Weird Science Tricks

Mind Hacks: Familiar faces in unfamiliar places

May 9, 2011

As part of this mini series of cool tricks about the brain (from Mind Hacks), I wanted to write about one neat little trick that I use in a lot of my talks.  It wakes people up.  And the kind of delight that occurs from this simple little Hack makes an audience warm up to […]

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Mind Hacks: Have an out-of-body experience

May 2, 2011

As I wrote in an earlier post I’ve been reading this wonderful book called Mind Hacks, with tips on how your brain works (and how to fool it). One that I found particularly interesting was the one entitled Have an Out of Body Experience.  The blurb reads: Our regular experience of the world is first […]

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Brain Hacks: Attention is located in space

March 17, 2011

I borrowed a great book from a friend (@mindkeep) who probably thinks that it’s been gathering dust on my shelf I’ve had it so long.  But no, rather, I got so drawn into it that I’ve been reading it cover to cover, even though it’s more of a browse-through-and-find-something-interesting perusing type of book.  It’s called […]

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Brain hacks: My polyphasic sleep experiment

December 14, 2010

So, I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with the familiar rhythms of my body.  I’ve tried different diets (you would be surprised at how vibrant you feel just eating rice and vegetables!), exercise regimes, caffeine intake, etc.  It’s the ultimate inquiry science experiments — when I do this, what happens?  It’s particularly interesting to experiment with your […]

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Geeky treats #5: The Science of Cooking

December 10, 2010

Did you know that when you whip egg whites, you’re not just beating in air but you’re actually unfolding, or denaturing, the proteins in the eggs? The same thing happens when you heat up eggs, but as you heat them the unfolded proteins make bonds with other proteins, which is what makes them firm up. […]

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Geeky Treats #4: Freezing food is cool

December 9, 2010

Got liquid nitrogen?  Apparently you can have an awful lot of fun with it.  I heard secondhand about a party at the Exploratorium where treats like candy, caramel corn, and whipped cream were dipped in liquid nitrogen to make a flash-frozen dessert.  One of the favorites was to take a ladle of whipped cream and […]

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Geeky treats #2: Chemical Cake

December 7, 2010

Don Rathjen also has a wonderful activity called Chemical Cake.  This is a great activity for this time of year since the recipe makes a spice cake (why a spice cake?  You’ll find out….).  He makes the following substitutions in a standard cake recipe: Egg (emulsifier)   –>  soap margarine (lubricant)   –>  vaseline water […]

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Geeky treats #1: Electrical Cake (Just like Ohm-made)

December 6, 2010

There’s nothing cooler than something geeky that’s also yummy in your tummy.  So, this post is the first in a series about some cool science that that we can eat. There’s more than one way to bake a cake.  For one, why bother to let the convection of heat in your oven bake your cake […]

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Science activities for Halloween! (Repost)

October 18, 2010

This is a repost from October 2009. Enjoy! With halloween fast approaching, it’s time to take advantage of a frivolous holiday to do some fun science stuff. No post about Halloween would be complete without a reference to the Grossology site. Scroll down for “lab activities”: This gets high marks from one teacher who says, […]

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Why does your hand look dry underwater?

January 25, 2010

Stick your hand in water and pull it out. You can tell that it’s wet, it “looks” wet. But then try this. Stick your hand underwater and look at it while it’s still underwater.   It doesn’t really look wet. And even more striking — Look at your wet hand in a mirror.  Now plunge your […]

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Name that mystery SEM sample, win a prize

November 30, 2009

A while back I blogged about a cool opportunity to get anything (yes, anything!) scanned on a Scanning Electron Microscope. Posted from the ASPEX website, here is a toy bunny, macrosize, and microsize: Though how anyone could give up that cute wittle bunny is beyond me. You can still send them samples (which I just […]

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Making stalagmites in your freezer

October 15, 2009

Have you ever had this unusual occurrence in your freezer?  This one observant science teacher says: We had a single stalagtite form from one cube in an ice cube tray.  It rose about an inch, no more than an eighth of an inch in diameter, and tapering to a sharp point. How did that form? […]

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Crazy color illusion

July 21, 2009

As usual, geekgirl is a little groggy on the uptake, so I’m posting this after all the cool kids already had their fun with it (ie, The Bad Astronomer, Richard Wiseman, Blog of Phyz and Buzzhunt). The trick?  There is no blue in this pattern.  It’s green.  The same color as you see next to […]

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Self-refilling soup bowls: An idea whose time should never come

July 6, 2009

One of my favorite blogs, when I get a chance to actually read it, is Cognitive Daily.  They give you all sorts of wonderfully written tidbits and tests from the world of cognitive science.  Fascinating stuff. A recent study highlighted on the blog — self-refilling soup bowls — concerned what happened to how much people […]

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New blog! The ARTFUL AMOEBA tells us about moss that swings both (all?) ways

May 30, 2009

My friend and fellow science writer Jen Frazer has started a new blog (well, two actually, but let’s start with the first). I don’t know how she can spend a whole day at work writing copy, and then come home and spin out gorgeous and witty prose, but, hey, she didn’t win the AAAS Science […]

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Myth: Helium makes your voice high-pitched

March 26, 2009

A friend just pointed out an interesting misconception that I hadn’t thought about. When you inhale helium, your voice sounds higher. It turns out that your voice isn’t actually higher-pitched! At least, not in the way that we think it is.  The reasoning is a little convoluted…. read on. Here’s the common misconception: The speed […]

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Why motion sickness makes us nauseous

March 20, 2009

If you spin around and around, why is it that you can feel a little sick? The answer lies in how we sense our balance, and an ancient disease of the gut. We get our sense of balance in large part from the vestibular system of the inner ear. A delicate little set of organs […]

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Cabspotting: San Francisco cab tracker reveals the life of the city

March 14, 2009

A recent post over at Working Knowledge (Measuring the Intangible) about how Barcelona plotted Flickr photos on a map of Spain to reveal favorite tourist locations reminded me about a really neat site at the Exploratorium.  This is a great example of enhanced mapping – taking some interesting available public data to find out someone […]

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Pi day is just around the corner… are you ready?

March 11, 2009

Gosh, I’m posting a pi day post just FOUR DAYS before pi day.  Heavens.  Well, any teachers reading this aren’t going to be preparing until the night before, right?  Besides, pi day is, sadly, on a Saturday this year, so you can always cheat and do it on Monday if you need to! So, yes, […]

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The science of attractiveness

February 27, 2009

A recent volume of Science News had a feature article about attraction and the evolutionary basis of our conception of what makes someone beautiful.  As writer Elizabeth Quill says (I love this quote) — “For humans, there is osmething captivating and unforgettable about the arrangement of two balls, a point and a horizontal slide on […]

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