about 1/10 the surface area of a single scale. It’s a false colored topographic image so you can see what’s going on.

The first time I went to take these pictures I was doing so with some undergrads who wanted to see what an AFM was, and as we were getting this image, I blurted out “Holy shit, it’s a bike reflector.” And so it is. Bunch of curved mirrors so that the surface looks shiny no matter what angle you hold it at.

Zoom in a smidge more? Why sure.

green scale side view

This is a 5x5 micron image, just looking at the edge of one of those “reflectors” on the butterfly scale. See that finer texture there overlaying the surface of the “reflector”? If my math is right the spacing is just about right to absorb red wavelengths. The green is what gets reflected. Do you get this? The butterflies don’t have different pigments in their scales, it’s the *physics of the scale structure that makes it look that way*.

Okay, let’s look at one of the black scales at the same 5x5 micron magnification:

black scale side view

Same. Magnification. Different. Structure. You’ll notice that the photographs in the post above generally avoid the darker areas, it’s because they suck up so much light that they’re friggin’ hard to get a good picture of, as you can see in the light image I included. Those tortuous structures just absorb everything.

Posted 4 days ago





everyone is embarrassed of their fourteen year old self trust me if you’re fourteen right now you will regret whatever it is that you are doing at this moment

What, being a SuperWhoLockian, Tumblrian, and just being generally pretty good? I don’t think so.

screenshot this and look at it in 3 years

I will reblog this until all 14 year olds see it.

Trust us, we’ve been there.

Oh, 14. On the cusp of so many good things, while failing to be any if them.

(Source: urbancatfitters)

Posted 5 days ago


Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka, brings the world to life in stunning detail in miniature. 

Follow him on Twitter & Instagram

(h/t Kotaku)

Posted 6 days ago

I’m rewatching Avatar with my three year old right now (skipping occasional scary or overplotty bits) and oh god it’s the most explicitly feminist thing he’s ever seen and it is rocking his world and he is pleading his case for me to make him an Azula costume because her lightning is SO COOL MOM (and frankly I think he identifies with her temper.) It’s the age where superheroes are teaching him and his friends how to be, and I’m so glad that there are women being added to his personal pantheon of awesomeness.

(Source: waterwhip)

Posted 1 week ago

When I was a child, it was believed that animals became extinct because they were too specialized. My father used to tell us about the saber-tooth tiger’s teeth — how they got too big and the tiger couldn’t eat because he couldn’t take game anymore. And I remember my father saying, with my brother sitting there, ‘I wonder what it will be with the human beings that will be so overspecialized that they’ll kill themselves off?’

My father never found out that my brother was working on the bomb.

Richard Feynman’s sister, Joan (via historical-nonfiction)

Well, then.

(via jtotheizzoe)


Posted 1 week ago
Posted 1 week ago



As someone who wants to study the human consciousness I found this very interesting.

Scott Routley was a “vegetable”. A car accident seriously injured both sides of his brain, and for 12 years, he was completely unresponsive.

Unable to speak or track people with his eyes, it seemed that Routley was unaware of his surroundings, and doctors assumed he was lost in limbo. They were wrong.

In 2012, Professor Adrian Owen decided to run tests on comatose patients like Scott Routley. Curious if some “vegetables” were actually conscious, Owen put Routley in an fMRI and told him to imagine walking through his home. Suddenly, the brain scan showed activity. Routley not only heard Owen, he was responding.

Next, the two worked out a code. Owen asked a series of “yes or no” questions, and if the answer was “yes,” Routley thought about walking around his house. If the answer was “no,” Routley thought about playing tennis.

These different actions showed activity different parts of the brain. Owen started off with easy questions like, “Is the sky blue?” However, they changed medical science when Owen asked, “Are you in pain?” and Routley answered, “No.” It was the first time a comatose patient with serious brain damage had let doctors know about his condition.

While Scott Routley is still trapped in his body, he finally has a way to reach out to the people around him. This finding has huge implications.


How awesome is this! :-D!!