Archive — Science

Academia uneasy with lack of diversity on ‘dude walls’ of honourNell GreenfieldboyceNPR

A 'dude wall' featuring several portraits of white old men

On the campaign to remove — or make less prominent — walls of portraits of old white men from academia’s past.

“It just sends the message, every day when you walk by it, that science consists of old white men,” says [neuroscientist Leslie] Vosshall. “I think every institution needs to go out into the hallway and ask, ‘What kind of message are we sending with these oil portraits and dusty old photographs?'”

While defenders of dude walls warn of erasing history, the counterpoint is powerful:

…some argue that the old portraits themselves have erased history, by glorifying white men who hold power while ignoring the contributions to science and medicine made by women and people of colour.

Celebrations of individuals in this way always make me wary. It seems to be particularly common in higher education, where awards and buildings are routinely named after white males.

But very few breakthroughs are truly the work of a single individual. The people honoured in this way are likely the people most adept at taking all the credit for other people’s work.

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Testing the sound mirrors that protected Britain

Testing the sound mirrors that protected Britain

I very rarely link to (or even watch) a video. But I am happy to make an exception for Tom Scott’s excellent entertaining and educational videos.

Here, he tests concrete sound mirrors with drones. I’m fascinated by sound mirrors — an early 20th century technology designed to provide early warning of approaching aircraft, which became obsolete quickly as aircraft speeds increased, and radar took over.

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Scientists have revived worms that had been frozen for 42,000 years

Scientists have revived worms that had been frozen for 42,000 years

The worms, known as nematodes or more commonly as roundworms, had been frozen for up to 42,000 years, since a time when much of the planet was covered in ice.

But they weren’t dead — just cryogenically preserved.

The researchers brought the worms back to a lab, where they slowly thawed them over several weeks.

  1. This is cool.
  2. We’re all going to die!
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The shoey: Why it’s a bad idea to copy Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 podium ritual

The shoey: Why it’s a bad idea to copy Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 podium ritual)

Finally, someone has done the science on the shoey, the ritual whereby Daniel Ricciardo drinks champagne out of his sweaty shoe after winning a grand prix. It’s about as bad as you might expect.

The positive — and possibly surprising — revelation was that in most instances the alcohol kills much of the bacteria present.

In fact, the only drink that failed to do so was sparkling white wine or champagne. Not only did the fizzy stuff fail to act as a disinfectant, but it encouraged the growth of more bacteria — and we’re not talking the friendly kind.

Food (or drink) for thought when champagne is the go-to tipple for Ricciardo when he celebrates a F1 podium finish.

Via WTF1.

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