see we need to get back to our roots of shooting something so hard you change its genetics

We literally just learned this in my class about phytoremediation yesterday and it made me laugh so hard because the professor was like “downfalls include tissue damage and sometimes killing the organism”


#genetics #biology #the power of science #I didn’t actually laugh aloud but it still amused me enough to reblog #death tw?



A fun curse you get when you spend long enough looking at consumer electronics is automatically figuring out roughly how much power something uses. This is useful sometimes: if you know your laptop sucks down about 8 watts while browsing the web, and you have a 40 watt hour battery, you know you have about 5 hours of battery life. If you know that you only have 50 kilowatt hours left in your prepaid electricity meter, you can estimate whether you need to buy more now or if you can let it slide until tomorrow, by tallying up everything that’s running.

It also makes you develop strange opinions and heuristics. This electric heater pulls 2000W which means it costs about ZAR 2 per hour to run. All the stuff plugged into my desk runs an estimated 150-200W depending on how much computing I’m doing, so that’s ten times less than that. My lights are 4×5W or 20W so that’s ten times less than that. If I decide that, to account for my convenience, I should turn off my lights if I’m leaving the room for more than 10 minutes, I should sleep my computer if I’m leaving the room for more than 1 minute. This is of course, nonsense, the convenience factor here is not fixed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it every time I turn off my lights but leave my PC on.

If you happen to know that the rated power for a single wall plug (in South Africa) is about 3700W, then you also start to see danger where most people do not. Most people learn that the dangerous thing about power strips is that you can plug in too many items and that’s mysteriously dangerous somehow, but the REAL danger with power strips is that they put the full load of everything plugged into them onto a single wall plug. Daisy-chained power strips with 40 cellphone chargers plugged in is relatively safe. A power strip with two electric heaters plugged in is a recipe for disaster, and will pull excessive current in basically any house on earth. That’s how you get house fires.

(Note: in the USA your plugs are rated at only 1875W per plug (or maybe 2500W, depends on the plug), so many appliances such as hair-dryers, heaters and other high-power devices are only safe to use if they are the ONLY item on a wall plug. Multiple-slot extension cords have a much higher risk of exceeding minimum safe levels in this situation compared to countries with higher voltage wall power.)

If you ever find yourself wandering aimlessly through the appliances aisle of your home goods store, muttering about rated versus nominal current and trying to estimate how long per day you actually /run/ a blender and really how many days a year do you use it anyways, is it worth springing for the more efficient one? I’m sorry to say there’s nothing we can do to help you.

Technology Connections at it again with informative videos about my debilitating obsessions.


#are you telling me other people *don’t* wander around hardware stores muttering about whether to spring for the more efficient appliance? #adventures in human capitalism #the more you know #the power of science #domesticity #fun with loopholes



“I bet it doesn’t hurt that bad, I don’t have time for this shit.”



“at least one”



now this is a gender binary i can get behind



Very generous of them to describe it as the “Thinking Period”




They correctly excluded the outlier Electroshocks Georg



everything about this is extremely underpowered, except for electroshocks georg, who, by now, must be extremely overpowered



you’d think they would have been able to get more than 50 undergraduates to do. it doesn’t take a long time and requires answering no surveys

Also, psych researchers have a reputation for lying their asses off to the subjects regarding [what a study is actually about] until after it’s over. I would seriously consider pressing the button once or twice just to see if they were telling the truth about it being a shock button.

(Not sure if I’d *do* it, but I’d seriously consider it, and I would definitely wonder if it was some sort of covert test that I was failing by not pressing it.)


#the first draft of this post only had commentary in the form of the tags #”basically what shacklesburst said” #”I’m not comfortable with the gender-focused framing here but I’m reblogging for Electroshocks Georg” #but–while I’m still primarily reblogging for Electroshocks Georg–I realised I did in fact have something to say #reply via reblog #the power of science #sexism cw #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what #anything that makes me laugh this much deserves a reblog #Spiders Georg

How We Decided


The day after tomorrow- that is, February 18, 2021- the Perseverance rover will attempt to land on the surface of Mars.  It will enter the planetary atmosphere at an acute angle, giving it as much time as possible to experience drag and slow down from orbital velocities.  Because Mars’ air is so thin, and the rover is so heavy, this will fail- in the best case, Perseverance would still be going almost a thousand miles an hour when it impacts the surface.  To help save itself, the craft will deploy a parachute of advanced design, seventy feet across and able to withstand supersonic velocities.  This, too, will fail.  Even with a parachute, there is simply not enough air between Perseverance and the Martian surface to slow it down all the way.  So this is where the rockets kick in.  Once air resistance slows the rover to a bit less than two hundred miles per hour, the heavy heat shield will be jettisoned, and a system of secondary rockets will fire against the direction of motion until it slows to near-hovering.  In a final flourish, the rover will descend from the rocket-boosted frame on coiled springs, until it touches down in the western part of Jezero crater in the northern hemisphere of Mars.


As it happens, Perseverance’s destination was one of the very last things we decided about it- not until the craft itself was fairly thoroughly engineered and designed.  Formally, the decision was made by the mission directorate.  In practice, they follow the consensus of the scientific community, which in turn hashes things out at a series of open-invitation workshops.  Things began with a call for white papers- an open suggestion box, basically.  In 2015, the first workshop narrowed things down from thirty serious proposals to eight candidates.  In 2017, the second workshop further winnowed the list down to three.  And in October of 2018, after three days of presentation, debate, and discussion, the final workshop selected Jezero Crater from these final three candidates using a simple vote of all attendees, and passed on the recommendation to the mission leads.

I haven’t been in the business for very long, so the final workshop was the only one of these where I actually participated.  It wasn’t a close vote as such, and I didn’t break any ties, and technically we were just making a strongly worded suggestion.  Nonetheless, my vote is one of the reasons why the Rover will be going to Jezero Crater instead of Syrtis Major or Gusev, and I think I’m entitled to feel ownership of this mission choice, just a little bit.

(This is, of course, terrifying.)

Having gone through the experience, there were a few surprises worth noting.  The first was how small some of the numbers are here.  The conference was not very large: only thirty proposals, debated by just a few hundred attendees.  I’ve seen book review contests with more entries, and that are read by a wider audience.  Which is to say, this is a situation that was, and is, extremely responsive to individual effort.  In that small a room, populated by people that are philosophically committed to changing their minds when they see good evidence or a good argument, one person can stand up and change the future in a very real way.

The second surprise was the attendance requirements.  Or rather, the lack thereof.  The project is public, paid for by American taxpayers, to whom I am profoundly grateful.  And one way the process reflected that public-spiritedness is that this is not a walled garden.  A small attendance fee (iirc, $40?), and you’re in.  You get a vote, if you want to use it.  A few non-scientists even took us up on this; there’s one retiree (a former schoolteacher, I think) that’s attended every major conference I’ve been to in the last few years, and sets up a small table in the back with his home mineral collection just for fun.  In practice this open-door policy is limited by the obscurity of the event itself; if you don’t move in research circles, you have to be something of a space exploration superfan to hear about it.  Still, as symbols go, you could do worse.

And now that we’re coming up on the day itself, the same kind of public-facing mindset is making me think about why I was persuaded to vote for Jezero Crater, what it means to explore there, and how I’d justify that choice to those of you that made the ongoing discovery of Mars possible in the first place.

Keep reading


#space #Mars #Perseverance #the power of science #the more you know #apocalypse cw
















#I like the mental image here #my brain is depicting this Discord chat as two people standing in a shadowy room talking to each other #and the COVID-positive person is wearing a full hazmat suit #like the kind that’s one step short of a spacesuit #towards the end you can see them chewing a jalapeno contemplatively through the transparent panel on their head #covid19 #illness tw #the power of science #food #(me @ brain: ”so how does the hot sauce work then”) #(brain: ”they leave the room and when they come back they’re wearing one of those hats with the soda cans on it inside their suit”) #(”but instead of soda it’s hot sauce”)

Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout

{{Title link: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/10/21/21515461/renewable-energy-geothermal-egs-ags-supercritical }}



This article taught me things I didn’t know, though who knows if the optimism will pan out

You know, when people say “geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout”, I expect more volcanic eruptions.


#interesting #climate change #(sort of) #the power of science