The Bone Detective

If you are a fan of the television shows Bones, you are probably aware of the fascinating process of identifying people through skeletal remains – or, at least, the fictional process. Bones takes leaps and bounds with its technology, and sometimes science, which helps the forensics team solve mysteries in a matter of 60 minutes. What you might not know is that real-life forensic anthropology is just as fascinating as the fictional version – even without the shiny, speedy technology. 

Why So Blue?

Have you ever wondered why so many characters in television and film are blue? Not blue as in sad, but blue as in color. From The Smurfs to Avatar, blue is the popular choice for an alternative skin color. As it turns out, there is a way for human skin to turn blue!

A condition caused by high exposure to chemical forms of silver, known an argyria, can change the color of skin from a normal color to a blue or bluish-grey color! If you inhale or ingest enough silver, the element accumulates in the body over time. When exposed to sunlight, the particles under the skin darken, which turns the skin a bluish hue. Argyria is not life-threatening, but still, you probably do not want to ingest that much silver. A man in California gradually turned blue after drinking gallons of colloidal silver per week for years – that’s commitment. 

The Final Frontier

More than four decades have passed since a human first set foot on the Moon.Last Thursday, the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth and NASA’s Space Shuttle Program officially closed its doors. A sad day, for sure, but over here at The Exchange, we plan on passing the time between now and private spaceflights by heading to the movies for some fictional space exploration. Except, well, we noticed there are not very many upcoming space exploration films. Is Hollywood finished exploring the “final frontier”?

New Volcanoes to Worry About

Just when you thought you only had to worry about volcanoes under the West Antarctica ice sheets, scientists had to go and discover more volcanoes off Antarctica. The British Antarctica Survey (BAS) recently released its finding of undersea volcanoes near the South Sandwich Islands in the Southern Ocean.

Source: British Antarctica Survey

The volcanoes were discovered during research cruises through the use of ship-borne seismic mapping of the seafloor. The research cruises discovered 12 undersea volcanoes, along with craters left by collapsing volcanoes and 7 volcanoes visible above the sea. The volcanoes above the sea are active and some are up to 3,000 meters tall. 

Hungry, Hungry Universe

This is Supernova 1994D. The supernova is the bright point in the lower-left. It is a type Ia thermonuclear supernova like those described by Howell. The supernova is on the edge of galaxy NGC 4526, depicted in the center of the image. Credit: NASA/Hubble Space TelescopeYou’ve heard of zombie humans and you’ve probably heard of zombie ants… but what about zombie stars? “Zombie stars” are stars that explode like bombs, die and then come back to life by sucking matter out of another star. These stars, known as Type Ia Supernovae, are more than just cool eating machines though.

Wormholes: The Superstars of Inter-Stellar Travel

You might not have noticed their stellar performances, but with feature roles in Thor and Green Lantern, wormholes are the biggest movie stars of the summer. Not to mention, without these theoretical shortcuts in space-time, neither film would have much of a plot. A wormhole (the characters call it an “Einstein-Rosen bridge”) in Thor allows the film’s characters to travel between the Nine Realms and in Green Lantern, Hal Jordan travels to Oa through a wormhole (though it’s not mentioned in the film). Without wormholes, neither superhero would have gotten very far – nor would the plot.

Science Sings the Blues

 When you hum to music from the radio, you probably aren’t thinking of mathematics. Equations aren’t forming in your mind and you aren’t solving for x as the tunes hit your ears. But according to Jason I. Brown, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University, human physiology, for some reason, is particularly suited to discovering the mathematics inherently in music. “Our bodies, our ears, and our minds are built to recognize the mathematics that lies here,” he said during his Distinctive Voices @ The Beckman Center talk on May 25, 2011.

Glaciers: The Newest (Fictional) Threat to Mankind

In the Arctic Circle, volcano eruption unleashes a glacier that will destroy mankind … at least, according to the trailer for 2012: Ice Age, a fun (and funny) B-movie featuring the destruction of New York City by a glacier – a really, really fast 1,000 miles long glacier set off by a volcano in the Arctic Circle. 

It's one of those disaster movie plots too silly to ring true, but over here at The Exchange, we couldn't help but wonder, “What if?” Could a glacier ever move that fast or be that big? Is there a known glacier threat to New York City?