Big dogs who think they are lap dogs.

My type of dogs.



Happiest puppies in the world

I clutched my heart and gasped audibly upon seeing these happy pups. Hand me a fan, these little friends gave me the vapors!




Host John Oliver Skewers Dr. Oz, Dietary Supplements, and Shameless Pandering on ‘Last Week Tonight’

John Oliver’s takedown skills are pretty incred.

Dr. Oz is a pseudoscientific snake oil salesman that should be banned from TV.

John Oliver, however, is a genius.

For a moment, imagine a world where people have enough experience with scientific thinking that they don’t need the help of a cable news comedian to save themselves from brain-falling-out-of-head syndrome. That’s a beautiful world. I want to live in that world. But if that world can’t exist, I’m glad that people like John Oliver and the countless scientists and science writers out there working to put out the Good Word of science live in this one.


Doodling the Right Thing

With a few humble doodles, I think Google may have created the most widely-seen, and perhaps the most influential, science communication effort on Earth. Their series of Google search page tributes to female scientists (a few of which I’ve shared above) is a huge win for showcasing the efforts of women in science, which, unless you’ve been living under a very patriarchal rock for the past forever, you know is something the world needs very badly. 

It might seem silly to be talking about a picture like this, but we’re dealing with the Times Square billboard of internet graphics here. Every day, 730 million people visit a total of 17 billion times. Billion. Granted, not all of them see the same Google doodle, as only a small set of them are “global” doodles, but even if just 10% of daily unique visitors see a particular doodle, and just 10% of those people take the time to figure out who/what they’re looking at, that means 7+ million people a day (and that doesn’t even take into account repeated visits). I suspect that’s a low estimate, too, although I base that on nothing except my own optimism.

For comparison, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey drew just over 3 million U.S. viewers for its final episode. I’ll concede that’s not really a fair comparison, since Cosmos is a highly-produced, hour-long scripted TV series with very broad and lofty goals and a Google doodle is, well, a picture on the internet. The point I’m trying to make is not that Cosmos is less influential than a cartoon, because that’s ridiculous (although I must admit the more I think about it, I really don’t know how ridiculous it is). My point is that a Google doodle about science reaches a metric f**kton of people.

I am having a hard time thinking of another single Internet Thing that has the potential to reach so many people in a single day. No meme-filled Facebook page or educational YouTube channel comes close, and I don’t suspect any traditional science news/media sites are even in the ballpark. 

Google still has a long way to go to bring their doodle gender representation anywhere close to level. According to SPARK, only 17% of doodles between 2001-2013 were women (and 74% of them were white people). I can’t find the numbers, but on the bright side it seems like 2014 has showcased a high percentage of women in the doodles. In addition to monitoring women featured in doodles, the blog Speaking Up For Us keeps a running list of doodle-worthy women.Despite that remaining imbalance, I think this is an incredible effort on the part of Google, and we should demand even more doodles of underrepresented groups (both in science and beyond).

Can something so passive make any difference? To be honest, I don’t know, but I suspect that it does. When people only see one type of person recognized for accomplishing the Great Scientific Things of history, they consciously and subconsciously assume that only that type of person actually accomplishes Great Scientific Things. That is how underrepresented people stay underrepresented, which is the opposite thing we want to happen.

Google doodles aren’t going to cure cancer or send a human to Mars, but they just might help inspire the person who does. Not bad for a drawing.



You can hear Geoff Brumfiel's full story about cosmic microwave background (the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang) here.

I dunno, that pigeon looks really skeptical


It was the story. I was going to do anything to get that story.

I just didn’t realize how much it was going to cost.

(via americanhorrorstoryismylife)


Why Females Are Stripey

Each of us is made of a mixed-up jumble of cells. Most of you is you, but a few of your cells actually belong to your mom, stowaways that she left in your body.

But thanks to our sex chromosomes, it’s females who are the real mosaics. In this video from Veritasium, you’ll learn how biological females are like calico cats. Early in a female’s life, way back when her embryonic body was little more than a ball of cells just beginning to fold into basic patterns, a molecular coin was flipped inside each of her nuclei, and one of the two X chromosomes was silenced forever.

Why is this? Although our sex chromosomes are tiny compared to the other 44, they contain vital genes. But just like a genetic knockout can cause problems, so can too much of a gene product. Each cell in a female nucleus only expresses the genes on one of the two X chromosomes, muting the other so that the "dose" of X genes is pretty much the same between XY and XX individuals. 

Heads or tails, that epigenetic pattern persists for life, and although we can’t see them … women have “stripes”!

Bonus: Features the wonderful molecular animations of Drew Berry!


LEGO has announced that they will produce a female scientist minifigure set!

After last year’s release of a single female scientist minifigure by LEGO, designer Alatariel Elensar submitted concepts for a full minifigure set of female scientists to the LEGO Ideas competition. This week, after more than ten thousand people voted for Elensar’s project, LEGO announced that they are putting the set into production for late summer 2014!!

The figures above (still concepts, not the final sets) are doing what female scientists do, devoid of pink, and full of awesome. As Maia Weinstock notes at Scientific American in her rundown of the LEGO project, toy companies have an enormous amount of power to determine what children think, helping them form their ideas about how the world is, and how it should be.

I’m proud of my favorite toy company for doing their part to inspire young minds. Sounds like we’ve got the perfect holiday gift idea, for young girls AND boys :)

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist is not only a technician: He is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale."

— Marie Curie (via inthenoosphere)