Alien Entomology: Science on the Silver Screen

Alien Entomology: Science on the Silver Screen

Our expert for Alien in our Science on the Silver Screen film series was Dr. Matt Frye. Dr. Frye is an entomologist, a scientist who studies insects. The alien xenomorphs might be from another planet, but they have a very insect-like lifecycle and many insect-like body features as well. They are also something else that Dr. Frye has experience with: Parasitoids. This article is adapted from his presentation, and discusses the biology of the deadly xenomorph alien. 

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How to Save the Earth from an Asteroid Without Blowing Anything Up

How to Save the Earth from an Asteroid Without Blowing Anything Up

Asteroids 10 km (~6 miles) in diameter strike the Earth every 50 to 100 million years. That puts us in the golden window of expecting another extinction-level extraterrestrial impact, though none appear likely in the near future. However, if we did spot a dangerous asteroid, there are more ways to deflect it than nuclear strikes, some of which are quite bizarre and entertaining.

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The Power of Placebo: When Surgical Benefits Are All in the Mind

The Power of Placebo: When Surgical Benefits Are All in the Mind

Thought is a powerful thing, powerful enough to have dramatic effects on our bodies and health. while it’s become commonplace to compare medicines to placebos, there are other medical treatments that usually go forward without this placebo testing. One field that rarely involves placebo testing is surgery. The idea of testing placebo surgeries may seem absurd, but given the risky nature of surgery, it is vitally important to make certain that surgical interventions do what they’re supposed to.

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A New Bruce Discovery – The Little Morning Bird

A New Bruce Discovery – The Little Morning Bird

Tsidiiyazhi abini, a fossil bird newly described by the Bruce Museum’s science curator, Dr. Daniel Ksepka, may be only the size of a house sparrow, but it’s making big news. The paper was published a day ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and has since spread everywhere from local Greenwich papers to the BBC.

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Nuisance to Nutrient: The Journey of Saharan dust from Africa to Amazonia

Nuisance to Nutrient: The Journey of Saharan dust from Africa to Amazonia

In the Sahara Desert, dust dominates. From Morocco to Sudan, strong winds continuously pick up dust from the desert floor and loft it into the air, decreasing air quality and exacerbating health problems for millions of people. However, this very same dust that is a detriment to the people of the Sahara is a crucial component to human and ecosystem health in Amazonia. Why and how does this happen? There's something very special lurking in that dust. 

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Living without a Mind’s Eye: Aphantasia

Living without a Mind’s Eye: Aphantasia

No one’s imagination operates in quite the same way. Some people can imagine a beach in vivid color and detail, while others envision something like a rough sketch of a beach instead. It’s deceptively easy to assume that our ability to visualize and imagine is the same as everyone else’s, and as it turns out, there can indeed be massive differences.

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The Secret of the Exploding Glass Drops

The Secret of the Exploding Glass Drops

In the year 1660, Prince Rupert gave a very interesting gift to King Charles II: Five glass crystals, each with a bulbous head and a long tapering tail. Though they looked like unremarkable glass baubles and were made of no special material, it soon became obvious that their qualities were far from ordinary. Though the head of the drops were incredibly strong, the entire drop would explosively shatter after just one flick of the tail. For 400 years, Prince Rupert's drops were a mystery to scientists. Now, we finally understand the reason for their immense strength and fragility. 

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