Feb. 27, 2013

Let's Make a Deal

by Sam Flatow

A recent study suggests that chimps have a concept of fairness.

chimp, Frans de Waal, Keith Jensen, ultimatum game, fairness
Jan. 17, 2013

A Spider Charade

by Sam Flatow

The octopus may be the king of camouflage, but if there’s an animal whose name is synonymous with deception, it’s the spider.

spider, Phil Torres
Dec. 19, 2012

A Downward Sparrow

by Sam Flatow

Sparrows and finches in Mexico City are lining their nests with the guts of used cigarette filters. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad someone is cleaning up, but who uses a stranger’s cigarette butt for housing?

birds, tobacco, nicotine, nature, tobacco
Oct. 03, 2012

Roundup the Goats

by Sam Flatow

Ok, everyone’s thinking the same thing, so I’m just gonna put it out there already: All the good jobs are taken by goats.

goats, farming, agriculture, humor, taste,
Jul. 23, 2012

Science Throughout History in "Civilization 5"

by Sam Flatow

The videogame is a unique medium -- unlike other forms of narrative, it can change. When you read a book or watch a movie about history, you'll hear how Egypt built the pyramids, England and France warred for a century, and Tesla invented alternating current (if he gets any credit at all). Interesting? Sure, the first time you hear it. But history is a lot more interesting when you can change it.

computer science, video games, gaming, online game, Civilization 5
Jun. 07, 2012

And You Thought Pigeons Were Bad

by Sam Flatow

New Delhi has a rhesus problem.

monkey, rhesus, macaque, animals, Fukushima, radiation
Jan. 27, 2012

William Gibson Looks Both Ways

by Sam Flatow

“My first impulse, when presented with any spanking-new piece of computer hardware, is to imagine how it will look in ten years’ time, gathering dust under a card table in a thrift shop.” –From Distrust that Particular Favor by William Gibson (Putnam, 2012).

Blogs, books, Reviews, books, Cyberspace, Neuromancer, William Gibson
Mar. 05, 2012

Bad Breath for Good Health

by Sam Flatow

Scientists have discovered the strangest aspect of stem cells. Not the most useful, not the most amazing, but – while it may be both of those – it’s probably the weirdest. As it turns out, stinky breath may be bad … Continue reading →

Science, Halitosis, Liver, Stem Cells
Feb. 01, 2012

Cool Medicine

by Sam Flatow

As a fan of exotic medical treatments, I thought it might be a good idea to cover something a little more tasteful than maggots this time. Instead, I present the underutilized field of therapeutic hypothermia. As the name suggests, therapeutic … Continue reading →

Science, Cardiac Arrest, Heart, Hypothermia, medicine
Dec. 23, 2011

It Don’t Bug Me

by Sam Flatow

Kids these days are crazy about “vintage.” “Vintage” 8 tracks, “vintage” t-shirts, “vintage” mayonnaise – if it’s old, they love it. And half the stuff is awful. A typewriter? You think a typewriter’s cool? I used a typewriter when I … Continue reading →

Science, bugs, maggots, typewriter, vintage
Dec. 15, 2011

If You Give a Mouse a Beer

by Sam Flatow

If you give a mouse a beer, he’ll decline and ask for water. Why? Probably because when you have to support such a large family, you just don’t have the time or money to spare on booze. But don’t worry, … Continue reading →

Books, Science, alcohol, choice
Dec. 13, 2011

Egg Counting

by Sam Flatow

I’m starting to believe that birds in general are jerks. I can understand why. Think about it, your ancestors are dinosaurs, some of the biggest, meanest monsters ever, and you’re stuck as a pelican. No Mr. Pelican, I won’t make … Continue reading →

Books, birds, brood parasitism, cuckoo, jerks, parasites
Oct. 28, 2011

Amoebas of Unusual Size

by Sam Flatow

Look at your palm – just take a quick glance down at your open hand. Got it? That’s smaller than some of the amoebas found 6.6 miles down in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. If you … Continue reading →

Science, amoebas, deep sea, Godzilla
Oct. 25, 2011

Why Names Matter

by Sam Flatow

Ok scientists, huddle up. You guys are doing great out there: Higgs bosons, stem cells, iPhones –  it’s all good stuff. I’m sure the jet packs are coming soon. But there’s something you need to start taking seriously – names. … Continue reading →

Science, Uranus, Very Large Stuff
Oct. 06, 2011

Knightly Exploring

by Sam Flatow

Underground acid-slime changed my life. Ok, maybe it isn’t that dramatic. After watching the caves episode of Planet Earth (which featured living acid-slime), I remarked to a friend how great a show it was. His response? “It’s too bad we … Continue reading →

Oct. 03, 2011

Westasaurus Story

by Sam Flatow

The great thing about science is that no matter how old something is, there’s always something new to learn about it. For example, dinosaurs. Recently, a new member of the raptor family called Talos has been discovered, and the fossil … Continue reading →

Science, Dinosaur, Musical Theater, Raptor
Sep. 21, 2011

Look On My Works, ye Parents, and Despair!

by Sam Flatow

“Some of the best known brands in America have arsenic in their applejuice!” PANIC!! Ok, stop panicking. Dr. Oz is here to save you from the FDA and horrible juice conspirators. He tested several brands of apple juice and found … Continue reading →

Books, Arsenic, Dr. Oz
Sep. 15, 2011

Collateral Satellite Damage

by Sam Flatow

A word on school-bus sized objects falling from the sky: Somewhere in the world, a US satellite is going to crash into the Earth. Where is it going to land? Between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south, which is … Continue reading →

Sep. 13, 2011

It’s a Dirty Job, But Someone’s Gotta Poop It

by Sam Flatow

Pandas are lazy. Don’t get angry at me, I don’t make up the rules to this crazy game called Life, nobody does. Not even pandas – they’re too lazy. They’re SO lazy they don’t even hibernate. They don’t have dens! … Continue reading →

Science, bear, biofuel, lazy, panda
Sep. 07, 2011

How They Really Name Stuff

by Sam Flatow

It’s common knowledge that disturbing mummies means curses – pharaohs are just cranky and have a hard time getting back to sleep. It’s not like they can take some melatonin, their entire digestive track could be sealed in a jar. … Continue reading →

Aug. 31, 2011

Robonaut Triumphant

by Sam Flatow

I’ve got some bad news and some good news and some bad news. Bad: A Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) has crashed into Siberia. Good: Ship was unmanned, nobody got hurt. Bad: The part of … Continue reading →

News, Science, Space, ISS, robotics, space
Aug. 23, 2011

Foiled Again!

by Sam Flatow

Centuries from now, there will be a debate. There will be calculations, analyses, flow charts, estimations, discussions, instability, arguments, altercations, insanity, violence and death. When the last man on earth gasps that final breath of tainted air through a broken … Continue reading →

Artificial Intelligence, Science, social networking, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Robots
Aug. 17, 2011


by Sam Flatow

If you hadn’t already heard, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shut down underground mobile service for 3 hours to successfully stop a protest. But first, a disclaimer: this article is about the protest, not the issue protested. 1. The … Continue reading →

Events, social networking
Aug. 11, 2011

8 Feet of Justice

by Sam Flatow

With the recent surge of cephalopod popularity, I must advocate for one of the most widely recognized yet underappreciated of the family. If you aren’t responsible for one of the nearly 150,000 different views of last week’s “Where’s the Octopus?”, … Continue reading →

Books, Video, Books, Cephalopod, Octopus, Thesaurus
May. 09, 2011

Old Laws vs. New Science

by Sam Flatow

As it turns out, the stem cell debate isn’t unique to America. In 2004, Greenpeace (yes, that Greenpeace) challenged an existing patent for a technique to create neural precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells. The organization’s objection was to the source of the stem cells, human embryos. They claimed that this patent would create an “embryo industry,” which would violate a law that prohibits patents concerning the “uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes.” The case is still slogging through the European court system 7 years later. Continue reading →

Books, Stem Cells
Apr. 18, 2011

My First iPad 2

by Sam Flatow

What were you doing at the age of five? If you were anything like me, there is a good chance that you were sword dueling with sticks, climbing trees, falling out of trees, throwing berries at parked cars, and running … Continue reading →

Mar. 23, 2011

The Fall of the Peanut

by Sam Flatow

I speak to you now of a threat that was once a boon. I speak to you now of one of humanity’s oldest allies — that now turns on us from within. I speak to you now of peanuts. “Peanuts?” … Continue reading →

Books, Peanuts
Mar. 14, 2011

Proof of my Unending Loyalty

by Sam Flatow

Oh Glorious Robot Overlords of the Future, Let it be known that I have welcomed your coming since news first reached me of your bold ancestors’ ability to learn, not from humans, but from other robots. When Roboearth became the … Continue reading →

Books, Robots
Mar. 11, 2011

Brazil: Land of the Zombie Ants

by Sam Flatow

The dead walk. Well, they aren’t really dead. By definition, anything that is walking around and can reproduce (in this case by infection) can’t be classified as entirely dead. But that’s not the point. The point is, zombies are real. … Continue reading →

Books, Ants, Cordyceps, Zombies
Mar. 04, 2011

Uncertain Politics and Uneasy Scientists

by Sam Flatow

Stem cells are the penicillin of the 21st century, as difficult to distinguish from magic as helping the lame walk–which may in fact be one of their many uses. But the research itself has been hindered by politics. Funding has … Continue reading →

Feb. 23, 2011

Superscience For Supersolids

by Sam Flatow

There is new research suggesting that supersolids exist. No, I didn’t know what a supersolid was either, and neither did anyone else I asked. Apparently, a supersolid is a new state of matter with its own set of rules, combining … Continue reading →


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