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Weekly Webcrawl: January 24, 2013

 

When I saw this photo on my weekly creative commons Flickr search, my first thought was the incredible engineering feat that must have been required to make that bridge. I was right: according to an engineering firm that helped build it, "the site frequently experiences winds of more than 100 mph and is located near the seismically active San Andreas Fault. The underlying bedrock has a history of collapse, with a drop of more than 100 feet from the bridge site into the ocean. Constant salt spray creates a highly corrosive environment, necessitating unique construction materials and protective coatings. Access to the bridge is on a steep, half-mile trail that includes a narrow 6-foot by 6-foot hand-carved tunnel, so the site was not accessible with traditional construction equipment.

When I saw this photo on my weekly creative commons Flickr search, my first thought was the incredible engineering feat that must have been required to make that bridge (second thought was how saw I am not live in California). I was right: according to one of the firms that helped build it, “the site frequently experiences winds of more than 100 mph and is located near the seismically active San Andreas Fault. The underlying bedrock has a history of collapse, with a drop of more than 100 feet from the bridge site into the ocean. Constant salt spray creates a highly corrosive environment, necessitating unique construction materials and protective coatings. Access to the bridge is on a steep, half-mile trail that includes a narrow 6-foot by 6-foot hand-carved tunnel, so the site was not accessible with traditional construction equipment. Photo by Robert Dawson via Flickr Creative Commons.

Everyone wants to figure out the secret to going viral. It’s become a whole science these days. Ran across two links this week on the topic: first, an infographic on the most oft-appearing words in viral Facebook posts, tweets, and blog posts. Second, a New Yorker blog post on what those words reveal about the content that is really behind its going viral.

On her podcast InquiringMinds, Cynthia Graber interviewed Michael Pollan about the Paleo diet. Takeaway: it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds.

In his new monthly science column at the New York Times, George Johnson talked about the growing problem of irreproducible science: “With the most accessible truths already discovered, what remains are often subtle effects, some so delicate that they can be conjured up only under ideal circumstances, using highly specialized techniques.”

And here’s a beautiful essay for anyone that’s ever found them stuck between science and stories. The author ends up choosing the latter, but I like thinking there’s a way to choose both.

This might be just the motivation I need to begin my amaeuteur astronomer career with the telescope I got for my birthday two years ago: A supernova in nearby galaxy M82 will only get more visible as the days wear on.

Also, PS, Happy Birthday Mom!