by Brandy D. Anderson
Google and Apple are two of the world’s most prominent leaders when it comes to technology, so Google Plus is definitely a platform to watch. One of the most fun subjects in the world is science, and if you don’t believe me, then you should check out just what is included in the term. It’s a catch-all phrase which includes psychology, mathematics, animal behaviour, human behaviour, anatomy, biotechnology… the list goes on and on. I’ve compiled a list of the four best G+ pages which do a good job of encompassing the diversity of the term.
About: “Neuroscience News has provided cutting edge neuroscience news since 2001. Neuroscience News also offers a neuroscience social network, cognitive science news, neurology event listings, forums, books and continues to add more features. On Google +, we’ll share our latest news featured on our website as well as links to other neuroscience related pages.”
Even if neuroscience doesn’t immediately strike you as something you’d be interested in, I challenge you to take a look at this page and see if something doesn’t ignite your fancy. After all, humans are a very selfish species, and really, who doesn’t enjoy learning about themselves? One of the most surprising recent posts here chronicles the way “Perceived Hardship and Poverty Affect Cognitive Function, May Contribute to Premature Aging: New study finds strong associations between sustained exposure to economic hardship and worse cognitive function in relatively young individuals.The research is in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.”
Another article shared seems like it could be out of an episode of E.R., Gray’s Anatomy, or even Numb3rs. “Math Gives New Insights Into Damage Caused During Brain Surgery: It might sound alarmingly similar to the prehistoric procedure of trepanning, but decompressive craniectomy – the removal of a large part of the skull to reduce swelling in the brain – is still used as a last-resort treatment for traumatic brain injury or stroke by surgeons around the world.” There’s a post that examines the physical differences between Neanderthals and modern humans, with particular emphasis on ears and the way hearing would be affected. You can also read about “The Birth of Politics in Children: The Case of Dominance”. Articles are separated into several categories: “Neuroscience”, “Psychology”, “Robotics”, “Genetics”, and “Brain Cancer”. This page updates often, with nine or ten new pieces of content a day.
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About: “A hands-on Science Academy & Space Camp with a focus on STEM-based experiential learning since 1988.”
This page is really fun and is full of cool articles, pictures, videos, and gifs. One of the coolest recent posts talks about why dry ice turns into gas, and why beaker lightning is purple. “Every so often, we find a combination of things in our classrooms that work together to form a new cool demonstration”, they tell us, before continuing with “That was the case this week when we used our 50,000 volt Oudin Coil (sometimes called a hand-held Tesla Coil) with a beaker of Dry Ice! The spark from the oudin coil is always a classic purple color. This color comes from the release of photons from molecules in the air that have been pushed into higher energy levels by the arcing electricity. Each molecule gives off different light under these conditions”.
They also share some awesome NASA posts, like this one: “Cargo, or radiation shield? NASA says: why not both? In space travel, efficiency is key. See how smart packing can protect NASA astronauts from harmful radiation aboard the Orion capsule!” Another great shot shared from NASA Juno gives you a glimpse into “Humanity’s first look at Jupiter’s north and south poles.” You’ll find fun little demonstrations of things you can do at home, too: “This is an incredibly simple and quite memorable demonstration of a scientific phenomenon that we quite literally need to live. Surface tension is the force of water molecules pulling on one another. This allows you to carefully overfill a glass without it spilling and causes water on its own to form droplets. It can be disrupted by surfactants like dish-soap. This is what we are doing here. By adding some soap to the end of the q-tip, the surface tension propels the boat forwards!” They post new shares four or five times a week on average.
About: “I’m a professor of mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder, interested mainly in algebra and combinatorics. Some of the best posts in my Google+ stream are those with the #mathematics tag. My aim in these is to explain both new and historically interesting mathematical ideas to a general audience, and to produce posts that can be enjoyed on various levels. My posts with the most reshares are often posts of this type. Some of my non-mathematical posts are commentary on other people’s photography and works of art, or various photos I took.
Green says his “main aim on Google+ is to post about difficult topics and still get decent amounts of engagement”, and he definitely succeeds in this. One of his coolest recent posts features knot mosaics and begins with: “This picture by Samuel J. Lomonaco Jr and Louis H. Kauffman gives some examples of knot mosaics. A knot mosaic is the result of tiling a rectangular grid using the 11 types of symbols listed in the diagram, in such a way that (a) the connection points between adjacent tiles are compatible, and (b) there are no connection points on the outer boundary of the rectangle. ”
Another example of his math pieces features a picture by Oliver Knill and it shows “the prime numbers in the Gaussian integers. A Gaussian integer is a complex number of the form a + bi, where a and b are integers and i is a square root of –1. An important result about the ordinary integers is the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, which states that every integer greater than 1 can be expressed as a product of prime numbers in an essentially unique way. ”. In addition to math, Green also likes to post fun animal photos, usually cats for #caturday. Green apparently has a lovely garden because he often shares beautiful landscape photos, such as the recent pic featuring apple blossoms; there’s another from Winter featuring a snowy wonderland. That’s one of the most fun things about this page, the way Green gives our math minds a break with fluffy, colourful pictures. His posting is sporadic, but there’s a lot there to look through and he rarely goes too long without sharing something.
About: “We invest in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. We are the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.”
There’s a nice amount of practically to be found in the science here, with many articles directly focused on everyday events. For instance, if you’ve wondered about some of the scientific studies regarding depression or PTSD, you’ll want to check out the 26 September 2016 post detailing recent studies regarding stress hormones. The post begins with “It is thought that disturbances in the action of stress hormones play a key role in causing mental disorders, like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Learning to cope with stressful events is known to require changes in the expression of genes in the hippocampus, a limbic brain region involved in learning and memory. Such changes in gene expression are brought about by stress-induced glucocorticoid hormones acting via receptors that can directly bind to genes and alter their expression”.
Ever wonder how food borne illnesses start? There’s an article detailing the way “Machine learning can predict strains of bacteria likely to cause food poisoning outbreaks. Researchers at The University of Edinburgh’s The Roslin Institute used software that compares genetic information from bacterial samples isolated from both animals and people. The software learns the DNA signatures that are associated with E. coli samples that have caused outbreaks of infection in people. It can then pick out the animal strains that have these signatures, which are therefore likely to be a threat to human health”. Water supplies, and the danger of over-mining this crucial resource, is another topic on everyone’s mind these days. BBSRC talks about this issue in their piece which discusses how “Blackouts and water shortages can severely harm a nation’s food security. Resource allocation tools can help policy makers improve energy access while minimizing hunger, says the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Louise Karlberg on the Global Food Security blog”. You’ll find anywhere from two to five new posts a week here on average.