The Thoughtful Animal

Archives for May, 2011

Here are my Research Blogging Editor’s Selections for this week. You’re running down a corridor in a castle that’s under attack by terrorists. Or are their neuroscientists, trying to figure out just how it is that people get involved in the narrative “flow” of a video game? Neuroskeptic explains how your brain gets in on…

Poking at the Universe

Is this a difference in kind or in degree? Image: The earth comes into view just below Endeavour, as it undocks from the International Space Station.

Earlier this month, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California had its annual two-day open house. For a laboratory complex that has the same acreage as Disneyland, it was just as crowded as the House of Mouse on a busy summer day. What a refreshing sight it was to see so many people – couples,…

The always-fantastic blog 3 Quarks Daily has opened up nominations for its third annual prize in science blogging. This year, the contest will be judged by Lisa Randall, and there will be three winners. Posts can be nominated by bloggers or readers, and if any of you wanted to nominate one of my posts I…

“Nearly 50 percent of Americans have been mentally ill at some point in their lives, and more than a quarter have suffered from mental illness in the past twelve months. Madness, it seems, is rampant in America.” This is how Richard J. McNally opens his new book, What Is Mental Illness? Earlier this year, David…

Here are my Research Blogging Editor’s Selections for this week. The first selection this week comes from Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles. “But wait,” you say. “A psychology post in a physics blog?” Yes! Active Engagement Works: “Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class” Autism diagnosis in cultural context. Dorothy Bishop reviews a recent book…

Human infants have one important job during the first years of life, and that is to learn about the world and their culture from their parents and other caregivers. But what is learning? I’ve previously written that Hungarian developmental psychologists Gergely and Csibra have defined learning as the acquisition of new, generalizable knowledge that can…

Here are my Research Blogging Editor’s Selections for this week. Are you an inattentive superhero? Bradley Voytek thinks so, and explains why in this fantastic post at Oscillatory Thoughts. Does visual perception for the actions of others alter perception of the passage of time? Mo Costandi at Neurophilosophy describes a recent paper addressing this very…

My latest piece for LAist just went up: Retail therapy: It’s the answer for almost any problem. Girlfriend broke up with you? Didn’t get that promotion? Buy yourself something pretty. People like to shop, especially for high-status items, when they’re feeling down. Decades of research has indicated that when a key feature of one’s identity…

Being a great science teacher is not so different from being a great science writer. You have to convince your audience to pay attention to you, rather than to the myriad other potential sources of entertainment and engagement out there. You have to maintain their attention: at any time, a reader can click over to…