Dr. SkySkull’s Monday Cavalcade of Interesting Science Stuff – September 8, 2014

In order to make my blogging a little more regular, I thought I would start doing a weekly roundup of interesting science-based posts from around the internet! Also, there’s so much good stuff out there that should be shared.  With this in mind, I present the first edition of what will hopefully be a more or less regular feature: Dr. SkySkull’s Monday Cavalcade of Interesting Science Stuff!

This week’s intriguing posts:

  • How a 19th Century Math Genius Taught Us the Best Way to Hold a Pizza Slice.  In this wonderful post, Aatish Bhatia of Empirical Zeal explains how the mathematics of curvature — most commonly encountered in the theory of general relativity — gives us the best way to hold a pizza slice.  Rarely will you find a post that explains complicated mathematics so clearly and ties it to simple everyday phenomena so well.

  • What Kind of Demon Sorcery Created This Laser-Spitting Fish?  At io9 Animals, Jason Goldman describes the curious case of a fish that seems to spit out light itself!  The explanation of what’s really going on is equally fascinating, and is a great example of evolutionary processes playing off each other.

  • Jack the Ripper was Polish 23-year-old barber Aaron Kosminski, new book claims.  Science, screwup, or scam?  The author of a new book claims to have found the only surviving piece of forensic evidence related to the Jack the Ripper case, and to have used surviving DNA to identify the killer, through the DNA of a relative.  Interesting story, but there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical.

  • ‘Could happen at any time’ God particle could DESTROY universe, warns Stephen Hawking. Boy, Stephen Hawking has gotten cynical lately, hasn’t he?  Four years ago, he warned us that aliens could arrive to destroy us all, and now he’s warning that the Higgs field (not particle) could become unstable and wipe out the universe at any time.  Folks should relax, though — Hawking was not talking about experiments at the LHC wiping out the planet, but rather the theoretical possibility that an inherent instability in nature could go horribly wrong for us.  My thoughts?  As a general rule, anything that has a finite probability of happening in the universe already would have happened.  In a radio interview, Katie Mack throws some cold water on the hysteria.

  • How archer fish gun down prey from a distance.  It’s a good week for “spitting fish” news. Archer fish have the amazing ability to shoot jets of water at their prey, knocking insects from trees and into the water to be eaten.  New research shows that the fish have an extraordinary amount of control over the speed and duration of their jets, adjusting for maximum impact at the target.

  • World’s largest dinosaur discovered. Finally, we have good news for dinosaur fans: a new species has been unearthed, the largest ever discovered!  Named Dreadnoughtus schrani, this herbivore was as tall as a two-story building and weighed some 59,000 kilograms.  Even better, the skeleton was found remarkably complete.

That’s it for this week!  Check back next Monday for more news.

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