#Science Quotable: Neil deGrasse Tyson – The meaning of life – #nature

To learn is to become closer to nature, and to learn how things work gives you power to influence events, gives you power to help people who may need it, the power to help yourselves, to shape a trajectory. So, when I think of ‘What is the meaning of life?’ to me that’s not an eternal, unanswerable question. To me, that is in arm’s reach of me every day. And so for you, at age six-and-three-quarters, may I suggest that for you, you should explore nature as much as you possibly can, and occasionally that means getting your clothes dirty because you might want to jump into puddles and your parents don’t want you to do that. You tell them that I gave you permission.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the meaning of life

Young Jack to Neil deGrasse Tyson: What’s the Meaning of Life?

At the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, on January 15, 2015, six-(and-three-quarter)-year-old Jackson asks astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson the question on everybody’s mind.

Cold weather experiments to TRY AT HOME! #winter #coopedupinside

Bored? Too cold to go out? Enjoy science? Try some of these sweet experiments in the comfort of your own home! From PRI, here are six science experiments for cold winter days that you should definitely try at home:

The straw rocket blaster

You need string, some tape, a drinking straw, and a balloon. Take one end of the string and tie it to something solid and fixed, like a chair or a door handle. Then thread the other end of the string through your straw and tie it to another chair or handle at least 10 feet away. Make sure the string is taut. Now blow up the balloon, pinching the opening closed with your finger. Tape the straw to the balloon and slide the blown-up balloon along the string until the opening of the balloon is at one end and the rounded part faces the long line of string.

When you let the air out of the ballon, it will shoot like a rocket along the line of string to the other end. “Kids just love this!” Adamick says. “There are so many variables you can do. You can tie the string up a staircase to make it go higher; you can tie it to a tree limb outside, you can tape weights to the balloon to make your rocket carry a pay load. It’s just really a fascinating thing.”

The lemon-powered clock

For this, you need galvanized nails, a couple of copper pennies, some copper wire, and a juicy lemon. Stick a nail into one side of the lemon and a copper penny into the opposite side (you may need to cut a small slit into the peel first). These are now natural battery terminals.

Why? Galvanized nails are covered with zinc. The zinc atoms are drawn toward the copper, creating an electron flow through the lemon from the nail to the penny. Now tie copper wire to the penny and another to the nail, leaving the ends free. Attach the ends of these wires to the correct terminals of a small battery-powered clock and you may have enough voltage to power it. If not, use two or more lemons, putting a nail in one and a penny in the other, connected with additional copper wire. This will increase the voltage. In fact, the more lemons you link together the more power you will get.

For supervised science fun, nothing beats dry ice

It’s readily available at most grocery stores, but in some areas you must be at least 18 years old to purchase it. The most commonly known thing to try is to simply drop a small piece of dry ice into a small beaker or glass of water. This is what you usually see in movies when they create a “spooky” broth or formula. For added fun, you can add dye or bubbles to the water.

If you can get ahold of old film canisters, try putting a little piece of dry ice inside one with some water. Eventually, the mixture will pop the top off.

Another variation: Put warm water and dishwashing liquid in a Pryex bowl. Get a small cloth, wet it and use the cloth to wet the lip of the bowl. Put in the dry ice and then take your wet soapy cloth and scrape it across the bowl, which should create a soapy film. You should get a really large bubble that fills with smoke.

The old standby: the baking soda and vinegar volcano

People usually put the baking soda in first and then pour vinegar on it to make an explosion. But you can also do it this way: first pour the vinegar into a tall glass or beaker, then wrap the baking soda in toilet paper, put a string around it and drop it into the beaker. Now you’ve got a little extra time before the vinegar eats away at the toilet paper and gets the baking soda wet. It’s kind of a timed explosion of your volcano.

Snowflake fun

Take a piece of black construction paper or velvet outside, catch some snowflakes and look at them with a magnifying glass. You will really be able to see the crystals.

If you have a microscope slide, bring it outside, keeping it under cover, and spray it with hairspray. Catch a snowflake on it and bring the slide back under cover. Then let it sit in a cold, protected place, like a garage. You will be able to preserve the shadow of that snowflake forever, because it will make an impression in the hairspray. As the hairspray dries and the water evaporates, you get an “echo” of the snowflake.

Frozen bubbles are awesome!

In cold weather, bubbles don’t burst, they freeze, and bounce. You can actually hear them “clink” on the ground. The bubbles are a several-molecule thin layer of water, and they freeze instantly in the cold.

”Ping ping ping ping ping!”

Not vaccinating = victimizing children and reliving bad history #science #vaccinate


Paul Offit has written a great opinion piece (full of awesome science facts) for the Wall Street Journal about vaccinations, or lack thereof. The article highlights the recent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in wealthy, educated areas of the USA. Offit gives a history lesson on anti-vaccine movements (that’s right California, this fad happened in Japan in the 1970’s: not vaccinating is lame and tired):

Parents might consider what has happened in other countries when large numbers of parents chose not to vaccinate their children. Japan, for example, which had virtually eliminated whooping cough by 1974, suffered an anti-vaccine activist movement that caused vaccine rates to fall to 10% in 1976 from 80% in 1974. In 1979, more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths occurred as a result.

41 preventable deaths and who knows how many other complications from the 13,000 cases of a preventable disease! So sad. Offit gives one possible explanation for why people, especially educated, wealthy parents have stopped vaccinating.

We simply don’t fear these diseases anymore. My parents’ generation—children of the 1920s and 1930s—needed no convincing to vaccinate their children. They saw that whooping cough could kill as many as 8,000 babies a year. You didn’t have to convince my generation—children of the 1950s and 1960s—to vaccinate our children. We had many of these diseases, like measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. But young parents today don’t see the effects of vaccine-preventable diseases and they didn’t grow up with them. For them, vaccination has become an act of faith.

Correct! Many of the diseases that we vaccinate against are gone from the public eye, but are in fact horrible diseases that can be fatal, especially in children. This is why scientists created vaccines for them. Vaccines against diseases were once celebrated! and the scientists behind them were Nobel Prize winners! But now that people have forgotten the huge impact of these diseases, vaccines are seen as unnecessary, and scientists are seen as drug-pushers. Unfortunately, Offit explains that recent outbreaks of these vaccine preventable diseases has not rallied parents to vaccinate their children. Rates of vaccination remain unchanged following the outbreaks.

Because we’re unwilling to learn from history, we are starting to relive it. And children are the victims of our ignorance. An ignorance that, ironically, is cloaked in education, wealth and privilege.

How to become a scientist… video from NIH NEI series ‘Ask a scientist’! #science

The NIH National Eye Institute has a series of videos called, ‘Ask a Scientist.‘ Check out the most recent video featuring Dr. Chris Thomas answering children’s questions about how you can become a scientist.