Multiple choice exams.
Scholastic Aptitude Test.
American College Testing.
Sweating yet? Even if you are decades past the experience, preparing for and taking the SAT and ACT college entrance exams looms large in our memories. There's nothing quite like instilling intense fear into a adolescent that if they screw up this one test their entire life could be ruined... regardless of its veracity.
So I felt both excitement and dread when I was recently asked to recommend some science articles for a teenager prepping for the SATs, the idea being that they will help with reading comprehension and scientific concepts. Why ask my opinion? Easy: I'm a nerd. I'm obsessed with expanding my field of knowledge and devour publications like Aeon, Discover, Mosaic, Nautilus, and Quanta like a kid does Halloween candy.
I may not be up on celebrity gossip or geopolitical news, but I can explain why time is an illusion and there are an infinite number of universes...you know, the important stuff.
So here are the articles. I picked them specifically with the teenager in mind, but those of any age should find them entertaining and informative.
The Really Big One--An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.
So yeah, Seattle is pretty much fucked. The scientists know it. The government knows it. Now everybody knows it too. But why isn't anybody doing anything about it?
This is what happens after you die--Most of us would rather not think about what happens to our bodies after death. But that breakdown gives birth to new life in unexpected ways.
No, this isn't about reincarnation. This is about the nitty, gritty details of what happens to your flesh once your heart stops beating. Not for the squeamish, but absolutely fascinating.
Why do we have blood types?--More than a century after their discovery, we still don’t really know what blood types are for.
Statistically speaking, you're probably B(+). No, that's not your grade, that's the most common blood type. If you received a transfusion of anything besides that or O, you're screwed. Crazy thing is, we don't know the purpose behind them.
The future of sex?--Once derided as being like a plastic bag with the erotic appeal of a jellyfish, the female condom is being reinvented as the next big thing in safe sex.
Future sex! With robots! Not exactly. The condom has been the go-to contraceptive and STD-preventative device for hundreds of years. But what about a physical barrier the ladies can use? They tried that: it failed and became a staple joke in comedy. Now Bill Gates (yes, the billionaire) wants to find a better one. (Mildly NSFW with one arty photo of a topless woman)
How dinosaurs evolved into birds
Any moviegoer knows dinosaurs evolved from birds, and many a kid has been induced to eat their chicken by pointing that out. But do you really know how and why this happened? Now you do.
Killer Virus Is Invading Koala DNA
Everybody loves koala bears right? I mean, they are so cute and cuddly, as the photos in this article prove. But something is killing the koalas! No! NO! Save the koalas! How? Buy understanding the science, of course.
Fruits and vegetables are trying to kill you
"I freaking knew it!" you cry, feeling justified for pushing away broccoli and brussels sprouts your entire life. Not so fast. All those little poisons in the broccoli may actually help you. And vitamin supplements may not be as good. Sorry: eat up.
Dude, where's my frontal cortex?--There’s a method to the madness of the teenage brain.
I am sorry to break it to you, dear teenager, but your brain doesn't work right. The good news: it's not supposed to yet. Just don't die from doing something stupid until then.
To Understand Religion, Think Football--Sacred beliefs likely arose out of prehistoric bonding and rituals.
You've probably heard a couch-potato-meathead say something like, "I go the church of the NFL!" It might be that those nimrods are closer to correct than you'd expect.
Why We Can’t Rule Out Bigfoot--How the null hypothesis keeps the hairy hominid alive.
The foundation of science is a processes based on something called the "null hypothesis." While that sentence is so damn boring you just fell asleep, it does mean something crazy: science can't DISproove the existence of bigfoot or any other mythical creature or being!
New animals in the Arctic--Scientists have seen the future and it is “grolar bears.”
You might be an animal husbandry expert and know that you can cross a horse and a donkey and get a mule. You might joke with your friends on what a Great Dane / chihuahua cross would look like (not pretty, and there are--ahem--other issues). But did you know that Grizzly bears and Polar bears can cross and make...Grolar bears!?
How jocks and mathletes are alike--Seven sports that come down to how well your neurons play.
“Big dumb jock.” Such a stereotype! Sure, super athletes might not spend the time learning about Einstein’s theory of relativity (although they should), but their brains are just as developed as their bodies…perhaps even bigger and better than the garden variety nerd's!
Could this man hold the secret to human regeneration?
Salamanders can grow back limbs, many lizzards can grow back tails, and even the occasional young rat can grow back a leg. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could grow back a finger or a foot if you lost it? That would be like a superpower. Here’s the guy that wants to make us superhuman.
Why Your Cat Doesn’t Have a Sweet Tooth--Moles don’t see, whales can’t smell, and snakes can’t hear a thing.
Everybody knows (or should know) that we evolved from apes, and that any creature on the planet has a history of change. During this process of evolution, a lot of crazy shit has happened. Here, Dunn focuses on some Trival Pursuit-worthy stories.
Caitlyn Jenner and Our Cognitive Dissonance--While biology shows us gender can be fluid, our brains struggle to see it that way.
There are two genders: male and female. Or are there? Your mind will be blown with the revelation that there are more than two genders...waaaay more in fact. So many that 'gender' is practically meaningless. Of course, your brain doesn't care about science, it likes simple categories. Like male and female.
Well there you go: fifteen science articles that are pretty damn interesting. Hope you and your teenager enjoy.