Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, it's a Coffee Lid UFO!

Actually, they're IFOs - identified as plastic Mr. Coffee lids strung up with fishing string and photographed by Jim Underdown to look like unidentified flying objects.

Find out what you need for this alien craft crafts project on Hollywood Reality Check
on "Skeptical Sunday: Take A Number" this week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Turning Water into Slime

Here's a quick one minute video demonstrating the slime power of the hagfish. The animal is anesthetized, given a small pulse of electrical current, and when the tiny bit of slime extracted from it is put into a glass of water, well... You've Been Slimed!

Hagfish aren't really fish, as they have no jaw. In fact, they're the only animal that has a skull and no vertebral column. Their slime is believed to be used primarily as an escape mechanism. They secrete it when captured, but it is also believed that they use it as a lubricant to free themselves from the carcasses on which they feed. The slime also acts to clog up the gills of predator fish, and so the hagfish has developed a peculiar way of keeping its own gills free of slime. When agitated, the hagfish secretes enough slime to turn a 20 liter bucket of water into pure slime in a matter of minutes. To clear itself of this immense amount of slime, the hagfish ties itself into a knot, which then travels the length of its body, thereby wringing out the slime, and likely freeing it from its captor.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I've Been Slimed!

In our most recent program, "You've Been Slimed", Seth & Molly make slime in the SETI kitchen with guest Tori Hoeler. Here's how: Fill one cup with water and add a spoonful of the Borax powder and stir it up. Fill another cup with about 1/2 inch of glue. Add three tablespoons of water to the glue and stir. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir again. Add two tablespoons of the Borax solution and stir well and voila! You've been slimed! Of course, for the above photo, I'm the one forced to pose with the slime. It was kind of slick, viscous, sticky. I wish there were a single word to use to describe it. Blimey! I'm stymied.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jill Tarter makes her wish at TED

SETI's Jill Tarter was the recipient of this years TED prize! You'll hear a little about it from her in our latest program, "A Man, A Planet, A Tenal: Panama!", and you can watch her full speech in the above video.

Jill's plan: To assemble a group of engineers to create a system to facilitate mass collaboration over the web and incorporate innovative data processing methods, including the ability to input alternative search algorithms. The aim would be to tap into the power of open-source initiatives, to globalize the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and empower a new generation of SETI enthusiasts. The launch of this new system would be backed with a major storytelling and awareness campaign whose goal is to inspire millions to participate.

Seth chats with Discovery Channel

Seth was recently interviewed by Dave Mosher for Discovery Channel's website. An afternoon of instant messaging touched on the subjects of life on mars, what aliens might look like, and why SETI is important. Here's an excerpt:

Dave on Earth (1:15 PM): Is there a chance SETI and everyone else is looking for the wrong thing?

SethHeartsAliens (1:15 PM): Of course there's a chance that we're doing the wrong thing, but if you don't know, then I think you should do SOMETHING. We'll never find the aliens by just throwing up our hands and saying "we don't know how to look!" Better to explore and not find them, than to not explore and be guaranteed not to find them!

You can read the entire interview on Discovery's website.