Quanta Magazine: At the Far Ends of a New Universal Law
Article by: Natalie WolchoverArt: Olena Shmahalo

A surprising explanation has emerged for a recently discovered statistical law that exhibits “universality,” a mysterious phenomenon in which diverse microscopic effects give rise to the same collective behavior. The Tracy-Widom distribution, a puzzling curve that seems to be the complex cousin of the familiar bell curve, appears in complex systems with correlated variables like financial markets, exotic phases of matter or the Internet.

Quanta Magazine: At the Far Ends of a New Universal Law

Article by: Natalie Wolchover
Art: Olena Shmahalo

A surprising explanation has emerged for a recently discovered statistical law that exhibits “universality,” a mysterious phenomenon in which diverse microscopic effects give rise to the same collective behavior. The Tracy-Widom distribution, a puzzling curve that seems to be the complex cousin of the familiar bell curve, appears in complex systems with correlated variables like financial markets, exotic phases of matter or the Internet.

Elusive Form of Evolution Seen in Spiders
via Quanta MagazineArticle by Emily SingerGraphic by Olena Shmahalo

Did you know that some spiders cooperate like bees and ants? Tangle-web spiders form bands of 1,000 or more to spin webs that stretch for hundreds of yards, entrapping flies, small birds and “virtually any invertebrate imaginable,” said Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Pittsburgh. In a new Nature study, Pruitt presents evidence of group selection in one social spider species.

Beware, arachnophobes.

Elusive Form of Evolution Seen in Spiders

via Quanta Magazine
Article by Emily Singer
Graphic by Olena Shmahalo

Did you know that some spiders cooperate like bees and ants? Tangle-web spiders form bands of 1,000 or more to spin webs that stretch for hundreds of yards, entrapping flies, small birds and “virtually any invertebrate imaginable,” said Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Pittsburgh. In a new Nature study, Pruitt presents evidence of group selection in one social spider species.

Beware, arachnophobes.

cravatfiend

sixpenceee:

A graduate student has created the first man-made biological leaf. It absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen just like a plant. He did this by suspending chloroplasts in a mixture made out of silk protein. He believed it can be used for many things but the most striking one is the thought that it could be used for long distance space travel. Plants do not grow in space, but this synthetic material can be used to produce oxygen in a hostile environment. (Video)

via Space.i09:

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around how scientists could’ve been confused by dust when they thought they detected gravitational waves earlier this year, Olena Shmahalo has a slick infographic in Quanta Magazine. The infographic is part of [Natalie Wolchover’s] article on the mechanics of how scientists could’ve mistaken dust for signals from the Big Bang.

via Space.i09:

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around how scientists could’ve been confused by dust when they thought they detected gravitational waves earlier this year, Olena Shmahalo has a slick infographic in Quanta Magazine. The infographic is part of [Natalie Wolchover’s] article on the mechanics of how scientists could’ve mistaken dust for signals from the Big Bang.

nanodash

Anonymous asked:

What advice do you have for younger girls (high school aged) looking to have careers in scientific fields like theoretical physics and astrophysics in their futures? Thanks!

nanodash answered:

Firstly: Doooo it! Do it do it do it and don’t let anyone stop you.

Secondly: Take as many physics classes as are available to you. And Chemistry and Biology too because cross-disciplinary study is a vast and interesting field right now. This advice goes for all genders, btw. You want to find out if this is something you are truly interested in studying full-time. High school physics and college physics are handled differently, but learning the material can give you an idea of whether or not you want to do a degree in the sciences or be an enthusiast in your free time. Both are cool.

Thirdly: And this is the advice specifically for girls*. You might come up against some adversity. I cannot fathom why but there are certain people out there who think girls are not suited to science. For reasons best known only to themselves. They are wrong.

Some people are not suited to studying science. They might not have the required mix of curiosity/creativity/logical thinking that all good scientists have. But the people who are not suited and the genitals they have are in no way correlated. The only constraint comes from society. Now there is a huge amount of history and (un)reasoning surrounding why society seems to discourage women from entering STEM (and most especially Physics) careers that we could literally devote an entire sister blog to just discussing and debunking these issues. But for now lets just say that anything anyone could say to you is either not true or not necessarily applicable to you. You know yourself best. So don’t let the nay-sayers bring you down.

Fourth and finally: Back to general advice; something that every person I have ever known who is studying anything in the sciences, my whole Physics class, my whole Theoretical Physics class, all my Post grad colleagues, has been asked is “Oh! And what are you going to do with that?” usually followed by the prompt “Teach?”. I recently advise someone that the correct answer to such a stupid question is “Whatever I want to.”

Take it one step at a time. 

That is my overarching advice. For now you should take some classes and read pop science books like Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman, etc. Next you get into college and major in whatever science strikes your fancy most *cough* Physics *cough*. Then you see about postgraduate opportunities then jobs then careers.

And don’t sweat it. You might find yourself at some point, for whatever reason, not doing science. But whatever you are doing, you can bring that natural spark and whatever level of scientific education you have to it and enhance what you are doing. Ask Alfred Hitchcock, Bill Nye, Lisa Kudrow, Mayim Bialik, Rowan Atkinson, Cindy Crawford, Natalie Portman, etc, etc, and so forth.

I hope this is helpful and I am sorry that it does not have any pictures. 

*or, you know, other genders that are facing adversity when it comes to their dream of studying or having a career in science. The fuck do I know about your life?

quillery

disneyconceptsandstuff:

James Lopez, a veteran Disney animator (The Lion King, Pocahontas, Paperman), is currently trying to raise money for his traditionally animated project Hullabaloo. Hullabaloo is a steampunk short film which Lopez is hoping will help save the cause of 2D animation, and possibly lead to a TV series or film. So, if you’re interested in badass steampunk ladies or traditional animation, may I recommend you give a dollar or two. Hullabaloo's IndieGogo page is over here, visit to donate and learn more! And I’ll conclude with the plot: 

Hullabaloo is the story of Veronica Daring, a brilliant young scientist who returns home from an elite finishing school to find her father—the eccentric inventor Jonathan Daring—missing without a trace! The only clue left behind points Veronica toward Daring Adventures, an abandoned amusement park used by her father to test his fantastical steam-powered inventions. There she discovers a strange girl named Jules, a fellow inventor who agrees to help Veronica in locating her missing father and discovering the secrets of his work.

Together, Veronica and Jules learn that Jonathan Daring has been kidnapped by a mysterious group of influential persons, who seek to use his latest invention for nefarious purposes. These villains are wealthy and influential and neither Veronica nor Jules can stop them openly. But determined to save her father and holding true to the family creed that technology should be used for the good of all, not the greed of some, Veronica assumes the secret identity of “Hullabaloo”, a goggled crusader who uses wits and science to combat evil and oppose the nefarious conspiracy that has taken her father.

"In addition to helping save 2D animation, Hullabaloo aims to encourage girls to explore science and adventure. The film’s two protagonists are both young women and both scientists who use their intellect, wits, and courage to fight greed and corruption."

••••••

2D adventure film with female scientist leads? There’s nothing about this that’s not awesome.