How to Fortify Your (and Your Kids’) Screen Time with a Dose of Physics
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Physics Toolbox Play consists of seven gamified tasks that introduce learners to sensors, basic physicsprinciples, data representations, and careers that make use of sensors. Children can observe the air pressure decrease as they go up a flight of stairs or climb a hill, and increase as they go back down. Since 2017, over one million users have downloaded Physics Toolbox Play. However, one of the best places to do science is home, especially in the presence of families.Completing the Physics Toolbox Play tasks takes around 30-45 minutes for most family groups. Completing the tasks with Physics Toolbox Play takes only a short period of time, but any spark of interest in physics can last a lifetime!

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Newton's Apple
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Image Credit: APS Physics(Click to enlarge)A passage from a manuscript written by one of Newton's contemporaries, recording the version of the apple tree story as Newton tells it: \"...therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.\" Image Credit: The Royal Society, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life by Sir William StukeleyIf you can decipher that kind of handwriting, you can read the full text free online at the link above! It's not the apple bit that I have a problem with; that's an important part of the story, and even historically accurate! In a flash of insight, he realizes that there must be some force pulling the apple toward the earth. The man himself is recorded as saying that his \"eureka\" moment really did come after seeing an apple fall from a tree.

Bees Use ‘Bullshit’ Defense to Keep Giant Hornets at Bay
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Wellesley College biologist Heather Mattila went to Vietnam to understand how Asian honeybees defend themselves from the hornets there. “Giant hornets will hunt honeybees on their own and grab them one by one. The alternative to covering their house in ...[CLIP: Censored beep sound]... was annihilation of the colony in the face of overwhelming giant hornet invasion. Asian honeybees are a different species than the Western honeybees in Europe and North America. I didn’t have a lot of personal experience with Asian bees, and so meeting them was kind of like meeting the crazy cousin of the bees you know really well.

Should Your Kidney Doctor Have a Financial Stake in Dialysis?
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By 2008, the average zip code in the U.S. had 1.2 dialysis clinics, with some having as many as seven. Especially for young nephrologists, joint venture dialysis clinics can seem like the only viable path. Joint venture dialysis facilities take advantage of certain exceptions written into Stark Law rules, but a closely related federal law, the Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits payments for patient referrals. But the database didn’t include any information about which dialysis clinics were joint ventures, let alone the parties that owned them. With everyone profiting from the current arrangement except for patients, dialysis clinics have little incentive to change.

Why Generation Z Is So Stressed Out
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The report showed that 27 percent of Gen Z members reported that their mental health was poor, compared with 15 percent of Millennials (Generation Y), 13 percent of Gen Xers and 7 percent of Baby Boomers. AdvertisementAdvertisementThe Biggest Issues for Gen ZSo what most stresses out Gen Z? In fact, 75 percent of Gen Z respondents said that mass shootings are a significant source of stress, compared with 62 percent of adults overall. For instance, among Gen Z social media is noted as a source of support, yet 45 percent say it makes them feel judged. Now That's Important The report took note of the special stresses some Gen Z members of color face.

The Evolutionary Origins of Friendship
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As awful as 2020 was, its ability to reveal the genuine strengths and weaknesses of our relationships was an unexpected boon. They enable us to discern fair-weather friends from friends tried and true. As an evolutionary psychologist, I have conducted research on social relationships and emotions for over 20 years. If I demonstrate that I value you, then, all else equal, it pays for you to value me in return. The pandemic has therefore been an unexpected (albeit unwanted) opportunity to test the tensile strength of our relationships.

How We Can Deal with 'Pandemic Fatigue'
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Public health experts term this phenomenon “pandemic fatigue” and cite it as a contributor to the increase in incidence rates being witnessed here and in Europe. Understanding pandemic fatigue is challenging because it is not one phenomenon and likely stems from several causes. However, pandemic fatigue also occurs for people who are ostensibly on board with societal attempts to control spread of the virus. Despite its name, pandemic fatigue in these cases is not really about exhaustion or tiredness or depleting a mental resource. One fundamental facet of pandemic fatigue is motivational in nature and is related to the demands life during a pandemic places on our systems for cognitive control and the mental effort costs this incurs.

Ancient Dogs Had Complex Genetic Histories
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He and his colleagues studied the genomes of 27 ancient dog bones dug up around the world. Bergström: “To a large degree the history of dogs seems to have been shaped by human history, so likely reflecting how when humans moved they would have brought their dogs with them.”Ancient humans clearly found dogs to be very useful. [Anders Bergström et al, Origins and genetic legacy of prehistoric dogs]One odd finding: about 11,000 years ago it looks like dogs spread more widely than humans did. So how could the dog spread so quickly and widely? The number of copies of a starch-digesting gene in both humans and dogs increased in the generations following the invention of agriculture.

Your Bed Has More Poop Than a Chimp's
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Dylan Coker/Newspix/Getty ImagesYour parents probably spent years yelling at you to clean your room and make your bed. It seems no matter how tight your bed corners are or how many quarters you can bounce off that blanket, your bed still isn't as clean as a chimpanzee's. Researchers at North Carolina State University compared human beds to the treetop nests chimpanzees make for themselves nightly. The chimp nests also had no insects or spiders, though the team expected to see some parasitic species in the nests. Now That's Cool It won't solve your bacteria problem, but the humankind evolution bed could solve your insomnia.

New Ruling Cracks Down on Emotional Support Animals on Planes
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Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesIn a long-awaited ruling, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Dec. 2, 2020, that \"carriers are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets.\" This ruling came after a skyrocketing number of pets flying as service and \"emotional support animals\" (ESAs) — up 150 percent between 2015 and 2017, according to Delta — had prompted the airline and others to enact more stringent requirements for on-board animals. \"The research on the positive impact that emotional support animals have on people who are struggling with mental illness is pretty plentiful,\" says psychologist Tanisha Ranger, who works mainly with veterans. Many passengers looking to avoid this fee had started to classify their pets as emotional support animals. And when untrained animals attack innocent bystanders, it further creates stigma for those who actually need service animals.\"

Inside the CIA's Treasure Trove of bin Laden Files
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When bin Laden became a wanted man, running from the U.S. government, he began wearing a black cowboy hat when out in public, thinking it would shield his identity from spy satellites and drones. Bin Laden was an intense and religious person, joining the zealous Muslim Brotherhood in high school. Initially, bin Laden denied involvement, but in October 2004, he released a video claiming responsibility and decrying American intervention in the Middle East. But it was the final release on Nov. 1, 2017 that featured what seemed like a treasure trove of data, including 79,000 audio and image files, plus al-Qaida \"home videos.\" But what seems to pique everyone's curiosity is bin Laden's obsession with hentai — anime porn.

Running on Empty? How Bad Is It for Your Car?
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Don Farrall/Getty ImagesExperts say you should keep your gas tank at least a quarter full at all times. AdvertisementAdvertisementYou could also get debris stuck in your fuel pump by running your tank too low. If you're constantly running your gas tank dry, the fuel pump could be overheating, which will cause it to wear out prematurely. Now that you know that driving on empty is actually bad for your car, it should be easier to break the habit. That said, if you find yourself in a situation where you're running low, you won't ruin your car if it's only the first or second time it happens.

Indiana woman's viral video claims serious COVID-19 vaccine side effects, doctors dispute cause
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— To hear Shawn Skelton and her fiance tell it, the uncontrollable shaking and tongue spasms she suffered days after taking the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could only be a reaction to the shot. \"Three days later after the Moderna shot, this was the uncontrollable shakes,\" Skelton's fiance, Rich Vidiella, said from her hospital bedside Monday. \"To cause uncontrollable shaking, you'd have to have something that's — throughout your whole body, you'd have to have something that affects your brain or your nervous system,\" Haseman said. \"Nobody wants to point it toward the vaccine,\" Vidiella said. More:Hoosiers rush to register for COVID-19 vaccine in first hours; VCHD begins shot clinicsMore:COVID-19 vaccinations have begun in Evansville.

Resolving the Red Controversy?
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-Donkey, from ShrekEarlier this week, I introduced you to the Red Controversy, the observations recorded around 2000 years ago in Europe asserting that the star, Sirius, appeared red. The way most Sun-like stars work is that they burn their fuel until they're exhausted, and then they expand tremendously and become red giants. If Sirius B was a red giant 2000 years ago, then the Sirius system would have appeared extremely bright and red! If there were another, denser star close to Sirius B (such as a neutron star or black hole), it could start stealing mass from the Red Giant! This process could be extraordinarily quick, and could feasibly strip Sirius B bare in just a few thousand years, leaving behind a cold, dead, white-dwarf core.

Physics, Flocks, and Fire Ants
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Though small, ants are mighty; individual ants can withstand more than 5,000 times their own weight by some estimates. “Ants are like no living thing on Earth,”In addition to their strength, speed, and raft-crafting abilities, ants are also excellent atFlocking physics Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have studied the unique collective behavior that arises when fire ants band together. Physics offers a few hints.Flocking (like raft-forming) is an example of active matter: systems whose constituent elements consume energy. Active matter is still a relatively new classification of soft matter; one of the most well-known mathematical models describing active matter — the Vicsek model — was published in 1995. Collective behavior arises as a property of groups but is not necessarily shared by the individual participants themselves.

Science News Briefs from Around the World
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I’m Scientific American assistant news editor Sarah Lewin Frasier. And here’s a short piece from the January 2021 issue of the magazine, in the section called Advances: Dispatches From The Frontiers Of Science, Technology And Medicine. The article is titled Quick Hits, and it’s a rundown of some non-coronavirus stories from around the globe. Considered part of the Great Barrier Reef, it is the first detached reef structure discovered there in 120 years. That was “Quick Hits.” I’m Sarah Lewin Frasier.

Why Syncing Stop Lights May Not Solve Traffic Woes
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Synchronized traffic lights don't mean that a driver will encounter an unending number of green lights as she drives down a major road. LA's traffic system overhaul went further than most others, by using cameras and sensors to measure traffic flow and make real-time adjustments to keep traffic moving. AdvertisementAdvertisementWhy Lights Often Aren't SyncedBut retiming traffic lights costs money and manpower. A TV news report noted that the last time traffic lights were all synced in Atlanta (another city with major traffic congestion) was in the mid-1970s when Atlanta had traffic lights at 320 intersections. Retiming or syncing traffic lights is only one tool in the traffic-fighting toolbox.

Scientists Need to Be Kinder to One Another
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One unanticipated consequence of the current pandemic is that many scientists are cutting one another some slack. The answers to these questions rest heavily on the peer-review process and, more specifically, on the critical processes of vetting scientific claims that peer review entails. Individual scientists do commit fraud and engage in sloppy and stupid practices, but peer review lets others point such problems out. Think of it as tough love: scientists take the time to review colleagues' work because they are committed to the production of reliable knowledge. But if we are on the receiving end, we need to dig deep and accept it, even (or especially) if it hurts.

Moving The Apocalypse Goalposts: Goofy Doomsday Clock Now Invokes Coronavirus In Risk Of Nuclear Destruction
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But it wasn't Fonda who famously called him \"Moonbeam\" for his supernatural beliefs, it was his girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. If they had more actual scientists in the group they'd know that their claims that 'all nuclear energy can be weaponized' are ridiculous. They did not subside again until natural gas overtook coal in 2010.Now activists like Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists oppose natural gas too, along with hydroelectric power. It's a surprise they don't use the alarming increase in suicides and domestic violence for their financial gain as well.Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists used to be just anti-science. (2)The current leader of these supposed \"atomic\" scientists has a PhD in political science from a reliably progressive school in Manhattan - a boro of New York City which is over 80 percent Democrats.

Are Hemp Batteries Better Than Lithium-Ion?
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A reader asked me about this story – “Hemp Batteries are Eight Times More Powerful than Lithium, Scientists Discover.” I didn’t believe it for a second. Are they referring to energy density, power density, by mass or volume, and in any case what are the other critical features, like charge-discharge cycles? Here is the paper on which it is reporting – Interconnected Carbon Nanosheets Derived from Hemp for Ultrafast Supercapacitors with High Energy. The original study heated the bast from from hemp waste (hemp is an industrial form of marijuana) to create “graphitic carbon nanosheets”. An energy storage device with 22 times less energy density than current Li-Ion batteries is not viable for cars, period.

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