New Scientist: The most bizarre life story on Earth?
“Things start to get complicated when you consider their life cycle. Let’s start with a feeding animal living on a lobster’s mouthparts: this individual – it’s hard to assign a sex – can then produce one of three kinds of offspring: a ‘Pandora’ larva, a ‘Prometheus’ larva or a female.” And it only gets weirder from there. You’ll want to ask your server from now on, whether they’ve made sure their lobsters have gargled before being cooked.
Discover Magazine: The Universe is Not a Black Hole.
“Our universe is not going to collapse to a future singularity, even though the mass is enough to allow that to happen, simply because it’s expanding; the singularity you’re anticipating already happened.”
A Schooner of Science: The needle free vaccine, how Nanopatch works.
“According to Queensland University, the latest research shows that the Nanopatch can provide a similar level of protection to a needle delivery, but uses 100 times less vaccine. The Nanopatch is still being trialed on mice.” Bring it on.
MIT Technology Review: Wind Turbines Shed Their Gears.
Wind turbines go direct-drive. I suppose this means they can do more speeds now than 33 1/3, 45 and 78?
New Scientist: Brain shuts off in response to healer’s prayer.
“It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.” I’d say that’s a safe assumption.
Discover Magazine: Hubble celebrates 20 years in space with a jaw-dropper.
NY Times: Caring for Hips and Knees to Avoid Artificial Joints.
”‘There’s some evidence to suggest glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may be helpful in O.A. once it has started, but overall the results are inconclusive,’ Dr. Jazrawi said.” Ask a veterinarian what they think. You’ll get the opposite answer, and rather vehement too. Via Rebecca’s Pocket.
Slate: A study found hexane in soy protein. Should you stop eating veggie burgers?
“No study has ever tested how much hexane a person can safely eat over the course of a lifetime, but rodent studies suggest that your Thanksgiving tofurkey isn’t going to kill you.” All that being said, it sounds like there’s little research that’s been done. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. OSHA’s sheet on hexane. Not really something I want to be ingesting in *any* amount, really.
CNN: Chocolate and depression go hand in hand.
“According to a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who feel depressed eat about 55 percent more chocolate than their non-depressed peers. And the more depressed they feel, the more chocolate they tend to eat.” They just now did a scientific correlation?
Mayo Clinic: Exercise and Computer Use May Prevent Mild Cognitive Impairment.
“Our study found that engaging in physical exercise at any frequency, be it once a week or five times a week, and engaging in mental activities, computer use in particular, seem to have a joint effect in protecting against mild cognitive impairment.” Perhaps running around with a smartphone is a good thing for your mental health ... ?
MCG News: Exercise can forestall osteoporosis.
Get moving, ladies.
New Scientist: Why acupuncture aids spinal recovery.
“Rats with damaged spines can walk again thanks to acupuncture. But it’s not due to improvements in their energy flow or ‘chi’. Instead, the ancient treatment seems to stop nerve cell death by reducing inflammation. Acupuncture’s scientific credentials are growing.” Doesn’t matter the label you put on it, as long as it works.
YouTube: A 3D Trip into the Carina Nebula.
The Economist: Information theory: A quantum calculation.
“Now Vlatko Vedral, an Oxford physicist, examines the claim that bits of information are the universe’s basic units, and the universe as a whole is a giant quantum computer. He argues that all of reality can be explained if readers accept that information is at the root of everything.” For the universe, ‘I think, therefore I am’?
New Scientist: Whale poop is vital to ocean’s carbon cycle.
“Previous studies have shown that iron is crucial to ocean health because plankton need it to grow. “If you add soluble iron to the ocean, you get instant phytoplankton growth,” says Nicol. The amount of iron in whale faeces means that protecting Antarctic whales could swell populations of phytoplankton, which absorb carbon dioxide.” Is anyone really surprised that there’s a symbiosis working here? This is why all of nature is precious. Upset the applecart by eliminating a species, who knows what havoc it will wreak.
Science: Unprecedented Excavation Brings Maritime Silk Road to Life.
I don’t have a subscription to the magazine, but sure wish I did.
Boston Globe: When language is blocked, music may offer detour.
“Estimates vary, but as many as a quarter of children with autism are nonverbal. Children with autism tend to have superior auditory skills and have a particular attraction to music, Schlaug said, so ‘music-making may provide an alternative entry into a broken or dysfunctional brain system.’”
SPACE.com: Air Force’s Mystery X-37B Robot Spaceship to Launch Today.
“The United States Air Force’s novel robotic X-37B space plane is tucked inside the bulbous nose cone of an unmanned rocket and poised for an evening blastoff from Florida tonight on a mission shrouded in secrecy.” Probably out to determine if aliens are, indeed, socialist.
Scientific American: What Is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?
“... neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).” Backup! I need offline backup!!
NY Times: Museums Take Their Lessons to the Schools.
“Over the last few years, many schools have eliminated or cut back on museum trips, partly because of tight budgets that make it hard to pay for a bus and museum admission, and partly because of the growing emphasis on “seat time” to cover all the material on state tests. To make up for the decline in visits, many museums are taking their lessons to the classroom, through traveling programs, videoconferencing or computer-based lessons that use their collections as a teaching tool.”
ars technica: Unreal hormones: males treat games as social competitions.
“The next time your girlfriend, wife, or mother complains about all the time you spend playing PS3 or online games, you can tell her that your attraction to video games may actually be a by-product of evolution. Scientists at the University of Missouri have found that hormonal surges in men playing violent multiplayer videogames are very similar to hormonal responses males of other species experience during reproductive and territorial challenges. These responses may be evolutionarily hard-wired to help males succeed in coalitionary combat against competitors.” They just realized this NOW?!!! I thought this was a foregone conclusion.
NPR: Early Animal Rights Poem Discovered: A Mouse’s Plea.
Slate: I tried to sauté my brain at the base of a cell phone tower. It didn’t work.
”Not many people drive all the way to the top of Sandia Crest, 10,678 feet, to hang out by the Steel Forest—the thick stand of blinking broadcast and microwave antennas that serves as a communications hub for New Mexico and the Southwest. But I went there on a dare. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to understand the thinking of some anti-wireless activists who have turned my town, Santa Fe, N.M., into a hotbed for people who believe that microwaves from cell phones and Wi-Fi are causing everything from insomnia, nausea, and absent-mindedness to brain cancer.” There’s only one sticking point here for me ... whenever I go up to that parking lot at the top of Sandia Crest, some sort of radio interference prevents the clicker for my car doors from working. Works everywhere else, but on Sandia Crest you’ve got to use your keys.
[For those of you who don’t know of George Johnson, the author of this Slate piece, he writes regularly at The Santa Fe Review, his local blog; if you’re in NM or Santa Fe, I highly advise adding him to your RSS or other news reader.]
Slate: The centuries-old struggle to play in tune.
“There have been some 150 tuning systems put forth over the centuries, none of them pure. There is no perfection, only varying tastes in corruption.” Just like life.
Discover Magazine: Respect Your Elders, Human!
“In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist João Zilhão of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments: Neanderthal jewelry. Painted with reds and yellows, the shells may have been worn as pendants, perhaps conveying social information about the wearer to other members of the group.” A whole lotta hifalutin’ talk over what amounts to Neanderthal bling.