Category Archives: Science

Do Spaceship Escape Pods Actually Exist in Real Life?

In the 1969 science fiction film Marooned, a trio of astronauts manning an experimental space station attempt to return to earth, only for their spacecraft’s main engine to fail. Without sufficient fuel either to initiate reentry or return to the space station, the astronauts find themselves – well, marooned – in orbit, doomed to slowly suffocate unless some bold rescue […]

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The Fascinating Story of One of the Most Elegant and Powerful Experiments in the History of Science

On March 31, 1851, a crowd of curious Parisians gathered at the Pantheon to witness a historic scientific demonstration. In the centre of the building, directly beneath its towering dome, they found a deceptively simple piece of equipment: a 28-kilogram brass-coated lead sphere, suspended from the building’s dome by a 67-metre-long wire. Beneath this was placed a wooden platform covered […]

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What’s the Difference Between a Tidal Wave and a Tsunami?

At 2:46 PM on March 11, 2011, at a spot 60 kilometres off the coast of Japan, the Pacific tectonic plate suddenly slipped and plunged under the Eurasian plate. The resulting Tohoku earthquake, lasting six minutes and measuring 9.0 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, was the most powerful in Japanese history and the fourth largest ever recorded, causing thousands of […]

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What Does the “Octane Rating” of Fuel Actually Mean?

Ah, the joys of vehicle ownership! Traffic jams! Construction! Costly insurance! Speed traps! Searching endlessly for parking! Having the check engine light come on just as you were about to buy that new game system and having the mechanic charge you thousands of dollars for parts and labour… and, of course, the greatest joy of all: that weekly soul-crushing, wallet-emptying […]

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How Does Nuclear Waste Disposal Work?

31 countries currently use some form of nuclear power, with the 455 currently operational reactors generating some 393,000 Megawatts of electricity – nearly 20% of the world’s total energy production. Despite high-profile disasters such as Chernobyl, Three-Mile-Island, and Fukushima, nuclear power is actually among the safest and cleaner forms of electricity generation, placing dead-last in terms of deaths per kilowatt-hour […]

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The Mysterious and Fascinating World of ‘Numbers Stations’

Shortwave radio signals, which occupy the radio frequency band between 3 and 30 megahertz, have the unique ability to bounce or “skip” off the earth’s ionosphere, allowing them to propagate over vast distances. This has attracted a devoted international community of shortwave radio enthusiasts, who exploit the unique properties of the medium to listen to and communicate with shortwave stations […]

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How Does Stealth Technology Actually Work?

At precisely 3 in the morning on January 17, 1991, a series of explosions rocked the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The explosions were exact and devastating, destroying Iraqi military radars, command bunkers, and communications hubs with surgical precision. Immediately, Iraq’s aerial defence system sprang into action, its 3,000 anti-aircraft guns saturating the air with explosive shells. But the 60 surface-to-air […]

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Space Religion

On Christmas Eve, 1968, nearly a billion people sat glued to their radios and television sets as the crew of Apollo 8 entered orbit around the moon. For three days the world had followed the pioneering mission three live television broadcasts, and they now waited eagerly to hear the historic words of the first humans to reach another world. Then, […]

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Do Humans Have Pheromones?

Paul A. asks: Is there really such a thing as human pheromones? Insects, such as the male silk worm using the pheromone Bombykol have long been known to attract mates through pheromones. Moving over to the one humped camel, also known as the Arabian camel and dromedary, of all their adaptations, the grossest is probably the male dromedary’s proclivity to […]

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The Curious Case of the People With Split Brains

In late 1961, Drs. Philip Vogel and Joseph Bogen, neurosurgeons at the California College of Medicine in Los Angeles, were preparing to carry out a radical new procedure. The patients under their care suffered from severe epilepsy, which despite their doctors’ best efforts had resisted all attempts at conventional treatment.  One such patient, a 48-year-old former paratrooper identified in medical […]

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Tesla, Hollywood, and Inventing the Drone

Drones. Whether raining down death and destruction on the battlefield, capturing sweet snowboarding and mountain bike moves for YouTube, helping farmers inspect their fields, or driving aviation authorities mad by wandering into controlled airspace, drones seem to be just about everywhere these days. Using the latest in remote control and automatic guidance technology, drones – more properly known as Unmanned […]

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