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Science in your city: Arkansas Museum of Discovery, Little Rock, AR

AS_museum1The Arkansas Museum of Discovery (www.museumofdiscovery.org) was established as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities in 1927 and has since expanded its exhibits, collected thousands of artifacts, changed locations, and become accredited twice by the American Association of Museums to become the Little Rock landmark it is now. Since its name was changed to the Museum of Discovery in 1998, the museum has had a greater focus on science, technology, engineering, and math, leading to an incredible number of new opportunities to teach students of all ages about these scientific areas.… Read the entire snippet

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How did the big bang create the universe?

bang1What?

Nowadays, when people mention the big bang theory, they think of Sheldon Cooper and his utter lack of self-awareness during embarrassing social interactions.

The title of the show featuring the antics of a pretty blonde girl and four brilliant nerds, though, was actually derived from one of the most important astronomical theories.

The big bang theory describes the creation of everything in the universe. According to this theory, all the matter in the universe came into existence at the same time during an event known as the big bang, which happened about 13.7 billion years ago.… Read the entire snippet

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Science in your city: Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC

Named as the best science center in the United States by Mensa International – the international high IQ society, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is known for having the world’s largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft. The National Air and Space Museum (http://airandspace.si.edu/) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, which is the world’s largest museum and research complex, comprised of 19 museums, 9 research centers, and over 140 affiliated museums around the globe.

smith2

Although the National Air and Space Museum might seem like many a science center with a number of exhibitions, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium, the Smithsonian’s content and displays far exceed the average expectations.… Read the entire snippet

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How does climate change occur?

What?

Global warming and “going green” are some of the most prominent buzzwords in the media today. The hype about water bottles produced using 30% less plastic and napkins made from 100% recycled paper isn’t just for any random reason, though. This is the result of concerns about climate change.

It’s a “green footprint”!
climate1

Although our weather changes from day to day, our climate generally stays constant over the years. Climate, defined as the average weather over a long period of time, is different in various regions of the world according to the amount of sunlight locally received as well as geographic factors, including proximity to oceans and altitude.… Read the entire snippet

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How have scientists managed to stop light?

Who?light2

A team of researchers at the University of Darmstadt in Germany.

What?

According to Albert Einstein, light is the fastest thing in the universe, and at a speed of 300 million meters per second, this isn’t hard to believe. For well over a decade, though, people have been working to stop light in its tracks and hold it in place. This isn’t the same as blocking the pathway of light like holding a book in front of a flashlight so it can’t shine through; this is stopping light completely, holding it in place, and releasing it.… Read the entire snippet

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How do people lose their memories?

What?

Memory loss appears in the media in a variety of forms. In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne suffered from extreme memory loss, unable to remember anything about his past but finding that he is fluent in several languages and able to perform unusual physical feats.

amnesia1 amnesia2

Dory from Finding Nemo has short-term memory loss, unable to remember things that have occurred over the past few minutes (with the exception of “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney).

Other times, rather than constantly being burdened with forgetfulness, memory loss is depicted as purposeful – a specific, targeted group of memories being removed from one’s mind, such as how the firm Lacuna, Inc.… Read the entire snippet

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Science in your city: The Houston Museum of Science in Houston, TX


houston4
It’s difficult to imagine a large science museum that doesn’t feature the latest and greatest visual technologies – interactive displays, touchscreens, and IMAX theaters, but the Houston Museum of Natural Science (www.hmns.org) was teaching the community about science for decades without any of these tools. Established in 1909, the Houston Museum was a popular destination from the start and has maintained this reputation for over a hundred years, evolving and expanding with the times.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science started out as a small exhibition in the City Auditorium in downtown Houston but has long since acquired its own independent facilities consisting of several different sections, including a planetarium, a butterfly zoo, and a massive theater, along with the permanent exhibits that are a staple of any science museum.… Read the entire snippet

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How could wormholes transport us through time?

What?

Wormholes – not the type made by insect larvae burrowing in rotting wood – are common in science fiction as an unpredictable method of time travel. As we’ve seen in many other examples, science fiction often involves concepts that have been proven to be scientifically impossible. However, this concept finds some traction with scientific principles.

Why?

J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek movie featured Spock and a Romulan ship falling through a wormhole that sent them back in time 129 years.… Read the entire snippet

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How do we dream?

What?dreams1

Anything can happen in your dreams. You can fly; you can drown; you can show up naked to school; you can have your teeth fall out, or you can have Leonardo DiCaprio staring intensely at an infinitely spinning top (Inception (2010)).

Dreams have been a topic of intrigue for researchers across all fields of science. Those on the biological side study the physiological processes that occur in the brain during sleep and observe neurological fluctuations while people dream. Scientists on the psychological side study the implications of the dream content on waking life.… Read the entire snippet

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How do monsters get energy from the sound of children’s screams?

What?monster2

It’s common for children to believe that the creaks in their houses and the howling of wind at night are actually monsters hiding under their beds or in their closets, waiting to jump out and scare them. In Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, though, this idea is taken literally and the story of monsters is retold, but from the monsters’ point of view. Here, the reason why monsters jump out and scare children is because the monsters need to collect the children’s screams for energy to power the monster city of Monstropolis.… Read the entire snippet

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How did Pluto lose its status as a planet?

What?

When I was in elementary school, I learned about the nine planets of our solar system by memorizing the mnemonic “My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” Besides just making me hungry, this mnemonic helped me remember the names and order of the planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto. Since 2006, though, that sentence has changed into something much less desirable – “My Very Evil Mother Just Served Us Nothing” – after Pluto was declassified as a planet and instead, categorized as a dwarf planet.… Read the entire snippet

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How does solar power work?

What?solar1

With summer in full swing now, we mostly think of the sun in the context of beaches and tans (or sunburns for some of us . . . ). That same bright orb in the sky that’s giving you that warm summer glow, though, is emitting an enormous amount of energy – many times more than we would need to sustain the entire world. All we have to do is figure out how to harness it.

Why?

There are two big problems with the main ways in which we get our energy now.… Read the entire snippet

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Science in your city: Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL

msi4The Museum of Science and Industry (www.msichicago.org) was designated an official Chicago Landmark by the Mayor of Chicago and the Chicago City Council in 1955, but it is internationally recognized as a major landmark representing the entire Western Hemisphere. The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in this part of the world!

It’s no mystery as to how it manages to fill up enough space to gain this title. Here, you can find a full-size replica coal mine, a 3500 square-foot model railroad, and the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the first to ever reach the moon.… Read the entire snippet

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ToxLearn - Help the National Library of Medicine Beta Test an Online Toxicology Tutorial

Who?toxlearn

Philip Wexler, National Library of Medicine
Bethesda, Maryland

wexlerp@mail.nih.gov

http://toxlearn.nlm.nih.gov

What?

ToxLearn is a joint long-term project of the National Library of Medicine and the Society of Toxicology to teach, at roughly an undergraduate level, the basic principles of toxicology to the public. It is offered as a free online multi-module, flash-based tutorial. Module II will soon be available, and the ToxLearn developers are looking for beta testers before rolling out a full release.

Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents on living organisms and the ecosystem, including the prevention and amelioration of such adverse effects.… Read the entire snippet

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How can warp drive be achieved?

What?

Our universe is massive. The closest star to Earth other than our sun is 4.22 light years, the distance light travels in one year, or 39.9 x 1012 km, away (“The Nearest Star”).

warp1

With current rocket technology, the time it takes to get from Earth to Mars (a distance of only 55,000,000 km) is 150-300 days (Cain). If the average speed of a space shuttle is 28,000 km/hour (“Frequently Asked Questions”), then to travel one light year, it would take about 39,000 years!… Read the entire snippet

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How do dragons breathe fire?

What?

Dragons are one of the most prominent mythological creatures, appearing in pivotal roles in legends spanning the globe. In many cultures, dragons are depicted as symbols of power, but between Asia and Europe there is one fundamental difference: Asian dragons are typically benevolent creatures whereas European dragons are evil and known for laying waste to the land.

This is in part related to one of the main physiological differences between the two: the European dragon is fire-breathing. The Asian dragon is not.… Read the entire snippet

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Science in your city: The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA

Although science has an incredible diversity of fields, with scientists performing their research for various purposes and vastly different goals, it essentially all boils down to the same action: exploration. Whether it’s exploring the stars and the universe beyond our world, exploring new techniques for technologies to continue improving our ways of life, or exploring the fundamentals of what it means for us to be alive, there will always be new things, new ideas, and new places to explore. This is the message that the San Francisco Exploratorium conveys (http://www.exploratorium.edu/).Read the entire snippet

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How does kryptonite serve as Superman’s one weakness?

What?kryptonite

As everyone who is even remotely familiar with the DC comic universe knows, kryptonite is the one weakness of the otherwise indestructible Superman. Kryptonite is described as radioactive remains of Superman’s home planet of Krypton and has not only detrimental effects on Superman but on other Kryptonians as well.

As the Superman mythos developed, kryptonite was discovered to come in many different forms, each having their own unique effect on Superman. One form removes his powers and makes him human, another makes him utterly reckless, yet another gives him animalistic superpowers.… Read the entire snippet

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How does wind power work?

What?windpower1

Wind is usually known as the stuff that makes your hair blow around in the air on a blustery day. The movement of wind, though, actually has a specific pattern of behavior rather than a random flow. Wind is the movement of air from an area of high pressure and temperature to an area of low pressure and temperature. Hot air rises, so cool air must fill in the empty spaces left behind. Wind exists because the sun unevenly heats the surface of the Earth, creating this disparity between hot and cool air (“Wind Power”).… Read the entire snippet

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How do touchscreens work?

What?

touchscreen1One of the driving forces behind science fiction is predicting technology of the future. Certain propositions like human teleportation and warp drive (traveling at speeds faster than light) have been deemed scientifically impossible, but others have been eerily accurate. One of the clearest examples of this is how touchscreen devices now not only exist, but are commonplace. Touchscreen technology was first developed for specialized research products in the 1970s, but now they are found in everyday devices, including cell phones, computer screens, and GPSs.… Read the entire snippet

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