mad-scientist
Music
10 Songs Bill Nye Made Educational
With the 20th anniversary of his show (September 10) just in the rear-view mirror, here are 10 of fictional Not That Bad Records' greatest hits from the not-actually-real album "Soundtrack of Science."... READ ON
TV
Rick and Morty and The Scientific Method
Is Rick Sanchez from Adult Swim's 'Rick and Morty' the future of science?... READ ON
Videos
Extreme Toasting
Let's push this toaster to "stupid levels."... READ ON
Weird Science
Behold, the Vacuum Bazooka!
Videos
Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman's Career as a Boat Captain
Article
30,000 Pounds of Sodium + Lake = Massive Explosion
So let's say it's 1947, you're the War Assets Administration, and you've got 30,000 pounds of spare metallic sodium from WWII on your hands. It's too dangerous to transport -- anyone who has taken high school Chemistry knows what happens if this stuff gets wet -- so no commercial railway or trucking company will agree to transport it. So you decide to toss it into the fish-free, frozen-over Lake Lenore and film the results. "A once-lethal war chemical becomes a peacetime pyrotechnic display!" Indeed.... READ ON
Article
James Randi's Witty, Surprising TED Talk
"I have a very peculiar background, attitude, and approach to the real world, because I am a conjurer." So begins James Randi's 2007 TED Talk, a few minutes before he takes a lethal dose (32 caplets) of homeopathic sleeping pills. He then proceeds with a scathing takedown of psychic practices, explaining how cold reading works, and ultimately calling psychic practice a "cruel farce." Randi then proceeds to explain his One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, and briefly discusses homeopathy, including a... READ ON
Article
The MythBusters Answer Your Questions!
It's here -- the mental_floss interview with the MythBusters, featuring your questions! (Also here: a new season of the show, starting tonight: Wednesday, October 6! Set your DVRs -- the new season premieres at 9pm. Also check out Kari Byron's new show Head Rush, a commercial-free hour of experiments on the Science Channel every weekday at 4pm.) For this interview, I combed through over a hundred viewer questions. I selected the best, threw in a few of my own for good measure, and sent them off to... READ ON
Article
Mythbuster Adam Savage on Failure
Here's a talk from the Maker Faire, in which Mythbuster Adam Savage declares: failure is always an option. In Savage's life, he has failed spectacularly on many occasions -- in this lecture, he tells some particularly awesome stories about those failures. This talk is awesome: funny, inspiring, and kind of silly. Carve out an hour sometime soon and have a look! (Via... READ ON
Article
Levitating Frogs May Destroy Everything*
So let's say you've got a high-energy magnetic field. You could do a lot with it -- erase a hard drive, stick some fridge magnets to it, dramatically conclude the fifth season of Lost (ahem) -- but no, researchers in the Netherlands used their terrifying magnetic power to levitate a frog in mid-air. Here it is: A NewScientist article explains: The levitation trick works because giant magnetic fields slightly distort the orbits of electrons in the frog's atoms. The resulting electric current... READ ON
Article
Recovering NASA History in an Abandoned McDonald's
In 1966, NASA's Lunar Orbiter program performed a detailed survey of the moon's surface. The Orbiters mapped the moon in exquisite detail, searching for suitable places that later missions could use as landing sites. The Orbiters sent back their data via an amazingly complex system employing 70mm cameras, optical scanners running in space, analog lossless image compression, and radio transmitters. The data was stored back on Earth on 2,500 reels of 2-inch tape. Where this story gets interesting is what... READ ON
Article
Legend of Zelda Theme Played by Tesla Coils
Here's an intensely nerdy video to kickstart your week! The video below (from the SXSW conference) shows ArcAttack, a band/performance art project in which custom-designed Tesla Coils are tuned and fired in sequence to create music. The band describes their project thusly: ArcAttack employs a unique DJ set up of their own creation (an HVDJ set up) to generate an 'electrifying' audio visual performance. The HVDJ pumps music through a PA System while two specially designed DRSSTC's (Dual-Resonant... READ ON
Article
Mythbusters: World's Biggest Paintball Gun
The Mythbusters are officially crazy. Using "Leonardo 2.0," a custom paintbull gun (actually an array of guns), they managed to paint a rough version of Mona Lisa in 80 milliseconds. "Leonardo" consists of: • 1 mile of vinyl tubing • 600 pounds of aluminum • 1,100 paintballs • 2,100 gallons of air (pressure: 150 pounds per square inch) Here's a video of the paint robot in action. First they use "Leonardo 1.0" with a single gun to paint a smiley face (starts around 2... READ ON
Article
Early Bird Gets the Internet Worm
When Robert Tappan Morris was a graduate student at Cornell in 1988, he had a clever idea: he would release a self-replicating program (or "worm") onto the Internet, reportedly in an effort to highlight security problems in computer networks. Morris's worm exploited vulnerabilities in common computer systems, allowing it to propagate at will onto new computers via the Internet. The worm was designed to use minimal computer resources, but in the wild its effect proved to be devastating. Morris... READ ON
Article
Explaining the "Dark Labyrinth" of Particle Physics
Garrett Lisi is a physicist...and a surfer who lives in a van down by the beach. In his TED Talk from February, he described a way of understanding the world (as a large thing) by looking at the tiniest things we can find. How does the world work at tiny scales? How does the Large Hadron Collider help us figure this out? How is a coral a pretty good metaphor for the patterns of subatomic particles? Lisi explains all of this in surprisingly followable language. (I did find myself rewinding and... READ ON
Article
Marvin Minsky on Emotion
Can we stop epidemics by stopping people from shaking each others' hands? Can we solve global overconsumption by making people smaller, or just getting rid of mostly everybody? If a "one child per family" policy means children's families are small, why not add dozens more parents to each family? Artificial intelligence maven Marvin Minsky tackles these "solutions" in a tongue-in-cheek TED Talk from 2003. Minsky makes an interesting point (in a roundabout way) about the nature of emotion and its role... READ ON

The sex of an alligator hatchling is dependent on the temperature of the nest during the incubation period. Typically temperatures above 91.4°F produce all males and anything lower than 86° produces all females.

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