Monthly Archives: March 2016

5 Science Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Whether you are looking for new and interesting projects to jot down in your lab notebook or you just have to feed your need for endless scientific tidbits, podcasts are a great way to go. They are entertaining and educational all at once.

Technology has given savvy scientists an engaging new format by which to share information, and it’s time that more people were aware and took advantage of it. It wasn’t easy to choose only 5 podcasts, because there are so many great ones out there, but the list below is a good place to start.

Scientific notebook

  1. Skeptics Guide to the Universe: Some things just seem so unreal that they require specific explanations, and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like to watch a debate between actual science and pseudoscience? That’s exactly what happens when skeptics and scientists come together for 80 minutes at a time. Hosted by Yale University neurologist Steve Novella, there are over 500 podcasts to answer multiple questions and put false science to the test.
  2. 60 Second Science: For those who prefer their information in small tidbits rather than lengthy podcasts, these 60 second segments are the perfect solution. Hosted by Scientific American, these podcasts offer scientific facts in a timeframe that can engage young learners as well as novices.
  3. Hubblecast: What’s the use of having an enormous and powerful space telescope if you can’t show off some of its findings? Jointly hosted by NASA and the European Space Agency, these podcasts combine Hubble telescope images with animation that is computer generated to give you a unique view of the universe and its hidden secrets.
  4. Physics Central: These podcasts take a look at everyday events and explore the physics side of classic art. Learn about heavy metal crowds and the physics involved, or take a look at some of the techniques employed for bombings in WWII. You can even learn some of the physics facts behind Picasso’s painting methods. If you have an engineering notebook, now is the time to break it out and jot down some notes.
  5. James O’Brien Mystery Hour: Remember all those really simple questions you had as a kid that no one could answer? This is the place for you to get your answers. Every week, this podcast explores things like why people have curly hair or whether toast is better for you than bread.

There are plenty of places to learn about science on the Internet. In fact, you could probably fill a lab notebook with the list of sites and blogs that have ongoing information available which is kept up to date on a regular basis. Podcasts simply offer a new element, because some of them are like watching a sit-com that happens to have science facts as the theme. These are great for any budding young scientist, or if you just need a bit of entertainment while you are waiting in line for a latte. You might even find some facts that will spark a new discovery!

Laboratory notebooks

Science Beginning to Link Climate Change with Extreme Weather

If bad weather seems more extreme than you remember, you might not be wrong. Droughts are becoming more extreme, and hurricanes more damaging, but many have long denied its cause: climate change. The argument is over, though, because science can now link climate change to extreme weather. Take out your research notebook and take notes about what science has to say about the phenomena.

Previously No Conclusive Proof

Throughout the course of its history, climate change has been a widely debated topic. Then came an onslaught of extreme weather. Scientists theorized there was a connection, but conclusive proof was elusive. Scientists observed weather phenomena and reviewed data for years, to no avail, but recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine  has been able to make some connections which have been compiled in three reports the group has issued. These reports are part of a five report series requested by Congress and entitled “America’s Climate Choices.”


What We Know

The reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine outline that climate change is real, and that it is caused predominantly by human activities; however, the causal evidence does not show that every extreme weather event can be causally linked to climate change. This doesn’t mean all extreme weather won’t one day be linked to climate change, but, at the moment, science only allows us a glimpse into how our society influences our climate and the world around us.

Currently we know that there are clear links between heat waves, snow storms, heavy rain and droughts, and climate change. For complicated weather events like hurricanes and typhoons, the link isn’t so clear. Many factors need to be evaluated in these events, and our lack of long-term data prevents accurate statistical analysis. What scientists can say is that the intensity and frequency of some types of weather events can be affected by human actions.

Minimizing Impact

Science may not have all the proof needed to show that humans have caused increases in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, but certainly the evidence demonstrates the need for change in human activities. With that in mind, it begs the question, what can be done? The answers are relatively simple, though the implementation is not.


First, a reduction in greenhouse gases is necessary to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Next, adaptations should be made to cities and the way we live. The rise of sea levels, powerful hurricanes, and other events are inevitable, and changes should be made to withstand these.

Last, research and analysis must continue so these weather events can be predicted and disaster averted when possible. This research and analysis may also eventually lead to a resolution which will negate all of the human effects on climate change.

Now is the time for scientists to test, experiment, and observe, both in the lab and out of the lab. Picture scientists and students, young and old, grabbing their lab notebooks and dedicating their lives to making the world a safer place. If the best minds concentrate on getting over this hurdle, everyone on planet earth will benefit.

To learn more about scientific notebooks for every use, from cleanrooms to classrooms, contact us at 1-800-537-3028.

Largest Rocky Planet Discovered

While one scientist might fill his laboratory research notebook with new inventions or chemical equations, others fill theirs with the dimensions of new planets. Such is the case with one astrophysicist and his team that discovered a new exoplanet with the help of the Kepler space telescope.

Laboratory research notebook

What Is an Exoplanet?

An exoplanet is a planet that exists outside of our solar system. One of the main differences between an exoplanet and the planets within our solar system is the fact that science is always limited by its existing knowledge base. Right now, that knowledge base is limited to what is known about the solar system those scientists live in, rather than the surrounding ones. That limitation can lead to concepts that simply don’t work outside of this solar system. Such is the case with exoplanet BD+205946.

Rocky Instead of Gassy

Based on what is known about this solar system, certain assumptions were made about planets like BD+205946. One of the assumptions was that it would be mostly a gassy planet. Those assumptions proved incorrect. It is actually mostly made up of rocky material. In fact, this exoplanet is now the largest rocky planet known. As of 2014, Kepler 10c was known as the largest rocky exoplanet that the world was aware of.

Details About the Largest Rocky Exoplanet

While each laboratory research notebook is full of information that the average person may not be able to comprehend, it’s easy enough to break things down so that they are concepts that are easier to grasp. This planet orbits in a different solar system. It is found in the Taurus constellation, 500 light-years away.

The mass of the Earth is 5.5 grams per cubic centimeter. By contrast, the largest rocky exoplanet is 8 grams per cubic centimeter. Its width is double that of the Earth, as well, and it is 16 times as massive as the Earth.

Kepler Justification

There have always been a lot of questions about the justification of the budget allocated to exploring space. Some people feel it is a waste of time, while others recognize the need to search for answers to many questions. The Kepler space telescope was one of the things that was questioned. It monitors space by watching for any silhouettes that pass by existing stars. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the object orbits the star it passes in front of, but it gives a good idea of its size and location.

Some may see the fact that the exoplanet wasn’t gassy as originally thought to be a sign that scientists made a mistake. On the contrary; it may be more of a breakthrough than a mistake. Remember that scientists can only go by their existing database of knowledge. In this case, the estimations were so extremely different than the reality, that it opens a whole new door to future discoveries.

If solar systems outside of this one operate so differently such that the planet is rocky instead of gassy, what other rules may not apply? Do the rules vary from solar system to solar system, or is this just a fluke?  Only more resources and focus on these discoveries can provide the answers.

Scientific notebook

Hubo – The Disaster Relief Robot

Robotics is a field that has benefitted tremendously from advances in technology. Leonardo Da Vinci may have been the original trailblazer in robotics and engineering. His engineering notebook has been a coveted piece of scientific history as well as a resource. The once clumsy robotic arm has now given rise to robots that can perform detailed, careful movements. These robots can perform surgeries and, with the advent of Hubo and robots like it, they are saving lives. Robotics is coming to the forefront as a way to go where no human can go. Engineering notebook What Is Hubo? Hubo is the winner of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) robotics challenge developed by the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST). The challenge has been ongoing since its inception after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. The idea of the challenge is to build semi-autonomous robots able to go into dangerous situations and perform complex tasks. Hubo is a human-like robot with electromechanical and computer systems that enable it to move, communicate with people, and interact with the world around it. This robot is over five feet tall, made from aluminum, and weighs close to 176 pounds. It has three cameras and has the ability to see in 3D. It has arms that can perform lifting, twisting, and turning, all aided by its seven motors and motor drivers. Hubo Symbolizes the Future Hubo and its predecessors are just a few of the many life-saving robots yet to come spurred on by the challenge, advances in technology, and human imagination. Some imagine a future where robots take over the world in an I, Robot-style doomsday scenario, but others see a world where the possibilities are endless. Details of the Challenge This multi-leg, multi-year challenge had exceedingly difficult requirements. The challenge required the robots to drive a vehicle at the site. It had to get out of the vehicle in a rubble-strewn area. Then it had to remove debris from an entryway. It also needed to open a door and go into a building. Once the robot did this, it was required to climb a ladder and cross an industrial walkway. As if those steps weren’t challenging enough, it then had to use a tool to break through a concrete panel. Next, it had to find and close a valve near a leaking pipe. Lastly, it had to connect a fire hose to a standpipe and turn on the valve. Hubo robot Sound challenging? Surely it is. It took teams of some of the world’s brightest scientists to come up with these disaster relief “heroes,” and there’s still room for improvement! It Started as an Idea It all started with an idea that someone likely wrote down in a scientific notebook. It could have been a sentence, a drawing, or an observation. Inspiration doesn’t always become invention, but, when it does, it’s like a seed that has blossomed into a beautiful flower. Hubo is the amazing realization of a team of hardworking scientists. To learn more about scientific notebooks for every use from cleanrooms to classrooms, contact us at 1-800-537-3028.