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Between Issues: Smart Birds, Imaginary Numbers, Drones Rescuing Climbers, Truck Dot Matrix

Welcome to our first Between Issues email. I come across a lot of fun and interesting STEM/STEAM videos and articles between the time our bi-monthly print + online issues are published. Some are collected in the Tidbitz section near the back of our print issue. This twice a month email collects all these stories, if you don’t have time or forget to visit our website. Hope you find these stories as interesting, fun, and educational as I have. Thanks for reading!

— Tim Slavin, Publisher and Founder


New study persuasively shows that the ability to learn complex new songs is associated with problem-solving in a large range of bird species. But it also shows that other things we associate with intelligence, like associative learning, seem completely unrelated.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/09/birds-problem-solving-skills-linked-to-song-complexity/

Mathematics, STEAM/STEM Videos

Imaginary numbers and real numbers actually are both real. And some people use both kinds of numbers a lot. And all of us benefit from both. This video is a good explainer on the topic.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/6xDG5pEv3Kc?si

Source: https://www.youtube.com/@kristakingmath


Imaginary numbers, discovered hundreds of years ago, turn out to be extremely useful in computing when analyzing the electromagnetic radiation we use in radios and wifi, audio signals for music and voice communication, alternating current power supplies, GPS, and MRI machines. Not to mention, the weird world of quantum physics.

Source: https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/a-brief-introduction-to-imaginary-numbers

Video About Imaginary Numbers: https://www.youtube.com/embed/6xDG5pEv3Kc


Funny stories about keeping alive multi-decade space missions like Voyager, the Cluster satellites, and others. Problems include finding passwords, using operating systems that went end of life decades before, and handling the inevitable bugs as batteries and other equipment wears out.

Source: BBC Future


This website lets you listen in on radio stations around the world, as well favorite stations to come back later. The website is a Dutch nonprofit radio and research project. Wikipedia has more details. Use a Firefox browser if you don’t want ads.

Source: Radio Garden / Wikipedia


While this is a promotional video, the Lightyear car is one of the first electric vehicles directly powered by the sun. The car is not production ready but this appears to be the next big direction for EVs.

VIdeo: https://player.vimeo.com/video/765663789


Using an ultralight aircraft, Johannes Fritz once taught endangered ibises a migration path over the Alps. Because of climate change, he is now showing them a much longer route to a winter’s refuge.

Source: New York Times


In the depths of the oceans, mysterious sea creatures are so fragile they turn into lumps of jelly when scientists to try and collect them. Kakani Katija, a scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, found a way to use lasers to understand how these creatures function without touching and destroying them.

Source: The New Yorker


TrustMeIAmANinja used a Raspberry Pi and Radio Garden to create a throwback radio complete with wooden case and knobs.

Source: Pi World Radio


“New drone technology is allowing mountain rescue teams to dramatically improve how they search for people who get stuck and stranded on Britain’s highest peaks. As well as using drone cameras to find the climbers, the drones can now be fitted with lights and loudspeakers to help communicate with those who are trapped.”

Video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av-embeds/61101225

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-scotland-61101225


“Dogs can be a faster, more precise, less expensive—not to mention friendlier—method of detecting COVID-19 than even our best current technology, a new review shows.”

From: Futurity / https://www.futurity.org/dogs-smell-covid-19-2963202/

Also found another story about all the different diseases dogs are great at sniffing out: https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/diseases-that-dogs-are-good-at-detecting-volatile-organic-compounds/

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