Stories tagged Scientific Inquiry


There is this chart that we found, and it's quite interesting. It breaks down the process of science in general. This chart also help you understand how the world connects, once you put it in a certain order by the chart. It goes from a broad idea and once you hover over it it goes into detail. For example a teenager had to create a lab and not a clue what is expected of it, so then she can locate the chart and see testing ideas. which then lead to the other processes and provide her with her needs for the lab... . Below is the website and check it out!


Geese flying in a "V": Image courtesy Greg7 via Flickr.
Geese flying in a "V": Image courtesy Greg7 via Flickr.
The University of Minnesota is conducting a new campaign called “Driven to Discover”. While new ad campaigns are not typical fodder for a current science web site, this particular campaign is interesting in that it is featuring some of the current research taking place at the University of Minnesota and answers questions like, “When will it be possible for human beings to fly?” and “My dog exhibits strange behavior shortly before a thunderstorm begin. Can dogs sense a change in weather?

One current question that I often wondered: Why do ducks and geese fly in a “V” formation is a recently answered question.

These birds are just doing the avian equivalent of a NASCAR driver’s slipstreaming (or drafting). Geese and ducks are relatively large birds, and they affect the air they fly through just as a race car does. Each bird creates a slight uplift at the tips of their wings during flight. By flying behind and slightly above another bird’s wing tip, birds experience an updraft. These trailing birds gain an advantage and expend less energy than they would if they were flying by themselves. Studies have shown that a bird in a flock flying the same speed as a bird flying alone flaps its wings half as often.

Scott Lanyon, Director, Bell Museum of Natural History and Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

Check out the current and older campaign to see some of the really interesting questions people asked. You can even sign up for a monthly newsletter featuring this information. It’s fun reading.


Last fall I attended a talk by one of the other students at my university (Harvard). He was discussing recent results from a perception experiment he had posted online. He said he had over a thousand subjects. "How long have you had this experiment online," I asked him. "Just over a week," he responded.

"Holy crap!" I thought. There are many experiments I would love to do except they require hundreds or thousands of subjects -- something that just isn't feasible in a traditional laboratory setting. So I started the Visual Cognition Online Laboratory. I am getting respectable traffic after one week, but it's going to take a while before I am getting 1,000 participants per week, which is what I need.

Most experiments, I should say, are surveys. What this grad student and I are doing is putting up actual perception experiments, which are always done in the lab. Most researchers believe you need strong controls in timing, display, etc., in order to do perception experiments. For some, this is true, but there are many you can do online given how much bandwidth there is now. Also, if you have enough subjects, that extra noise will wash out.

If you are interested in trying out one of my experiments, they typically take 5 minutes or less.