Neuron Culture

Archives for March, 2009

Evolutionary Novelties ponders placentas: For me one of the most visceral confirmations of the common descent of humans and other mammals came while witnessing the birth of my children. Having grown up on a small farm, I have vivid memories of the birth of kittens, lambs, and goats; and after the births of my children,…

Air Traffic Footprint

From Cratylus, an intriguing visualization of worldwide air traffic, with notes on carbon impact: This simulation shows the world-wide air traffic over a 24-hour period. Watch as day dawns across the globe: The hubbub of activity created each morning in the skies gradually tapers off in the dead of night, only to come roiling back…

A European nightcrawler, ready to make trouble Eartthworms, it seems, are the new decimator, at least in Midwestern hardwood forests . Scientific American has the story: Long considered a gardener’s friend, earthworms can loosen and aerate the soil. But the story is different in the Great Lakes region. The last Ice Age wiped out native…

Emma Livingston’s photos

I find these photos by Emma Livingstone — onen of 30 photographers singled out in a recent “rising photographer” story (hat tip: Kottke) — especially fetching. Many more at her well-designed site. Among other charms, they bring to mind the painting of Gerhard Richter: September 11

“Primates on Facebook” — “Even online, the neocortex is the limit” to how many people we can really have as friends. People who use more textual shortcuts (lk whn they txt in skl) when texting have higher reading skills. The coverage seems to assume this is causal, but it’s almost surely just an association —…

Back from a vegetative state

FromMind Hacks: We’ve reported before on brain imaging research that shows brain activity in those in a ‘persistent vegetative state’. What I didn’t know until today was that one subject in this research, Kate, has since woken up. This YouTube video tells Kate’s story: Sometimes firm ground proves to be slippery.

Ezra Klein reviews Obama’s handling of yesterday’s health summit — a piece well worth reading for a taste of how sharply focused and serious Obama is about truly comprehensive health-care reform. Karen Tumlty, a health-care expert, describes in Time her own family’s grueling wrestling match with the health-insurance industry. A timely story — no pun…

An ongoing topic here — raised in depth here, and most recently here — is how psychiatry is going to right itself from being knocked off-course and off-kilter by its overcozyness with pharma and a corresponding picture of mental disorder. Psychiatrist Danny Carlat — one of many dismayed by psychiatry’s directtion over the last few…

Is this working? Jefrey Mervis brings the word from Science ($): U.S. students using educational software do no better learning primary school math and first-year algebra than their counterparts who follow a traditional curriculum. That’s the conclusion of a new federally funded study that is loaded with caveats about what it means for students, educators,…

Philip Dawdy takes a interesting look at a new study of the safety of placebo arms in clinical trials of antidepressants in teens. My own quick scan of the study [which Dawdy makes available as pdf download] suggests it’s full of great nuggets. Its take-home: Placebo treatments produced remission rates of 48%, while the rate…