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In this post: the large versions of the Life Science and Physical Science channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Physical Science. Cross polarized light on a sliver of bronzitite. From Flickr, by kevinzim


Life Science. From Flickr, by G’s memories

Reader comments of the week:

In Beach Volleyball and the Public Understanding of Genetics, Benjamin Cohen of The World’s Fair is baffled by the many comments on Razib’s post about the genetics of Jamaican sprinters at Gene Expression. Many people, he thinks, misunderstood the science involved, posturing a causal genetic effect when the truth is nowhere near so simple. The idea seems much sillier when extended to other Olympic sports:

But if a Jamaican wins a race and everyone says its because of genes, then why isn’t anyone asking if American women have the Beach Volleyball gene? Why isn’t everyone asking if the Chinese have the gymnastics gene? Why isn’t everyone asking if the Kenyans have the non-skiing gene?

Reader Bob O’H speculates about other possible genetic anomalies affecting the games:

In the past few years the UK has been running an intensive eugenics programme to breed the best sportsmen and women. Early work out-sourced to Australia showed that the genes we were interested in were linked to the sitting down gene, which limited what we could achieve somewhat.

Oddly, I now hear that in the US there is strong linkage disequilibrium between the genes for sprinting and not being able to hold a baton.

Surely there’s a test for that?

In Fighting the Universal Speeding Ticket, Matt Springer of Built on Facts explains how a law of physics—the one that says you can’t exceed the speed of light—can actually be gotten around with the right frame of reference, much like some of the laws of driving. Because distance and time depend on the viewer’s perspective, given the right conditions it is actually possible to travel faster than light.

The post sparked a discussion about the well-known twin paradox, which doesn’t give reader travc as much pause as certain other physics puzzles:

I can’t remember most of the special relativity paradoxes, because they didn’t seem very paradoxical. The only one that got me confused at all was “the pole and barn paradox”… non simultaneity wasn’t intuitive at first.

Some other Life Science posts we thought were cool this week were:

Magpies Challenge Bird Brain Myth

Antibodies from survivors of 1918 era epidemic

Giant Squid to Mankind: “You guys suck!”

PZ’s Galápagos Adventure

Agriculture and the rise of religion

And from the Physical Science channel:

Talk about beautiful: Lightning is awesome when you can just sit back and enjoy it slowly

The Igneous Petrology of Ice Cream

Very cool map of rising sea levels

Scientific Pub Crawl: A Tour of the Great Discoveries

Sprinting and Sound

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!