From special

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 18)

EXPLODING SNOWMAN VALIDATES (OR DRIVES) CLIMATE CHANGE MODELS (arXiv:1104.0061, By M.S. Brennwald, D.M. Livingstone, R. Kipfer – pdf) Abstract: The B\”o\”ogg is a large model of a snowman, constructed of inflammable materials and filled with explosives. During the traditional festival of Sechsel\”auten, which takes place each spring in Zurich, Switzerland, the B\”o\”ogg is placed atop a wooden pyre, which is set alight. According to popular legend, the time that elapses until the B\”o\”ogg’s head explodes (the “head-bang” time) is said to give a rough forecast of local weather conditions prevailing during the following summer. However, recent research has questioned the…

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 17)

SANTA AND THE MOON (Peter Barthel, Communicating Astronomy to the Public, May 2012, (12) p13 – 15) Link to journal | link to arxiv abstract | link to pdf Abstract: This article reflects on the use of illustrations of the Moon in images of Santa Claus, on Christmas gift-wrapping paper and in children’s books, in two countries which have been important in shaping the image of Santa Claus and his predecessor Sinterklaas: the USA and the Netherlands. The appearance of the Moon in Halloween illustrations is also considered. The lack of either knowledge concerning the physical origin of the Moon’s phases, or interest in…

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 15)

GEEKY LABORATORY CHRISTMAS PLAYS (Collected works by Vince Li-Cata) IT’S A DEBATABLE CHRISTMAS Hello, Hello Everyone, and welcome to the Special Christmas Edition of The Sean Connery Show.  I’m your host.  You know, of course, me as the star of Zardoz and Dragonheart, but my friends just call me Sir Sean Connery.  Thank you, thank you – please hold your applause. On today’s Special Christmas Edition of The Sean Connery Show we have a real treat for you Yanks…it’s the First Ever U.S. Public Debate Among Candidates for the Next Director of the National Institutes of Health.  Please hold your applause. Now many…

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 14)

DARWIN AS SANTA (a.k.a. one way Darwin Could Jump the Shark) “Sporting his full white beard, Darwin is hired to impersonate Santa Claus at the local mall. He initially does well in this job, looking the part, being punctual, amicable, and knowledgeable about reindeer. However, he soon begins to insist on teaching children words like “invertebrate.” He also starts giving out stylish feces beads instead of candy canes. Later, he gets in an argument with another Santa Claus in another mall over biologically sound explanations for Rudolph’s glowing nose. The “Darwin vs. Santa Claus” fistfight goes viral on YouTube.” By…

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 13)

IMAGES IN CHRISTMAS BALLS: A.K.A. CRAZY OPTICS CALCULATIONS (By Eef van Beveren, Frieder Kleefeld, George Rupp | pdf) Figure 6: The locations of the various images as seen by each of the five observers introduced in Fig. 1. We also indicate the angles of incidence and reflection, in order to make sure that they are equal. Abstract: We describe light-reflection properties of spherically curved mirrors, like balls in the Christmas tree. In particular, we study the position of the image which is formed somewhere beyond the surface of a spherical mirror, when an eye observes the image of a pointlike light source. The…

SCIENCEGEEK ADVENT CALENDAR EXTRAVAGANZA! (DAY 10)

PRETTIEST CHRISTMAS LIGHTS EVER (Animated gifs of epithelial cells doing the mitosis) Just staring at this makes us think about the brilliance of nature. Just consider the complexity of what’s going on during mitosis – you have a genome, compartmentalized with chromosomes, doubling. Then, you have a perfect splitting of the two copies into two separate cells! That’s like having a group of people in a room, then somehow making copies of all of them, and then getting them to split perfectly into two groups, so that one set of them can move (in an orderly fashion) to another room…