Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

Mining the Moon

Since helium-3 can be used to power the fusion reactors of the future, it may be one of the world's most important fuel sources. It's rare on Earth, but experts believe the moon may have an abundant supply. Tune in and learn more about moon mining.

At first thought, weaponry seems like a bad addition to the Olympics (unless we're talking marksmanship, archery or, if you want to go ancient, javelin and shot-put). However, there's a role for weapons in the Olympics that doesn't culminate in competition or a swift arrest -- it just involves a quick, compulsory melting. London's Metropolitan Police force recently announced that 58 tons of confiscated guns and knives -- plus some keys thrown in for good measure -- will be recycled into girders for the 2012 Olympic Games site in Stratford, East London.

How Exploding Lakes Work

During 1986, an unusual thing happened in Cameroon: Lake Nyos exploded, expelling a toxic cloud that killed roughly 1700 people. How could this happen? More importantly, could it happen again? Learn more about exploding lakes in this episode.

Meddling Kids Attempt to Thwart Book Trashing

At the end of January 2010, Borders will ship unsold books from 200 closed Waldenbooks to a third-party liquidator. Whatever doesn't wind up on a shelf somewhere goes in the trash, and the company has stated that there won't be anything left over to donate. Needless to say, this plan has rubbed quite a few people the wrong way.

Get Your Science on with Stuff from the Science Lab

There's a new science podcast in town. Ours! Stuff from the Science Lab is live on iTunes, so when you're wandering around looking for spiffy new listens that will discuss things like what you get to eat at the space station, why some people think helium-3 might be the ultimate energy source or why runners and parasites may be getting to know each other better, Robert and I have you covered. Or at least, we will in the future. Just head over to iTunes -- you're heading there anyway to buy some single that you won't publicly cop to, aren't you? -- plug in "Stuff from the Science Lab" in the search bar or visit the HowStuffWorks room, and you should see it.

Space Music: Parliament Funkadelic and the P-Funk Mothership

At this point in the Space Music series, we must turn our attention to the P-Funk Mothership AKA the Holy Mothership. You probably know this as the vaguely Apollo-esque UFO that P-funk icon George Clinton emerged from onstage during live performances of Parliament Funkadelic. But it is so much more. Click into the funk to you'll get a crash course in the mythology, as well as tie-ins to actual science.

Wait, Water Can Start a Fire?

I've apparently been watering under a misapprehension. I always thought the logic behind hosing down plants in the cooler hours was that a midday jolt of frigid water might "shock" them. I never considered that dewy beads of water could magnify high noon rays and literally burn leaves. Because that just sounds too bizarre to be true, right?

How Fighting Asteroids Works

Asteroid impacts are inevitable. As they hurtle toward Earth, experts race against the clock to build an effective asteroid deterrent. Will they succeed in time? Learn more about asteroid fighters -- and their plans to save the world -- in this episode.

Amazing Infestations!

From hordes of caterpillars in Liberia to the Australian mice plagues, infestations can occur in almost any part of the world. Join Robert and Allison as they explore some of the world's largest -- and strangest -- infestations.

T Pyxidis supernova to destroy Earth?

I know it's hump day and all, so I hate to spread the bad news, but U.S. astronomers from Villanova University in Philadelphia are apparently saying they've spotted human civilization's destined destroyer via the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite. It's name is T Pyxidis, and it's a star set to explode in a supernova powerful enough to strip off Earth's ozone layer .

Bob Barker Saves Whales with Namesake Ice-crusher

Bob Barker is best known for his genial, tanned, 35-year-long presence on "The Price is Right." But there's also the tough as nails, fighting Barker of movie cameos -- notably, "Happy Gilmore." This piece of news seems to satisfy both reputations: Barker is helping to stop whaling with a 1,200-ton (1,000-metric-ton), ice-crushing namesake ship. According to the AP, Barker donated $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which in turn named its anti-whaling vessel "The Bob Barker" in honor of the game show host. On Tuesday, the high-speed ship had its first encounter with Japanese whalers off of Antarctica.

Severely burned? Try some licorice.

Licorice! You might know it as the black jelly bean that makes you gag, the unsettling flavor in many a traditional liquor or, if you read this blog back in March, the candy that makes your transplanted kidney fall out. But hey, there's more to licorice than puckered lips and catastrophic organ failure. Read on to find out how the black candy just might save a few lives.

Random Snowflakes: Lies, Solar Power, Slashers and Distractions

Snowflakes are elegant examples of fleeting beauty, each a unique work on the verge of disappearance. But you already knew that, so let's do this white Christmas right and discuss snowflake-related Flash-based eye candy, fractals, serial killers, comic books, fantasy epics, solar cells, satellites, holiday cards and my parent's house. So grab a shovel (don't actually grab a shovel) and venture into this post for a handful of snowflake-related links, tidbits, news articles and distractions.

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: Funding

We've been beating around the bush here with all this fanciful talk of plane tickets and rides aboard the Virgin Galactic. What your scientist needs is cash. Funding. A check from grandma. Make that lots of checks from grandma. If you can point to a researcher who isn't scrounging for more funds to give a talk, attend a conference, get a study off the ground or purchase whatever crazy piece of equipment will advance his or her experiment, we can point to a liar.

Up until now, our holiday gift suggestions have been catering to the physics fanatics and the space geeks. It's time to turn to the biologists toiling amid the scientific ranks and contemplate what might make a good gift for them. I'm thinking a holiday tin full of stem cells. 2009 was a banner year for stem cell research in the United States, with President Obama issuing Executive Order (EO) 13505, which essentially removed barriers to responsible scientific research involving human stem cells. Before the executive order was issued, U.S. scientists doing federally funded research could access 21 lines created before Aug. 9, 2001, according to NPR. That number was blown to bits just within the past month. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved 40 new lines that are eligible for use in federally funded research. At least 11 of them are compliments of one George Q. Daley, an M.D., Ph.D. and stem cell scientist at Harvard.

Are we to blame for beached whales and dolphins?

In my last post, I talked about the two varieties of whale stranding and Dr. Gregory D. Bossart 's Science on Tap lecture on the topic at the Georgia Aquarium. This time around, I'm going to run through some of what Bossart had to say about the possible causes behind mass strandings. Sadly, a number of the cases point back to human alteration of the environment.

Why do whales beach themselves?

Last night I had the privilege to attend another Science on Tap lecture at the Georgia Aquarium, this time featuring Dr. Gregory D. Bossart, the aquarium's chief veterinary officer. Bossart discussed a subject that he's devoted much of his career to: the mysteries surrounding stranded marine life.

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: A Plane Ticket to Switzerland

If you're like me, you're not finished with your Christmas shopping yet. So that means our third suggestion isn't coming too late for you. It might even be time to throw the budget out the window and just get the shopping done at any cost. Either way, we have another idea for you, and it should tuck nicely into your scientist's stocking.

Computer Sciences to Abandon Nerd Image and Talk to Girls

This week I wrote an article for Discovery News on how stereotypically nerdy environments turn prospective female students away from the field of computer science. You know the kind of environment I'm talking about: "Star Trek" posters on the walls, scantily clad anime figurines sexing up the desk space and random video game boxes, empty Coke cans and Funion bags littering the corners of a room with nary a gleam of natural lighting in sight.

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: Virgin Galactic Tickets and a Tattoo

Wouldn't the scientist in your life love to find a Virgin Galactic ticket in his or her stocking? Failing that, how about a lower back tattoo of Carl Sagan juggling the planets? Let us help you with those last minute gift ideas.