Words for Nerds

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I am in the middle of completing this Python project here and I wanted to create a science-based version of the game Wordle. While looking for a list of words to use, I came across Words for Nerds by The Scientist AKA Science Wordle! I managed to guess today’s word in four tries…and I found it educational. I won’t spoil the world, but let’s just say that if it came up in trivia, I’d fail miserably.

The game is played the same way as the traditional Wordle. You have six attempts to guess a five-letter word. Correctly placed letters will be shown in green, letters that are misplaced will be in orange, and letters not in the word will be greyed out.

While the game is relatively simple to play, the website itself is cluttered and you have to keep scrolling up and down to see your guesses and they keyboard. In order to see both, I had to zoom out on the page in the web browser. Still, it’s a quick and easy way to build your science vocabulary and learn something new!


The Science of Superman

What movies or TV series have you watched more than 5 times?

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At first, I wondered how to answer this and link it to a scientific subject – and then I had a light bulb moment. Sci-fi, anyone? Ironically, I don’t consider myself a fan of science fiction, and yet I am inexplicably drawn to it anyway.

To answer the question, I’ve probably watched Smallville more than five times, or at the very least specific seasons of the show. Smallville was a show detailing the life of a young Clark Kent, a character more commonly known as Superman.

I’m always fascinated by the science of Superman. Is it possible for a man to fly, and what would the circumstances be? Is it possible for a physical being to be harmed by a rock?

According to Science World, one reason Superman is able to fly is that he’s from another planet where the gravitational pull (i.e. the phenomenon that keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground) is less than it is on Earth. That is definitely something to think about the next time someone tells me that Superman isn’t cool because he’s too powerful.

In the meantime, I’m going to hunt for a copy of ‘The Science of Superman’ by Mark Wolverton and see if it answers a question that’s been burning in my mind. How does Superman shoot fire out of his eyes?

Glug, glug, glug – how much water DO you need to drink per day?

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According to research posted in Science, eight glasses of water a day is too much. As someone who needs water with a little flavour, this is good news! No one is quite sure where that figure (eight glasses) came from, although I’m assuming someone divided two litres by a 250ml glass size and came up with eight glasses!

The conclusion seems to be that how much water you need depends on the kind of person you are. Someone who has a desk job and doesn’t move around as much will have a smaller ‘water turnover’ than a professional athlete and therefore, they need less water. Water turnover is the total movement of water throughout the body, including what is taken in and what is lost. Depending on age, climate, gender and living conditions this will vary.

So, there is one size fits all when it comes to drinking water – it all depends on the kind of person you are. Given the benefits of water, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aiming to drink eight glasses per day. As always, the key is to listen to your body and ensure that you remain hydrated.

References

Do You Need to Drink Eight Glasses of Water a Day? It’s Complicated

Variation in human water turnover associated with environmental and lifestyle factors

Writing = therapy (or 5 reasons why writing is good for you)

I have always enjoyed writing—whether it’s stories, poems, scripts, silly notes to myself, or pages and pages of unnecessary commentary on my favourite television shows. There is something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that soothes me. One of my goals is to journal more, but in an increasingly digital world, I can never find the time. Writing online in the form of digital diaries and blogs is a great way to keep up with journaling, but I much prefer looking at the clean-lined paper and messing it up with my chicken scrawl.

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5 Science-Related Podcasts To Listen To

1. The Dropout

Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception. The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is an unbelievable tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. How did the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire lose it all in the blink of an eye? How did the woman once heralded as “the next Steve Jobs” find herself facing criminal charges — to which she pleaded not guilty — and up to decades in prison? How did her technology, meant to revolutionize health care, potentially put millions of patients at risk? And how did so many smart people get it so wrong along the way? ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, along with producers Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson, take listeners on a journey that includes a multi-year investigation. You’ll hear exclusive interviews with former employees, investors, and patients, and for the first-time, the never-before-aired deposition testimony of Elizabeth Holmes, and those at the center of this story.

When I first heard about this story I was shocked it wasn’t more popular. So I was happy to find a podcast based on the entire saga and shocked at how far Theranos went.

Most surprising was that people with biological backgrounds were on board with an idea that seemed impossible – a testing system designed around a single pinprick of blood. I’m not an expert, but to conduct multiple assays you need to have enough of your sample. Even when mixed with reagents and diluted, a speck of blood is not enough.

It was fascinating to see just how much people believed in a bad idea. My takeaway was that sometimes there’s too much focus on the becoming ‘next big thing’ and not enough on finding ways to help people.

As of writing Elizabeth Holmes is on trial for various offences and the podcast is covering that also.

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You learn something new everyday!

I like to post quotes that resonate with me from time to time and this:

…and this:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

…caught my eye. It was attributed to Darwin, and I had no reason to believe he didn’t say it. The variations in the quote were probably a flashing neon sign that I didn’t see. Something compelled me to look up the quote online and it turns out it’s a misquotation.

One so prominent, it was featured in the California Academy of Sciences (until they removed the Darwin mention).

The real quote seems to be from Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. While the quote itself is a good one, it is a lesson in knowing when to fact check and research (hint: ALWAYS!) – something I will do for all quotes I post in future.


Sources:

torture the data and it will confess to anything

Torture the data and it will confess to anything, as they say at Guantanamo Bay.

Bad Science, Ben Goldacre

This quote is somewhat amusing but very much true of some research carried out. It’s not just limited to science either. How many times do less than reputable sources cherry-pick data and use it to support a conclusion that isn’t correct?

Particularly nowadays with the internet being an open house in terms of the information availability. Researchers must handle data with great care and avoid the temptation of moulding it to fit their hypotheses or narratives.