It’s almost time for another year to roll around, and with the New Year right around the corner, this is a great time to talk about time. Maybe 2011 went by in a flash for you or maybe it dragged on slowly – but have you ever stopped to wonder why time can feel as though it’s sped up or slowed down?
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The season of giving is upon us, and in the spirit of the holidays we would like to thank our volunteer consultants who give their knowledge and time to The Exchange. As screenwriter Samantha Corbin-Miller put it:
The Exchange has proven to be an invaluable resource for me as a writer. I am constantly blown away by their ability to find knowledgeable, engaging medical professionals who are willing to take time out from their life-saving work to help make my scripts more authentic and accurate.
Imagine you’ve been working on a problem for days, maybe even weeks, but you can’t seem to figure it out. Your brain is working over solutions constantly but you feel stumped. So, you take a break. You walk down the street to the nearest coffee shop but as you’re walking home, sipping your drink and watching cars drive by, the solution rushes into your brain. That’s it!
It’s that time of year again, and if you’re scratching your head without a clue as to what to get that science-loving person on your list, have no fear! The Exchange has rounded up some gift ideas perfect for that chemistry student, physics professor, or your favorite science consultant (hint, hint). This year, The Exchange staff will be rocking “Stand Back, I’m Going to Try Science” t-shirts, trimming our office space with Petri dish ornaments and sipping hot cocoa out of a caffeine molecule mug. From mathematicians to physicists, we’ve got a gift idea for everyone. Plus, if you're in the Washington, DC area, you can stop by the National Academies bookstore for an Einstein finger puppet or virus necktie! Let us know which science-themed gift you’d love to get this holiday season in the comments!
Forgetting is as simple as walking through a doorway – that is the finding of a new study that experimented with memories and ways to walk through a home. Researchers asked participants to complete a simple task (exchanging one object for another) in either the same room or by walking through a doorway to another room. The result: people asked to complete the task in the other room were two to three times more likely to forget what they were supposed to do.
Short of destroying a whole world with planet-breaking weapons, the most action-filled moments in science fiction come when opposing spacecraft clash. As phasers fire and missiles launch, ships frantically maneuver, attack, or spectacularly explode. But sometimes the aim is to capture a spaceship intact, or if she has superior speed, to grab and hold her while battering down her defenses. That is the space version of a fighting technique from the days of wooden sailing ships, which is to pull an enemy ship close and hold her with grappling hooks and ropes, then board her, or pound her into wreckage at point-blank range.
File this under “science we’d love to see onscreen.” Researchers at Harvard University genetically altered neurons to light up as they fire. Imagine, for a minute, your brain covered in bursts of light, like a fireworks show under your skull.
The researchers altered brain cells with a virus containing a gene from a Dead Sea organism. The gene produces a protein that, when exposed to an electrical signal, fluoresces. The virus introduces the gene to the brain cells, which are cultured in a lab, causing the cells to produce the protein, which lights up as the neurons fire.
It is time to put your dancing shoes on, get on the dance floor, and pretend to be a hydrogen atom. Or would you rather be a carbon atom? Those were the two choices at the 1939 American Chemical Society meeting in Baltimore where a group of Maryland chemists decided to stage a “chemical ballet.” The performance told the story of a scientist who tries to synthesize radioactive benzene from acetylene with the aid of an atom-smasher complete with four hydrogen atom dancers, two carbon atom dancers, and the dance of ethyl alcohol. You cannot deny the allure of dancing atoms, which is perhaps why science and dance tend to collaborate.