India’s Nano

•March 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

A company in India, Tata, has officially launched the world’s cheapest car, called the Nano.  The  ten foot long nano sells for just under $2,000, and hopefully will give Indians an affordable alternative to the motorbikes that have become popular there.  As a car, it’s pretty bare bones, with a max speed of about 65 mph, manual steering, and no air conditioner or air bags.  With such a small engine, it also has fairly few emmissions- not that it particularly tries to be environmentally friendly, but it’s  kind of the antithesis of something like a Hummer.

Something like this could probably never be sold successfully in the United States, but it’s good to see “economy” products used in a way that makes sense.  In other words, if you couldn’t afford a car at all before, it’s nice to see someone has finally catered to that need.

The BBC news website also opened an interesting discussion article about the topic.

-Info via news.bbc.co.uk (Original Article)

Also thanks to Corbie for bringing this to my attention.

•February 19, 2009 • 1 Comment


It never gets old. Thanks to Abo for the pic.

Shaking things Up

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Scientists on a deep sea dive recently made a major discovery. What looked to be small balls of sediment actually turned out to be moving creatures. They first noticed this when they realized the tracks left by these “rocks” did not follow the flow of the ocean currents. What is even more astounding is that these “Sea Grapes” are actually single celled organisms over an inch long! This completely goes against everything science has told us about the space to volume ratio.

In short, the space to volume ratio means that as surface area is squared, volume is cubed. This means that it becomes increasingly harder to move nutrients from outside the body to inside the body to feed organs, which is why we don’t have giant amoebas the size of houses.

It only takes one cell to KILL

It only takes one cell to KILL

The other astounding thing about these sea grapes is that the trails match up with trails found from fossils. Previously, scientists had thought these trails marked the first large multicellular organisms. If it’s possible for creatures with one cell to make these tracks, multicellular organisms could’ve arrived much later than previously thought.

Unfortunately, I’m sure they’d make pretty boring pets.

-Via Science Daily

Polydactylism

•February 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A boy was recently born in California with 24 fully functional digits- one extra on each limb. It’s supposedly an incredibly rare thing to have exactly one extra on each limb and have them all work perfectly. The full story is listed here. (story on BBC.co.uk)

For me it brings Gattaca to mind, a movie about purposeful and controlled genetic manipulations in humans.  In the film people have all their genes determined before birth so they can be as perfect as possible.  In the movie, there is also mention of a twelve fingered pianist who plays compositions that are impossible for someone with ten fingers. Anyone who hasn’t seen gattaca should definitely give it a try.

Think twice before making your child a football star before he’s born…

Miniature World

•January 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s the first video from a free online series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough called Life in the Underground. It’s all about the smaller aspects of nature- one thing many conservationists tend to forget about.

Click for the first Episode!

Nothing being lectured about insects by a knight!

DIY to the max!

•January 2, 2009 • 2 Comments

We’ve all heard of the explosion in “do it yourself” thought that has been gaining popularity recently, but the public seems to be taking scientific work into their hands.  According to Yahoo News, there have been people digging into the field of genetic engineering- right in their basements!  It will be incredibly interesting to see if any important discoveries arise from these genetic “homebrewers.”

Though there is a frightening aspect to the fact that anyone with a few thousand dollars can manipulate the building blocks of life, this marks an interesting social turning point.  Before this, all scientific discoveries were either funded by the government or by multi-billion dollar corporations.  With the government spending money everywhere BUT the sciences, and those companies interested in nothing more than profit, this could be a huge leap for the scientific community.  If people catch on to home based “science projects”, it could mark the end of a controlled scientific world.  More and more knowledge could be free to everyone.  True, as stated earlier, bad may, and probably will, come of this eventually, but the possibilities for good seem limitless.  It’s time for the people to take the future in their own hands!

Hive Minds in a Different Light

•December 25, 2008 • 1 Comment

My house got robbed a couple weeks ago, so the regular posting will resume when I get a new computer. Sorry everyone! Anyway, on to the post.

Credit to PinkTentacle.com for supplying this video of an amazing bioluminescent deep sea siphonophore.

What we’re seeing here is not one creature, but a collection of countless creatures functioning as one. More information on this particular organism(s) here.

Many people naturally place humans at the top of the biological intelligence ladder, but instances like the one above make me second guess that assertion. Humans have a kind of intelligence other animals do not, but we lack the will to work together. We pride ourselves on logic, but somehow we can’t conclude that working together increases everyone’s well being. Humans flourish with creativity and manipulation of our world, but remember, there are in fact ants that have mastered agriculture.