Some Science Video Goodness: Love Some Static New Elements

Three science-themed music videos for your eyes and ears.

In advance of St. Valentine’s Day, Tim Blais has released another A Capella Science video.  Remembering how his view counts get stratospheric, he has used the music of Queen to teach us about love.

As it’s Wednesday, there’s another Science Rap Academy video out.  The kids at the Nueva School, with Tom McFadden’s guidance, have tackled static electricity.  The song uses the song “Locked Away” to make “Shocked Away.”

Finally, we have a video that is arguably not for the young ones.  It comes from Late Night With Seth Meyers and plays off the recent naming of four elements.  Science is more the source of the comedy than the intent of the video.  But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of February 8

Before discussing the coming week, a brief mention of the rare Sunday night appearance of a weeknight talk show.  Both CBS late night programs aired following the Super Bowl, and in the beginning of The Late Show, you can see astronaut Scott Kelly and host Stephen Colbert tossing the football.

In repeat news, you can catch Rami Malek’s recent appearance with James Corden this Friday.  Malek is the lead in Mr. Robot, a hacker series on USA Network.

In new appearances this week, Mayim Bialik is doing double duty, presumably in connection with her role as a neurobiologist on The Big Bang Theory.  Tonight (Monday) she appears with James Corden, and on Wednesday night she is on Last Call with Carson Daly.

In last week’s non-guest related science and technology content, the usual suspects appeared.  Besides the astronaut in the post-Super Bowl show, The Late Show revisited the notion of Spider-Man’s scientific possibility on Friday night.  In response to an earlier segment where Stephen Colbert bemoaned Cambridge scientists asserting that no person could climb like Spider-Man is supposed to, Stanford scientists reached out to Colbert to offer a different perspective.

That same night Neil deGrasse Tyson returned to discuss the results of his Friday Night Fights segment from January 22nd.

Over at Comedy Central, The Daily Show and The Nightly Show handled science topics on February 1st.  The Nightly Show continued its coverage of the water contamination disaster in Flint, Michigan, while The Daily Show looked at the Zika outbreak in the Americas.

Brinkman Seeks Crowdfunds For Climate Chaos Album

In advance of the off-Broadway debut of The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, Baba Brinkman has started a crowdfunding campaign for the album of the same title.  Regular readers of the blog will know that this is old territory for Brinkman, both a show and an album tackling a scientific topic through hip-hop.

Funds contributed to the project will help pay expenses for album production aside from the vocals.  They have been in the works for a while, as demonstrated by this video Brinkman released last month.

If you can make it to New York during the run of The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, I suggest you contribute as one of the perks available is tickets to the show at a notable discount.  I attended the Rap Guide to Evolution at the same theater back in 2011, and I can assure you that there are no bad seats.  It can be the start of a lovely evening.

The campaign runs another four weeks, so please contribute or at least spread the word.  Where else are you going to find an interpretation of a Papal encyclical from a non-theist?

Video Update – New Science Rap Academy Video, Slingshot On DVD

Yesterday Tom McFadden released the latest effort from this year’s Science Rap Academy.  Titled “Wild-Type Genes” the video reworks Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”

Slingshot, a documentary about Dean Kamen and the development of the water purification device of the same name, is now available on DVD (there are two versions also available for classroom use), through iTunes, and on the streaming service Netflix.

While there is mention on the Slingshot Facebook page of the recent debacle involving the water in Flint, Michigan, there is no word yet on whether the Slingshot is up to the challenge of handling the amount of lead contamination.  The device works on vapor compression evaporation to distill pure water.  This technique should be able to remove lead, but I can’t be sure whether or not the contamination in Flint is too much for the technology.  In at least some locations it has exceeded 150 parts per billion, which exceeds the capabilities of the filters provided to the population.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of February 1

A programming note for late night this week.  Stephen Colbert will have a special episode of his show immediately following the Super Bowl on Sunday.  While late night programs have aired special episodes following the Super Bowl before, they have been in their usual spot(s) following the late local news.  So once the post-game festivities are concluded in the Bay Area, the network will cut to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York.  Regrettably, none of the announced guests for Sunday are science or technology focused.

However, one of Colbert’s guests tonight (Monday) is worth noting here.  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy will visit with Stephen, likely talking about Cuddy’s work on how we judge other people and ourselves.  Also on Monday you can watch the CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, on The Daily Show, and Dr. Mae Jemison, former astronaut, will be on the syndicated program The Real.

Moving into the rest of the week, the Tuesday repeat of The Tonight Show includes an appearance of the show’s technology expert, Joshua Topolsky.  The same night, Dominic Monaghan is appearing on @midnight.  The nature program he hosts, Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan, starts airing its third season this week on The Travel Channel in the U.S.  Previous seasons had aired on BBC America.

In terms of content I missed noting in last Monday’s post, there is simply the flat Earth rap battle involving Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I’ve posted about that separately.

Next week is the premiere of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS.  The program will air right before the Conan each Monday night.  (I had assumed, I think like many, that the program would be a weeknight show, but that’s not the case.)  Bee holds the record for longest tenure as a correspondent on The Daily Show, and promos for the program suggest that field pieces will be a decent portion of the material on Full Frontal.  I’ll know more after next week, but I wouldn’t be surprised to post from this show in the future.

Soon You May Be Able To Play At Lab Sabotage

Two scientists are at work on developing a card game that embodies the occasionally cutthroat competition found between labs.

Lab Wars is the brainchild of two U.K. scientists and game players (H/T The Scientist).  Designed for 2-4 players, it’s a deck building game where players seek to grow their lab and boost their reputation faster than their colleagues/competitors.  Sabotage is a part of this game, and the designers are including some of the more notorious incidents or rumors of scientific sabotage.

The game is not yet in production, and like many games not from large companies, the designers intend to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money they need to bring the game to market.  If you’re interested, keep checking the game’s website for news and updates.

Transparent Aluminum Getting Still Closer To Becoming A Thing

Thirty years ago Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home premiered to some success and acclaim.  A minor plot point involved the (or perhaps it was just one of many) formula for transparent aluminum.  While it was not ready in the actual 1986, various compounds involving aluminum have emerged that try to be as strong and as transparent as the material shown in the film.  There are aluminosilicate glasses like Gorilla Glass, and a kind of ceramic armor based on an aluminum compound.  With a version of Gorilla Glass being used for automotive glass things are getting close to the storm panels and water tanks using it in the film.

The latest development in transparent aluminum is a variant on the ceramic armor mentioned above.  The Naval Research Laboratory has made advancements in ceramics manufacturing that allows for spinel (magnesium aluminate) that is thinner and stronger than glass (H/T Science Rocks My World).  The Navy is looking at applications for military vehicles and imaging systems in hostile environments (the spinel allows infrared light to pass through it as well as visible light).

Star Trek, like a lot of science fiction, manages to predict future technology.  It may not get the exact form right, or know exactly when the new technology will become available.  But I’m comfortable placing transparent aluminum in the same category as the communicator from the original series (which is essentially a souped-up flip phone).  Imagined future technology today.