Dropping Science

Dropping Science – 10 Lesser Known Natural Wonders

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiWO-c6mst0&w=853&h=480]


I don’t have a tonne of time this weekend, so here’s a video I stumbled upon a little while ago and have been waiting for a chance to share. Without wanting to sound too much like Professor Brian Cox, there are plenty of amazing things in our world. Many of them are extremely famous but there are many more that you may never have heard of. Here’s a quick run down of 10 incredible natural wonders that you may not have seen before, courtesy of All Time Top 10.


Neil deGrasse Tyson’s most astounding fact adapted as a comic

We’ve already seen a video interpretation of physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s most astounding fact about the universe in Dan’s weekly Dropping Science post. Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than offers his graphic version of the famous quote, illustrating it in a single, beautiful webcomic.

Than’s comic is below, you can see the whole thing and others at his webcomic Zen Pencils. In Zen Pencils, Than takes various inspirational quotes and illustrates comics around them. This one, inspired in part by the film The Tree of Life has a similar tone to the video version of the quote we’ve seen before. But many of Than interpretations are less expected. He uses the Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear” from Frank Herbert’s Dune as the text for a story about escaping an abusive relationship. He also does charming turns with quotes from Ayn Rand, Carl Sagan, and Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

Dropping Science: The surprising truth about what motivates us

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&w=853&h=480]

Welcome to the first Dropping Science of 2012, hope you all had a lovely Christmas/New Year. We all know the basics of financial motivation, you reward people with money when they do good work and thus they keep doing good work. Except that this may not actually be true. This study by M.I.T, narrated by Dan Pink and presented by The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce explores the surprising results of studies that show how our motivations are in fact far more complex than we think.

In the arts we are of course well versed in the idea of purpose based motivation. Could it be that the financial sector has something to learn from this?


Top 5: Dropping Science

I started Dropping Science back in April as a way of sharing science & space stories that were of interest to me. As you might imagine for someone who writes a comic about the Moon, science is a pretty big part of my writing process and it seemed like it would be cool to share some of that stuff with fans of the book. 8 months on and it’s become one of my favourite parts of the whole site. I spend hours some weeks, scouring the net for interesting stuff to post here and in doing so I’ve discovered some amazing vidoes. Some are crazy, some are inspiring but they’re all a tonne of fun to watch. So without further delay, on to my top 5 Dropping Science posts of 2011:

5. The Ghost Rocket

This video is a short documentary by Coffee and Celluloid Productions which tells the story of Florida’s short lived space program. During the space race a company called Aerojet-General built the world’s largest solid fuel rocket at a facility deep in the Everglades. The rocket was intended for the Apollo program but Aerojet lost the contract and the base has just sat quietly rusting away in the swap ever since.

4. How Much Does The Internet Weigh?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaUzu-iksi8&w=853&h=480]

 has fast become one of my favourite stops for zaney science facts. In this video, Michael walks us through one of the great questions of humanity…just how much do all those cat videos weigh?

3. The Physics Of My Little Pony

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muVfidujxRg&w=853&h=480]

While a lot of the science covered on DS is about astronomy, we do occasionally like to branch out into other fields of science such as magical flying ponies. Physics student, Stephen Magnet put together this presentation for his class, in which he examines just how faithful to the laws of physics those damn ponies are. He became my new hero overnight.

2. Time Lapse Video of the Milky Way

I have a bit of a habit on Dropping Science of being sidetracked by pretty timelapse videos of the night sky. These films don’t necessarily teach us anything new about our galaxy but as an inspirational tool I think they more than earn their place among the other offerings. This video by the incredibly talented Terje Sorgjerd was the first such film that I came across and it remains my favourite.

1. The Pale Blue Dot

This is the video that made me want to start Dropping Science in the first place, so I think it’s only fair that it takes then number 1 spot here. Adam Winnik‘s gorgeous animation accompanying the timeless words of Carl Sagan. I still get goosebumps when I watch it.

Dropping Science runs every Saturday here at Beyond The Bunker. You can find the full archive by clicking here


Dropping Science: Inside Amazon

Buzzfeed posted up an interesting article the other day which took us inside one of Amazon’s gigantic warehouses. Along with inspiring a plethora of Ark of the Covenant jokes, these photos give a bit of a sense of just how enormous Amazon is. Next time you click to buy your Christmas gifts, spare a thought for the poor guy walking these mile long isle!

You can find the full gallery of images over at Buzzfeed’s blog.


Dropping Science: How Much Does The Internet Weigh?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaUzu-iksi8&w=853&h=480]


The internet is big, really big. It contains everything from movies and music, to politics and thinly veiled Douglas Adams references, but how much does it weigh? Seems like a stupid question but since digital data is basically comprised of electrons and electrons have a mass, it’s actually possible to calculate.

In this video Vsauce Michael tots up the figures and explains to us just how big the internet’s waistline is. It’s smaller than you think.


Dropping Science: Chatbot Meets Chatbot, Confusion Ensues

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnzlbyTZsQY&w=640&h=390]


Most of us are familiar with the concept of a chatbot. It’s basically a piece of software designed to listen to questions and generate plausibly “human” answers from a set of pre-assigned responses. Much like the famous man vs machine Chessbot contests, Chatbot designers are always striving to create a bot that is able to pass as human.

By adding enough variables it’s possible to create bots that can put on a pretty good show of answering anything a human can throw at it. This of course leads to the question of what happens when you point two such dark mirrors at one another. Well, some folks at Cornell Creative Machines Lab decided to put it to the test and it turns out that the result is a mixture of philosophy, petulance and unicorns…yes, unicorns.

The Cylon war is still a ways off, I fear.


Dropping Science: A Diamond The Size Of A Planet!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylGwsIIyZf0&w=640&h=390]

It sounds like something straight out of a Jack Kirby story but nonetheless scientists in Australia believe that they have discovered a diamond five times the size of Earth, orbiting a distant star.

It began when astronomers discovered a neutron star about 4,000 lightyears away in the constellation Serpens. A neutron star is a star which has collapsed under its own gravity to produce an object which is both tiny (in this case just 12.4 miles in diameter) and incredibly dense. What’s interesting about this particular neutron star however is what’s orbiting around it: a carbon based planet more dense than any previously discovered. Due to the density of the object it is thought that the carbon must be crystallised meaning that large sections of the planet are probably comprised of pure diamond!

This whole drama is played out in an orbit so tight it could fit inside our own sun!

The likely explanation is that the planet was once a white dwarf star which got caught in the pull of the neutron star. The neutron fed on the mass of its neighbour, accelerating as it did so until the dwarf star was all but consumed. At some point however, rather than completely merging with the hungry neutron, the dwarf moved to a safe distance and entered a stable orbit around it. Unable to perform fusion reactions the dwarf was left with only a dead, solid core, now classified as a planet…a diamond planet!

The good news about this is that given 8,000 years and a big tow-truck we should be able to totally solve our economic problems! The better news is that I now have an excuse to post this video of Brian Cox explaining pulsars.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYEprFXTdDQ&w=640&h=390]


Dropping Science: The Moon

Hello. Thought I’d try out some Science Dropping in the absence of Dan (who is currently recovering from his wedding yesterday. Congrats bro!!) It’s not that easy. I decided to start with our favourite subject, The Moon and found this overactive poppet.

Do you suffer from attention deficit disorder? If presented with a long, detailed and varied documentary fronted by a Top Gear presenter you find yourself drifting and would rather be pummelled with ‘Moon’ facts by a slightly self conscious teenager called Charlie who, I suspect, no matter how much he might deny this, is doing it to make girls like him then this is for you. Meet Charlie. With some really interesting facts about the Moon.

A Beyond The Bunker Wedding

I’m afraid there’s going to be a bit of a dip in content over this weekend but it’s not without reason. I will be getting married on Friday and shortly thereafter be heading off to Canada for a couple of weeks on my honeymoon. You needn’t fret as Steve will take good care of you while I’m gone but it does mean that The Extraordinary Adventures of Monsieur Poppaleux and Dropping Science will both be on hold until I get back. I was hoping to queue some stuff up but it turns out that the week before your wedding is a really bad week to be trying to write blogs about comics. If I do find time before I fly out, I’ll be sure to throw something up.

In the meantime feel free to enjoy the Monsieur Poppaleux archives as well as the Dropping Science ones.

Thank you for all the wonderful goodwill messages. I look forwards to coming back from the honeymoon refreshed and ready to roll into a very busy comic based autumn.

Take care and I’ll see you all when I’m a grown up.