Humanities

Oh rats!

As I was perusing YouTube I came across a video from National Geographic that I must admit was fascinating while at the same time disturbing. The video describes how rats are able to travel from the sewer into your toilet. Although this is reportedly an uncommon occurence, I will be sure to look before I…

Learning new songs

New research shows that premotor neurons are activated in the brains of adolescent male zebra finches whenever a young bird hears their father (a tutor) sing. These are the same neurons that are usually activated in anticipation of movement. What is special about this, is that as the birds learned new songs or pieces of new songs,…

Occupational Health News Roundup

The Center for Investigative Reporting exposes discriminatory hiring practices within the temporary staffing industry; a worker dies in another chemical facility explosion in Houston; a new Amnesty International report links tech giants to child labor; and Amazon is cited for failing to report workplace injuries.

137-139/366: Vermont

This past weekend, Kate went to Arisia, and in order to get a change of scenery and a bit of adult backup, I took the kids up to visit friends in northern Vermont. They have two boys, the younger of whom is just a few months older than SteelyKid, and I was pretty sure the…

Think about all the objects you use every day that are made with pieces of metal. Before that object got to you, a worker in the metal manufacturing industry used a machine to cut, saw, bend and assemble the metal pieces into the countless products that make our lives easier. But sometimes those machines break. And when they do, a simple and inexpensive procedure helps ensure both worker and machine can return safely to the job.

136/366: Gotta Fly

We have a couple of bird feeders near the house, one just outside the bay window in the front of the house, and the other on the side of the house right next to the dining room. (That one used to be farther out in the yard, where it functioned well as a means of…

135/366: Gold Star for Robot Boy

SteelyKid is in second grade, and The Pip goes to full-day day care at the JCC, so we get a LOT of kid work sent home– various homework assignments and class worksheets for her, and assorted art for him. A lot of the art is just a few random crayon scribbles on paper, but some…

Truth or Truthiness: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction by Learning to Think Like a Data Scientist is a new book by Howard Wainer that can serve as a manual for how to be a good skeptic. Wainer is a statistician, formerly with the famous Educational Testing Service, and a professor at the Wharton School of the…

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. And here we are in 2015! As in previous…

Has Philosophy Gone Wrong?

Philosophers Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle believe that it has. They make their case in this essay, posted at The New York Times. The history of Western philosophy can be presented in a number of ways. It can be told in terms of periods — ancient, medieval and modern. We can divide it into rival…