Science, Science and Society, Technology

Interesting bitties: different alphas, plastic to oil, drunk voles and a fry

Whilst in the process of writing other, more long-form posts, I thought I’d throw you all the proverbial bone.

A bone
A bone

Or, to be more precise, smattering of things wot I has found interesting today, and which you might find interesting too.

First up!

Akinori Ito goes down as favourite human being of the day.  It would appear that he has come up with a way of making the previously one-way process of oil -> plastic into a two-way process.  Turning plastic back into oil, in other words.

And it’s apparently “safe, eco-friendly and efficient”.

It has not yet, however, dented my aversion for buying bottled water.


Oh dear.  The idea of a ‘universal constant’ may, just may, be in jeopardy. Scientists have long pondered whether the constants which govern the interactions of, um, _stuff_ in our little corner of the galaxy, can be extrapolated as being the same elsewhere in the universe.

Now, it looks like at least one of the constants, called alpha, may not be universal after all. Alpha tells us the strength of electromagnetism, and scientists using the pragmatically named Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile (and measurements from other telescopes, too) appaers to vary “continuously along a preferred axis through the universe”.

If it’s actually the case, it would we’d have to have a seriously close look at our physics theories, and come up with something better and ‘deeper’.   It also means the chances of, say, life occurring could differ in different parts of the universe.  Hmmm.


For the Friday ‘aaaaah‘ factor, I present to you a baby seahorse.  Apparently, the official name for such a creature is a ‘fry’.

And it’s a really rare thing to be able to find and photograph one of these, so there  is also much excited rejoicing going on in science circles.

For the Friday ‘hehehehe, how appropriate’ factor, a study showing that prairie voles are a valid model for studying the effects of social influence on excessive drinking.

Not sure whether I feel happy or sorry for them, frankly.


And then there’s this.  Not because it’s sciencey, but because it’s topical, made me giggle, and gently pokes fun at the famously unintelligible Kiwi accent.