It's Okay To Be Smart

Jul 25

[video]

How did life begin?
I’ve been thinking a lot about abiogenesis this week, the process of life arising from non-life, that oh-so-important series of events that occurred here on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago. (If you’re wondering “Does this mean he’s making a video about it?” the answer is yes!)
Scientists have a fair amount of information about how that might have occurred on the level of geology (terrestrial and extraterrestrial), chemistry, and finally, biology to bring about this living world, but there’s a ton of unanswered questions. 
Of course, the most important unanswered questions are your own.
Share your curiosity with me about the origin of life on Earth! What questions do you want me to answer?

How did life begin?

I’ve been thinking a lot about abiogenesis this week, the process of life arising from non-life, that oh-so-important series of events that occurred here on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago. (If you’re wondering “Does this mean he’s making a video about it?” the answer is yes!)

Scientists have a fair amount of information about how that might have occurred on the level of geology (terrestrial and extraterrestrial), chemistry, and finally, biology to bring about this living world, but there’s a ton of unanswered questions. 

Of course, the most important unanswered questions are your own.

Share your curiosity with me about the origin of life on Earth! What questions do you want me to answer?

[video]

Jul 24

Want to support #education? Donate to Tumblr Teachers’ Classrooms!

positivelypersistentteach:

Dear Tumblrverse,

Before the explanation part of this post, I need to say this so it will be in posts that are shortened by a reblog: More than anything I ask that you reblog this post so that kind millionaires  more people will see it and more support can be given.   All the Amazon wishlists and blogs are linked below the read more link!

As the new school year approaches, we are obviously in denial teachers are mentally figuring out what materials we need for the school year, what will be provided by the school or families, and what we will buy with our own money as we shop sales (if it is in our budget).  Several members of our #education community on tumblr dealt with unexpected family deaths, weather disasters, or more happy (but expensive) life achievements like getting married or having a baby.  Our pockets have been hit hard, and I think you’d be surprised how much of our own money we spend on classrooms each year.

Many of us teach in areas where our students’ families cannot help with school supplies.  In fact, as I began working on this project, every teacher I contacted to include that came from a more affluent community declined being included so that classrooms in greater need could be helped.  I am in awe of the teachers in this community.  After the jump is a list of teachers and their classroom wish lists for the upcoming year.  If you are able to, please consider supporting a teacher via their wishlist.  If you’d rather make a donation to their supply fund or send a gift card, I’m sure you could contact them and they wouldn’t turn you down.   

So after the jump are the blogs and corresponding wishlists from Tumblr’s teachers — most of the educators on this list I have personally interacted with and know them to be dedicated to their students.

Read More

A new school year is rapidly approaching here in the U.S. and sadly, many families simply won’t be able to provide their children with the school supplies that they need to succeed.

Likewise, many schools are so underfunded that teachers must dig into their own (extremely underpaid) pockets to provide educational materials. Last year, 99.5% of teachers reported spending their own money to provide supplies for their classroom, at an average of $485 per year.

If you are able, I urge you to check out these wish lists from teachers (complied by PPT) who are active in Tumblr’s #education community. And if not one of these teachers, consider helping a teacher in your local community by donating money or supplies through a charity such as AdoptAClassroom.org.

My friend Caren teaches at one such underfunded/high poverty school here in Austin, and I can report first-hand that even the smallest donation can help make the difference in whether a student gets the classroom experience they deserve, and most importantly, the education they so desperately want.

Jul 23

[video]

[video]

xsunken-starlightx said: I was wondering if you knew of anything about marine biology as a profession? I'm interested in it but sad to say i don't know much.

I do not, not the level of detail or experience where I’d be comfortable guiding you towards what you might end up doing (or not doing) for the rest of your life.

But I know that many marine biologists read and follow this blog! If any of you feel like sending xsunken-starlightx a message, feel free, or add your advice below…

nevver:

Snake facts

The fact that some snakes still have pelvises will never not be weird and amazing.

nevver:

Snake facts

The fact that some snakes still have pelvises will never not be weird and amazing.

superseventies:

Redken Science & Beauty II - 1975 book cover

I’m pretty sure that hair is a safety violation.

superseventies:

Redken Science & Beauty II - 1975 book cover

I’m pretty sure that hair is a safety violation.

(Source: dtxmcclain)

spaceplasma:

xysciences:

A gif representing nuclear fusion and how it creates energy. 
[Click for more interesting science facts and gifs]

For those who don’t understand the GIF. It illustrates the Deuterium-Tritium fusion; a deuterium and tritium combine to form a helium-4. Most of the energy released is in the form of the high-energy neutron.
Nuclear fusion has the potential to generate power without the radioactive waste of nuclear fission (energy from splitting heavy atoms  into smaller atoms), but that depends on which atoms you decide to fuse. Hydrogen has three naturally occurring isotopes, sometimes denoted ¹H, ²H, and ³H. Deuterium (²H) - Tritium (³H) fusion (pictured above) appears to be the best and most effective way to produce energy. Atoms that have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes (adding a proton makes a new element, but adding a neutron makes an isotope of the same atom). 
The three most stable isotopes of hydrogen: protium (no neutrons, just one proton, hence the name), deuterium (deuterium comes from the Greek word deuteros, which means “second”, this is in reference two the two particles, a proton and a neutron), and tritium (the name of this comes from the Greek word “tritos” meaning “third”, because guess what, it contains one proton and two neutrons). Here’s a diagram
Deuterium is abundant, it can be extracted from seawater, but tritium is a  radioactive isotope and must be either derived(bred) from lithium or obtained in the operation of the deuterium cycle. Tritium is also produced naturally in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays strike nitrogen molecules in the air, but that’s extremely rare. It’s also a by product in reactors producing electricity (Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant). Tritium is a low energy beta emitter (unable to penetrate the outer dead layer of human skin), it has a relatively long half life and short biological half life. It is not dangerous externally, however emissions from inhaled or ingested beta particle emitters pose a significant health risk.
During fusion (energy from combining light elements to form heavier ones), two atomic nuclei of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium must be brought so close together that they fuse in spite of the strongly repulsive electrostatic forces between the positively charged nuclei. So, in order to accomplish nuclear fusion, the two nuclei must first overcome the electric repulsion (coulomb barrier ) to get close enough for the attractive nuclear strong force (force that binds protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei) to take over to fuse the particles. The D-T reaction is the easiest to bring about, it has the lowest energy requirement compared to energy release. The reaction products are helium-4 (the helium isotope) – also called the alpha particle, which carries 1/5 (3.5 MeV) of the total fusion energy in the form of kinetic energy, and a neutron, which carries 4/5 (14.1 MeV). Don’t be alarmed by the alpha particle, the particles are not dangerous in themselves, it is only because of the high speeds at which they are ejected from the nuclei that make them dangerous, but unlike beta or gamma radiation, they are stopped by a piece of paper.

Some fundamentals of fusion.

spaceplasma:

xysciences:

A gif representing nuclear fusion and how it creates energy. 

[Click for more interesting science facts and gifs]

For those who don’t understand the GIF. It illustrates the Deuterium-Tritium fusion; a deuterium and tritium combine to form a helium-4. Most of the energy released is in the form of the high-energy neutron.

Nuclear fusion has the potential to generate power without the radioactive waste of nuclear fission (energy from splitting heavy atoms  into smaller atoms), but that depends on which atoms you decide to fuse. Hydrogen has three naturally occurring isotopes, sometimes denoted ¹H, ²H, and ³H. Deuterium (²H) - Tritium (³H) fusion (pictured above) appears to be the best and most effective way to produce energy. Atoms that have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes (adding a proton makes a new element, but adding a neutron makes an isotope of the same atom). 

The three most stable isotopes of hydrogen: protium (no neutrons, just one proton, hence the name), deuterium (deuterium comes from the Greek word deuteros, which means “second”, this is in reference two the two particles, a proton and a neutron), and tritium (the name of this comes from the Greek word “tritos” meaning “third”, because guess what, it contains one proton and two neutrons). Here’s a diagram

Deuterium is abundant, it can be extracted from seawater, but tritium is a  radioactive isotope and must be either derived(bred) from lithium or obtained in the operation of the deuterium cycle. Tritium is also produced naturally in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays strike nitrogen molecules in the air, but that’s extremely rare. It’s also a by product in reactors producing electricity (Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant). Tritium is a low energy beta emitter (unable to penetrate the outer dead layer of human skin), it has a relatively long half life and short biological half life. It is not dangerous externally, however emissions from inhaled or ingested beta particle emitters pose a significant health risk.

During fusion (energy from combining light elements to form heavier ones), two atomic nuclei of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium must be brought so close together that they fuse in spite of the strongly repulsive electrostatic forces between the positively charged nuclei. So, in order to accomplish nuclear fusion, the two nuclei must first overcome the electric repulsion (coulomb barrier ) to get close enough for the attractive nuclear strong force (force that binds protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei) to take over to fuse the particles. The D-T reaction is the easiest to bring about, it has the lowest energy requirement compared to energy release. The reaction products are helium-4 (the helium isotope) – also called the alpha particle, which carries 1/5 (3.5 MeV) of the total fusion energy in the form of kinetic energy, and a neutron, which carries 4/5 (14.1 MeV). Don’t be alarmed by the alpha particle, the particles are not dangerous in themselves, it is only because of the high speeds at which they are ejected from the nuclei that make them dangerous, but unlike beta or gamma radiation, they are stopped by a piece of paper.

Some fundamentals of fusion.