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Powers of Ten

I've written about "Power of Ten" before, but the videos have been taken down due to copyright claims by the owners. Finally, the Eames Office has an official YouTube channel (albeit with only one video for now) hosting a version that will not be taken down. If you haven't seen this classic film from 1977, please take a few minutes to enjoy it. Here's what I wrote in 2009 about a (now taken-down) YouTube clip of the film:

If you’ve never seen the classic short “Powers of Ten,” I’ve got a treat for you. Created in 1968 for IBM by Charles and Ray Eames (yes, of Eames Chair fame), the film has a very simple premise: start at a static scene, then start zooming out, at one “power of ten” per ten seconds — for example, from 102 meters to 103 meters. As we zoom out, we see the earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and so forth. Once we reach 1024 meters (the size of the observable universe), the camera then begins a faster zoom-in…and goes beyond the original scene, into the microscopic scale and beyond.

For me, “Powers of Ten” is an educational touchstone — it’s a film I was shown several times in science classrooms, and to this day, I find it captivating in its simplicity and power. All you do is zoom way out and zoom way in — the universe is just a matter of perspective.

For more, check out “Powers of Ten” on Wikipedia, and the official “Powers of Ten” website. Also check this competition to create a companion video for Powers of Ten, sponsored by design blog Core77, the Eames Office, and Herman Miller.

(Thanks to Kottke.org for pointing to the original YouTube clip, and Kottke.org again for pointing out the new, official version!)

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iStock
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The Delicious Chemistry of Sushi
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iStock

The secret to sushi's delicious taste is invisible to the human eye. Chefs spend years training to properly prepare the Japanese culinary staple, which consists of fresh fish and seasoned rice, either served together or wrapped in seaweed. At its most elemental, as the American Chemistry Society's latest Reactions video explains below, the bite-sized morsels contain an assortment of compounds that, together, combine to form a perfectly balanced mix of savory and sweet. They include mannitol, iodine, and bromophenol, all of which provide a distinctive tang; and glutamate, which adds a savory, rich umami flavor (and turns into MSG when it's combined with a sodium ion).

Take a bite of science, and learn more fun facts about the Japanese culinary staple's long history and unique preparation method by watching the video below.

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Courtesy the University of Colorado Boulder
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Fossilized Poop Shows Some Herbivorous Dinosaurs Loved a Good Crab Dinner
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Lead author Karen Chin of the University of Colorado Boulder
Courtesy the University of Colorado Boulder

Scientists can learn a lot about the prehistoric world through very, very old poop. Just recently, researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder and Kent State University studying fossilized dinosaur poop discovered that some herbivores weren't as picky about their diets as we thought. Though they mostly ate plants, large dinosaurs living in Utah 75 million years ago also seem to have eaten prehistoric crustaceans, as Nature News reports.

The new study, published in Scientific Reports, finds that large dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period seem to have eaten crabs, along with rotting wood, based on the content of their coprolites (the more scientific term for prehistoric No. 2). The fossilized remains of dinos' bathroom activities were found in the Kaiparowits rock formation in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a known hotspot for pristine Late Cretaceous fossils.

"The large size and woody contents" of the poop suggest that they were created by dinosaurs that were well-equipped to process fiber in their diets, as the study puts it, leading the researchers to suggest that the poop came from big herbivores like hadrosaurs, whose remains have been found in the area before.

Close up scientific images of evidence of crustaceans in fossilized poop.
Chin et al., Scientific Reports (2017)

While scientists previously thought that plant-eating dinosaurs like hadrosaurs only ate vegetation, these findings suggest otherwise. "The diet represented by the Kaiparowits coprolites would have provided a woody stew of plant, fungal, and invertebrate tissues," the researchers write, including crabs (Yum.) These crustaceans would have provided a big source of calcium for the dinosaurs, and the other invertebrates that no doubt lived in the rotting logs would have provided a good source of protein.

But they probably didn't eat the rotting wood all year, instead munching on dead trees seasonally or during times when other food sources weren’t available. Another hypothesis is that these "ancient fecal producers," as the researchers call them, might have eaten the rotting wood, with its calcium-rich crustaceans and protein-laden invertebrates, during egg production, similar to the feeding patterns of modern birds during breeding season.

Regardless of the reason, these findings could change how we think about what big dinosaurs ate.

[h/t Nature News]

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