Category Archive: Pop Culture

The end of us

Skulls

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From the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to the itty-bitty Tobias’ caddisfly, 98% of all species to have ever existed on Earth are now extinct. Whilst it seems unthinkable that humanity is no different to our doomed predecessors, our days are probably numbered too. Unless we can master interstellar travel, the sun’s evolution into a planet-engulfing red giant will ultimately spell the end of humanity. Fortunately it’s a few billion years before we have to worry about that. Unfortunately, there are several other theoretical scenarios that could result in Homo sapiens’ demise well before the sun boils our planet alive. Firstly, and this isn’t so bad, we may just evolve into something else. You might well think that, with all of our medicine and technology, there is no longer any driving force (selection pressure) for the process, but scientists are still recording subtle changes in human biology such as the lengthening of the reproductive period. There are also arguments that advanced civilisation …

#SciFact

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Just a quick post to say that there is plenty more from Unpopular Science coming very soon (we went a little bit quiet over the holidays). But, in the meantime, have you follwed us on twitter? We’re looking to create a buzzing online community for science buffs and nerdy nature geeks alike! So, get connected and, if you want to send us any spectacular scientific facts you happen to stumble across, that would be fantastic! Just tweet us with @Unpopsci or use #SciFacts and we’ll be certain to share them for you. Below are a list of some of the crazy ones we’ve found so far:   An adult human is comprised of roughly 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms #SciFact The first cat in space was a French cat named Felicette. In 1963, the French blasted her into outer space and she returned alive #SciFact An adult Giant Pondskater is astoundingly large; it has a body 5 cm in length and a …

Twitter Q and A: David Bradley

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This week the wonderful Feed My Reads hosted a Twitter Q and A with renowned science journalist and author, David Bradley. Using #DBQuestions, twitter users were able to ask David absolutely anything they wanted. This seemed like so much fun that Unpopular Science just had to get involved! So, below are the fiendish questions users asked, as well as David’s insightful answers. @HenryGeeBooks: What gets you up in the morning? DB: Usually, a dig in the ribs from my wife expecting a cup of tea and the dulcet tones of Humphrys et al with the news headlines on the radio. And, of course, the urge to share the scientific discoveries I come across in as informative and entertaining way as I can. Oh, and our labrador always needs her breakfast and an exit to her morning constitutional. @Charli_TAW: Have you always wanted to be writer? DB: Hah, not at all. I always wanted to be a marine biologist and then a physicist, and then a guitar god …

‘I don’t know’: why science and fiction get on so well

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I don’t know.’ This is the default position of science. If you ask any half-decent physicist how the universe came in to being, they will say ‘I don’t know but here are some theories.’ Likewise, if you ask any biologist what colour a baby archaeopteryx was, they will probably say ‘I don’t know, but I can speculate.’ The lack of absolutes is what makes science great and what makes the scientific process so encompassing and so (mostly) open-minded. By a happy coincidence, it also leaves a lot of mystery and a lot of room for guess work, and this is where our good friend fiction comes in … Because our scientific understanding is far from complete, authors can take a scientific concept, and flesh it out however they want. In 1963 a physicist named Hugh Everett published a new theorem, The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. His radical new idea proposed that, thanks to some incredibly clever calculations and observations, …

Popular Science

Professor Frink

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It’s time for another top-5 countdown. And after spending my bank holiday-weekend vegetating in front of the TV, I thought it would be poignant to conduct a brief round up of the greatest fictional scientists ever to grace our screens. 5) Professor Frink: The Simpsons Glahaven! One of the most recognizable scientists of all time, Frink is a stalwart of the World’s most successful cartoon series. With his frantic gesticulations and bizarre utterances, he helps reaffirm the notion that scientists speak a language few can understand. An absent-minded parody, Frink is generally seen unleashing his new (and often ill-conceived) inventions on the rest of Springfield’s hapless inhabitants. From shrink rays to human clones, Frink has done it all. But whilst he seems perfectly at ease dabbling in all of science’s major disciplines, he is completely incapable of mixing with the ladies. 4) Dr Emmet ‘The Doc’ Brown: Back to the Future Great Scott! As one half of cinema’s best-loved time-travelling duo …

Scientists in fiction: the good, the bad and the poorly represented

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Science and scientists are a huge part of our society and, perfectly reasonably, this means that a good number of men and women in white have had starring roles in our fiction. Be it in books, comics, or on the silver screen, there really are a vast array of fictional scientists out there influencing how people perceive science-types and, by extension, the disciplines they devote their lives to. In this post, I discuss why I’m not entirely comfortable with some of the ways scientists have been represented in recent years, and speculate wildly over some of the problems Hollywood et al may be causing. To put it straight out there, my major gripe with science in fiction is what I like to refer to as ‘the polarisation of fictional scientists trend’. By this I essentially mean that, more often than not, a fictional scientist is either the saint-like expert who is ignored as he/she warns of impending disaster or doom (think Dennis …

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