Misc

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Category archives for Misc

Supernova Flashes and Silver Linings

New research from the Weizmann Institute of Science reveals that “cells in our brain form little hexagonal grids that keep us oriented, map-like, in our surroundings.” Weizmann’s resident blogger describes this finding as “a pyrotechnic flash of insight that changes how we understand the brain to work.” Game developers delight; this discovery shows “that you…

Corny Science (It’s Good for You)

Modern science stands on the shoulders of giants, as well as average humans, dwarves and elves, ancient civilizations, and all the bones of the dead—forgotten and otherwise. But sometimes you have to start a new branch of science from scratch. On Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel continues his count-up to Dec. 25, the birthday of Sir…

Genetic Drifters

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers criticizes the stubborn obfuscations of Michael Behe, who refuses to yield his illogical calculations. Behe says (rightly) that a certain mutation necessary for drug resistance in the malaria parasite has about a 1 in 1020 chance of occurring. But the mutation is also detected in 96% of malaria patients who respond…

On Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist compiles his best November tweets into one riotous and insightful document. First up: “This chocolate praline contains something that looks and smells like shampoo. Apparently it’s flavoured with elderflower extract.” Elderberry has been used for medicinal purposes worldwide for thousands of years, but maybe the praline makers should use the delicious…

Freedom Fighters vs. Weak Positions

On Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist tells the story of a 14-year old Swedish Muslim girl who also happens to be very good at karate. Recently this young woman was disqualified from a tournament because she wears a veil and the rules state “that the umpire needs to be able to watch for damage to each contestant’s…

Isaac Newton’s Holiday Countup

On Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel counts up toward the birthday of that most holy of men: Sir Isaac Newton. Each day Orzel will (hopefully) unveil a new gem that didn’t make it into his exciting new book. On Day 1, Chad wrote about the apocryphal moment of inspiration—in a bathtub—that led the Greek polymath Archimedes…

Not True Enough to Be Good?

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers criticizes a stirring new short film imagining humanity’s presence on the far-flung worlds of our solar system. PZ writes, “There’s nothing in those exotic landscapes as lovely and rich as mossy and majestic cedars of the Olympic Peninsula, or the rocky sea stacks of the nearby coast.” So let’s not get…

Life, Death, and ERVs

In a phenomenon known as Peto’s paradox, large mammals do not develop cancer more often than small mammals, despite having more cells that could go haywire. On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle writes “Some researchers suggested that perhaps smaller animals developed more oxidative stress as a result of having higher metabolisms. Others proposed that perhaps larger…

Quick and Dirty Art for Mental Health

One of the few true benefits of my recent commitment to a mental hospital were the workshops, fellow patients, and therapists who helped us ‘explore our feelings’ and build a ‘stronger mind-body connection’ as a new age front for compulsory prescriptions, locked doors, and an $80,000 bill. Ironically, my own free hand as an artist…

Powder Blue Is the New Orange (in OR)

I’ll admit it, I was pretty hopped up on fruits and vegetables when I took an early morning walk and expressed a little over-enthusiasm for my neighbor’s house by knocking on his front door at 5 AM. No, I didn’t know the guy. He didn’t answer the doorbell either, so I passed through a gate…