By David Ng

David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and also as an occasional blogger at boingboing.net. If you're looking for a graphic for your next science talk, he encourages you to check out his blog, popperfont.net.

Some COVID-19 Questions From a Curious and Concerned Seven Year Old

I got this letter the other day and it’s awesome! I thought I would try my best to answer these great COVID-19 questions. Thanks Alaina! 1. Where does the virus actually come from? Right now, the best answer is likely from one of these: Yup, a bat. But how it changed from a virus that infects bats to one that infects humans is still not really known. However, this sort of thing has happened before and the science word for it is zoonosis. This is where a disease which would normally only infect an animal (in this case a bat),…

Introducing the Phylo Trading Card Game DIY Home School Activity.

With the pandemic being part of our daily lives, school has had to make some adjustments. Because of this, the SCQ thought it would be cool to point out one of our sister projects: one that we’re certain would be a great way to learn some science, think about the environment, and all the while, have some fun by creating your own game. It’s called the Phylo project, and read on to hear more and see how you can participate! WHAT IS PHYLO? The Phylo Trading Card Game (TCG) is a project that began as a reaction to the following…

A Child’s Primer on COVID-19

(Deutsch | Español | 中文 | 한국어) * * * Let’s start with this: This is probably a word that you keep hearing grown-ups talk about, but it’s also probably a word that is a bit of a mystery to you. There are lots of ways to explain this funny word, but let’s start by telling you that it’s the reason why so many people are staying at home right now, why your school might be closed, and why people are saying that it’s best not to play with your friends. It’s also why your loved ones keep telling you…

SO MUCH CANDY DATA, SERIOUSLY

As promised, here is the candy hierarchy data for 2017. (Released Oct 25th @1:45pm PST. Will provide updated xlsx file on Oct 31st as well) . xlsx | csv | txt (d&t) | surveyQ pdf | n=2460 If you tag your work with #candyhierarchy2017 or #statscandy, I’ll do my best to aggregate efforts here (and also possibly at BoingBoing for a round up piece). Note that traditionally, we’ve plotted a figure based on a “Net Feelies” metric (=#JOY-#DESPAIR). We also have additional meta data affiliated with demographics, and some questions that link to other potential datasets (see actual survey for…

TRUMPIAN SCIENCE: A SHORT GUIDE

Science should be done with all the “best” words. Data is shown via tweets. Folks with “intelligence” not to be trusted. China is mathematically removed in climate change projections. Hypotheses all end with a “CHA-CHING!” Scientific credentials include showing your birth certificate. “Pussy” is a medically recognized term. Citations include lawsuits. Expert peer review still sound, except for the bit about “expert.” All computer stuff to be done by some guy in New Jersey: not Russia. Breibart News is a credible scientific source. Scientific community includes that crazy relative of yours who believes mermaids are real but climate change is…

SILLY EXAMPLES OF THE INAPPROPRIATE USE OF SCIENCE JARGON

Monday Night FootTESTIS Hootie and the FUGU RUBRIPES Winnie the FECES MASTICATEbacca the Wookie Tchaikovsky’s BERTHOLLETIA EXCELSA-cracker Suite I can’t believe it’s not TWO BUTTOCKS AND AN ANUSer Joani PRODUCES OXYTOCIN FOR Chachi Bye bye Miss American CIRCUMFERENCE DIVIDED BY THE DIAMETER Chairman FELINE VOCALIZATION’s Little Red Book Hey FORNICATE FORNICATE, the Cat and the Fiddle. The Facts of STEM CELL / ZYGOTE / BLASTOCYST / EMBRYO / FETUS / NEWBORN

DARWIN: BEWARE OF JUMPING THE SHARK

Happy Birthday Darwin! In case, you weren’t yet aware, you’re currently caught in a year for scientific giddiness. A year where a collective hurrah can be heard from those who make it their business to hypothesize, analyze, and formulize. 2009 is the year of Darwin. It’s a double whammy – his 200th birthday, and also the 150th anniversary of the publishing of the “On the Origin of Species.” Both celebratory events because, if you remember, Darwin is the dude that said we were descended from apes, themselves descended from this and that creature, and so on, and so on –…

TATOOINE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENT REPORT 1: SUMMARY FOR TATOOINE POLICYMAKERS

I’ve wanted to do this for a while now. In essence, for the last 5 or so years, Tatooine’s binary star system has come up as a talking point in one of my climate change science classes (yes, I’m a Star Wars fan). Basically, I use it to showcase an over-the-top example of radiative forcing.…

COMMON SAYINGS TRANSLATED INTO SCIENTIFICALLY CORRECT STATEMENTS

COMMON: Hit the ground running. SCIENTIFIC: Conserve momentum. COMMON: My gut was telling me. SCIENTIFIC: My colon speaks. COMMON: If I had a nickel for every… SCIENTIFIC: x times 5cents, where x equals… COMMON: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater SCIENTIFIC: Avoid wet baby head trauma. COMMON: Go the whole 9 yards. SCIENTIFIC: Displace by 8.2296 meters. COMMON: You are in way over your head. SCIENTIFIC: Anatomically speaking, you are likely upside down. COMMON: You spilled the beans. SCIENTIFIC: Entropy went up. COMMON: A little bird told me… SCIENTIFIC: Whilst under the influence of psychedelic hallucinogens… COMMON: Everything…