When I hear people ridiculing some scientific study like the one where the scientists put shrimp on a treadmill to see how fast they run, I usually expect that the scientists are investigating something genuinely useful and the critics are misrepresenting what is going on. The point of the shrimp on a treadmill study was to figure out how changes in water quality affect the health of shrimp, which is the kind of thing you’d want to know about if shrimp were an economically important species in your country, as they are in ours.

My confidence that scientists are doing worthwhile things far exceeds my confidence that Republicans are representing scientific research accurately.

Reblogged from Paying Attention

Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing.

Reblogged from Astrotastic!

Bubble Nebula NGC 7635

—via cwnl

Distance: 7,800 Light Years

Imagine a star 40 times as massive and several hundred thousand times more luminous than our sun? Well, BD +60°2522 is such a star. It’s enormous energy output and powerful stellar winds have blown a titanic bubble of ionized gas measuring 6 light years in diameter. Popularly known as the Bubble Nebula, the strange symmetrically round nebula is the outcome of the prodigious energy output and fierce stellar winds of an unusually powerful star known as a Wolf-Rayet star. Named after the French astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet

Credit: Robert Gendler

Reblogged from Astrotastic!

I have a friend who’s an artist and he’s some times taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say, “Look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. And he says, “You see, I as an artist can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist, oh, take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing.” And I think he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me, too, I believe, although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is. But I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower that he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside which also have a beauty. I mean, it’s not just beauty at this dimension of one centimeter: there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure…also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower are evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting – it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question – does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms that are…why is it aesthetic, all kinds of interesting questions which a science knowledge only adds to the excitement and mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

Reblogged from Put on the gold hats!