The Athens Effect Guide to Science Stuff

Stuck at home with nothing to do? Online classes bumming you out? Procrastinating on that big assignment? Look no further than The Athens Effect’s Guide to Science Stuff! 

Cool Websites

World Science U

World Science U is a product of the World Science Foundation. Covering hundreds of subjects from neuroscience to dark matter to the question, “What is consciousness?” this website features short, understandable videos at the intersection of science and art. You can even tune into live lectures from Nobel laureates, industry leaders and visionary thinkers.  

OU Things to Do

Sustainability Film Series

The Athena Cinema, Ohio University Libraries and the Environmental Studies program have partnered for the eighth year to bring you thought-provoking documentaries – that you can now watch in the comfort of your own home! Check out The Athena Cinema’s website for a schedule and registration links, as well as more information about the panels that follow each documentary screening.

Science Cafe Series

Traditionally held in The Front Room Coffeehouse on the Athens campus, OU’s Science Cafe lecture series went virtual this semester. Don’t worry – these aren’t just any online lectures. Tune in on Wednesdays to learn more about pawpaws, antibiotic resistance and what actually goes on in the labs at OU. Take a look at their website for the schedule, and head over to the College of Arts and Science’s Youtube channel to watch past lectures.  

Photo by Jaymantri via Pexels

Podcasts 

RadioLab

Brought to you by New York Public Radio, RadioLab and its enigmatic host Jad Abumrad explore new topics every week in a personal, sometimes funny, sometimes serious way. The podcast is known for its sound design and “deep-dive” journalism. Although the topics vary week to week, many focus on science-y subjects like gamma radiation, new diseases and horseshoe crabs.

Gastropod

Gastropod is all about food, taking a look at some of our favorite dishes through “the lens of science and history.” Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley offer a new episode every week on foods from potatoes to lobsters to bushmeat. They even came to Ohio University a while back and did an episode on pawpaws!

60-Second Science

Don’t have time to dedicate to a 40 minute episode every week? This podcast, brought to you by Scientific American, has episodes that usually last around two minutes, but you’ll find yourself wanting to listen to more than one!

DIY Science

Ice Cream In a Bag

Less of a science experiment and more of an excuse to make ice cream, this recipe takes advantage of the fact that salt and ice can get extremely cold. Add the ingredients together, shake, and fifteen minutes and one workout later, you’ve got homemade ice cream to enjoy!

Grow Your Own Crystal

This website will show you how to grow your own crystals out of a variety of substances that you have on hand – everything from Borax to table salt. Depending on the solid that you use, and how much of it you put in the crystal mixture, you can grow funky looking crystals of all shapes and sizes. Great for decoration (or in the case of rock candy, great for eating!).

Seed Germination Necklaces

This one may sound a little weird, but don’t knock it until you try it! Houseplants are a huge craze right now, so why not start your own indoor garden? All you need is some seeds, a paper towel, a bag, some string, and your body heat. Although a bean is used in this guide, you can substitute with whatever seed your heart desires! Just be sure that the seed can be germinated without soil.

Virtual Tours

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

This tour is a true virtual reality experience. Walk around the Smithsonian like you would navigate on Google Maps, and take as long to visit the exhibits as you would like!  

NASA Langley Research Center

The tour of one of NASA’s research centers takes the form of several videos that show you around the facility. You can check out everything from the vacuum spheres at their Hypersonic Facilities Complex to the area where they do materials testing for space flight. 

Museo Galileo

Museo Galileo houses some of the oldest and most important scientific instruments to ever exist. The website will be in Italian because the museum is in Florence, so I recommend running the tour in Google Chrome and allowing Google to translate the page into English. There are some very cool exhibits!

Book Recommendations 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 

Rebecca Skloot spent over ten years gathering information for this book, and her earnest dedication to her craft shines through. “The Immortal Life” is about a woman named Henrietta Lacks, who is more commonly remembered as HeLa, the first line of immortal cells. These cells have been used for science and research for over half a century, but the original sample was taken without Henrietta’s knowledge. For a long time, her family did not know that a part of their wife, mother, sister, lived on.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert 

The anthropocene; the current geological age where it looks like we may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction. Elizabeth Kolbert’s cautionary book seeks to answer the question, “Are we in another mass extinction? And what can we do about it?”

The Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen

This book is an extended piece of immersive science journalism, following the story of three people (plus the author) as they try to find the good life in modern America. Each struggles to unplug, get back to their roots and live sustainably, and the reader discovers just how hard it is to be a modern-day homesteader. 

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray

An excellent book by a woman who has been hailed as “the Rachel Carson of the Southeast.” Janisse Ray writes about her fascinating childhood, spent running around in a junkyard in Southern Georgia. She brings to life the mostly lost pine forest of the region, and weaves a story for the reader about how her childhood spent in rural isolation led her to her passion of conservation. 

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