CLOSE

Tonight: "Prophets of Science Fiction" Starts

Set your DVRs for "Prophets of Science Fiction" starting tonight (November 9, 2011) at 10pm EST/PST on The Science Channel.

Tonight the Science Channel debuts a new series about science fiction masters, hosted by Ridley Scott (director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, etc.). The eight-part series focuses on past masters of sci-fi literature, and how their foreward-looking notions have affected modern science. The first episode is about Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein), and talks about notions of creating life. But the episode also talks extensively about Shelley's personal story (without spoiling it, let's say she had a lot of issues with creating life herself). This is an interesting series for nerds because it's both about history (specifically, the stories behind major sci-fi writers and their work) and about science (cutting-edge stuff that is arguably sorta kinda related to the sci-fi). While some of the science is fairly pedestrian (like mapping the human genome), the history of the writers may not be as well-known, and that keeps things lively. Although I've only seen the Mary Shelley episode, the series looks solid, and I'm looking forward to it. Future episodes will feature: H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, and George Lucas.

Here's a good intro video -- it doesn't show much actual footage from the show, but gives a sense of what the series is all about:

For more info on the series, including Discovery's site.

Blogger disclosure: I was not specially compensated for writing this review. I'm a big fan of Ridley Scott, so I thought I'd check it out...and hey, I actually learned some stuff about Mary Shelley!

Original image
Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
arrow
Animals
These Strange Sea Spiders Breathe Through Their Legs
Original image
Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

We know that humans breathe through their lungs and fish breathe through their gills—but where exactly does that leave sea spiders?

Though they might appear to share much in common with land spiders, sea spiders are not actually arachnids. And, by extension, they don't circulate blood and oxygen the way you'd expect them to, either.

A new study from Current Biology found that these leggy sea dwellers (marine arthropods of the class Pycnogonida) use their external skeleton to take in oxygen. Or, more specifically: They use their legs. The sea spider contracts its legs—which contain its guts—to pump oxygen through its body.

Somehow, these sea spiders hardly take the cake for Strangest Spider Alive (especially because they're not actually spiders); check out, for instance, our round-up of the 10 strangest spiders, and watch the video from National Geographic below:

Original image
iStock
arrow
Food
How to Make Perfect Fried Chicken, According to Chemistry
Original image
iStock

Cooking amazing fried chicken isn’t just art—it’s also chemistry. Learn the science behind the sizzle by watching the American Chemical Society’s latest "Reactions" video below.

Host Kyle Nackers explains the three important chemical processes that occur as your bird browns in the skillet—hydrolysis, oxidation, and polymerization—and he also provides expert-backed cooking hacks to help you whip up the perfect picnic snack.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios