Cognitive Daily

Tangled Bank #35

Welcome to Tangled Bank—we’re thrilled to finally have the opportunity to host. For CogDaily readers who may not be aware of Tangled Bank, it’s a fortnightly “carnival” of the best science blog postings from the previous two weeks. There’s always an incredible variety of posts from all areas of the scientific world, and this week is no exception. Even if you’re normally only interested in psychology, we encourage you to take this opportunity to see what else is going on in the world of science. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

We’ve done something a bit unusual with Tangled Bank this time. We received a large number of overtly political selections this week, and given that neither CogDaily nor Tangled Bank has that precise mission, we decided to move these posts over to Dave’s personal blog. Head on over there if you’re looking for political controversy. Stick around here for straight science (which, by the way, is not without controversy of its own—and we apologize in advance if our classification of “straight science” and “politics” is a bit rough. Often it’s quite a fine line between one and the other.).

Now, without any further ado, we present Tangled Bank #35!

Jennifer Forman Orth responds to the proposal to populate the American Great Plains with large African mammals as a way to preserve those species.

From Grey Thumb: An interdisciplinary article dealing with the application of evolutionary biology to artificial intelligence. The central theme of the article is how the newer approach of computer-based artificial life differs from traditional genetic programming. Along the way, it critiques some bad metaphors such as evolution as a “search algorithm,” and also explains some newer elements of evolutionary theory such as the evolution of evolvability.

Dilip D’Souza writes wonderfully about the structure of an ant community, and a brilliant experiment confirming that the release of pheremones is how ants “communicate” to one another that they have died.

Tony Galluci has a neat post about Biospoilers, those unavoidable moments in film when a key biological concept has been utterly demolished.

Krause writes a compelling review of Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful, an account of the relationship between the structure of genes and the physical structure of organisms.

Matthew Celesky gives us some great drawings and descriptions of Monkey Lizards of the Triassic.

Dark Syde writes about the paleobotany of flowering plants and how they relate to a mysteriously addictive plant that took 16th century Europe by storm.

Climate change
Jonathan Dursi has a thorough post on the reaction to data that seemed to contradict models of global climate change, both in the scientific and political communities.

OUPblog gives us a fascinating account of the Tuniit, a people that lived in northern North America about 4,500 to 5,000 years ago and resembled contemporary residents of Siberia.

Natalie Bennett looks at the question of the “English race” and says while it might have been relatively homogeneous between about 7,500BC and the invasion of Claudius, since then it has been one great mixing pot.

Afarensis analyzes a recent study that found that chimps learn from other chimps, and assesses the validity of mainstream media accounts of the study.

Ruminating dude applies his moniker to the question of high school chemistry teaching methods.

Research ethics
Mike Bergin is concerned about the ethics of research that harms animals with no other obvious purpose.

Science and Sensibility discusses a lecture by Nobel Laureate Tony Leggett in which he responds to questions about the primacy of quantum mechanics for describing larger-scale events.

Animal behavior
Circadiana offers an excellent summary of the research supporting several proposed models of how animals detect the changing of the seasons.

Hsien-Hsien Lei offers this post discussing the importance of mice in genetics research.

Orac Knows recruits a guest blogger, Kristjan Wager, to respond to criticism of the Danish study that purports to debunk the link between autism and vaccinations.

George Wilkinson offers an assessment of the vascular hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Bora Zivcovic has written an excellent critique of the mainstream media’s reporting on a study about responses to male and female voices.

We wrote yesterday about whether humans have an implicit understanding of physics—that is, do systematic errors in the way we perceive things demonstrate that classical physics is built-in to our brains, or is perception of motion more complex?

David Ng has composed a satire on the scientific review process for the Science Creative Quarterly.

Radagast points us to amazing photos of flying insects, along with instructions for making your own flying insect photography device.

There’s a beatiful photo of a California Poppy over at Botany Photo of the Day.

Finally, BL. Boles offers us this:

I have a poem I’d like to submit. My capabilities for submission, however, are on the low-tech side. I have neither a website of my own, nor a blog. I do think your readers who enjoy natural history might enjoy my villanelle. So I thought to inquire.

Its subject is the dog-day cicadas whose August song we humans enjoy, those of us who live east of the Rocky Mountains. (Not to be confused with the big broods, e.g., the one that hatched last year throughout the Mid-Atlantic, yep, got to see and hear them, too.) My poem celebrates the annual variety; I can hear them singing even now, while I write this message to you on a Saturday summer morning. They awake quite early.

Silver Spring Serenade
When August comes, hear the sound in the trees:
Bugs burrow up from under my flowers.
Dog-day cicadas sing last jubilees.

Dig out from the earth, take wing on the breeze,
To alight in viridian bowers.
When August comes, hear the sound in the trees.

It rivals the buzz from ten thousand bees,
Electric pitch pulses through the still hours.
Dog-day cicadas sing last jubilees.

Sit on the stoop, and delight in his ease.
He trills for love; oh, how she empowers!
When August comes, hear the sound in the trees,

Watch shadows grow long, remember to seize
Late season’s promise: sweet summer showers.
Dog-day cicadas sing last jubilees.

Glorious season! spent in this jade tease:
Listen to what the future endowers.
When August comes, hear the sound in the trees–
Dog-day cicadas sing last jubilees.

Thanks for reading, and make sure you look for the next Tangled Bank issue on September 7 at B and B. You can submit your entries to


  1. #1 coturnix
    August 24, 2005

    Wow – this is a wonderful edition of Tangled Bank (and the ‘political’ portion is good, too – I did not know you had another blog – now it is bookmarked!)

  2. #2 Lei
    August 24, 2005
  3. #3 Chris Martin
    August 25, 2005

    Your rss feed still shows the babies article from the 15th as the most recent.

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    August 25, 2005

    Thanks for the heads’ up, Chris. I’ll see what I can do (any suggestions are appreciated).

    Update: The feed itself seems to be okay (see the link under the “meta” heading at the left). When I use Bloglines to check, it is as you say. Feedster, however, seems to be updated through yesterday’s post (though it hasn’t yet noticed that I put up a new post a few minutes ago). I’m not quite sure what else I need to do—it seems like Bloglines just isn’t updating the CogDaily RSS feed from here. I’ll keep researching, but again, any suggestions are appreciated.

    Update #2: I’ve sent a query to bloglines’ tech support. I’ve noticed on some of the discussion forums that others have had this problem in the past, so hopefully it’s something they can easily resolve.

    Update #3, Saturday, 8/27: The Bloglines people claim to have reset the CogDaily feed, but I’m still not getting updates on Bloglines. Argh! I will do as they ask and contact them again.

    Update #4, Tuesday, 8/30: Woohoo! It looks like Bloglines is finally working again. Thanks again for letting me know about the problem, Chris!

  5. #5 Mavis
    January 11, 2006

    I just wanted to pop in and say hi… so… Hi!

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