Dr. Drang

Dr. Drang is my favorite pseudonymous engineer on the web. When he sees something broken in the wild, even his wife understands his compulsion to analyse it.

"Go get your phone and take a picture," my wife said. "You know you want to."

If you enjoy this post from the good doctor, you should definitely dig into his archive.

20th Century Deaths Visualized

The folks over at Information is Beautiful make some of the best data visualizations anywhere. Their latest is an ambitious (and awesome) collection of all death data from the 20th century, grouped by cause.

This is almost as good as my favorite visualization, showing supplements, their popularity, and the amount of scientific evidence associated with each one. The best part may be the title, Snake Oil. You may want to take a look before downing your acai berry smoothie.

Water Is Weird

That's the lesson one of my favorite teachers once taught in a high school chemistry class. My favorite two examples of water's interesting behavior are Surface Tension and Capillary Action. I was filling my daughter's pool this week when I found myself staring at a great example of surface tension at work: [vimeo https://vimeo.com/46542951]

And as for capillary action, let's use a paper towel and a bit of liquid:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/46916349]

Okay, Friday night science nerd time is over. Enjoy your weekend!

What if? Randall Munroe has the answer.

I’ve shared Randall Munroe’s xkcd before, and it remains one of my favorite things anywhere. Now, Munroe has added to the awesomeness with a new blog where he answers questions. What kind of questions, you ask?

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

Yes, nerdy science questions. Specifically, questions Munroe can answer with either demonstrated or theoretical physics. He is posting one question and answer on Tuesday of each week and based on the first two, this is now at the top of my list of most anticipated things each week. In addition to actual science, Munroe has a gift for narrative that makes the answers extremely fun to read. A SPOILER-filled example[1] from the first post:

It hits the bat first, but then the batter, plate, and catcher are all scooped up and carried backward through the backstop as they disintegrate.

If that’s not enough to hook you, then I’m not sure why you’re even reading a post from a site called nerd.is.

  1. Turns out, the Oxford comma isn’t dead after all.  ↩