science

Science museum’s elemental lockers provide chemistry lesson while you stash your stuff

Science museum’s elemental lockers provide chemistry lesson while you stash your stuff

The Nagoya City Science Museum, being located in one of the busiest urban centers of Japan, gets most of its visitors arriving by public transportation. Without a car to store their stuff in, most of them are carrying some sort of bag with their personal belongings, plus, in the case of tourists from out of town, any souvenirs they’ve been buying while in the country’s fourth-largest city.

For those who don’t feel like lugging their things around inside the museum, there’s a bank of lockers. Of course, a drab wall of solid gray metal wouldn’t be very visually appealing. At many other tourist attractions in Japan, you’d see a brightly colored mural featuring some local mascot character, but the designers at the Science System went with something a lot more original and appropriate by plastering the chemical symbols of the elements on them.

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Japanese cucumber glows in the dark, sparks concern from internet

Japanese cucumber glows in the dark, sparks concern from internet

One netizen in Japan created quite a pickle recently, after posting these photos online in an internet chat forum. The accompanying thread, titled “the pickled cucumbers my mum made are glowing in the dark”, caught the attention of hundreds of users, who began discussing possible causes for the mysterious luminescence. Speculation ranged from light-hearted banter, questioning whether the dawn of cognitive vegetables had finally arrived, to more serious concerns about radiation. What do you think caused the unique phenomenon?

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The science of Attack on Titan explained: Finally, a Titan tie-in that looks kinda cool

The science of Attack on Titan explained: Finally, a Titan tie-in that looks kinda cool

Who would win in a fight between a Titan and Ultraman? How were the Walls built? Seeing as Titans never eat or drink, are they surviving through photosynthesis? If these are the questions that keep you awake at night, then we’ve got some bedtime reading for you.

Kūsō Kagaku Dokuhon (空想科学読本, literally “fantasy science reader”) is a series that addresses, queries and explains the science behind popular Japanese anime and manga. This time around, writer Rikao Yanagita has turned his hand to the inescapable Attack on Titan series, in this 208-page illustrated work that promises to answer all your titanic scientific ponderings.

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Japanese netizens lament over the long, but sad life of sea urchins

Japanese netizens lament over the long, but sad life of sea urchins

Although the spiny, horrifying outside may scare you off, the insides of a sea urchin are one of the most delicious things to come out of the ocean. In Japan, sea urchin, or uni in Japanese, can be enjoyed with sushi, on top of rice or just own its own. Sea urchins are a treat for any seafood fan, but recently a group of Japanese netizens found out a little bit more about the life of the sea creature and began a deep discussion about the spiny little critters.

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Gigantic aquatic insect found in China has record-setting wingspan, possibly anal spray

Gigantic aquatic insect found in China has record-setting wingspan, possibly anal spray

Back in college, when it came time to pick an upper-level science class to get my general education credits, I settled on a class in entomology, aka bug science. The fact that it started at 10 a.m., instead of my other options at 8, played a big factor in the decision, but it actually turned out to be a really interesting course with an excellent teacher.

On the first day of class, the professor told us that one of his goals was to help dispel our socially-ingrained yet illogical fear of insects, arachnids, and all other sorts of creepy crawlies that I’ve since forgotten the scientific names of. If you can get past the knee-jerk, “Eew gross!” reaction many people have to, say, a beetle, you’ll find that holding one in your hands isn’t any more likely to give you a rash or a disease than a rabbit or hamster.

And yet, I still find myself terrified to hear that the world’s largest aquatic insect was just discovered in China.

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Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so

Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so

Everybody, go ahead and cross your arms right now. Done? Alright. Now, try to cross them the other way. If you’re currently crossed with right forearm on top, try to switch position so that your left forearm is on top. Feels incredibly awkward and unnatural, doesn’t it?

It turns out most people have a natural bias for arm-crossing direction, with slightly more than half of most global populations preferring the left-forearm-on-top approach, although the two preferences are basically 50-50. Some people apparently cross their arms either way without even thinking about it, although this population is exceedingly small.

So why do we humans find one way so natural and the other way so incredibly weird-feeling? It may have something to do with your psychological composition, according to the (admittedly somewhat unreliable) Japanese Internet.

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What color do you see? It may not be the same as those around you

What color do you see? It may not be the same as those around you

Apologies for the headaches the above GIF may induce but it’s an interesting little example of not completely known human biology and currently all over the internet here in Japan. If it’s not spinning now then just click on the image to start. Once the animation gets into full swing you should be able to see some colors flickering around with those black lines.

Now, what if I told you that other people see different colors than those you do? Moreover, what if I told your there aren’t any colors at all, and it’s just your mind playing tricks on you?

Before you go shoving a pencil in your ear to punish your brain for such trickery, let’s take a moment to see what’s going on here.

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Why did we blow into NES cartridges? 【Video】

Why did we blow into NES cartridges? 【Video】

It’s 1987. You’re looking awesome in your oversized Michael Jackson “Bad” t-shirt as you slot a chunky, grey game cartridge into your NES console. But instead of the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt title screen, all you see is a jumbled-up mess of an image that looks like an 8-bit Picasso. What do you do? The same thing everyone did – you take the game cartridge out, blow into it, and put it back in. Lo, and behold: this time the game loads perfectly and you can squish goombas or shoot ducks to your heart’s content.

But in the pre-internet age, how did we all “know” to blow into cartridges? And like rubbing the magnetic strip on a credit card or shaking a Polaroid photo, why did we keep doing it even when product manufacturers and scientists insisted that it didn’t work and could actually cause damage? Joe Hanson, biologist and author of the popular science blog It’s Okay To Be Smart, offers up some answers in a neat YouTube video asking just that.

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Newly discovered plant might allow us to recover from devastating post-apocalyptic worlds

Newly discovered plant might allow us to recover from devastating post-apocalyptic worlds

How many times have you heard the phrase “in a post-apocalyptic world…“? Movies, books, comics and games draw upon that all-too-common setting to dream up stories where man is pushed to the brink in order to survive in a unforgiving environment.

What makes a world post-apocalyptic though? There are plenty of ways to get there – nuclear apocalypse, asteroid strikes, zombies, giant robots, but one thing is pretty common: Food is scarce and people have to scavenge for it because the land is just too polluted to grow anything edible. But what if you could plant something in the ground that would allow other things to grow? What if nature already had its own answer to this problem? What if you could make that “every man for himself” world back into a “let’s work off the land together!” love-fest? Sounds to us like a billion dollar industry! Do they still have dollars in a post-apocalyptic world?!?!

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The reason Tokyo Disneyland has no mosquitos (plus three other cool things about its water)

The reason Tokyo Disneyland has no mosquitos (plus three other cool things about its water)

Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea can both make pretty strong claims for the “Happiest Place on Earth” title. Combining the cast of the animation pioneer’s collected works with Japanese sensibilities results in some of the most unbridled and deep-rooted enthusiasm for cartoon characters you’re likely to find anywhere. Adding to the experience is the attention to detail and hospitality that comes from the world’s preeminent amusement park operator and the country with the highest customer service standards on the planet.

But while all those things go a long way towards helping visitors enjoy their stay, the excitement they bring just might pale in comparison to the joy guests feel when they realize there’s something Japan’s Disney theme parks don’t have: mosquitos.

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NASA’s new leek-like supersonic jet design would be perfect for Hatsune Miku’s personal plane

NASA’s new leek-like supersonic jet design would be perfect for Hatsune Miku’s personal plane

I always feel a little sad whenever I stop and think that NASA’s Space Shuttles are no longer in service. For decades, they served as symbols not only for the pioneering spirit of their mission crews, but for NASA itself, an organization that serves as a gathering point for some of the brightest and boldest scientific minds on the planet.

NASA hasn’t completely gotten out of the high-tech transportation field, though, as it’s moving ahead with a project to develop a supersonic passenger jet. As impressive as its specs are, though, it looks like something quite a bit more down to earth: a root vegetable.

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“Ugly” South Korean woman goes from “Old Lady Face” to “Dream Girl” with help of cosmetic surgery

“Ugly” South Korean woman goes from “Old Lady Face” to “Dream Girl” with help of cosmetic surgery

Le sigh… Sorry guys, it’s time for yet another South Korean tale of cosmetic surgery woes. I know I write way too much about South Korea’s penchant for cosmetic surgery and how things can turn towards the uncanny valley a little too quickly. I know you guys wish I’d just get off the topic because it’s depressing.

Wait… What? WAIT WHAT?! There’s a person who got serious cosmetic surgery and it actually worked out really well?!

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Taiwanese woman’s battle with cockroach ends with video game-style explosion

Taiwanese woman’s battle with cockroach ends with video game-style explosion

For most of us, killing a cockroach is about the closest we’ll come to a real-life video game boss fight. As soon as one appears, you know there’s no point in negotiating, and the only option is to throw everything you have at it.

For one woman in Taiwan, her struggle with a roach followed video game logic to the very end, as after she killed her adversary an explosion occurred. Instead of destroying an evil overlord’s castle, though, it simply ruined her office toilet.

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Rumors of ‘horned cockroaches’ in Japan continue to attract believers, terrify us, and be false

Rumors of ‘horned cockroaches’ in Japan continue to attract believers, terrify us, and be false

Japan has sort of a love-hate relationship with bugs. On one hand, there’s a trio of insects that are seen as nostalgic symbols of summer. Dragonflies are a popular motif on yukata summer kimono, the whining of cicadas is an immediate audio cue that brings back memories of the lazy days of summer vacation, and catching stag beetles has been a popular pastime during the warmer months for generations of Japanese kids.

On the other hand, cockroaches are universally hated, because, well, they’re cockroaches.

With such strongly contrasting emotions involved, it’s understandable that rumors persist of a cockroach/stag beetle hybrid, something which caught the nation’s attention again recently after someone in Japan claimed to have caught one.

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Move your feet and charge your phone! Bright young inventor shows how it’s done! 【Video】

Move your feet and charge your phone! Bright young inventor shows how it’s done! 【Video】

Reusable, renewable energy is the holy grail of the modern age and the world needs the best and the brightest to find effective sources of it. With that in mind, some of the world’s biggest organizations hold events for the up-and-coming to showcase their ideas for a better tomorrow, and at the Google Science Fair this year one young “Tony Stark” from the Philippines has unleashed a brilliant idea on the world that is getting everyone’s attention: footwear that generates electricity.

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Chinese college student’s bizarre “Thong Condom” invention wins the support of financial backers

Chinese college student’s bizarre “Thong Condom” invention wins the support of financial backers

Everybody, it’s time to talk about junk.

Even to the discerning eye of the straight woman and the gay male, I’m willing to bet the visual appeal of even the best-kept male genital area ranks somewhere between the ugliest dog in the world and a Lobstrosity from Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga. Plus, despite the meme that there are more germs in your mouth than on your genitals – the swamp-like environment created from all those dangly bits contracted together by boxer briefs for hours at a time can’t be sanitary.

So it goes that enterprising young Chinese college student Kong Yongxiang apparently took one look at a standard condom and thought, “This is way too revealing.” She then went on to invent what is creatively called the “Eros Protector” – literally a condom attached to a thong, with a special pouch that goes over the testicles, ensuring that your male partner’s gross peen and balls stay both safely sheathed in latex and thankfully out of sight.

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North Korea “invents” performance-enhancing drink from mushrooms, Nintendo lawyers remain silent

North Korea “invents” performance-enhancing drink from mushrooms, Nintendo lawyers remain silent

In North Korea‘s latest desperate attempt for attention from the rest of the civilized world, the dictatorship – perhaps tired of tossing missiles around for now – bragged through state media that its scientists have discovered a way to extract enzymes from a certain mushroom grown in the region to create a miracle super drink that makes athletes better, faster and stronger.

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Double upside-down rainbow appears in Ishikawa Prefecture, makes everyone’s day fabulous

Double upside-down rainbow appears in Ishikawa Prefecture, makes everyone’s day fabulous

Some Japanese Twitter users posted photos of a spherical double rainbow spotted in Ishikawa Prefecture a few days ago, and thank God they weren’t high, because if outdated Internet meme “Double Rainbow Guy” is any indication, it would have literally destroyed their minds with its brilliance.

While Double Rainbow Guy seemed to think his double rainbow sighting was a sign that we aren’t alone in the universe or something, most Japanese Netizens who posted photos seemed to just take it as a sign of good luck, even though this double rainbow is way more awesome because it forms a circle around the sun as though Helios himself were gifting humanity with two giant cosmic frisbees.

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The 2,900 km/h train: China could soon have maglev faster than commercial jet

The 2,900 km/h train: China could soon have maglev faster than commercial jet

Scientists at Southwest Jiaotong University in China have built a prototype testing platform for a near-vacuum high-speed maglev train that is theoretically capable of reaching speeds up to 2900 km/h or about 1,800 mph. Currently, the fastest commercially operated maglev reaches just 431 km/h and even the world record is just 581 km/hr.

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Japanese museum celebrates Golden Week by publicly dissecting rare sea creature 【Photos】

Japanese museum celebrates Golden Week by publicly dissecting rare sea creature 【Photos】

Golden Week in Japan is a great excuse to use those consecutive spring days off to relax, see a new part of the country or just enjoy some cheap ice cream. But vacationers wanting something a little different got an extra special Golden Week treat last week when a museum in Shizuoka dissected an incredibly rare megamouth shark in full view of the holiday crowd. 

Fewer than 60 megamouth sharks have been caught around the world and this 4.4 meter-long specimen was caught last month at a nearby port. Click below to see photos and videos of the live dissection.

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