The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘science’


‘Imagine trying to design spring.’

A field that I find absolutely fascinating is biomimicry. I would love to have a job where I just got to learn about really smart people coming up with ways to use biomimicry, and then I just got to go around bragging about how cool it is. Wouldn’t that be a great job?

Biomimicry is imitating, or studying and attempting to replicate nature’s solutions to problems that we also face. Effective and efficient speed. Incredibly tough yet flexible ways of moving heavy items. So, so many problems nature has already solved in a brilliant way because had they not solved those, those animals or insects would be dead.

This is a lazy post, I’m just going to point to intelligent things others have written about this field … but I also wanted to highlight the field in case you’d never heard of it. Because it is super cool!

For example, here’s a TED Talk (an old one).

Here’s the place that TED Talk person is associated with.

And here is an article citing some specific examples.

It’s super cool stuff! It is neat engineering, science, and respect of the amazing world that we get to occupy.

elephant cub kenya savanna

Photo by Pixabay on


What If You Look From This Angle?

One day I was happy to go and give a talk about math-y/science-y/space-y stuff to my nephew’s fourth grade class. It was a lot of fun for me to talk about nerdy things and
feel smart. The kids, I think, enjoyed it and seemed engaged and they asked questions.
One of the questions I got was – and I have to admit this surprised me – if the moon landing was fake.
I answered without any scientific proof or any deep dive into conspiracy theories and debunking them, not just because I don’t know anything about that so I lacked the knowledge,
but also because I think my counter argument is pretty good and it doesn’t rely on intelligence.
I asked if he had ever tried to keep a secret. He nodded yes. And then, was it tough to keep that secret? He nodded yes. Do you think, if everyone in your school had to keep the
same secret, could they do it? He shook his head emphatically no.
The odds that any one of the SIX times astronauts have been to the moon was fake and that ALL OF THE INVOLVED EMPLOYEES managed to keep it a secret? Pft. Not a chance.
Now, let’s take a jump to a different topic.
If you went to a doctor and that doctor said, ‘you’re good’ and you said ‘phew’ but you continued to notice things that seem funny or different, you’d probably get a second
opinion because it’s your body and that is pretty important to you staying alive.
Let’s say you are a skeptic, and insanely wealthy, and a bit of a masochist, and you have a lot of free time on your hands and so you go to one hundred doctors. (See what I mean
about a masochist?)
If 97 of those 100 said – yeah, somethings up
If 84 of those 100 said – yeah, something is up and you are causing it
Would you listen to the 16 and move along? Or would you think, at the very minimum, even if those 84 out of 100 folks are wrong, maybe I should take some steps here and there …
Well, friend, you just convinced yourself you oughta take climate change more seriously. The body is key to living, but the planet also plays a minor role.
*Source for those numbers.

If I Squint My Eyes Just Right, You Sure Are Pretty

Yes, friends, the International Space Station (ISS) will have two residents for a full year: American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Which is awesome and nuts (the typical mission is half this duration, a mere six months in OUTER SPAAAAAACE!!!).

Astronaut Scott Kelly, left, says he doesn’t want “to Russian to things with Korni.” (Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, right.) At least that’s the only thing I can think of that would lead to this posed shot.

There are seven main areas of focus during this year-long mission:

  • Functional
  • Behavioral Health
  • Visual Impairment
  • Metabolic
  • Physical Performance
  • Microbial
  • Human Factors

If you want to read more about this, you should! You can check out this article from or any number of articles that have been written about it.

What I’m interested in is the emotional impact, specifically:

  • How will relationships over such a long and very real absence change? Scott, with two children, and Mikhail with a wife and daughter … Plus undoubtedly extended friends and family. What will the relationships look like at the end of the mission as opposed to the start?
  • How complicated will the handshake sequence be at the end of the year? (e.g. Shake hands, bump fist, pour imaginary contents into imaginary test tubes, pretend to wait patiently for the results, read imaginary lengthy report, look shocked, pretend one of the guys is pregnant and the other guy is the father, go through incredibly long montage of classic pregnant man moments, pantomime birth, show that the child is … SCIENCE)
  • Will the feelings of isolation evolve into a mistrust of what could end up as a disembodied “voice in the sky” telling them their daily schedule? (The schedules for the astronauts are communicated to them from the ground, at Houston’s Johnson Space Center.)
  • Will they, to keep up physical performance, engage in wrestling? After all, it is a resistance-oriented form of work out and the resistance is supplied by another person (ideal for situations where there is no gravity). Also wrestling can become ideal as time ticks and human contact becomes … missed.

P.S. In addition to the study on the two people on board the ISS, there will be another study comparing Scott Kelly to his twin brother and fellow astronaut, Mark Kelly.

Bizarre Job Posting

This article inspired this post … I’ll summarize it: some Russians simulated a trip to Mars, locking up this crew for FIVE HUNDRED and TWENTY DAYS! Painful, right?

Here’s how I’d expect the job posting to go.


Attention, heroes of tomorrow! Say, what are you up to the next 520 days? Do you have free time? Do you like small spaces? Do you feel like the government is watching you, and frankly, the idea isn’t that troublesome?

Then we have a job for YOU!


Short, and to the point, unlike that job. Yowzers. 520 days. I don’t think the bat exists that can poop out the crazy that I would become.

Pictures from My D.C. Meanderings


Not a good picture but I just really enjoyed this statue

Not a good picture but I just really enjoyed this statue

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